Unscramble the Oracle is an interactive audiobook where you can walk, dance, and tap your way through a fairytale world to help your Fairy Chicken Godmother find her lost hubby and chicks.
Thinking back to my experience designing the first iPhone game, what attracted me to BOSE AR was the opportunity to create an interactive audio world dynamically laid over our own. With audio AR I immediately saw the opportunity to design an original audio-first experience that adapted to wherever the person was, blending a hidden fantasy world with their real one. Unscramble the Oracle is a first in kind walkable AR audio adventure where people journey through an augmented fairytale world while exploring their own.
Because traditional AR blasts computer graphics all over the real world we were very intrigued how far we could push interacting with the audio AR dimension. In work on our other XR games such as Follow the White Rabbit full audio immersion has been challenging. Doing an Audio-First AR experience for Unscramble the Oracle gave us the focus we needed to break new ground with interactive and immersive three dimensional audio with lessons for other types of AR.
In traditional flat screen games player audio is stereo at best. With BOSE AR head rotation and tilt players interact directly with a soundscape. In fact for Unscramble the Oracle we developed the choice menus, walk paths, and boss puzzle with that in mind. We invented new AR Audio-First game mechanics and audio interactions that open up exciting new areas of AR design. Imagine the player’s head as the joystick. We saw this as an opportunity to explore how audio increases immersion especially interactive audio. We hope you have as much fun playing as much as we had fun making it. http://xeodesign.com http://PlayWhiteRabbit.com @NicoleLazzaro
“I found the SDK intuitive to incorporate into the game, and was able to easily inject the Bose AR events and head pose into the narrative engine I created. There were some interesting challenges to eliciting player action, and understanding player intent that we had to work through, and there are definitely still many more experiments we’d want to undertake to determine what works best for an audio-only UI. The Bose team were very helpful in helping us work through any roadblocks. I was happy to be part of such a well-balanced team of creative and talented people - it made the entire process a ton of fun.” Patched Reality, Babble Rabbit, @patchedreality
“We made an early decision to stick with audio only, and not use the phone for any of the UI. This presented a challenge for both in-game inventory, and making a choice among 2-5 options. We solved this by giving you a sentient guide that could ask you a question about what to do next and give you the options. Our current solution was to position these options as voice cues spread out before you, and you just need to rotate to the one you want, and select it (double-tap). The guide could also describe each new space you enter, much like the original text adventures from the 1970s.” http://RubeWorks.com http://thimbleweedpark.com @DavidBFox
Wonkubus Wonk (Michael Crabbs)
Made a sicknasty game with some really good peeps.This was a really fun experience for me, since I got to become a Fairy Chicken Godmother and also a bridge troll, and also a number of other creatures and people and things. Voice acting is one of my favorite activities, and making fun games is my absolute favorite. This was a time when I got to do both at once!
What a wonderful opportunity to make characters and work with friends. Nicole did a great job putting a team together that had complimentary skillsets from the outset, and also were just really nice people to begin with. This team was happy and the process of making the game itself was also very, very fun as a result. http://MichaelCrabbs.com
What It Does
Unscramble the Oracle takes you on an interactive audio journey powered by BOSE AR headsets. Simply download and launch the App, pair with your headset over bluetooth, and tap play to begin.
Meet Your Fairy Chicken Godmother Help her find her lost hubby and chicks. Walk and Dance your way to find the Oracle through the twisted forest kingdom.
Ready to Unscramble the Oracle? Listen to your Fairy Chicken Godmother. She’ll be with you every flap of the way.
Media Coverage and Reviews
We're already seeing press coverage for Unscramble the Oracle and our unique approach to audio AR. Proud to be featured alongside Quirkeley and Happy Giant AR in this ARInsider article "Audio AR Emerges: Discussions with Developers" by Mike Boland. He describes the emerging trends in Audio AR games. http://bit.ly/2ZiLBkY
How to Play
This interactive audio book is designed to make kids (and kids at heart) move. Take it on a walk around the block, walk in place in your living room, or simply bounce in a swivel chair. Keep moving to advance in the story. Look around you during choice points when you hear the sound and double tap to find new paths to take.
Get moving. WALK, DANCE, and CHOOSE your own path through the fairytale world.
WALK through narrative soundscapes with your Fairy Chicken Godmother (or FCG as we like to call her). As you explore each path through the forest kingdom you’ll meet silly characters who help and hinder you on your quest to find the Oracle. Some may even ask you to dance for them.
DANCE for Troll to cross the bridge, get others to help you and FCG sneak your way into the Castle to find to the Oracle.
CHOOSE your own path through the story. Do you start at the Pizza Door or the Tunnel to the Underground? During “choice points” turn around towards the sound of the option you want and double tap the right side of your headset to choose the next path.
Ready to WALK DANCE and CHOOSE through a magical adventure? Help your Fairy Chicken Godmother reach the Oracle to find her lost hubby and chicks.
WALK: walk down the street, around your house, or simply bounce in place to advance the story. Duck tree branches and jump over obstacles. Keep moving to keep the story going forward. When the APP displays WALK on the screen it’s time to get moving. A casual stroll looking forward moves you through the soundscape all around you to meet characters.
DANCE: bust a grove with the Troll and other silly characters. Who knows, you may even dance for the King and Queen. Dance in place, bounce around the room, or flap your arms. Find your chicken dance style. Can you master these dance challenges? When you see DANCE start bopping, hopping, and flapping to the music. The sillier the better. Can you master the Chicken Neck Pop?
CHOOSE: As you explore the twisting paths of the forest kingdom of Ezmerald you’ll have to choose your path carefully. Who knows what’s behind the next turn. Was that a dragon roar? When you hear the sound and see LOOK AROUND AND CHOOSE turn your head listening to your Fairy Chicken Godmother and the doors as they introduce themselves all around you. Double tap the right side of your headset to choose the path you are facing towards.
ALTERNATE CONTROLS: As a backup you can also tap the screen on your smart phone to WALK and DANCE. During choice points when you hear the sound you can also tap the screen when facing towards a new path instead of your headset.
VOLUME: Turn the volume up to a safe level and watch your surroundings. The audio may be hard to hear in very loud environments. If you can’t hear, find a quieter place to play.
BLUETOOTH: Unscramble the Oracle requires a Bluetooth connection of your BOSE AR compatible headset with your mobile device. Make sure your BOSE AR headset and smart phone or tablet is paired then launch the App again.
How We Built It
We convened the perfect A Team of complimentary skills for PlayCrafting's BOSE AR SF Game Jam. With only a weekend to get the game together we worked hard to create a simple concept inspired by the retro text adventures David Fox is famous for, Patrick O'Shaunessey's AR experience on Babble Rabbit (using 6D.ai), Nicole Lazzaro's UX experience design chops for new tech, and introducing Wonkubus Wonk (aka. Michael Crabbs) and his amazing art and vocal talents.
Challenges We Ran Into
The time frame (weekend plus two days we vowed) was the biggest challenge. We got a basic prototype done by the weekend. The walking code was a big challenge translating head pose into locomotion while also using it for menus. We added inventory and a few features shortly afterwards and patching the script. Then fleshed out the expeirence adding a lot of icons, and new audio for players to explore. We spent over 7 weeks wiring the experience together. So many audio snippets to assemble and place in the scene.
Accomplishments That We're Proud Of
We are really proud of how Unscramble the Oracle recreates a lot of the feeling of a retro point and click adventure. Reimagined for walk and tap we're really proud of the audio menus and the way walking down a forest path or sidewalk in the real world recreates an audio world around you. This project has definately changed our approach to designing AR and VR worlds. We learned a lot of lessons on how to increase immersion through AR.
What We Learned
We are so passionate about audio AR because Unscramble the Oracle provided a fresh new opportunity to design new interactions, gameplay and offered the opportunity to explore new techniques for increased immersion using spacial audio alone. We've long been fascinated by positional audio design, HRTF’s and far we could push the sense of position and depth to offer new game mechanics player interactions and of course fun.
We found the audio interactive menus the most challenging to design for. An audio first approach required writing about own rule book for audio UI. A five state button audio highlight that was both believable and usable that also supported interactive narrative and fun gameplay was challenging indeed. We look forward to developing more on this for AR games and applications in the future.
What's Next For Unscramble The Oracle
We are working hard to bring Unscramble The Oracle to BOSE AR for Android soon! (Hit us up if you want us to port it to iOS!)
For the future we'd like to develop the audio worlds in more detail adding additional interaction, stories, and puzzles for players to solve along the way.