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thought a bit this morning about what would be involved in making a full album in PICO-8

if we riff off of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Album#Le and go with "half an hour long" as the criterion, the length-defining sfx in each pattern* would have to average a PICO-8 music tick tempo of 112.5 - about 52-53 BPM if each tick is one beat

which it doesn't have to be

- 🐲 πŸ’­

* roughly: either the shortest non-looping track or, if all tracks loop, the longest track in absolute length. we've not tested edge cases.

For reference: 52-53 bpm is a Lento or Largo in modern music tempo terminology - literally "slowly" or "broadly". gamemaking.social/@packbat/103 is flowing at a tempo of 136 PICO-8 music ticks per note if you want to hear something in that neighborhood.

(Fun fact: music played slower that about 33 bpm gets into a space too slow for audiences to nod along to the beat - each pulse floats isolated in time, too far apart to bond to the notes around it. youtube.com/watch?v=afhSDK5DJq is a video about this.)

- 🐲

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...for a single PICO-8 cart to play a 30-minute performance, besides needing to maintain an average PICO-8 music tick count of 112.5, it has to stay within the sfx limit. There are only 64 sfx slots to go with the 64 pattern slots. The cart would have to average one sfx slot per pattern slot - either through being monophonic music with no sfx instruments or through replaying the same sfx in multiple patterns.

These are all viable limits to work within, but they are pretty restrictive.

- 🐍 πŸ’­

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...related to the above:

The slowest possible SPD marking in PICO-8 is 255 music ticks per beat.

255 music ticks
times 1/128 seconds per music tick
times 32 beats per sfx
times 64 sfx patterns per cartridge
= 4080 seconds
= 68 minutes.

...we think that might be an interesting project: create a 68-minute album in a single PICO-8 cart's music patterns and SFX.

- 🐍 🐲 πŸ’­

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🦊 🐲 πŸ’­

128 music ticks per second
divided by 255 music ticks per beat
times 60 seconds per minute
= 30.1 BPM

...that's pushing into the territory under 33 BPM where beat sense gets ... shaky. Where rhythm feels almost steady but also not, because the sonic events are just a little too far apart to connect in the mind.

...I guess the only thing to do is to play with it and to work around it.

(Example workaround: dropping a percussion line under it to define a faster, comprehensible pulse.)

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gamemaking.social

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