Hello! This will hopefully be the first of many updates on my progress building Lights Out Games, an audio game development studio.
Who Am I?
I’m Nolan. Ten years or so ago, I made a brief foray into audio game development with an Asteroids-like space shooter. Slightly more recently, I wrote the Spiel Android screen reader. Now I’m hoping to revisit audio game development, creating modern tools and cutting-edge games to push the boundaries of what is possible with sound alone.
What’s the Plan?
Historically I’ve built audio games and experiments from scratch. I’d start out with a text editor and my favorite programming language, using spatial audio libraries and text-to-speech engines to describe the game’s world and events. Unfortunately, this approach has some major disadvantages:
- It is limiting. Sure, you can create games quickly and be fairly certain they’re accessible. But port to a new platform, switch to a new type of game, or add multiplier and you’re in for a world of hurt and refactoring.
- It is isolating. You’re developing without the help of large communities of designers, coders, and enthusiasts all striving to build quality games.
- It takes more time. Whipping up a simple map with spatial audio is easy. Adding a sophisticated UI, integrating game controllers, and creating multiplayer experiences are problems which folks smarter than me have already solved.
Rather than starting from scratch, I’m working to augment an existing game engine to make it suitable for building audio games. In broad terms, this includes the following:
- Building a screen reader to make the game editor, and embedded user interfaces, accessible.
- Creating a cross-platform text-to-speech module that provides spoken feedback on Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
Any development tools I build will be released under a liberal open source license.
But tools are no fun if they’re never used to make cool things. To that end, I’m planning to revive my old Asteroids-like shooter. I also have other audio game concepts with which I’d like to experiment, and access to an engine for quick prototypes would make that process much simpler.
I’ve already begun writing a screen reader for the Godot game engine. My plan is to post regular progress updates, as well as to publicize any work I release. I plan to publish a weekly development report with what I’ve accomplished and hope to do next. Watch this space!