Nour: Play With Your Food
A delicious interactive exploration into the aesthetics of food and drink, Nour lets you play with your food in ways your mother told you not to.
Nour is a video game coming soon to Playstation 5. Players conjure food and defy physics to create, in their eyes, the ultimate dish.
I was brought on to do the soundtrack, but quickly fell into a full dev + design role on a small and talented team. The game does not have traditional objectives, instead encouraging experimentation, exploration, and reflection.
Sony Playstation Game, 2022
Studio: Terrifying Jellyfish
Unity | C# | FMOD | Generative Models | UI/UX | 3D Math
-Systems Design + Game Mechanics
-Signal Processing FX
-Design for Virality
Nour's music is an instrument anyone can play - no wrong notes, no lessons required.
The music heats up, cools down, rises, mixes, and melts in response to player input. Thousands of tiny melodic fragments are permuted, stacked, and modulated to create the soundtrack in real-time. Wreak havoc, show restraint, and so too will the audio.
Adaptive game music is often categorized as “horizontal” (e.g. the music changes when entering a room), or “vertical” (e.g., tempo increases or an instrumental element is added when entering combat); Nour’s music is diagonal. Player inputs comprise a measure of chaos used to conduct the assembly and expression of the music. Put simply, the dish you create creates the song.
Conjure food and make a melody, create a dish and make a song.
Each time a food is introduced into the scene, a sound comes with it. What does a marshmallow sound like? An airy flute! An ice cube? The high notes of a grand piano played staccato, of course! Once in the scene, the foods act as percussion instruments, singing the sound that announced them on impact.
Players can look forward to both macro and micro manipulation of game audio via changes they make to the environment. This relationship is reciprocal: they’ll also have the power to change the environment through music.
Tracks, evaluates, and displays rhythmicity of player input
Music in Nour is not just a soundtrack; it's an interface.
Players can exert influence over the scene and its contents in both familiar and new modes of musical gameplay. The mechanics aim to encourage and reward the exploration and experimentation central to Nour.
Musical notation glyphs I designed to match the game's font
Sequence effects are triggered by specific note sequences a la the Zelda ocarina. This sequence, (4,4,3,3,8), triggers a ‘force push’ and introduces a jersey club kick sequence to the background music.
Spell effects, like Freeze, pictured here, are resource-gated and affect physics.
Noodles dancing to the music
Rhythmic play generates a resource used to manipulate physics and enchant food. Combining sequence and spell effects creates a dizzying number of musical (and physical) possibilities.
The rhythm system does not depend on a grid. User input is instead processed relatively, allowing the game to recognize and reward rhythms ranging from rigid to adventurous.
Rhythm is used to influence the environment directly via a sequence effect or indirectly, via a spell effect.
Facilitating immersion with embodied controls
You can't actually eat the food in Nour, but you can come close thanks to some careful signal processing.
Blow on food to cool it off, slurp to drink liquids, slam a door to make objects jump in surprise, or sing to free foods from their earthly chains.
Tj Hughes, Founder of Terrifying Jellyfish, demonstrating the aural interface
Minimal representations for simple selection
Nour's graphic interfaces were designed to employ and complement the game's stunning colors.
Spell selection menu
Paint-palette representation of the player's pantry; each swatch represents a food.
Designing for Virality: The Jellyfish
Provisioning memes for organic SSM
For better or worse, memes are an important part of game marketing.
Panic's (Nour's publisher) previous release, Untitled Goose Game was a smash hit, thanks in part to the widely shared memes featuring its eponymous character.
Nour was replete with gorgeous visuals worthy of sharing, but lacked a character on which to project thoughts and feelings, i.e., something to serve as the basis for not just situational, but personal memes.
I adapted the studio's logo, a jellyfish, into a character that could serve as such a canvas. It is rare, enigmatic, benevolent at times and malevolent at others. Brownian motion controls its intended trajectory, but players can choose to frustrate or enable the Jellyfish.
Adaptation of the studio's logo into a character
The Jellyfish stealing a fish cake in-game
A play on the Chiquita banana sticker I designed for use on promotional goods