It was a joke, back in September. A goofy idea, amidst a brainstorming session of merely silly ideas. It’s a heavenly harp! And when you turn it upside-down, it becomes a Devil Harp! Ha, ha.
The YouTube trailer would probably look something like this:
I hacked Angel Harp together in my spare time. Four long months! The plan was to finish by Halloween of 2011, but it took considerably longer than expected. The synthesis was completed in one week, the sound effects in another week. Standing on the shoulders of Twang, Angel Harp produces somewhat-realistic tones (like an actual harp! Complex filtering!) And it has 3+ dozen strings, for serious plucking power!
And, the graphics… Let’s talk about that.
Once the Halloween deadline became improbable, I decided to hack each feature until it was “good enough.” If any feature became an eyesore, then I’d revisit it — either for version 1.0, or a future release. The clouds were redone a couple times. I had grand plans for the harp itself, using an (awful, buggy) harp modeling tool; in a future version, you can draw your own harps, and skin them with fancy materials, I think.
How do you like those smiles? The facial expressions were sketched in 30 seconds, all of them. In my mind, the enormous half-circle grins and grimaces were very temporary. However, as friends were subjected to the ‘Harp prototypes, it became clear that people loved the primitive scribbled angels, and they wanted to keep them. Beware the things you bring to light.
I have mixed feelings about the facial expressions. Actually, I love them. They’re so happy. It’s almost a parody of top-selling app mascots; googly-eyed characters, managing diners and flying over the outback, are positively leering. Like they haven’t tasted human flesh for millennia, and then suddenly YOU show up.
I worry that prospective buyers won’t risk a couple bucks on Angel Harp, because it might look a bit hastily designed. (Even though it feels reactive and expressive, the screenshots can’t communicate that.)
Angel Harp was a conscious attempt to entertain all ages, and still deliver something unexpected and quirky. Everyone who interacts with Angel Harp loves it, but it’s a big, intimidating knot of weirdness to figure out. Is it an instrument? Why are there angels? Why do they squeal so much?
Frustrating admission: I must create apps that are more familiar to the average person (or a certain subgroup of insane musical geniuses).
Not-so-frustrating admission: I’m proud of the Devil Harp’s carousel of effects. The reversed audio, the tube amp distortion, and the fuzz box. Don some headphones, and lose yourself in the Devil Harp’s ambient spookiness. It’s nice.
Career-building achievement: I greatly expanded my OpenGL knowledge.
True tales of bits and bytes: The sound effects are stored in one continuous file, which sounds like this, and can cause hysteria:
Culinary trivia: Coffee is a wonderful drug. It powered both recording sessions. My arms flapped wildly, as I voiced every angel and demon.
Creepy outtake: Angel Harp mostly “designed itself,” but an early version of the Hell world was genuinely upsetting:
Will there be more Control Z apps in the future: I expect so! There’s one music app that I’m itching to create, but it’s a massive undertaking. Work, play, life, action, rest… I’m still finding the right balance. We shall see.
Is it better to create simple apps, which have one function: Almost certainly. I always want to go beyond the limits, and tinker with new, unprofitable things. This is my curse. If you’ve figured out how to manage this affliction, let me know.