Games Of 2020 - The Winners
March 9, 2009 Page 15 of 21
Submitted By: Richard Marzo
Symphonix uses thought input and 3D gestural input for its controls. It provides players with a way to create, literally, the music of their imaginations.
Thought input works like this. The user imagines a sound, which is then virtualized and played back by the game system. Depending on the user's whims, they can then adjust the real (game) world sound using their own hearing, or they can re-imagine the sound and play it again. The results of all these thoughts can vary, from individual sonic phonemes to complete symphonies.
It is anticipated however, that controls which gradually shift to more physical, bodily usage: i.e. to fully 3D gestural controls. For most people, gestures allow a more naturalistic way to control multiple sound objects than do thoughts, as shown in the following example.
A user named User imagines a collection of sounds over a period of time, say a week. At the end of the week, User then goes through their collection and picks a dozen or so sounds. User is less than an experienced professional musician, but nonetheless has some musical talent, though not enough to hold 12 sounds in their head at once. So they move to gestural controls in order to compose and conduct some music.
User arranges the twelve sounds in a circular arc around their body as represented on screen. Each sound can be grabbed out of this arc, allowing for a total of two sounds (one per hand) at any given moment. Each sound is a complex thing in itself, akin to a simple musical instrument. As defined by User, certain finger, hand, or wrist movements will modulate the tone, pitch, frequency, amplitude, or volume of the "sound instrument". In this way, User is able to create truly original music to their liking.
Of course, users around the world are able to share, sell, and buy their music using public or private servers.
During development, the testers create a meta-game. Whenever a song from another game gets stuck in the heads of one of the testers, the tester will play Symphonix and use its thought input controls to see if other testers can guess which game the music comes from.
This is the essence of the game as the developer wanted it to be. The developer has certain ethical commitments, however, so the game itself is free-to-play, drm-free, ad-free, and micro-transact-free (this differs from the music created with the game, which belongs to the users). Monthly, the developer publishes a disc-compilation of the best user submitted music, available for a nominal fee. But its copiability makes it a nearly trivial source of income.
Instead, the developer makes money through the most traditional forms of trade: food, fashion, and furniture. An interface which shares many ideas as the musical part of the game is also used for real-world shopping.
Video of players taken at home (a variant of gestural input) is captured and used for modeling their basic bodily shape and range of movement. This information can then be used by local or nearby shops to create custom-fitted shoes, hats, jackets, and jewelry. The designs can be player-made, but don't have to be.
Players get hungry, imagine something they want to eat (thought input), and Symphonix suggests good places to go. Or, one can order delivery from a collection of restaurants by means of gesture controls.
Ambitious players can even make customized furniture, that fits their own needs, by using a camera around their house/apartment/bedroom, and creating virtual furniture with their own imaginations.
A deal is worked out between the developer and providers of these products, which is lucrative enough for both parties and seen as a good deal by customers who are never forced to shop, but always have the option.
The shop can be accessed at any time during play, and makes itself known in the politest way possible, given the culture (Symphonix is an international game with global sensibilities, and released simultaneously world-wide at the same second). Or at least within the same minute.
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