Beats and Beets
The new game from Edinburgh-based start-up Lucky Frame, Pugs Luv Beats, has taken off and recently been nominated for an Independent Games Festival award. I asked founder and director Yann Seznec how adorable pugs can worm their way into our musical hearts.
Is this a monosynth disguised as a game?
It's several music production methods disguised as a game. There is definitely a synth element (though it's not a monosynth, try two fingers for an extra surprise...). We're actually right now preparing to release a free app that is just the singing synth pugs, because people react so well to them. As the pugs run around the world they are triggering samples based on their location. It's kind of like a giant sampler that you need to explore… There are literally millions of possible permutations, and it is guaranteed to be different for everyone who plays.
How important are the sound and visuals for this kind of app?
If an app looks good and sounds good people are far more likely to give it their time and attention… We are our own worst critics, anyway. Sean [McIlroy] will flip out over a tiny little pixel that is out of place. The sound is of course hugely important simply because we are making things that are musical tools that use game mechanics. If the music sounds bad then there's no point.
What was the goal in starting Lucky Frame? Was it primarily to work on music projects, or something else?
I started Lucky Frame to support and structure my artistic projects in general, as well as facilitating collaborations. Although we are often seen as a 'tech startup' we are primarily artists who are primarily interested in creativity and innovation. I'm really interested in interaction in general, which can mean how someone plays with a piece of software, or how a performer interacts with an audience, or how an audience reacts to a piece of work. My background is as a musician, and after that sound design and sound art, and Jon [Brodsky, programmer] has a solid background in electronic music too, so much of the work we end up doing is music focused.
How was it starting up in Scotland, vs. elsewhere in the UK?
I think that starting up in Scotland helped enormously in the sense that it is a much less risky environment. Costs are lower, but there is still a thriving creative culture. There is of course a giant pressure to move to London, particularly for tech startups, it would be silly not to acknowledge that. But that ties into the whole tech startup culture, which can be very focused on growth and then selling to Google or something, which does not interest us.
Any advice for prospective digital entrepreneurs in the area?
Take your time. There is a lot of pressure in the entrepreneurial world to grow very quickly and attract investment. In Lucky Frame's case, we grew extremely slowly and I think that approach has paid dividends. Those first two years were really great for learning the ropes of keeping a small company alive, as well as working out what would be the best direction and strategy for us.