🚀 Starship Zumanji

In my never-ending quest to push ChoiceScript to its logical limits :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I now present my AUDIO ONLY sci-fi adventure, Starship Zumanji!

:speaker: Yep, that’s right - this game uses NO text at all, only audio files, to give you a fun, light-hearted adventure in space.

Instructions: If you’re used to a lot of fast tapping on CS games, you’ll enjoy Starship Zumanji a lot more by slooooowing down. This is a game to savor, not rush through.

In fact, I recommend that you close your eyes :see_no_evil: while you listen to each audio segment.

If you want to repeat an audio segment, go to the Stat Screen and then click “return to game.”

Legal stuff

All audio files were taken either from the public domain or with permission from the BBC’s audio workshop. The AI voice was scripted using Google’s version of SSML markup language.

Play link: >>>>>>>HERE<<<<<<<

29 Likes

This is amazing! The small touches of sfx and ambiance captivated me through out the game. Honestly, this might work for CoG/HG in the future, where instead of text they use voice actors to narrate the story.

Thanks for making this game! (also loving the little emojis you put in the title LOL)

4 Likes

“You are really not in shape.” :rofl: That’s not wrong lol. This was cool though, I really like the idea of narration. And I enjoyed the sometimes-snark too. And the sound effects. It felt very videogame in that way.

As a tangential topic, I wonder at the accessibility of it. Where a screen reader can assist with vision impairment, or a videogame can have captions, how would something like this be tackled by D/deaf/HoH folks? But that’s just something I’m thinking about because I am HoH, not something I’m trying to push you to reconsider. I think it was a great experiment wrt sort of reevaluating what kinds of things choicescript can be used to make!

2 Likes

Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. Honestly, I chuckled a bit because this game is the result of a conversation I had with a friend of mine about making IF accessible to blind readers. It did not occur to me to think about deaf and HoH readers at all, so thank you for identifying this issue.

And thanks @ColossalKitten for your kind words as well! And I agree with you, professional voice actors would take this kind of a game to the next level :up:

However, at least for DashingDon games, be aware that there’s a 1MB limit on the size of audio files. Took me a while to figure out how to squeeze down the ones for this game to the right size! :sweat_smile:

2 Likes

That’s actually very funny :rofl: I mean, in a laughing with you not at you way! I think it’s great that you were working for that kind of problem solving. It’s great to think that games could potentially (optionally?) narrate themselves. I know screen reader software can be pricey and, in my own experience, kind of cumbersome. Plus it was nice to have more character in the voice over in comparison to the usual monotone, you know?

2 Likes

I liked the idea of ​​sound rather than writing. :+1:
I hope to see other stories in the future this way.

@Sam_Ursu You Sir ,deserve a planet to be named in your honour.Capital job so far.I adore your projects.

Thank you all for your extremely kind words and excellent feedback!

@doula I really believe that audio games are a barely explored niche of the IF genre, and there is nearly unlimited potential for their future. One benefit to writers these days is that a single person with a normal computer can do create really cool audio with synthesized speech and sound effects.

Should you or anyone else be interested, I wrote a lengthy tutorial on exactly how to do this (it seems intimidating at first, but SSML is no more difficult to learn than HTML).

@levviathan Yes, a funny meeting of the minds between us :grinning: I’ve long been interested in different ways that stories can be told, so when I was hired to work on a “voice command” project in 2019 for a customer who works with the UN to give greater accessibility to folk knowledge and wisdom, I immediately began wondering if I could build a voice-driven game on my own, and Starship Zumanji is the result.

Previously, I used the built-in voices on my Mac (see here for more on that) to create stories, but Apple does not let you use SSML markup to change the inflection, tone, etc., so they all came out rather “robotic” and flat sounding. Starship Zumanji was my humble effort to add some atmosphere, sound effects, etc, to create a richer experience than just a screen reader could provide.

@acer Your enthusiasm is greatly appreciated! I know I love working on my stories and games, and my friends and wife support me, but the fuel that keeps me going is the thought that someone out there is experiencing the unforgettable spark :sparkler: of playing a truly fun game.

I recently saw a documentary about the early days of Atari, and I found it very touching that the coders who built the top-selling games of that era were all driven first by a love of playing games.

As for my next game, it will be less a “skill game” than a charming series of “Mad Libs” stories from Big Papi, an aging, beloved family patriarch who is getting close to the end of his life. His sometimes comical, over-the-top stories will serve to tie all of my games together thematically (I hope), as already previewed in my game Blackjack Mama.

When I was a kid, long before even CYOA books existed, Mad Libs were the first form of “interactive fiction” I ever played, and I remember many happy afternoons spent with my friends filling out simple Mad Lib sheets and laughing our butts off :laughing: so I simply had to pay tribute to their impact on my life.

After that, it’s endless rounds of fiddling with the code, adding new features, cleaning up some persistent bugs, and then going for broke and trying to LAUNCH the omnibus! :rocket:

2 Likes

See, honestly idia of macking audio game , is much creative, but in game there is some issues, some time it takes longer than usual time to load audio. So I think this kind of bungs makes game slow and because of this , it is possible that user my quite your game too…

It just my opinion , no hate :grin:.

All opinions are welcome! :+1:

I built Starship Zumanji for voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home, not for CS. The game you are playing is a “port” of that original game into CS form.

My goals in doing so were three:

  1. Push the envelope of what the *sound command can do inside CS just to show that there’s a wide-open field for people interested in using different media to tell an interactive fiction story with zero outsourcing costs or the need for expensive equipment. If it inspires a single person to tell a far, far better audio story, then it’s a win!
  2. Create a story which favors blind and vision impaired players rather than force them to rely on boring (and often expensive) screen-reading software to get a facsimile of what sighted players experience.
  3. Switch up the pace of playing a CS game, which often ends up being a lot of high-velocity skimming and rapid clicking on choices to something that’s much slower and more immersive.

Is Starship Zumanji the best audio IF story ever written? :rofl: heck no! It’s just a fun little prototype for y’all to play and maybe even become inspired to build a better one yourself. That’s it.

2 Likes

I appreciate your work , good job bro.