This is a fully visual game with a heavy audio focus. The story is explained below, but first is controls and links to the game.
ALL the mechanics take place through audio - information you need to succeed and mechanics of skill you need to execute.
Controls: WASD/arrow keys, and E/LMB for bark, F/Middle mouse for sniff 1, and G/right mouse for sniff 2. Sniffing sets off a sonar ping in the distance, so you can find your way back to places if you're lost. The world is pretty large map, so it's important to remember you can find your way back if you just keep pressing one of the sniff buttons and then spin around until it's equal volume in both ears, then walk to it.
You can find the latest build of the game at my gamejolt page, here: https://gamejolt.com/games/lostandhound/281570
The story is, you're a fledgling rescue dog standing in for the local canine unit that has its hands full. The world's soundscape is incredibly lush and detailed, as in every tree has a separate creature living: different kinds of birds, crickets and frogs at nighttime, etc. I'm a sound designer so the sound was made with a lot of love in this game.
But, because of the natural mechanics of the scent hound, none of the information relevant to rescuing someone is visual. Scent hounds don't use their eyes, they listen and use their scent, so the two important parts of this game are the sounds of the natural world, and the scents represented by low hums. That means that blind people and sighted people are playing the exact same game, and I'm not catering to either group, nor patronizing either group. This is just how hounds work.
I made the game with visuals for one reason: the blind community needs a game that is commercially viable by the world at large. If sighted people buy this game when it comes out, it means the audiogame community will have a game with a budget so much higher than we're used to, meaning we'll get a game that is as deep and full as any indie game out there. Sighted people will have zero advantage over blind gamers because visual information is irrelevant to scent dogs.
Important note: It will probably ask your permission to install a very small C++ processing file directly from Unreal. It’s safe.
Important note 2: there is no need for text to speech. Everything you need to know is narrated, and ALL the information in the game you need is audio. If you hear dog whining, that's the edge of the map signifier.
It is the full game, with visuals, so if you have sighted people in your home, get them to give their opinion too, please. If your computer can't handle it (mine is a tiny bit jumpy with visuals but the gameplay and audio is not jumpy, and it's a simple office computer, not a gaming rig) just wait a day or two and I'll release a demo without visuals.
Please think about these three questions while playing.
1. Is it fun?
2. Is it too easy, or too hard?
3. How can we get the players to care more about the dog and the rescue scenario? I need a carrot on a stick of some sort. Earning money, fame as a resource, etc? I mean I obviously want you to listen to the loved ones at the start, and connect with the missing persons that way but I need another motivation. Collect money to buy ... things? I don't really know.
Controls: arrow keys/WASD for moving. E/Left Mouse are bark, to keep the handler near you. F/Middle Mouse is to sniff, and sound off a sonar ping on the beginning of the level. G/Right Mouse is to sniff and sound off a sonar ping on the trail if you lose it. E, F and G are the main controls of the game, remember them!
Directions: everything else will be told to you in the opening tutorial speech. It's a simple game that relies on skill, NOT on colourful narrative and conversation like many audio games. The skill is being able to concentrate enough to hear the sound that represents the scent trail and being able to follow it. Another skill is to spatially locate the sonar pings when you press F and G. You will lose the trail. When you do, press either F or G and spin around until the audio is equal volume in both ears. If you press F and the audio is 100% in the left ear, it means you’ need to face to the left a bit to be facing the direction. F will sound a sonar ping at the VERY BEGINNING of the level.
Things will get in your way - everything from inclement weather to your own footsteps is going to bar your listening ability. This is a camping site, with other people so you might run into an alternate scent trail that will confuse which way to go but feel free to follow it and explore. There is no time limit, and there are hidden extras to find. Well, extra. Just one alternate scent trail for now.
If you ever get lost or feel overwhelmed, just press F for sonar ping and start over. There are no time limits here.
When you complete the level by bringing the lost person back to the origin of the middle mouse/F key sonar ping, you'll be instantly transported to home after a short narrative. Then, if you walk towards the helicopter sound, you can play through the Snow level. It is incomplete and doesn't have a win portion yet but the soundscape is different and so are the mechanics. You're welcome to check it out but don't expect much. There's also a keystroke that will take you directly to the snow level but I'm not going to tell you what it is yet, I'll post it here after a few people comment on playthroughs.
I HOPE YOU HAVE FUN!If you aren't having fun, think about what might make it more fun and let me know.