Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design


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June 11th, 2006

Game Idea #24: Audio Trip

This week I wanted to think of a game that could be played in secret…

High Concept:

Audio Trip is a game that takes you on a journey using only audio. The game could be played on a Nintendo DS or a PlayStation Portable, but it’s simple enough to work on an MP3-player. The game is narrated by a storyteller, who asks you to make decisions at key points in the story. Sometimes it’s a life-or-death type decision, but sometimes you can branch the story and impact how events turn-out.

Platform:

Handheld / MP3-player

Why it needs to be made:

Who says videogames need graphics? You can get away with wearing headphones almost anywhere these days… you could be playing the game without anyone else knowing. And besides, sometimes you don’t want to flash your $200 handheld on the bus.

Description:

Audio Trip is an episodic series of games. Each episode is a big bundle of audio files, all cross-referenced between each other to form multiple branching stories. Since each episode could be played through more than once, you can gain an extra juicy tidbit or two about different characters or get another extra funny punchline.

Much like in a TV show, there can be branching and deviation within each episode, but the alternative paths all roughly end in the same way. This way when the next episode is released, no matter how you played through the previous episodes you can still pick it up and know what’s going on.

Why it will be fun:

I think a purely story- and audio-based game like Audio Trip would be a fantastic place to use humor. Humor is one of the few rewards that’s easy to deliver in a purely auditory fashion. With the right cast of misfits getting into trouble and having adventures you could make compelling episodes that are worth playing through more than once. Just like rabid fans will listen to all of the various commentary tracks for their favorite films and TV shows on DVD, so might fans of this series.

Final thoughts:

I remember on one family vacation my cousins had a cool tape-deck that was programmed to play special choose-your-own-adventure style cassette tapes. It completely fascinated me, and I spent the entire vacation trying to figure out how it worked and if I could make my own “games” for it. I wonder if anyone knows that that device was called…


9 Responses to “Game Idea #24: Audio Trip”

  1. maxon commented:
    posted June 14th, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    cool & innovative, really. Sounds like a good idea. but not for the investor’s ears.

    it could be accomplished by enthusiasts in the form of podcasts. the story wouldn’t be so branchy but listeners/gamers can give feedback and say what they expect in the next round.

    the problem is interface - how to cath the proper continued episode and not to spoil accidentaly. espesially it would be unconvinient on such a dumb mp3-player like my iP#d Shufle =)

  2. Chan commented:
    posted June 15th, 2006 at 10:34 am

    It reminds me the game on Sega Saturn(I think it was on Dreamcast too) It’s called “Real Sound: Kaze no Regret” by Warp(the one who made the D’s and Enemy Zero). Don’t remember how it plays but the game has got no graphics only black(or blue?) screen. You need to listen to the audio to make decision.
    It’s in Japanese so it wasn’t popular outside Japan.

  3. Robert Penner commented:
    posted June 15th, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Great idea! Another aspect of the game is that the “graphics” would be generated by your imagination. With good narration and environmental audio, you could potentially have a *better* visual experience than anything a console could render. How many polygons per second can the visual cortex generate? =)

  4. Jack commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 8:39 am

    I find all your ideas incredibly refreshing and wish every last one of them could be made.
    Many of the ideas are reminiscent of the days when one would think of an idea for a video game where you could go everywhere and do anything. Except those games are now being made and your ideas are just behind that barrier and in the realm of possibility, especially with todays consoles.
    The only problem I have with your ideas is I want to play refreshingly new games like these immediately, curses.

  5. Harrison commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    Mr. Curry, I think it is wonderful what you bring to the industry. We need more fresh and clever ideas like these. I’m a big fan of people or companies that branch out and try new things; even if they don’t always succeed financially. I hope that for the rest of your life you retain this ability to think outside of the box, and introduce new ideas in stale times. Keep up the amazing work, and good luck with your career.

  6. Patrick commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    Maxon, I have a few ideas about how you could make this work interface-wise. But I can’t give away all of the good ideas. :-)

    Robert, I agree… the graphics in your mind are usually the best kind. A beautiful woman, a scary monster, or a cool spaceship are usually best left to the imagination.

    And thanks to everyone who’s commented recently. It’s always nice to get feedback!

  7. Dezro commented:
    posted June 17th, 2006 at 1:08 am

    I think there were a few devices like that, but the one I remember was the 2-XL. Most of the tapes were trivia questions, but there were some adventure tapes. You could indeed make your own tapes, sort of. In the 1992 version, tracks 1 and 2 were just the left and right channel of side A, and tracks 3 and 4 were the left and right channel of side B, but in reverse. So if you had a friend, a tape deck with stereo recording, and you both could speak backwards, you were set.

    There was also a version in the late 70’s that used eight-track tapes. And there’s a web page all about this stuff: http://www.2xlrobot.com/

  8. J.Goodwin commented:
    posted June 17th, 2006 at 9:33 am

    TSR released a couple of audio CD “choose your own adventure” type recordings. Limited by 99 tracks, but basically the same idea. The one that I recall in particular was a werewolf story.

  9. Alexis commented:
    posted March 21st, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    that sounds good.. maybe with an mp3 player, you could choose what you would like to do! go to dinner or hang out at home? left or right? i have always been a fan of make your own story books and this might be good, very relaxing as well! :)


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