For my Playable soundscape I have recently finished a basic version of the game’s environment, with a few of the main interactions such as the movement controller and procedurally produced planets. The planets being sound sources modulated by moon controls, produced procedurally so you get a huge variety of sounds and experiences. The Planets placed within a 3D virtual void, with there positions simulating a realistic 3D sound environment. You explore by fly around, using a hand tracking device called a Leap Motion. The interface allows for the player to reach out and grab, push and play with the objects, just with their hands.
I tested 4 people and each said they enjoyed the experience. Hearing the sounds around them in the space was interesting, and they hadn’t tried many game experiences similar to it. They found the exploratory element of it engaging, as they would just go from point to point, led by intrigue.
They felt that the movement controller through the new leap motion interface was hard to understand at first, partially as it was an unfamiliar interface and partially because the movement controls are slightly abstract. The controls themselves simulate flying like a superhero, you place one or two hands out and the single or average position dictates the motion. If you push forward you move camera forward, backwards is backwards and if you move your hands up, down, left or right it rotates in that direction. You kind of point where you want to go.
To fine tune this control I firstly increased the height 0 was mapped to on the Z axis. This allows for more room for the hands to move within the leap motion field, which encouraged the user to push out further without loosing their hand and interrupting a fluid experience. I also increased the top speed parameter in the hand mapping to create a more delicate interaction where you can get a more diverse and sensitive set of motions.
To help the first-time players land on their feet I have decided to create an optional intro/tutorial to introduce you to the controls and interactions. Something that’s quite basic but just shows you what you can do and how to do it, what signifies as a controller and as a sound source whilst still leaving some elements undisclosed. Explaining how to play without giving the game away.
Another element that I think would improve the interaction and is a major floor at the moment is the lack of depth perception, you have only the illusion of 2d perception with a screen which I noticed a number of users found difficult to use, finding it hard to place where their hands are in the 3D space. I think that this interaction would be made a lot better in VR, partially because it would resolve the depth perception problem, but also because it would allow the user to see and hear the universe around them that much easier. Allowing for natural head movements to control your camera and audio listener rotation, instead of an awkward hand interactions; the hands still used for movement but they can freely look around from their position. It would also allow for more complete audio experience as you turned your head you hear the sounds revolving around you. In my current time frame, I think I will avoid the VR element and focus mainly on the interactions and game mechanics as I have never worked with VR and I have heard it can be quite tricky to get right. But it is definitely something to work towards in the future.