Loud on Planet X is the ultimate independent artist's dream: It's an indie game all about indie bands. The actual gameplay is a blend of two familiar mechanics, a Plants vs. Zombies-style tower-defense system and a rhythm game reminiscent of Patapon that has players making sweet, sweet music while they fend off streams of hostile, blobby aliens. The coolest part for music fans is that Loud lets you play as the indie bands that it features, including Tegan and Sara, Metric, Lights, METZ, Fucked Up, July Talk, Austra and Cadence Weapon. Loud is still a work in progress, but all of the bands have been great to work with so far, Pop Sandbox studio head Alex Jansen says: "The musicians we're working with have been really incredible and genuinely excited to be involved. A lot of them are big gamers too, especially someone like Lights."
Regardless of how cool the band members are individually, there's still a fair bit of red tape involved in creating Loud, Jansen says. "We need to license both master and publishing rights for each song, plus likeness agreements with the bands themselves (since you're playing as the actual band and not just playing their music); there can be multiple parties involved and usually five contracts for each artist. But the artists themselves have been super supportive and helping push through a lot of the deals directly."
The crew at Pop Sandbox is full of huge music fans, Jansen says, and some of them even had a hand in creating Sound Shapes, a glorious little music game featuring songs from Deadmau5 and Beck, among other artists. The first band to jump onboard for Loud was Fucked Up, a beacon of Toronto's punk scene. Fucked Up's Mike Haliechuk and Jonah Falco did the music for Pop Sandbox's mobile game Pipe Trouble, and they're crafting an original score for Loud, too.
"What we've been aiming for is a cross-section of both favorite established and emerging artists, with the hope that people will discover amazing new music through the game," Jansen says.
Pop Sandbox is based in Toronto and for Loud, it's getting financial support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Canadian government and FACTOR, a nonprofit dedicated to growing the independent Canadian music industry, Jansen explains. Still, in order to launch Loud on PlayStation 4, Vita, Steam, iOS and Android by the fall, the team needs a little more money. They're trying their luck on Kickstarter, asking for CAD$50,000 by June 5th.
"Unfortunately we weren't able to actually get in front of Sony in person until Indiecade East a couple months ago," Jansen says when asked specifically about the potential of financial support from Sony. "They've been really supportive, but haven't been able to come forward with actual financial help. We considered the possibility of an exclusive, but have opted to try and go for as many platforms as possible."
If the Kickstarter takes off, Pop Sandbox wants to add support for Wii U and Xbox One, as well. So far the developers have committed to nine in-game artists and 18 tracks, though they want to hit 12 artists total.
"We've definitely got targets in mind for the next slots and are in the middle of some pretty exciting talks, and we're hoping to lock things down and make at least one more announcement over the course of the Kickstarter," Jansen says. "We also want to keep some surprises for launch."
[Image credits: Pop Sandbox]