Electronauts is a music creation tool built within an “interactive sonic environment” where users can make, remix, and perform music, regardless of skill level. This is the third VR project from California-based developer Survios, creators of VR action games Raw Data (2017) and the upcoming Sprint Vector.
Scheduled for release in 2018, Electronauts is a radical departure from Survios’ previous work. Described as “the next generation of music creation”, this built-for-VR software aims to give the user the ability to produce slick beats “without needing any prior musical knowledge, skill, or experience.” The title is planned to support SteamVR, HTC Vive, PSVR, and Oculus Rift.
As the music can be manipulated in real-time, it has strong potential as a live performance tool, allowing users to blend and shape tracks like a DJ. It also features “uniquely designed electronic instruments” that can be played directly, and functions as an elaborate music visualiser. This is achieved with their ‘Music Reality Engine’ that is a form of sequencer, but with non-traditional features optimised for VR.
According to a hands-on from Inverse, the player stands in front of three virtual DJ tables, and the motion controllers become virtual drumsticks. The sticks can be used to hit drum pads directly, but also function as pointing devices to interact with the sequencing tools. “You can interact with the music in a myriad of ways: play instruments, record loops and sequences, layer filters, rearrange pieces, and straight-up compose new parts of the songs,” writes Corey Plante for Inverse. “You can even change the speed at which you slide through the virtual world or adjust the color scheme on the fly.”
Music creation isn’t a totally new concept for VR. Indeed Inverse compares Electronauts to existing VR visualiser Fantasynth: Chez Nous (2017), and VR musical sandboxes EXA: The Infinite Instrument (Early Access, 2017) and SoundStage (2017). However, Survios’ brings a sizeable studio backed by significant funding to the genre, and is using that weight to attract established musicians and producers to collaborate.
Grammy award-winning music producers Stargate are already on board, with more high-profile collaborations to come, the company says. According to the announcement on Survios’ main site, Stargate will help them “incorporate the music of A-class artists, producers, and DJs” into the software, allowing users to “remix songs and engage with these top artists’ music in a brand new way.”
Applications for the upcoming closed beta can be submitted on the official Electronauts website, which hopes to encourage musicians to produce music that could be featured in the full release.
“Never before have you been able to create music and interact with sound in a truly immersive way. This opens up for a totally new level of creative freedom and will inspire both seasoned artist and musicians as well as people with no musical training. Anyone can instantly create magic,” says Stargate’s Mikkel Eriksen. “The fact that you can play with material from today’s most talented artists makes it even more compelling. I truly believe Electronauts is groundbreaking, and a game changer in music creation.”