The physical free-roaming binaural experience was a very successful project. With only one day to let people play the game and people standing in line for the attraction, just a few were given a chance to experience it. We hope that one day we can rebuild the installation for a longer period of time so that we can reach a larger audience.
1221 takes place in a fully furnished eerie room where one can walk around to find an object. The narrative is explained through binaural audio. As lead programmer and assistant sound designer on this out-of-control-schoolproject, I am technically responsible for throwing the player in a world of suspense and full immersion.
The audio team, consisting of Timothy Scheek and myself, had a few months to research the possibilities and limitations of implementing binaural audio in a free roaming world. The research basically taught us, that in this day and age, a next to perfect binaural reproduction in a free roaming setting is simply impossible. Thousands of sub-factors contribute to the quality of binaural audio. Alas, way too much to implement them all in a fully adaptive and interactive game environment where multiple distinguishable sound sources are needed.
The serious CPU limitations forced us to make a lot of compromises in the versatility of the binaural audio, while trying to prosecute the quality standard of testers being able to point out where a sound came from. In the end we succeeded in balancing between high fidelity and CPU-“Friendliness”. People where very impressed with the audio and I am very, very pleased with the result.
Currently getting some work done for three awesome games. They differ widely from one another though they’re all very great.
– Phenomenon – The first game is a physical game where one can walk around in a room with binaural audio on his head which adjusts to the players position and view angle. I am making the real time binaural processing engine which calculates how a sound should sound and where in the room the player should hear it. It’s very interesting and also quite complicated and tricky. The whole game could function solely on audio, though the team puts great effort in decorating the room and adding extra effects using motors and what not. Should any questions arise about the used tracking or binaural processing techniques I’d be happy to answer them.
– Hank vs. Hector – The second game is quite the contrary to the first one, as it is a one button game where you only control the altitude of a flying mouse. The theme is very cartoony and fun, whereas the audio completes the picture, making it a hilarious game to play or watch.
– Biobots – The third game also has quite an interesting touch to it. The game is built for people with ADD and ADHD to train their focus/attention. The player has a Mindwave sensor on their head, which is a brainwave measurement device. We use it to see how much attention the player has got. In the game the player has to have a certain level of attention to be able to perform certain actions. With lower attention the game gets harder. It’s a 3D game with a organic steampunk style to it, which makes it a lot of fun to design the audio for it together in an audio team. I also played a few instruments for the adaptive music layer.
I’m currently working on an audio-game for people with bad or no vision, together with Gijs Driesenaar. Using an iPhone and some rather unorthodox but interesting methods in Max 6 to create a sound environment which adapts to the players choices and actions. We will be working with some binaural techniques to recreate a functional spatial hearing feedback system so the player will be able to steer appropriately and play the game.