Submitted By:
Empty Clip Studios, Inc.
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Game Type:
Game Platform:
Custom Engine
Matt Shores

team leader

Francois Bertrand


Game Title:
Game Description:

Your music is under attack… you must liberate it! Symphony is one of the most music-driven games ever made. It’s a vertical shooter where everything is driven by your music. The unique musical content of every one of your songs creates both a unique level, and a unique item you can equip and upgrade. With your music as the inspiration, six difficulty levels, upgradable items and customizability, Symphony offers a long-lasting, unique gameplay experience.

What was your inspiration for making the game?

We all feel strong emotions while listening to certain music. The inspiring intros, engaging build-ups, the chorus lines, the calm bridges, the climaxes. We always wanted to create a game that would capture this range of emotions that’s uniquely present in every song.

How is your game unique from others out there?

There are two main things we want you to feel as a player as you are playing Symphony. First, we want you truly feel the intensity and emotions of the song you’re playing. We worked hard on our music analysis system to provide an experience that is truly unique to each song. Then, we also wanted to entice you to rediscover your own music collection. There is an overarching plot in which each one of your songs contains an item that you can equip on your ship and even upgrade when you unlock it. To our knowledge no other game that uses user music has ever linked your music library this tightly with gameplay, and it provides a lot of replayability.

How long did it take you to make your game?

Symphony was truly a labor of love. Keeping an indie studio alive is always a challenge, and over the last three years we have been constantly juggling between developing Symphony and keeping the lights on. Also, as we showed the game around, the design evolved and we kept improving it until we were happy with it. We started working on the concept in 2008, and we’ve been working on it every moment we could since then.

What was the hardest part about making it?

Making the game feel right based on *any* user-provided song was a huge challenge. There is such a range of possibilities, from classical, to rap, to death metal! Almost everything in the game is based on the intensity and beats of the music, so a lot of work went into both analyzing the music and balancing everything out. We’re very happy with the result, but we’ll probably keep tweaking right up until the end!

Any other unique or interesting facts about your game we should know about?

We’ve noticed that people enjoy playing the game much more when they are playing music they know. It seems to be because as listeners we anticipate moods and emotions, and speaks to the connection we have with our music!

How did you pick the name of your game?  Did you have any others in mind?

We wanted our game to combine many elements (music, visuals, gameplay) into one cohesive, satisfying experience. It felt like the name Symphony summed it up perfectly!

Questions for the Team Leader

Lincoln, NE


University of Minnesota

What is your gaming background?

I’ve been playing video games since I was four years old. My father created his own games for my family on our Atari 800 (it was “high-end” at the time with 64K of main memory) so this was my first inspiration for building my own games. I joined the industry in 2001 with the launch of the Xbox, worked on major triple-A titles until 2007 when Francois and I formed Empty Clip Studios.

How long have you and your teammates known each other?  What’s the story behind how your team got together?

We’ve known each other since 2005. We first met at a video game start-up prior to Empty Clip Studios. Since we got along so well and were able to accomplish so much together, we formed Empty Clip Studios with the idea that smaller teams could build amazing games.

What game or games are you playing right now?

Right now I am working my way through Skyrim… although I think I will stick to the main quest at this point and finish the game whenever I get a chance. One thing about making games is that you never get enough time to play the games that are out there already. I have quite a back-log of titles to go through…

What is your favorite all-time game?

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. To this day I have yet to play anything where I was motivated to improve my personal life based-on virtues from a game. That game was groundbreaking on multiple levels.

What is your least favorite all-time game?

No team has a goal to make a bad game. Those games that aren’t able to execute well are almost always a result of an impossible schedule or lack of resources and funding. Having worked on a couple of titles where the end goal was “get this out by this date no matter what”, I don’t feel that any response to this question would be fair to the team that had to work on the title(s) mentioned.

What is your best game-related story?

I have some great stories… unfortunately most of them aren’t meant for public consumption. Even my entry into the video game industry is rather humorous, but is more appropriate for a conversation “over drinks.” It’s too bad I can’t answer this question as most readers might get a kick out of them…

First video game system you owned?

My first video game system was the Atari 800. To this day I still love playing games on it. It’s tempting to bait all the Commodore fan-boys here, but I’ll resist for Francois’ sake J.

Current system you spend the most time playing?

Right now the PS/3 is my favorite system. I love the original IP titles they put out on it (i.e. Heavy Rain).

When you and your team aren’t making awesome games, what other hobbies are you involved in?

I know Francois is an avid Hockey player as well as a surfer (whenever he gets near a beach with decent waves). He and his wife have a son, Alex, as well. I am sure this counts as more than a hobby!

I have a background in music and used to play the cello. My wife would like me to get back into it, so I have to practice hard this year.

Honestly, running a small video game development studio really cuts into your personal time. After Symphony launches, I think both Francois and I will be able to get some time back into our personal hobbies. I know we (and our families) are both looking forward to this.

Team Photos