Thumbnail image for January.JPG[Guest columnist Rekcahdam/Roger Hicks continues covering the intersection of music and indie games.]

As the month of January comes to a close I thought it'd only be fitting to revisit Rich Vreeland's (aka Disasterpeace's) recently refined "generative music tool" with the same name. Some readers may remember the post about it back in October, but since then Vreeland has changed quite a bit to focus more on making it more like a tool and less like a game. In fact so much has changed that I believe it warrants revisiting.

He's ditched the parallaxing background and atmosphere it once had and added advanced, sequencer-like features. For those who haven't already heard of the original. January opens with you controlling a lone boy in a winter landscape who apparently likes to eat snow flakes, and lots of them! Every snow flake that your tongue touches triggers a musical note or chord in the form of a soft echoing synth. The snow fall starts slowly but gradually picks up in speed, seemingly causing notes and chords to trigger more rhythmically all layered over a wind ambiance track.

Although Disterpeace changed his basic description from "game" to "tool," it definitely stills feel like a game at first. But, the more you play it, the more it feels like an instrument, due to the plethora of new features he's recently added. One quick peek at the advanced controls will have you changing the key of the note progression, the length of each note and even toggling through different scales (Ionian, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian to be exact). You'll easily become lost in a sea of harmonizing snow flakes before you know it! And to top of it off, you can even export your playthrough to a MIDI file.

I love the fact that January allows you to have fun while secretly hooking you into wanting to customize your experience with it. Although I was skeptical at first, I now welcome the changes in January. I certainly hope that we'll see more updates to January or at least more games/generative tools like it in the future.

[Disclaimer: Roger Hicks performs and creates music with several indies including Disasterpeace, but he was not involved with the making of this game/tool.]