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Mendels, P. (2007). The audio adventurer. Unpublished thesis Master's, Eindhoven University of Technology. 
Added by: sirfragalot (01/15/2009 11:06:32 AM)   
Resource type: Thesis/Dissertation
BibTeX citation key: Mendels2007
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Categories: Hardware, Sound Design
Creators: Mendels
Publisher: Eindhoven University of Technology
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"In this thesis the design process of a relaxed and immersive physical interface for playing audio adventure games is described. First adventure games and relating concepts such as narrative, interactivity, immersion and presence are analyzed. Then I look into the possible opportunities and problems of audio. Navigating an audio world goes not necessarily without problems: It can be hard to keep track of your orientation and position without visual information. I then look into different physical interfaces, how they can help in overcoming these problems, but also to what extent they can provide a relaxed and immersive experience. When the choice for a portable controller is made, I describe different navigation and audio models that can be used to explore and navigate an audio world.

I choose for an audio model and a navigation model that are simplified versions of reality: I use audio to indicate what the player-character sees (rather than what he or she hears) and I restrict the player-character to navigate over a network of paths rather than enabling him or her to move freely in two dimensions. These models can be used with an absolute and a relative controller. The advantage of an absolute controller is that it can help the player in understanding the spatial configuration of the world and in understanding what the position of the player-character is. A possible disadvantage is that it might invoke a third-person perspective from above, even when combined with first-person audio. Such a perspective can be considered less immersive.

To test the possible advantages of an absolute controller an audio world is built. This world also contains a narrative and simple challenges. Three rotational controller prototypes are developed that can work with the audio world: An absolute rotational controller, a motorized absolute rotational controller, and a relative rotational controller with inventory functionality. The reactions of players that experience the audio adventure game together with the absolute controller are positive, but also some disadvantages of the absolute nature of the controller are noticed. One of these disadvantages is that it is strange if the controller is turned during non-interactive narrative segments in which the player-character should not be moving. The motorized controller is designed to solve this problem by blocking the movement of the controller. The motorized controller is however abandoned because it proves to be too difficult for me to work it out with enough quality for enabling a comfortable experience.

Other disadvantages of the absolute rotational controller are that it limits the possible spatial configurations of the world and that transitions between scenes are unnatural. These disadvantages can be avoided by choosing for a relative controller. To understand which controller is better an experiment is held in which the two controllers are compared in terms of navigation and experiencing spatial presence. In addition also the keyboard is compared to learn something about to possible added value of a rotational controller.

In the test big differences between participants are discovered. The test does not enable me to choose which of the two rotational controllers is better in terms of experiencing spatial presence or in terms of navigation. Because of the disadvantages of the absolute controller that were already known before the experiment, a choice is made for the relative rotational controller. This controller is worked out to a final prototype with inventory functionality."
Added by: sirfragalot  
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