CommunitySmackathon Project – Drum Circle

Smackathon Project – Drum Circle

Team Needsmorecoffee was made up of Joel, Jessica and Anthony. Our Smackathon project was “JamCircle”, a multiplayer, asynchronous drum circle app.

The Idea – Jam Circle

It’s a drum circle app, you can select different drums and tap to play them. If you stop playing a drum, the app loops what you played over the last two bars, so even playing by yourself you can build up nice complex rhythms.

However, the real fun of a drum circle is playing with other people. But with only limited time in the Smackathon, I didn’t think I could write a whole app and a server to support it. So I decided to try GameCenter, and use the built-in multiplayer matchmaking. It was a risk because it was something I hadn’t tried before, but it worked great.

Papercraft Drums

For a drum app, we needed some drums. The amazing Smule content team provided us some great hand drum samples (Thanks, Richard and Devin!), way more than I had time to use. For a visual representation of the drums, Jessica had the amazing idea to create paper craft! She made some amazing papercraft drums, including a cow (for the cowbell, of course). Anthony rekindled his long dormant 3d modeling chops and was able to convert the real world origami drums into virtual 3d models. Also, Jessie was kind enough to let us digitize her actual drum and it looks great in the app.

To bring in the Wave theme, and to give the app a little more personality than a “drum machine” look, we used an animated version of the iconic tsunami image in the background. The wave animates across the screen, each time it makes a complete pass across the screen is one pass through the loop. The foreground waves bounce in time with the tempo.

The Final App

I’m totally happy with how the app turned out. After connecting through GameCenter, you just play the drums. When you have a pattern you like, you just tap the arrow button and it sends that drum to everyone else in the circle. It’s pretty fun to bounce ideas back and forth, or even just to destroy your friend’s careful polyrhythm with a barrage of cowbell.

Smackathon 2013 was a blast, and I hope we do it again!