Hi tom.

I think part of the problem is simply one of information.

while I agree with you about training and lack of experience, there does also seem to be a conceptual and technological issue as well.

People with functional eyeballs get about %80 of information about the world visually. This not only comes in the form of complete and very quick spacial information, but also an instant recognition of objects, which is naturally completely unconscious.

So, computers use vision as a chief output medium. Sinse the users own brain will naturally recognize objects, the computer just needs pictures of them for the user to recognize, and sinse the screen is visually speaking a large area for outputting information, a lot of space can be shown which a person looking at the screen can comprehend in a single glance, whether it's a virtual character in a 2D or 3D environment, or a map of a complex stratogy situation.

Extra atmospheric fluff or mechanical complexities can be added, animation, sound etc, but in order to setup the situation of a game and get the user to understand what the game is about and what is being required of them it's only necessary to show them standard elements and leave the rest up to the visual cortex.

In representing a game just! in audio though, you lose all of that. Most objects need specific identification, sinse only a few sounds (barking dogs, wind etc), are readily identifyable completely devorced from all context. Also because in real life things like tables, walls, cliff edges etc do not! naturally make sound, it's necessary to either have the sounds be representational, or to have an extra layer of audio navigation ontop.

To add to this, audio only comes from the left and right, and at most you can only distinguish five or six information bearing sounds at once, ---- perhaps 8-10 if your really good. But comapre this to a visual overview of a large amount of infromation. This may change if larger scale tactile desplays ever become useable, but that's in the future.

Even just using black and white, on a tv screen it's possible to create a 2 dimentional game. Because you have two dimentions to play with and a comparatively large surface to show object position, you can test the players spacial reactions and force them to judge relative speeds and positions of more than one object, ---- eg, two bats and a ball.

In audio however you don't have this advantage at all.

Most sounds will need extra explanation, and in order to show even a fully 2D space, you'll need to think up some pretty novel ways of using sound and possibly some navigation aides, ---- and that's before we even get into environment, variety of objects or anything else.

So, because left/right with a few sounds is the easiest baseline, left/right is often what you get, eg, space invaders.

Becausesounds can play at once, it's hard to show the position of many objects, so instead of getting an exercise in judgement you get a "here it" "react to it" type of boppit situation.

Audio games of course have grown a lot sinse they began, but where as the beginning of visual games was at least 2D and requiring spacial judgement, the beginning of audio games was 1D and required nothing but fast reactions.

Of course, audio can go further, especially with some interesting tools. This is one reason I so much admire the context sensative menues in time of conflict, sinse they let players get through a hole load of very coplex information about the spacial location and distribution of units in very short order.

if you'd asked me in 2007 whether i thought an audio game could be created where you commanded hundreds of units on a huge world map, I'd have probably said no, ---- and I'm very pleased to be wrong.

nevertheless, it is stil true audio games, simply by virtue of being! audio are harder to design and create from the standpoint of giving information to the player.

Beware the Grue!


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