Tuesday, December 17, 2013

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Here's How to Start Your Own Space-Based Alien Cover Band in Starbound

 
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

One of the coolest aspects of space survival sandbox game Starbound has to be its musical instruments. It might seem like an out-of-place gimmick at first, but it's been a hit with the beta's thriving community. Case in point: McDombles, a troupe of interstellar pop stars who perform classics like David Bowie's "Space Oddity" while coasting across the cosmos. (If you're too impatient to enjoy the build-up in their performance above, skip to about the 1:30 mark in the video for the rather impressive pay off.)

Of course they're far from the only group out there, and YouTube's already full of other amazing player performances. Believe it or not, this kind of performance is surprisingly easy to pull off with the tools built right in to Starbound itself. Here's how:

 

Step 1: Find an Instrument

Like the hammer dulcimer/guitar I found during my adventures last week, instruments are scattered in random containers across the galaxy. Stumbling on anything from an accordion to a xylophone is pure chance, but once you do you'll be able to perform on it from the game's song list.

Step 2: Find a Song

Starbound's songs use ABC notation, which might ring some bells for anyone who played around with instruments in Lord of the Rings Online. There are a few songs available by default, mostly classical tunes and Christmas carols at the moment, but adding your own music to that list is as simple as downloading an .abc file (from a site like LOTRO-ABC, for example) and dropping it in Starbound> Assets> Songs. You can also download programs that will convert midi files to .abc, or if you know a little bit about musical composition (since ABC is just a plain text form for traditional musical notation) you could take a crack at writing some .abc files yourself.

Step 3: Find a Band

You're not limited to solo performances.  Gather a few friends with instruments and type a band name into the field below the song list before you begin playing to sync everyone up. The one real trick to a professional performance like McDombles' is to make sure each player is playing a specific part, with an .abc file specific to that part. That means one person will be playing the melody, another will have the bass and so on. It works for RL musical ensembles, right?

Now build your set, hire some roadies, and you'll be in orbit around Delta Xer II opening for McDombles before you know it!

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Timesand has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan andwith pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Melissa Yeuxdoux

That is wonderful... too cute for words.

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