April 26, 2013

Prototype 2: Summation

For our second Nurbits prototype I was attempting to explore a mechanic based on the neuroscience concept of summation. Summation is the way that signals combine from one or more incoming connections to bring the neuron's action potential to threshold, making it fire. I was also trying to see what it would be like to give the player more direct control over when loops get played, rather than playing based on a timer like Brian's previous prototype.

design sketch

As you can see this prototype continues with our concept of pie slices representing neurotransmitters, and has a similar connection mechanic to the previous prototype. I wanted the player to be able to use both types of summation: temporal and spatial, which I feel this prototype achieved.


prototype screenshot

Temporal summation is when a neuron receives multiple signals quickly over time to bring it's action potential to threshold. The player can induce temporal summation in this prototype by connecting up a single input node and hitting the red button quickly to bring the output node to threshold to play a loop. Spatial summation is when a neuron receives signals from multiple other neurons that combine to bring the action potential to threshold. In this prototype that can be done by connecting up and hitting multiple buttons.

Here's a video showing this prototype in action:


If you'd like to play this prototype yourself you can do so over here.

I briefly mention at the end of the video that this prototype uses mod tracker files for it's music. We'll have more information about that, and the other options we looked at for our dynamic music system, in our upcoming audio tools post.

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