One of the sad realities of the game industry is that often things don’t go exactly according to plan. When this happens, people tend to get really upset. Development foibles are not at all reserved for big dick major studio releases. Independent games go through the same travails as triple-A titles, in fact it probably happens even more often. We just don’t hear about it nearly as much. We’ve seen plenty of material from hyped up cancelled projects. Whether it be the generous amount of footage from that one Blizzard game we all secretly knew would suck, or any amount of material from Peter Molyneux’s gaggle of cancelled projects, there’s usually at least something for gamers to bite onto after a project meets the void.
What happens, though, when a game that wasn’t the product of a monolithic organization meets its demise? When those three guys in their dorm room get distracted and stop working on it? Or when a very important laptop gets stolen?
Most of the time, nothing happens. Development halts (or is at least seriously delayed), whoever was following the project finds some some other Kickstarter game to get obsessed with, and the developers go back to their day jobs.
That’s a shame, because sometimes these projects are really cool. Or in this case, have at least one really cool aspect to them. The game we’re talking about here was apparently called Dungeon Crawler. It was “supposed to be a top down classic rpg with unique game mechanics.” This very detailed description is brought to you courtesy of Syracuse-based composer/one man band that goes by moniker The Color of Something Red, whose Bandcamp page can be found here.
The Color of Something Red, or TCOSR as his friends like to call him, is something of an enigma. His body of work consists of at least nine releases. It’s not particularly “musical” music. I’m certain that many would struggle to consider TCOSR’s sonic doodles music at all. It’s sort of like the sound version of landscape painting, if the landscapes one painted were of a futuristic hellscape where no life could thrive.
Much of TCOSR’s work is based of the premise of what he refers to on his site as a “digital narrative,” which is a fancy term for concept album. Take the description of 2016’s “ONE volume,” which is “best experienced through shitty headphones” and features tracks like “Disappointing Brunch Confession” and “The Bad Guy Or Something Else That’s Bad Got You Real Bad And Now You’re Sick and Dying.”
Keeping in my theme’s of a “digital narrative,” but working a little more abstractly on the story being told, ONE volume vaguely details the landscape of another universe. In this place, free speech is thing of fiction. No one is capable of speaking without reason, and no reason is good enough to warrant free thinking… thus no free speech. Walk through the lives of nine people living in that bleak and oppressive world.
With a description like that, it’s not at all surprising that TCOSR was contracted by a nameless indie developer to create “The Secret Album: Radio Signals.” for the now-cancelled “Dungeon Crawler.” “The Secret Album” is a collection of 23 tracks that were meant to be hidden as easter eggs that could be found via tuning a radio that would be accessible from the game’s main town. Although the game never came out, and fairly extensive searches have turned up nothing about the project (maybe because it’s called “Dungeon Crawler), the sounds are very cool, very spooky, and very much worth a listen.
Given how few details that are readily available about “Dungeon Crawler,” and given the reality of this album’s existence, there’s a pretty basic narrative that we can yank out of this whole thing. Here’s what probably happened (this is pure spitballin’ conjecture).
Some guys who probably live in or around Syracuse had an idea for a game. They were probably all named Gerald. We’ll call them the Four Geralds. At least one of the Geralds knew TCOSR and decided to ask him to do an easter egg album. TCOSR probably knew that the game would never happen because The Geralds approached him to make easter eggs before they had a single asset designed or line of code written. It’s entirely likely that the Four Geralds have neither the skills nor experience necessary to create a game. TCOSR did the album anyways, because he’s a standup guy or something like that. The Geralds get distracted—they really thought they were gonna be able to make this game…for maybe three weeks, but coding is hard! And who knew you needed to actually learn and study to make a good game. The project sits in utero for a year or something, and finally TCOSR decides to hit the Geralds up. Here’s the conversation:
TCOSR: Hey Geralds, what’s up?
Gerald Representative: Oh not much. How about yourself man?
TCOSR: Not much, just pondering the utter darkness of the infinite void. I finished that album for your game by the way. Super excited about the project. Is there a build of the game that’s ready for me to try?
Gerald Representative: We don’t have any code written yet but I drew this dank sword that’s gonna be in the game if you want to see.
TCOSR: *hangs up*
Lucky for us, TCOSR was able to release these sounds on his Bandcamp for your listening pleasure.