In some of the most left-wing news coming out of Gamescom this year, electronic musician Deadmau5 is creating his own video game called Oberhasli. More exactly, Oberhasli is a “virtual world and musical experience” where Deadmau5 fans and his music can interact with content curated by the man himself (and the mouse).
The project is launching on Core, a free game creation platform sponsored by Fortnite developer Epic Games in 2020. Epic’s involvement in the platform, available through the Epic Games Store, is fitting considering that Oberhasli looks like a more in-depth version of the game. Fortnitelive music trials. This won’t be a one-off concert but a growing digital space where fans can peer deep into the DJ’s brain.
I spoke with Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, about Oberhasli and his interest in creating digital worlds. Zimmerman made it clear that he didn’t want to create a flash PR; Oberhasli is a long-term vision that can provide artists with a futuristic way of thinking to connect with their fans.
Let’s start digital
When you hear the name Deadmau5, video games probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. The DJ and producer is a Grammy-nominated electronic artist who is best known for his iconic rat helmet. Skeptics might assume his connection to the project is nominal, with a development team doing the heavy lifting.
That’s not exactly the case. Zimmerman is an avid gamer and Self-taught developer. Our conversation covered a wide range of high-level tech terms, as Zimmerman researched DLSS and path tracing. He finds himself trying to figure out how something is done in a game the same way he asks a musician what synth is using on a piece of music.
Zimmerman told Digital Trends: “Things I like to do myself, I tend to dive into research. “Everybody can appreciate a game, and there are a lot of people who don’t care how the game works. I love cars, but I don’t necessarily know much about it. If it’s on the computer, I’m happy to do it, but if it’s a tangible thing, I can ignore it a bit.”
The music and the game end up intersecting surprisingly well, as Zimmerman almost accidentally created a game. While he’s not sure he can commit to a full-scale, AAA-sized title, Core .’s world builder interface allowing him to shoot his dream project much faster.
“It came from the need to create a program in front of a real-time game engine instead of setting up a studio,” says Zimmerman. “My Previz, thanks to the advent of the Unreal Engine, started to look like an AAA game, and I was like, ‘Wow, can we turn it into a video game?’ And they were like ‘yes…and no.’ Making games is a solid undertaking, with lots of money and hours of work. It just makes more sense to step into a pre-existing world builder to use it as the framework for the Deadmau5 world. “
Oberhalsi is an ambitious project. It’s not like a Fortnite concert experience in which the player will log in for 20 minutes, interact with a pre-booked show, and leave. Zimmerman feels that experiences like FortniteTheir live shows tend to get attention, but ultimately fail. Instead, his aim is to create a persistent and ever-evolving, modular world – one that allows him to truly interact with his fans and vice versa.
“The long-term goal is for the players to be able to team up or solo and go to a gig where I’m actually there performing live,” says Zimmerman. “It’s just a sandbox hangout where I can do some web streaming and interact with people without Core, but can watch me interact with people in real time. It’s great to have this platform where I can grow and the world build and change things weekly, daily, whenever I want and that has become a community activity. “
The digital space will host events and have pre-built mini-games that players can participate in. It sounds a bit like Second life, if it’s set in the “Deadmau5 world” instead of the real thing. Core co-founder Jordan Maynard calls it “the window into Joel’s mind”. One week, he can drop a song sketch in the game. Alternatively, he can program several guns and turn them all into a battle royale game. It’s a less genre-bending experience, giving fans access to his flexible creative process.
Oberhasli extend the same idea to its players. Zimmerman describes it as a “sandbox game for developers and artists,” noting that anyone can change the world if they know how to use Core’s world builder. Any player can program on a number of cars and create a Super Deadmau5 Kart if they feel like it. Hopefully fan interaction will keep the world going even when Zimmerman himself isn’t logged in.
“I was thinking, how am I going to give this thing a shelf life while I’m sleeping?” Zimmerman said. “One of the challenges is gambling and creating social activity for people on the same level that they would get if I were there too. You can go to the circus, but if all the performers get a day off, who wants to go to the damn circus? “
Naturally, the whole project evokes the elusive “metaverse” concept that tech companies like Epic and Facebook are pursuing right now. Oberhasli would certainly be labeled as another building block in the cohesive vision of a digital-only world, but that’s not how Zimmerman necessarily sees the project. For him, it’s just about finding ways to connect with fans in a more meaningful way. Metaverse is a broad concept that can allow us to live an entire digital life; this is a more personal experience, breaking down the barrier between artist and fan.
Zimmerman was refreshingly blunt when the topic of the metaverse came up: “I don’t even know what it is and neither does anyone else. So I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say metaverse. “