Last week Ubisoft unveiled the cover art of the latest game in their Far Cry franchise, and the outcry was immediate and widespread. The image of an ostensibly blond haired white man with his hand on the head of a kneeling Nepali or Indian man with a grenade in his hands conjured…
So, I have some thoughts about incestuous relationships I wanted to blather out. First, let’s get one thing out of the way.
Blood or genetics or anything of that sort are a terrible reason for opposing such relationships. It’s missing the point by a mile. Who cares about blood relation?
Hard to believe it’s been a year since I made this. It was from an old black and white Band-Aid commercial that used this effect when the kids were injured while playing. I put the color bands on and posted it.
I could stare at this forever.
Soundscape is the audiogame I made for Ludum Dare 26 to fit the theme “minimalism”. In the game you must navigate by sound through a maze and to find the source of a beating sound. If you win, or press escape because you are too frustrated, the game will zoom out and visually reveal the true nature of the maze to you; superimposing your route on top to produce what could be generously described at minimalism inspired art.
The game is not a pure audio game. There is a poem that appears in text on the screen at the beginning, and obviously the zoom out at the end isn’t rendered in audio. More significantly, if you are using mouse or keyboard then you need to look at the visuals to know your orientation, and there are also visual cues for movement though they aren’t particularly helpful.
It’s an interesting novelty, but as a real audiogame it doesn’t really work. It fails to present the enough of the right kind of information to make the maze navigable. You are dropped in maze where every position in space is almost indistinguishable from any other; a maze of twisty passages, all alike.
Can you reconstruct in your head the layout of a room just by knowing the distances of the walls as you look around? Could you even decode those distances reliably from the pitch of a sound? Probably not. Even if you could, you would find it extremely difficult to localise yourself within that mental map after moving; you need better information that this!
I added static to tell you when a wall was very close and you were likely to be stuck. I also wrote the collision code such that you would slide along walls if you walked into them; that is a bad combination! There’s no way to determine in which direction you are moving, or how quickly, and that really makes localisation difficult within whatever crude mental map you were able to construct from the opaque audio output.
The goal emits a beating sound that uses positional audio and grows louder and you close in on it, but the changes in volume and position are difficult to perceive over short distances; especially as you cannot silence the shrieking pitch-based distance feeler.
Despite these problems, and much to my surprise, many people found the game comparable (albeit painful to listen to). I have only watched a few people play, and seen a few more of the rendered paths, but I suspect that their success is down to a combination of lucky map generation and use of a simple strategy:
- move in the direction of the goal, sliding along walls
- if you suspect you are making no progress, look around for the nearest discontinuity in pitch and walk through that
The game works, but not in the way I intended; the pitch feeler is most often a red herring and attempting to form a working navigational model of the maze in your head may be impossible.
What could I have done to make it work? I have some ideas that I’ll discuss in a later post. Suffice to say, I learned a lot from watching people play soundscape, and I’m working on something that can hopefully form a component of the type of game I wanted soundscape to be.