Here are the slides from my final presentation:
And the a video of the application:
*notes: while this was taking using the simulator to make the video easier, the game it does indeed work on an iphone or ipad. also, the accelerometer and the simulator were not working, so i had to click with the mouse to move the ball of light. the accelerometer does work in the actual game
And here’s the abstract of my final paper (link to full paper at bottom):
Games are primarily about playing within, yet pushing against the limitations of a structured ruleset. This struggle with and against these constraints is what makes gameplay enjoyable. Yet games are ruled by their visual world. Our eyes have evolved to quickly and accurately detect spatial relationships, and most games rely on this perception to create a visual game world. But what about audio? Our ears, though not as accurately, can still detect spatial relationships when 3D (or surround) sound is manipulated to create soundscapes. This audio could create its own game world, and opens up doors to compelling and novel game play.
Yet the area of sound in games, let alone sound as game, is widely under-researched and under-developed. This paper and game prototype explore using audio as the interface for interaction, using 3D sound through stereo headphones and a mobile device. The mobile-device game is an effective platform for testing since the player is often already wearing headphones and seeking an escape from the world around them.
Pitch, the game prototype developed alongside of this research, has the player direct a ball of light to a hidden endpoint using aural directional cues. It creates space through sound, and encourages the player to explore that space.
While a successful first prototype, much research and experimentation still needs to occur in the world of audio games. The game as-is is compelling, but ultimately loses the player’s interest. However, the results of this initial experiment were promising. With more research, developers will be able to make interesting and novel audio games that cater to the general public.
Some personal thoughts that didn’t work with the final paper:
Personally, I’m fairly pleased with how this project came together. First of all, I really stuck to the timeline that I set for myself, and was able to change some parts of the game based on user-testing. This was a first for me, and it absolutely made the entire project feel better-developed. Actually, I think that the most excited I’ve been about this project was when, after I had grown bored and tired of the concept after hours of development and testing, others who were playing it for the first time found it innovative and fun. I tend to second-guess myself after working on the same idea for a long period of time, and this made me realize that I should show my work to people throughout the process (even if I come to feel that the idea is boring or trite).
And now for my note on sound. I learned that I can’t do everything with this project. There’s a reason that sound designers spend years perfecting their craft – electronic sound is hard. Really hard. If I could do this project all over again, I would be in talks with a sound designer from day 1. Despite this personal knowledge gap, I really did enjoy working with sound for a final project. I learned a lot, not just about creating sound, but about how to create effective, engaging, and descriptive sound. And, I learned, that it’s an area not often studied in relation to games, which I found surprising.
This project was absolutely a solid start to my thesis work. I intend to do something mobile / web / mac app related, and just making something, anything to work on the iPhone felt good. While I used openFrameworks for this prototype, it made me want to learn Obj C / cocoa so that I could create cleaner, more engaging interactions. It got the wheels spinning in my brain about potential thesis ideas.