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.