(An Early Attempt at) Conceptualising an Audio-Led Game

We’re being tasked to help think of an audio-led game for our AUD311 module, and I have an idea. Perhaps this idea could be taken through to my final submission, although I’ll want to prototype it when I next get some free time to see if it is in any way viable.

Digital soundscapes are collections of procedural and pre-recorded voices that evoke a sense of place. (At least, this is my understanding of them so far; it’s still early days.) This week, we were tasked to form an idea for an audio-led game. i.e. a game where audio is the primary design element. I was using the level greybox showcased last week as a basis, as this is the same level we will be using in our final submission. I wanted to question if I could create a soundscape using a single virtual instrument played in various different ways throughout the entirety of the environment instead of utilising a myriad of different recordings and procedural sounds.

Walking footsteps plays alternating bass keys, whilst throwing a harpoon into the air plays keys across a scale depending on the trajectory and duration of flight. Birds tweeting could be represented by high trills, and scattering them could throw the composition into a state of discordance.

The example of John Zorn’s Cobra we were shown earlier on in the week inspired this idea conceptually, although I don’t think it would be unfair of me to suggest Zorn’s works are the musical equivalent of Marmite. I imagine that a soundscape using my concept would lie somewhere in-between Piano Jazz and Free Jazz.

My concept definitely wouldn’t sound as structured as this, but I think this is a good example of improvisation that could be used as a reference.

Thinking Interactively

This idea is very open-ended. Although, as it stands, it’s fairly read only in the sense that there is little the player can do with the concept other than explore the environment. There is no game! So, let’s sort that out.

There was a great video by Game Maker’s Toolkit about Jonathan Blow’s puzzle designs, which goes into detail about how Blow creates a simple mechanic and through the design process, uses that one mechanic and pushes it beyond breaking point. Jonathon Blow’s games, such as Braid and The Witness, and works extraneous to his such as Arvi Teikari’s Baba Is You are great examples of games where rules can be manipulated (or just mentally-reframed) throughout gameplay.

Baba Is You is an incredibly direct example of rule manipulation in practice. So fun! But also mind-bendingly difficult at times.

The level greybox used for the assignment offers few signifiers to the player on its own. There are different rooms, floor buttons that trigger parts of the environment, and that is where it more-or-less ends.

I think it would be interesting to explore a call-and-response mechanic throughout gameplay. Harking back to my audio-led game idea, every interaction has a distinct response with the piano instrument. Once the player enters a new room, it would be interesting to try and play a sequence of piano notes which correspond to actions in the game. Through iterative play, the player can develop an understanding of which sounds correspond to which actions and decipher the audio clip, mastering an understanding of the novel intraludic (game-centric) piano language. Essentially, Simon Says with a piano instead of with spoken language.

Published by SeylorDev

Hey! I'm Lyes Oussaiden, a student at Abertay University studying Game Design & Production. I'm also the Producer and Audio Designer for Crabertay.

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