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July 8 - RAGameSound
"The first 90% of a game takes the first 90% of the time. The last 10% of a game takes the second 90% of the time."
This is a truism that my programmer Evan shared with me just a few weeks ago as I was bemoaning how long it's taking to finish the game. Making a video game is hard. It's really hard. It's a lot harder than I thought, going into the project! One of the most common questions I'm asked by backers is "when will it be out?" so I want to take a moment to describe where we're at and where we're going:
Step 1: Polish.
Almost all of the content is in place. The game works phenomenally well. But those last little details that make the experience feel seamless from launching the program to closing it take a lot of attention to detail, and they're important to making the player feel held and safe as they step into an unusual experience.
Here's a sample of our to-do list:
- Integrate Oculus and Steam VR API
- Implement Vive
- Implement introductory meditation and instruction
- Finish designing and implementing menu graphics
- Implement two 3D shaders that are awesome but have given us some trouble.
- Fix some of the shaders that give trouble in VR
- Replace the strobe-effect shader
- Implement IR reverb
- Implement positional head tracking into existing rotational head tracking system
- Multi-stream graphics and audio processing
- Optimize from 60fps to 90fps
- Make improvements to pitch-tracking
- Fix a few dozen known bugs
- Playtest the crap out of it to find and fix unknown bugs
- Once we've checked all of those things off of our to-do list....
Step 2: Business!
Our initial plan was to launch SoundSelf at the same time as the Oculus Rift and roll the project into stories about VR, helping our audience find the game that way. Unfortunately we have missed that boat! Which is fine, but it means that once the game is ready, we are going to take time to strategize releasing the project in such a way that helps people find it.
Fortunately, we're already ahead of the curve on some of the more complicated Things To Do. Our trailer has been shot and edited, for example. It's really cool.
When can I play it?
Well... now if you'd like! The alpha is relatively up to date, and can be bought from www.soundselfgame.com. But the full commercial version will be out... soon.
What do I need to run it?
Right now, SoundSelf runs best on PCs - we're working out some kinks in Mac OS that'll be resolved by launch (would love to get your error reports, for those of you on a Mac). Here are the min specs for PC:
- Windows 7 SP1 or higher
- Nvidia GTX 970 GPU or equivalent
- Intel i5-4590 or better CPU
- 8GB of ram
- Headphones you like (you must use headphones)
- A microphone
- I recommend playing in VR (we will be supporting Oculus, Vive, PSVR, and potentially the other lower-spec VR headsets) or with a projector in a dark room.
What happened to Gear VR support?
We are no longer attempting to port SoundSelf to mobile for Gear VR. It's just too much of a headache to get it to a reasonable framerate.
December 6, 2013 - RAGameSound
Before beginning work on SoundSelf, I spent most of my time making sound effects for independent games like Antichamber, The Stanley Parable and Capsule. In this video, I go through some of the unique sound design challenges SoundSelf presents to me, and how I've approached those challenges.
Special thanks to the awesome Tina Rodriguez for her musical generosity.
November 18, 2013 - RAGameSound
Here are some more ideas I've been experimenting with. Aside from "fields", I think all of these are pretty beautifully successful, and I look forward to exploring them more fully in game.
This is based on a wind-powered sculpture a friend of mine posted on facebook: http://imgur.com/lJNmgSl
This is the most direct exploration of mandala forms I've experimented with so far. It began as an attempt to create gravitational orbits, but I abandoned that in favor of greater symmetry, which I think works well for SoundSelf in general.
This one's really meh. I was experimenting with interference and aliasing, but it just... meh. That was a rabbit hole that lasted most of the day... but once I abandoned it...
This came out much more awesomely. It was inspired by this: http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/aeNAeLm_460sa.gif
BTW, I totally love it when people send me cool trippy gifs and artstuff. It really really inspires me. So if there's a thing you'd like to share, please do so in the Greenlight comments! A soundselfy version of it may end up in the game.
November 11, 2013 - RAGameSound
SoundSelf currently has one audio-visual form (or "story", as we call it) - a tunnel of light with an orb in the center. Exploring this story has given us a lot of leverage to fine-tune the interactivity. But we want SoundSelf to contain many different stories and seamlessly move between them as you play.
I've spent the last week jamming on new ideas. Most of them are pretty uninteresting, but some have a lot of potential! Below are some of the first sketches that could be expanded into future stories.
I'll be live-streaming the rest of the jam this week! You can tune into my twitch.tv channel and click "follow" to be alerted when I start the broadcast. Don't be shy! I want to hear your voice! :-)
Last Week's Jam
This form comes from creating an array of simple shapes, and have them constantly rush towards the player.
This is a radically different sort of visual form, and it's super elegant. By determining the particle's shape based on its location in x/y/z space, the center being zero (no variation), a blinking circle appears in the center. Totally accidental, but awesome emergent beauty like this is what makes these systems so powerful (more on that from Evan in a future blog post). This form could be expanded to feel like star systems, oceanic particles, or geometric forms like grids and spirals.
Normally, when I use the harmonograph the resolution (how many lines make up the curve) is like a ceiling limiting the complexity of the shape. Here, I've tried sharply reducing that ceiling, so changes in resolution itself have a dramatic impact on the shape of the form. I don't necessarily see myself building a story around this, but knowing that adjusting resolution is itself an aesthetic tool is valuable.
November 7, 2013 - RAGameSound
Let's work together.
Returning from the weeks of festival hopping, we're becoming increasingly aware of the therapeutic potential of SoundSelf. I've had the great fortune of meeting people with stories of either themselves or close relations struggling with any number of neurological challenges, from autism to schizophrenia. They've told me they believe SoundSelf could be a tool for them. I would like to be able to help, and I would also love to use your knowledge to make the experience more powerful.
While I have some reach in this quirky corner of the game world, I don't know how to navigate the web of conferences and blogs that medical and mindfulness practitioners use. Additionally, researching the means for applying SoundSelf therapeutically, and then executing on that knowledge, have an uncertain time cost that we must balance against development.
If you believe you can use SoundSelf to help yourself or a friend, or if you think it would be valuable to your field of expertise, please let us know. I am eager to share and learn.