Behind-the-Scenes: QSplat

by Abby @ Quaver on December 1, 2011

in At Quaver HQ,

Super Programmer Adam is back to dig into another of our QArcade mini-games!

If you missed Adam’s first two Behind-the-Scenes posts, you can read them here:

On AstroNotes
On Roadies to the Rescue


Hello, everyone! It’s Adam, your friendly neighborhood programmer, back with some excellent tips for another of the mini-games in the QArcade at

My favorite game on the site is QSplat, and it was developed by my good friend and co-worker Matt. I’m going to reveal a few of the game’s secrets, but don’t tell Matt! Shh!

Just kidding! Matt actually gave me permission to fill you guys in on some of the awesome tricks in QSplat! What a swell guy!


The goal of QSplat is to launch paintballs at as many note targets as possible in order to get a high score. But it’s not as simple as just clicking the target. In order to get your score super duper high, you’ll have to know how many times to pump your launcher before you shoot!

Press the spacebar to pump your launcher.

So, how do you find out how many times to pump your launcher before you launch a paintball? Well, that depends on the note on the face of the target you want to hit. For example, a whole note holds four beats on a staff, so that’s how many times you pump your launcher when you target a whole note! Can you guess how many pumps a quarter note would require, then? Be careful, because if you pump too few or too many times, your paintball will automatically miss!

Press the spacebar one time for each beat the target note represents. Use your mouse to aim and click to fire!

Have you noticed that every time you play the game, each target seems to pop up in a different spot from the last time? That’s because Matt used randomization to determine where and when a target will appear. So every player’s experience is going to be slightly different! It makes a lot of sense, because otherwise you could just memorize the pattern of targets every time you play the game. And where’s the fun in that?!


When you play QSplat, you will quickly notice all of the animals running and flying around. Matt put a lot of effort into animating those animals, which means he drew them and caused them to move.

That sounds just like a cartoon, right? Well, that’s exactly what it’s like! But instead of paper and pencils, Matt used keyframes and a pen tablet. What are those?

Keyframing is an animator’s trick for showing movement in drawings. Every frame represents a small change in the drawing from the frame before. For example, one keyframe holds an image of the bunny on all four paws, and another when he’s sitting on his hindlegs. You can imagine just how many keyframes go into the animation of a scene like the one in QSplat! (Hint: it’s a lot!)

So what about a pen tablet? That’s the tool that Matt used in order to draw the animals. Of course you can’t draw things on a computer using a pencil (unless you want to ruin your monitor), so you might use a pen tablet. It’s a special drawing tool that looks a lot like a mouse-pad and connects directly to the computer via a special stylus. It simulates using a real pencil better than a mouse can. Computer artists love pen tablets!

Tips and Hints

  • Don’t forget to make the chipmunk run! If you launch a paintball at one of the bushes on the ground, the chipmunk will start running. While the chipmunk is running, any targets you hit will earn you double points!
  • Eventually you’ll encounter targets that require more than one shot before they’re gone. These multi-targets will spin after you hit them the first time, and then reveal a second note value. Sometimes it’s a better strategy to hit a target, then launch a paintball at a different target while you wait for the first target to stop spinning. That way you can spend more time actually launching paintballs, rather than waiting to read the value of the second note of a multi-target.
  • For advanced players, consider “pre-pumping” the launcher. This means that you should always have one pump loaded into your launcher at any given time. Why is that? Well, it’s because every single target will require at least one pump! So it saves you a bit of time to pump your launcher before you are required to launch a paintball.
  • Have you noticed the duck that is flying around? A little bird told me that he is involved with a very special award that you can win. And that award is a nod back to one of the most popular games when video games were first starting to get really big. Can you guess what game that is? Try aiming for the duck a few times to figure it out!

Visit the QArcade in your Music Room at to play QSplat today!

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