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Sonar Invaders

An audiogame for visually impaired players - updating Space Invaders and seeking to produce detailed guidlines for audiogame development
Roles: Sole developer (design + programming)

• Auditory interface: An entire interface that only requires sounds to communicate with the user (Mynatt, 1992)

• Audiogames: These games utilise auditory interfaces that replace the typical use of graphical interfaces as the main source of communication of game state with the player (Targett & Fernström, 2003)

• Audio-based game: Focused around an auditory interface but still utilised a graphical interface, often in a more limited fashion.

• Audio-only game: Relies entirely on an auditory interface for game-player communication.

Project Outline

Two final products: This project intends to produce both a fully-fledged audiogame, Sonar Invaders, as well as a list of data-backed guidelines for audiogame development, many of which will have been used to inform the development of Sonar Invaders.

The game component: Sonar invaders will follow the typical structure of an audiogame, featuring no graphics and communicating information to the player only via sound. The game will function as a conceptually similar game to the 1978 classic, Space Invaders, but will feature additional mechanics as well as an altered interface improving accessibly for the visually impaired. The game will be made in Unreal Engine 4 and will feature a graphical interface, but only for debugging and demonstrative purposes so will classify as an audio-only game.

The data/theory component: In order to inform the development of Sonar Invaders, continual playtesting and data collection will occur attempting to elucidate a collection of best practices for audiogame design and development. The aim is that these concepts will be transferrable to other genres of audiogame and will fill a gap in the existing literature which, whilst present, is limited in depth and scientific rigour.

Original Pitch Document

Accessibility Design

Audiogame design needs a constant focus on accessibility options such as TTS, input feedback and input customisation.

Text-to-speech and careful menu design: Research by Walters (2018) and Garcia and Neris (2013) raise the issue of menu navigation in audiogames. The simple solution of text-to-speech (TTS) isn't enough though. TTS can get annoying, repetative and take too long. Care must be taken with the script to be consise but informative as well as providing shorthands to speed up navigation. The initial menus for Sonar Invaders were based on these papers' suggestions as well as player feedback on audiogames.net. The full design document including a breakdown of relevant papers and the UI design are available below.