Blindside: quest to create a great audio-only video game

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18 Responses to “Blindside: quest to create a great audio-only video game”

  1. shutz says:

    If there’s no video, it’s not a video game.  Call it an audio game?

  2. Jellybit says:

    As someone who has worked on similar projects, I very much appreciate their work/goals.  But if they think they’re the first ones to do this (as they stated in the video), I wonder about how much research they’ve done into how to accomplish this.  There were many things I had to learn the hard way about how directional hearing works, and how to most clearly communicate things spatially.  There are several commercial game products out there that are for blind people, and many experiments.  I personally would have looked into that stuff before asking for money.

  3. Mujokan says:

    The most famous game of this type is probably Real Sound: Kaze no Regret. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Sound:_Kaze_no_Regret

  4. Rob says:

    There’s also “In the Pit” on XBL Indie.

  5. AaronAaronAaron says:

    If you check out our Kickstarter you’ll see that we mention that there have been other audio-only games :-) 

    We recorded the video before we had heard about Papa Sangre, which seems the closer than the other ones to what we’re doing. Since we live on opposite sides of the country, it’s not exactly easy to get together to re-record a video, so we went with a caveat in the Kickstarter instead. Apologies if that offended anyone. However, this does still seem to be the first audio adventure type game, more similar to a narrative like Zork than a platformer. Correct me if I’m wrong. We would absolutely love to hear about other attempts though. Kaze no Regret stood out in our research before we discovered Papa Sangre.

    @Jellybit:disqus : We’ve done a lot of research on how to make it so the game is fun and playable. In fact, we’ve finished the first 10 minutes of gameplay, written the technical pieces related to audio, and have done a number of playtests to refine the core mechanic. The hardest part so far has been making sounds convincingly seem like they are in front of or behind you when only using stereo headphones. We’re happy with the results, and you can hear those results in the gameplay clip (albeit only briefly and only on headphones). Directionality is handled well by the game engine. We are currently balancing our reverb effects as well, which unfortunately reduces the directionality of the sound. We have to choose the right mix between realism and functionality.

  6. AaronAaronAaron says:

    If you check out our Kickstarter you’ll see that we mention that there have been other audio-only games :-) We recorded the video before we had heard about Papa Sangre, which seems the closer than the other ones to what we’re doing. Since we live on opposite sides of the country, it’s not exactly easy to get together to re-record a video, so we went with a caveat in the Kickstarter instead. Apologies if that offended anyone. However, this does still seem to be the first audio adventure type game, more similar to a narrative like Zork than a platformer. Correct me if I’m wrong. We would absolutely love to hear about other attempts though. Kaze no Regret stood out in our research before we discovered Papa Sangre. : We’ve done a lot of research on how to make it so the game is fun and playable. In fact, we’ve finished the first 10 minutes of gameplay, written the technical pieces related to audio, and have done a number of playtests to refine the core mechanic. The hardest part so far has been making sounds convincingly seem like they are in front of or behind you when only using stereo headphones. We’re happy with the results, and you can hear those results in the gameplay clip (albeit only briefly and only on headphones). Directionality is handled well by the game engine. We are currently balancing our reverb effects as well, which unfortunately reduces the directionality of the sound. We have to choose the right mix between realism and functionality.

  7. redsrevenge says:

    Yeah, I was going to say you could give it a dual name and call it

    “Blindside
    or
    Zork Strikes Back”.

    You’ll get a lot of good tutoring if you listen to the original Firesign Theater LPs (don’t know if they all ever made it to CD). They were the masters of creating a sonic environment. They do sell some stuff on their site.

    RR

  8. EH says:

    There was another one, like an audio-only Space Invaders, about 7 or 8 years ago. I’ll see if I can find it.

  9. BBNinja says:

    I’ve also been developing part-time a game for the blind, where the young hero must discover and stop the source of a (cliche no doubt) spreading darkness taking over the land.  It will also feature high contrast graphics for partially blind players.  The menu system is created using audio cues.  Players battle monsters, find treasure, talk to NPCs, complete quests and side-quests using various audio clues as they progress.  I’ve been working on making this more of a hardcore rpg (midcore would probably be more accurate) instead of the usual simple games that are targeted to blind audiences.

  10. TimothyM says:

    This is a great idea. Not an original idea, but a great idea. Papa Sangre is the first audio game I’d heard of, but I’m sure there were others before it.

    I wish them well and will probably contribute. There need to be more innovative games like this.

    Here’s Papa Sangre – I highly recommend it for anyone interested with this game. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/papa-sangre/id407536885?mt=8

  11. Stephen Cameron says:

    I wrote “Be The Wumpus” in 2007 (inspired by an account of “In the Pit” that I read on metafilter.)
    bethewumpus.sf.net

  12. Lexicat says:

    “the primary objective of the game is to create a fun gaming experience for all gamers”

    Man, are you hosing it for the deaf community…

  13. Maureen Geoghegan says:

    the international game developers association has a special interest group for accessible games – they want to make games accessible for everyone, particularly those with disabilities. They showcased a few audio games at the GDCs.
    http://igda-gasig.org/

  14. Eric Hunting says:

    Very pleased to see more people working on the concept of audial games. I think there is great unexplored potential in audial computing, not only in adaptive computing but also in mobile computing and large environment interfacing. Games are the likely gateway to more sophisticated audial user interfaces. A great way to explore the technical boundaries of soundscapes.  

  15. Daganev says:

    I remember that Disney World or Disney someplace, had some very cool Audio Experiences.  One where you were getting a haircut, and other mundane experiences that was really amazing. And all using your own headphones if you wanted.

  16. Kaleberg says:

    There was just an article on this in Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6051/1816.full)
    I’m sorry the article is behind a paywall, but I’ll pull a few quotes about the work they are doing at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Boston. They’ve developed an audio navigation game which models their building:

    “A knock in one earphone or the other indicates a door on that side. The
    sound of footsteps ascends in tone as Buchanan walks her avatar up
    stairs. Furniture pings when bumped, and the jewels she is seeking
    twinkle more loudly as she approaches them.”

    They’ve been studying people blind from birth, who apparently can learn to use audio maps (and make physical maps using Legos later) to navigate interiors. Apparently, blind people can learn how to use these simulations quickly, but sighted people have problems.

    The work goes back a bit: “AbES has its roots in the streets of Santiago, Chile, a place where blind
    children are among the poorest children in the city; they wouldn’t
    normally have access to cutting-edge technology as do Buchanan and the
    students at the well-endowed Carroll Center. Yet thanks to computer
    scientist Jaime Sánchez, it was the kids of Santiago who nearly 20
    years ago got to play-test the first audio-based computer game for the blind.”

    There was also a version of DOOM: “Sánchez, who was working on developing audio-based games as learning
    tools for disabled children, wondered whether they could navigate
    DOOM’s unique system. He used the map as the basis for his own game,
    AudioDOOM, which he released in 1998. The ‘mother of AbES,’ AudioDOOM
    incorporated a similar system of sound-emitting walls, as well as
    monsters that run toward the player with increasingly loud footsteps.
    Sánchez recruited half a dozen children between the ages of 8 and 11,
    all blind since birth and mostly from poor neighborhoods, and watched the children play the game in their homes or schools.”

    They are currently working on a version of AudioZelda. There’s been a lot of interest in their mapping system.

    There’s a lot of science going on too, since blind people use brain areas differently from sighted people. The fMRI studies are so popular that kids don’t want to come out until they get to the next level of the game.

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