Telegear

It's time for audio to speak up!


Telegear

Final Milestone Update

  • Built and tested with a Snapdragon 4.4.4 Note4.
  • Best played with headphones.
  • It is recommended to remove ones Osig. But I've been reading reports of crashes with it missing. As requested, the url provided has the Osig remove. But I'll paste links here to a version with the Osig. Also adding these links as the APK field isn't being updated.

OSIG - https://vrjam-submissions.s3.amazonaws.com/signed/21b5e764fc93/G5sqbMQqe86ZoVFOScfA_Telegear-armv7-es2.apk

Non OSIG - https://vrjam-submissions.s3.amazonaws.com/signed/21b5e764fc93/cPDVSeMLSXWSZ6SbGq8m_Telegear-armv7-es2.apk

Controls

The controls for Telegear are designed to be simple as it only utilizes the touch pad.

Single tap

Shoots a visual marker. These will stick to level geometry to help show you the way. http://i.imgur.com/ralNacN.gifv

Tap and hold

Shoots a teleporter marker. These cubes will travel forwards until you let go. Aim at the cube to teleport to that location. Aim away to cancel teleportation. If the marker touches level geometry it will disappear. http://i.imgur.com/DaAWQN9.gifv

Core Mechanics

The core game mechanics of Telegear is to explore a dark environment and navigate it via 3D audio. It requires the player to "discover" the environment by shooting visible markers. These markers give a visual indication of the structures surrounding them. An enchanted whistle like 3D sound; which has a different sonic space to everything else provides guidance for which direction to take.

Innovation

My primary innovation was playing with 3D spatialized audio. It's a technology I believe needs some TLC.

I spent a large chunk of my time integrating 3D audio into UE4. I finally landed a solution with FMOD. Because 3D sound is quite elusive to truly appreciate I opted for a bit of sensory deprivation so that it was easier to notice. This was achieved by placing the player in a predominately dark world and requiring them to locate markers and danger by sound.

On a smaller note, I used a simple teleportation mechanic for movement. It's simple and doesn't make me dizzy but I wouldn't want to explore The Metaverse like this.

Mini Post Mortem

I'm still on the fence with 3D audio. I spent a large chunk of time getting UE4 and 3D audio working with the GearVR rather than iterating on the 3D audio mechanics. When I stop and listen, the 3D audio effect is great and I love it. But I still have to concentrate in order to grasp what's going on. Perhaps it's my implementation? Perhaps it's the sound samples? Or maybe it's something to do with the various knobs in FMOD Studio? There's no clear path to victory at the moment. I wish I was able to spend more time experimenting.

Secondly, spending half the Jam travelling to the other side of the world for work and back held me back. I did my best to get work done on the plane, in terminals and at the hotel but there's only so much you can do when travel tired and on a laptop. I'm proud that I persevered and have something to hand in at the end even though it's not my best foot forward.

There is a large scope for improvement in Telegear and if it's well received I'll take what I've learnt and release something similar to the App store. However, Telegear is a strange beast when I think about it. VR is pushing immersive visuals, yet Telegear takes them away and doesn't give much back in return. It's a game that needs more thought... It didn't come close to capturing its tagline - "Time for audio to speak up!"

Known bugs

  • Sometimes crash after you've put headphones in once the game has started. Crash logs didn't help.
  • Doesn't orientate correctly on spawn.
  • On death level is restarted. FMOD doesn't clean up sound correctly so they are played twice. I removed ability to restart at any time due to this bug. I also made it easy to avoid death.
  • Visual markers use 3D audio, spamming them causes CPU spikes. Will either remove 3d audio for markers or limit fire rate.

OLD MILESTONE TEXT

It's time for audio to speak up!

Telegear is about navigating a world with no lighting using sight and sound.

The following screenshot demonstrates the sight aspect of the game play mechanic.

beacons

My main focus will be creating a compelling auditory experience by experimenting with 3D spatialized audio. I am planning on setting Telegear as a dungeon crawler with interesting spaces and monsters emitting spatialized audio. I wish to guide the player through the level by chasing a checkpoint sound. Can audio breathe life into an environment?

Physically moving through the environment will be done via teleportation. My Portuguese heritage is a lie... I get motion sickness very easily and teleporting makes the experience much more comfortable. See the video to see how this is done.

This leads me to controls. After seeing my mum fail horribly with the swipe controls of the Oculus menu I've decided to restrict myself to super simple input that doesn't require precision.

Single Tap Shoots a visual beacon.

Tap and Hold Shoots a teleportation beacon. Once you let go it stops moving. Focusing on this special beacon will teleport you to that location. If it hits a wall it will blow up and attracts dungeon monsters.

Head tracking Look around to hear an audio beacon checkpoint. This sound will guide you through the dungeon.

Risks

  • UE4's GearVR support is still heavily in development. It will be a challenge to hit a constant 60fps with spatialized audio.
  • I will start using UE4's bleeding edge support for Oculus's Audio Spatialization Library. This version of UE4 is unreleased and hasn't been battle tested.
  • Due to time constraints I'll be dropping network play as I'd only have time to implement something derivative.
  • Focused scope probably won't be enough to stand out.
  • 9to5 job requires international travel during the Jam.

Milestone 2 Submission Update

I have focused my time working out a solution for spatialized audio in UE4, therefore I don't have any new graphics to show. My efforts can be seen at the following forums as user "Bino":

In a nutshell FMOD support requires approval from Firelight and Unreal support is still up in the air. Both companies are yet to respond to my inquiries. I am giving this component a deadline until Wednesday, after which I'm forced to be pragmatic and move on without.


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