In an interview with XBLAFans Mini Ninjas Adventures‘ composer and sound designer Yarron Katz talks about how audio is important to the Kinect experience in Mini Ninajs Adventures for various reasons. First he talks about audio clues that help you detect where enemies are and what they’re doing so you know how to react to them:
Since Kinect has very little physical feedback, do you find yourselves using sound to a greater extent to relate information to players?
Ross, you hit the nail on the head! The sound becomes of exceptional importance. In Mini Ninjas since you are using your whole body to fight off the dangers you’re going to be focusing on the enemy in front of you. That means relying on sound to know what the enemies that you can’t focus on are doing. As such you need sounds to clearly indicate every action the enemy does. A grunt will mean they are lifting a rock to toss at you, or chanting means a wizard is casting a spell on you. Sound becomes tantamount in these situations so you can react accordingly.
Then he talks about voice recognition in the game and the challenges he faces when other characters in the game are talking, basically making sure their speech doesn’t include any of the player’s speech commands:
Are there any other aspects of Kinect that change the direction of music and sound?
Yes, voice command in games. Mini Ninjas Adventures does take advantage of the feature, and it means that you can’t use any sound effects that could activate a command. Suppose you have a voice command that when you shout “Kiyaaaa”! you use a power up. If you have a sound effect in the game of an enemy going “Kiyaaa”, when that sound plays, the Kinect voice recognition will hear it as a command and activate your power up. Not what you want. So you have to make sure that any sound effects aren’t part of the recognized commands and vice versa. This will clearly impact the direction of sound as voice activation becomes a bigger part in games.
He also talks about how music is important in Kinect games as it can enhance the experience and help you get into character. A good point I hadn’t thought of before!:
Another aspect is this: Since Kinect is gesture based, music becomes of tantamount importance to instill the games vibe. Sticking your arms out like Superman and moving left and right might leave you feeling stupid. But if the music is there to immerse you in the world, you’re not some fat dude playing Kinect alone on a Saturday night anymore. You’re a flying superhero saving the world! So where music has always been important, Kinect has made it even more important to capture the voice of the game to really make you fly.
Mini Ninjas Adventures is out tommorow on XBLA for 800msp and will hopefully be a cool game!