ProjectEcho Range

Echo Range

Games set in city environments face a number of novel problems. These can be of a technical nature and range from unreliable accuracy in pinpointing a players real-time position, to occlusion of signals due to high buildings. There are also perceptual problems caused by mixing two realities; the real environment and the computer generated game environment. With Echo Range we wanted a game that would be ubiquitous (can be played anywhere with no special preparation), pervasive (utilizing the real world environment to enhance the game playing experience), and would promote physical input from the players (stimulate them to run and move about).

In order to avoid the problems of the two conflicting worlds, we decided to separate them. The game world was rendered almost entirely using audio. The real world was left in all its 3D glory, thus freeing the player from dealing with two visual realities simultaneously. This ground breaking aspect of layering a virtual audio world over the real physical world, and allowing these to do two different jobs in the game, was a  new approach that brought with it a number of advantages.

The main benefit was that it allowed us to use ‘Perceived Precision’, which is the idea that small technical inaccuracies and problems with GPS, compass and related precision are only noticeable (and thus only affect the game experience) when there are clear points of reference. This is a problem when combining graphic game elements with the real world, but not when using audio. In the game, the limitations and structures of the real world force the player into tactical decisions based on their position, surroundings, direction of travel and perceived distance to the other players. The virtual world provides the game immersion, escapism, drama and the suspense that makes this game such a nerve-wracking experience.


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Sound Examples Echo Range

Sound to both convey information and make emotional impact

Sounds are strong carriers of narratives and emotions as well as of information, and we are good at listening on several parallell levels. When listening to speech we have our conscious level focused on words, on what is said. At the same time, our subconscious levels receive information about how it is said, tones and other more emotional aspects of what is said.When working with interaction design, this can be used to encode both informative and emotional content into a single sound file. The following examples are from the project Echo Range.

Example 1:

These two files convey information about the presence of a distance to an enemy. At the same time the sounds are designed to evoke feelings of excitement and perhaps also unease.

Example 2:

This sound file serves the double purpose of giving feedback on your torpedo hitting an enemy vessel and giving you an emotional impact on the event of your enemy sinking.