Hyena – Audiogame Player

It’s time for the release of another project: Hyena

Hyena is something I call an AudioGame player. It is probably more correctly called AudioGameBook which is a combination of the words AudioBook and GameBook, which Hyena is based on. AudioBooks have had a dramatic rise in popularity the last couple of years, probably due to the rise of mp3-players, but they do provide a unique function: Being able to “read” a book while your body is busy with other things. GameBooks on the other hand is something that’s almost been forgotten, but basically it is a book where you at the end of each page were given a choice and decided by turning to one of the specified pages. I remember being fascinated by them in my youth, but they sort of died out when computer games became complex enough.

Today GameBooks touches the core of one of the things the interests me about games: Interactive Storytelling. As you might have seen in my previous project Rorschach, I love to dig into what this really is about. While the works produced during the Interactive Fiction Competition are already of exceptional quality, GameBooks are a simpler form of interactive storytelling, and in my opinion one that hasn’t been properly explored.

So, my take on this is to create a GameBook player for handheld platforms where you don’t need a screen, and you only have to use one button throughout the whole game. Just like AudioBooks, this makes it possible to play games while your body is occupied with other things, like when you are driving or are out running (or while sitting in Church J). This turns out to work really well on for example the Nintendo DS, where you can play the game even when the is console closed. Also, while googeling the term AudioGame, I of course found sites talking about games for visually impaired people makes the project even more interesting for me.

Bundled together with Hyena is one of the GameBooks I played in my youth: Lone Wolf – Flight From The Dark, by Joe Dever and Gary Chalk (available through Project Aon). Since I’m not a native English speaker and I didn’t want to record the 1596 lines of dialogue needed for this game, I used a speech synthesis to generate them which gives a kind of weird feeling to it. In the future I hope there will be additional AudioGames that uses Hyena, and some that uses real narrators. I have made it as simple as I can to define the logic behind the game (which was surprisingly complex in Flight From The Dark) using an external LUA file. Information on exactly how that works will be released shortly and any writer interesting in writing a game are welcome to contact me.

Hyena is currently available for the Nintendo DS and within short there will be a Sony PSP version as well. Also, for the people just wanting to test Hyena out, there is a reference version for PC available. You can find them all here.

14 thoughts on “Hyena – Audiogame Player

  1. Hello from New Zealand! Thanks for putting Hyena together for the DS, and please keep improving it!

    I’m a huge fan of DS homebrew and very much enjoy the applications and games you create (colors especially). Hyena looks like it could be a very good project too. These ‘Choose your own adventure’ style games were a favourite of mine when I was younger as well. I have played and enjoyed the Lone Wolf one you provided here, but noticed one or two random freezes which require a reboot of the DS (I have a R4 cartridge). Luckily, you have implemented an auto-save feature so its not the end of the world.

    Thanks for your contribution to the world of DS, its hugely appreciated.

  2. Great project, very good, i would like to have some tool or tutorial about how to create other audio games from the spanish books in project Aon.

    Thanks anyway its very nice to see this kind of projects for the DS and PSP.

  3. Well done sir on another fantastic project. I’ve only had a quick blast of about 20 minutes on this and it runs brilliantly no freezing or noticable bugs. I’m using a CycloDS Evo and thanks to this little gem I can see myself needing the SDHC support before long keep up the great work and thanks!

  4. I really like this idea, but sometimes it happens to me that I click twice or three times, but only one click really is recognized. So something happens I don’t want.
    How can I change that? Is it the clicking-speed?

  5. Most of the time it works perfectly, but I have had similar things happen like ScRaT above.

    Notably, when I’m in the action menu and need to click five times to return to the game, it seems to randomly choose whichever it wants sometimes. I even ended up dropping my weapons/items unintentionally, which was irreversible. At times like that I open up the DS and use the stylus to avoid the DS registering a false click amount. Perhaps an audio feedback per click might help matters, like a ping or bell noise, so we could ‘learn’ if we’re clicking the button wrongly.

    One other potential bug I’ve found is that sometimes after performing a certain action, I am unable to perform any others, because the menu is greyed out. Neither the stylus or buttons let you choose any option. Lets see if I can explain this properly.
    At one point, in a treehouse, I wanted to pick up a weapon. To do so I had to drop my current weapon from the menu. After doing so, I returned to the game but all three options were greyed out and unavailable to choose. Scrolling up or down, clicking the buttons or using the stylus did nothing. I could go into and leave the action/inventory menu, but that was it.

    This happened both in the treehouse and at one other point, just after the raven in the woods. I had the choice to either call out to the man, to sneak up on him or to attack him, but all three options were greyed out and I had to reset the machine after trying anything I could think of.

    As mentioned in the first post above, I really like the game and very much appreciate the release of this for the DS. Is there any plan to release a V1.1?



  6. Hi,

    I love the concept and l hope there wille be more adventures!

    I had the same problems as Chimpy though. When the lid is closed (which is IMHO a very innovative way to play the game), you don’t really know how many clicks were detected. An audible “bleep” feed back to confirm a click has been aknowledged would be nice. And a possibility to cancel your action by clicking or holding the button during a “you have chosen option X” would prevent irreversible wrong actions to be taken.

    I also experienced a dead end when “approaching quietly” (choice 2) the man with a raven. All choices were greyed out… No way to continue, you have to start the adventure again.

  7. Thank you for this! It’s amazing fun, and a style of game I haven’t encountered before. Unfortunately, it freezes quite often (three times in an hour, seemingly at random, and always after clicking to proceed) including right before I was to win the game. :(

    Perhaps I will try the PC version and see if that’s better.

  8. Thanks for the feedback everyone. I’ve fixed a couple of crash-bugs as well as the clicking-problem you’ve described. There is still one major crash left that I need to fix, but after that I’ll release a new version.

  9. Hey. Thank you for making these awesome games! I’m really enjoying them. Though when I tried to play it, it didn’t load. The screens were just blank. I checked your forum and you said that I need to put an AudioGames folder in the card. Where exactly do I download that?

    Thanks again! :)

  10. Hey, Jens. This looks absolutely fascinating, but it doesn’t appear to be making any sound on my DS. I’d love to chat with you about the idea behind the system, though, if you get a chance. My email is below and my aim is “lev2300”. I’m going to go ahead and write this up for Boing Boing, but would love to do a follow up interview!

  11. Wow… amazing!

    I loved those books when I was younger. I still have one based on CITV’s Knightmare and another by Ian Livingstone called City of Thieves. It’s so well thumbed its held together with staples!.
    If you want some voicework done I volunteer but I can’t promise about quality :)

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