Smackathon Winner: Chuck Teaches Singing – Most Polished Hack*
Nothing in this world terrifies me more than singing. Not ghosts, not terrorism and not even public speaking. Singing, by far, takes the cake.
For Smule’s Annual Smackathon, Xi Xiang, Hanna Beaton, Oscar Corral and myself – all designers and non-singers – decided to take on the task of learning to sing and make it as disarming and playful as possible. Our vehicle would be a nostalgic side-scrolling adventure in the spirit of “Mario Teaches Typing.”
Read on to see what we came up with!
We started with a similar concept to “Flappy Bird,” where a player’s vocal pitch could navigate obstacles, but decided that matching specific tones would be a better exercise for non-singers as well as singers in need of a warm up. The game needed a star, so we picked Chuck, another Smulean who happened to be out of the office and, therefore, couldn’t veto the idea. As an homage to Donkey Kong, the game’s objective would be to evade rolling barrels. And so, “Chuck Teaches Singing” was born.
The entire game was designed in darling 8-bit graphics, set in a fictional (but San Francisco-like) city and packed with inside jokes that wouldn’t be funny any more if we explained them. Really, you had to be there.
As you help Chuck jump over barrels by singing along, you trace through a song inspired by Rocky’s Gonna Fly Now. It’s pretty rad. We put it on the Web to make it easy to set up and share.
There was just one problem: none of us were skilled enough singers to successfully demo it for the team beyond just a few notes. Fortunately, Smule is brimming with musical tallent and the demo ended with the entire office singing along, successfully guiding Chuck past quite a few obstacles. Unfortunately, it eventually got too hard and Chuck stumbled on a barrel.
Our humble game received the award for the Most Polished project, which goes to show what happens when four designers team up in a hackathon. (We were actually aiming for “Most Brilliant Hack, To the Point of Moving Grown Men to Tears and Stirring Up Religious Feelings in the Hearts of The Most Hardened Individuals” but were told afterwards that particular award didn’t exist.)
Play it for yourself here. It works best in Chrome and when you use head phones. There’s a special prize for whoever can beat Chuck’s score!
– Ben Hersh, Smule Product Designer
Team Chuck Teaches Singing: Ben Hersh, Hanna Beaton, Xi Xiang, Oscar Corral
* Editor’s Note: If we had a prize entitled “Most Brilliant Hack, To the Point of Moving Grown Men to Tears and Stirring Up Religious Feelings in the Hearts of The Most Hardened Individuals” this project would certainly have been a top candidate. Alas, “Most Polished Hack” was the