2020-06-21 07:37:49

Just to let everyone know SoundStrider now has a db page find it here.

I haven't included any mentions of the virtual instruement there since I'm not come across it in game yet, but I'll add it when I do.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2020-06-21 22:12:37 (edited by shiftBacktick 2020-06-21 22:17:40)

Thank you so much for such a lovely write-up, @Dark!

Here's some more info about the virtual instrument:

  • It can be activated and played at any time.

  • It's best experienced with a MIDI device but also has keyboard and gamepad controls. If you're familiar with a piano then you can find the white keys between C and Slash (the black keys are on the above row where you'd expect them). The gamepad controls are expressive and weird (press X to toggle and then wiggle the sticks).

  • There's no need to know musical scales. The controls are transposed such that the white keys are always correct.

  • The next update will add presets that change the sound of the instrument and can be selected from an Instrument Settings screen. The goal is to make them hidden collectibles scattered throughout the world.

2020-06-21 22:35:33

I'm currently having a play of the demo. It's weirdly relaxing. I love it!!! Good work!

Take care,
Chris Norman
Selling my soul to andertons.co.uk since 2012.

2020-06-22 04:35:02

Okay, I am officially a stupid head, I was running around wondering how exactly you use the virtual instrument when I had it all the time and all I needed to do was hit the keys, I'll add some words about it to the db page explanation.

I like the idea of collectables for it, particularly since whilst it's nice to hear an a miner scale and the tone is relaxing, it would be nice to be able to hear it do other things.
It might also be fun to have some tone matching exercises in there too, EG you come upon something and heed to match a specific tone.
Btw, I checked your blog and was quite interested in your article about posting on this site and "what a game is."

Since questions of definition are sort of like a red rag to a bull for a philosophy post graduate (I spent over a decade writing a thesis defining disability), I thought this was an interesting question.

For me, one of the key aspects, if not "the!" key  aspect  to a game is simply be able to interact with, and have a significant effect upon the world in a progressive way rather than simply experience. After all "interactive fiction", is a game whilst "fiction", is well, fiction! and definitely not a game.

I love exploration in games, just wandering around and seeing the game's world, I love the sense of freedom and space it gives me, but if I don't feel my exploring is changing either my character or the world in some way, my exploring feels more aimless.
Same with quests, indeed often in rpg games i'll do lower level quests which are mechanically no use for my character (EG doing a higher level quest with a lower level character), just because I like the feeling of having participated in a story, helped someone out and had an afffect upon the game's world.

Maybe this is just a personal thing, after all, I do tend to have a bit of a problem feeling powerless to effect the world in everyday life (most disabled people probably do to a lesser or greater extent, it's sort of implied in the word "disability", and the worse the attitudes of people around you, the worse this tends to be).

Either way, I'm glad, for all the amazingly gorgeous landscapes and relaxing audios, that there are tasks, quests and challenges to do in the game, since in their own way, that in itself is relaxing.

Hope some of this makes sense, and if anyone has any thoughts, feel free to chime in.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2020-06-22 16:24:10

hi, I've played the latest beta some more to try to help you track the performance issues, when the sound started stuttering I saved the bookmark, but when closing the game and loading it, everything's fine, the sound didn't seem to stutter. it usualy happens getting close to a loud sound, but there's no exact time  when to determine what's triggering it. it seem to happen when playing long secions, close to an hour. maybe it's something to do with memory management, i'm not sure because I don't know anything about programming, I'm sorry. just trying to help.
like I said it's not going tt make me stop playing the game, I have played for 8 hours so far according to statistics, but of course if it runs perfectly it would be a better experience. can't wait for the new additions to the instruments!

contact info
matrheine at gmail . com

Thumbs up

2020-06-29 19:23:28

news from the itch.io page:
Hi folks!
I’m excited to announce that soundStrider will leave beta on July 10. On that day it will become available for purchase on Steam for $9.99 USD (with a launch discount). The price will be updated here to reflect the new price (with a similar launch discount).
I understand that some may not be able to afford soundStrider at its new price. For low income and marginalized folks I will be offering a limited supply of community copies. More will become available whenever soundStrider is purchased at or above its recommended price. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity if you qualify whatsoever.
I’d like to thank all early access players for their feedback and support. Reaching this moment would not have been possible otherwise.
In the meantime, there will be one final beta update this week that brings some new features and enhancements. On release day a final update will add polish and resolve some issues. After that, soundStrider will enter a maintenance period and receive small hotfixes. It’s possible that free minor updates may include new sounds and features. However, I’m still assessing its future at this time.
Thanks for playing!

contact info
matrheine at gmail . com

Thumbs up +1

2020-07-02 21:28:18 (edited by shiftBacktick 2020-07-02 21:34:07)

@Dark: Thanks for checking out my blog. I've been meaning to dive into your response. Your background (and analogy of being a bull seeing red lol) is fascinating to me. Could you please PM or link me to where I can learn more about your dissertation and your findings about disability? Perhaps there's a thread in your post history I could dive into?

I agree that the definition of a game extends beyond interactivity and that impactful change is an excellent litmus test. I had a chance to play a few games since your reply and it certainly made me think. Two observations:

Devil Daggers is an arcade shooter (with binaural audio so it might be possible to play in the dark if the menus had screen reader support or VO). It has only one level that spawns baddies in waves that you need to shoot and avoid, a leaderboard that ranks players by how long they survive, and only one achievement earnable after 500 seconds. For me it was way too difficult but playing felt like a thrill ride or rollercoaster.

Here I'd argue that most arcade games like Devil Daggers don't satisfy that criteria (unless your name in the high scores is sufficient change) yet they are still operationally "games" because the neurochemical response is similar to eating a bowl of candy. It feels good just to eat and that feeling in itself is escapist.

Lately I've also been diving into the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality which had over a thousand games for $5. Lots of rare gems in there that I absolutely loved. One that I'm trying to get into is Overland, in which you lead some folks on a roadtrip across a post-apocalyptic US. Each playthrough you'll meet new characters and get into a variety of situations that usually lead to disaster. There are permanent consequences to every action that affect the rest of the game. It's like a modern Oregon Trail.

Games like Overland definitely satisfy that criteria because player actions feed back into the world. But something else I love about emergent game experiences is how they can permanently change ourselves. We form unique memories and take away lessons like reading a book, hearing a song, or going to therapy. They exist outside the game space through the stories we tell.

I can find these aspects in my game but it's certainly closer to candy and therapy than challenge and emergent stories. I'm glad to provide a weird and joyful world you can see and escape into. And I'll take everyone's suggestions to heart for wherever we go next.

2020-07-02 21:49:09

@drg: Thanks for re-posting my announcement!

About community copies: I want to make sure that y'all can have access to the game no matter your situation. Thanks to all of your generous purchases here, the pool will start with 7 free copies that anyone can claim. If those ever run out, please PM me to receive a unique coupon code.

About this week's update: Today I released the last beta version. It has 23 collectible instruments that can be played on the keyboard, a gamepad, or any MIDI device. There are some slight changes and improvements to other things that may improve performance. Enjoy!

About next week's release: I'm reviewing the feedback here in this thread and will attempt to make further optimizations and fixes. There won't be any major new features but it will polish some things so it's ready for retail. This won't be the last soundStrider update. I plan to support the game with bug fixes, and I've outlined a few ideas for free content updates.

I've been working on this full-time for over six months. It's been an incredible experience and I'm super grateful. But I need a short break to catch my breath before my next big thing. I'm looking forward to engaging you all in other threads and playing more audio games. Thanks!

2020-07-03 17:31:39

I just read that blog post Dark did and found it really interesting.
First I should apologize for the initial response.  As you said, the information in the first post could have been more complete, and maybe you personally don't feel that an apology is warranted but please humor me.
We are a community which is frustrated and starving for content, often bitter do to feeling left behind by the mainstream, and with a high percentage of members who have issues with anxiety or depression do to social and financial pressures.  We have tropes that most of our small library of successful games have followed since the beginning of our history, and the majority of our active posters are teens or young adults, many of  whom are isolated by circumstance   and had their social skills shaped by the confines of the blind internet community.
These aren't excuses, but they are reasons.  No one was outright hostile to you from what I saw, but by the same token, very few were very constructive or open minded in their feedback either, which is an unfortunately common occurrence on this forum these days.
Particularly knowing now how nervous you were about posting here, and how worried you had become over the lack of interest in other communities, I feel it appropriate to extend this apology on behalf of the community.

But moving on from that, I would like to thank you sincerely for being open to fixing things and sticking with it.  We have a handful of developers who like you, decided to really dig into the accessibility options and try out a screen reader for them selves, and much to the appreciation of the community, they have become great examples to others by doing so.
Maybe it shouldn't be surprising coming from someone in the academic field, but the speed at which you grasped the importance of a continual commitment to accessibility through periodic testing and fixing was still impressive to me.  Maybe it speaks to the unfortunate state of things within the development sphere that such a thing stood out to me, but regardless I want to show my appreciation for it.

Your community copy pool system is also quite generous, not to mention interesting from a conceptual point of view.  I'm lucky enough that I don't need to take advantage of it my self, but I've been on the other side of the fence several times in my life and can tell you how much that would mean to me.

Thumbs up +2

2020-07-09 19:53:17

@defender: I didn't fully understand the ubiquity of social isolation or how this forum is such an outlet until now. Thank you so much for your insight and taking the time to explain that to me.

My accessibility journey as a developer is likely a common one. I'm privileged to have never needed it or been shown its importance, so it was easy to be ignorant. It wasn't until I developed a site for a public institution and learned of their legal obligations to accessibility that I concluded the web is for everyone. I felt shame when I learned how inaccessible my work had been. To never repeat those mistakes I adopted an accessibility-first mindset and advocated for better policies at my workplace. But there is always more to learn and improve.

Ultimately I'm sorry that you felt the need to apologize for the forum. I'm grateful for all the responses here. Even when folks disliked my art, they were not attacks. This experience is exactly what I needed to understand and affirm my commitment to this community. Cheers!

2020-07-22 14:33:10

I purchased the game from Itch yesterday.
Could you please perhaps provide a bit more detail on the quest system, even if you just write down an example of beginning your first quest to completion.
Also, I am on windows 7, there's times where the audio stutters. I have 4 gb ram. It could also just be I have an older system, but I wish there is something I could do as sometimes the game cuts out for seconds at a time. Also, for some reason when I go into the audio mixer menu, I can't seem to adjust the sliders, they seem stuck at 10 or 5, and I've tried pressing left arrow, right arrow, up and down, and nothing seems to change, or if it does, it doesn't tell me what the slider is at. However, the render distance slider works correctly, seemingly, reading as I change it's value.
Update: this is actually a huge bug. If I go into the audio mixer, the sliders don't seem to react if I adjust, it just says 5 or whatever. If I then go into render distance, that slider also then exhibits the same behaviour. However, if I start the game and go to render distance first, that slider will let me adjust it, and will read correctly.
I am using the latest portable NVDA, 2020.1, but my primary NVDA version which is slightly older, also exhibited this behaviour.
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-2120 CPU @ 3.30GHz   3.30 GHz
Installed memory (RAM): 4.00 GB
System type: 64-bit Operating System

Thumbs up +2

2020-07-22 18:34:07

Hi aaron,

Thanks so much for the bug report. I've identified the issue you've noted on the Audio Mixer screen that causes a hard lock of the entire application. I'm pushing a v1.0.1 hotfix momentarily that will fix that for you.

I'm aware of performance issues in certain instances. I believe it's more of a CPU issue than a RAM issue because synthesis is a real-time process and the game itself doesn't use much memory. Currently I'm writing a blog post about why optimizing this is hard. What I'm aiming for in the next planned release is basically a performance audit of the entire codebase. The truth is that I'm uncertain what I'm going to find; it might be something I've simply overlooked, or I may need to overhaul some things and put them behind additional performance settings. I hope to approach it with a fresh mind in the next week. Thanks for understanding.

2020-07-22 19:33:10 (edited by shiftBacktick 2020-07-22 19:35:22)


Here's a walkthrough of all the quests. Possible spoilers if you prefer to figure things out on your own:

  • Tutorial. This section mutes the game and provides a little sandbox for players to learn the controls and how to use the navigational cues. Walk forward for about 15 seconds. The quest completes after you arrive at the campfire. Whenever you walk to an unexplored area you'll find new quest waypoints to approach.

  • Expedition. New areas await. Follow the compass to its waypoints. Occasionally there are multiple stops. Breadcrumbs trace your path when the quest ends.

  • Escort. A lost sound appears. Follow the compass to take it home. It lives there when the quest ends.

  • Synthesis. A broken machine appears. Walk in unexplored directions to collect its parts (indicated by waypoints). When all parts are collected, follow the compass to repair the machine. It plays an oscillating scale when the quest ends.

  • Clockwork. A ticking music box appears. Push it into an unexplored direction to wind it up. It plays a unique song when the quest ends.

I've received multiple suggestions about providing an expanded tutorial or a menu screen to learn its sounds. I'm torn. My personal preference is to leave things as is. The next best solution might be an interstitial tutorial screen with text after beginning a new adventure (or possibly when encountering a new quest type). Other solutions would be costly to implement at this time.

Also, the v1.0.1 hotfix is live on itch.io and Steam. Thanks for your help!

2020-07-23 12:14:39

I have a few more suggestions as well.
I'm wondering if there could be a solution which could also help, providing an audio cue glossery might not be such a bad idea, maybe from the misc menu. The general sound of a waypoint, the sound of the compasss at maximum pitch meaning you are the wrong way, the sound of a breadcrumb trail. I can't see this being too much of an issue, particularly as for a sighted gamer they can see the general idea of something, they know it's a gun or a thing to jump over or whatever, but for us, each game makes it's own sounds. It's not about having every sound available to listen to, but it's about learning to identify the most important ones for, say, completing a quest.
When you highlight an item, it could say: Waypoint, the sound of a waypoint that must be picked up. Pressing spacebar plays the noise.
Compass, the sound that indicates you're going the wrong way. Make sure this is quiet.
My next suggestion here could actually make the audio cue point mute depending at which level it's implemented. At it's most basic, a sort of "you are here" screen, which tells you what pallet you're in, and what type of quest you've started if any. A bit like a HUD. Not too detailed though. But I've always wondered which pallet I'm in, particularly as there's identifyable pallets such as beach or city, but I can't quite figure out which one I am go into at what time.
In the audiogame Bokurano Daiboukenn 3, there's a button which brigns up a menu with all the objects on screen and their position.
So when you initially go into this screen, it'll say your pallet and what kind of quest you're on. There could then be a nearby button. This is where the audio learning could come in as it's more intuitive. It could say, breadcrumb, in front, 20 meters, or whatever. Alternatively, to make this even more intuitive,could the slash key be used to report this directly, assuming it's not being used as an instrument button? With shift plus slash reporting pallet and other info, and this info always being available somewhere in the pause menu for those using controllers. It's important that the info does not go into too much detail. "Storm Pallet, escort quest in progress". Pressing shift slash when near waypoint: "waypoint, 3 meters in front"
At it's most advanced level, a coordinate system, saying you are at <coord>, with a sort of journal telling you what you've discovered. This way if you wanted to go back to the factory you could look for past coordinates. Of course the issue with this is the list would jsut get bigger and bigger as you discover more factories and escort more things, so maybe this option might not be the best idea. I think one of the other levels of implementation could be cool though. It still needs to leave enough room for the user to imagine, though, so it would have to be basic and not super detailed.

Thumbs up +2

2020-07-23 18:32:47

Hi aaron,

For the audio learning screen, that's sort of what I imagined it could be too. I totally understand the utility it would provide. My hesitance to add it is an implementation issue, basically some blocking issues, and fixing them would constitute a major update. Right now I'm outlining my first update of that size and I've noted to make this a part of it.

In general, I love your suggestions for exposing more data to the player. I'm wondering if these features could be rolled into a Status menu. For example, you pause the game, select Status, and then Location or Journal from there.

The Location screen could provide your current coordinates and heading. Most locations are a mixture of several palettes so it might be interesting to drill down into percentages. Other attributes could be listed here too like wind speed and direction.

The Journal screen would only be available in Adventure mode. It'd call out the current quest objective (or the nearest waypoint if a quest hasn't been started). Below that it'd list all of the completed quest objectives and their locations. The way this would work is that completed quests already add nodes to the map, which the game uses to paint the breadcrumb trails between. So it'd be a list of these nodes, where they're located (probably relative coordinates like 100 meters, South), and assign simple names based on the palettes (like Desert Overlook or Stormy Shores).

Something like this seems feasible and would satisfy some of the suggestions @Dark had earlier in the thread. Let me know what you think.

2020-07-23 19:50:09

I like that idea!
I also wonder if some keyboard shortcuts could be added for faster processing, so if you're turning you could then press a key combo to get your heading or coordinates quickly. I say key combo because I know that standalone keys are used for the instrument.

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2020-07-26 03:36:33

Hi folks,

I just published a post-mortem about my journey while developing soundStrider over the past nine months. It's about a 30-minute read. In it you'll learn more about me, my process, how it affected my finances, and the lessons I learned. Feel free to dive in and let me know what you think:

https://shiftbacktick.io/devlog/2020/07 … ortem.html

With that published I'm switching focus to two upcoming updates. The v1.0.2 patch will aim to address some outstanding performance issues. Then the v1.1.0 update will add an audio learning screen and some additional graphical options for users with photosensitivity. Depending on the complexity of the former it may be rolled into the latter.


2020-07-26 04:19:06 (edited by defender 2020-07-26 04:20:28)

Man, you really are an interesting person.
Sometimes you talk like a philosopher, other times like a psychologist, and occasionally like a computer engineer or mathematician.
It's a real shame that the current world isn't really set up to let people like you achieve their full potential, but I give you allot of credit for pushing through as much as you have regardless of that.
I think I'll buy Sound Strider next month.  I wasn't sure at first but even if I don't end up liking it much it will still make me feel good to support your work.

Thumbs up +1

2020-07-26 20:12:02

Can I also please say that I really, really like your other game that hasn't been posted here yet, called Audo. I think you should create a topic about that as well as it's really a fun way to pass the time, as long as you explain a bit about the way the audio works as I think that's what makes it so interesting. Dynamic again.

Thumbs up +1

2020-07-27 03:07:24 (edited by shiftBacktick 2020-07-27 03:12:41)


Yes! I'm happy that you enjoy Audo. I just read the nice write-up by @pitermach (thank you). I haven't shared it yet because I'm planning a post-jam update which should polish a few things. I love its simplicity, but it could be a fun little side project to maintain with new features, like a jump button or more obstacles. Making it was super fun (it was built with the soundStrider engine, which I'm making open-source) so I'm planning a blog post about that as well.

2020-07-28 12:10:03

@58. How do we claim these community coppies?

VIP Lounge. an active discord server for blind and vi people to chat in!
If you found this post helpful, amusing or funny, please thumb it up!
To get in touch, please email me using the email link below this post. If you prefer, you can also send me a friend request on discord. I'm thetechguy#6929. Please do not send me a PM on here as I don't check those often.

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2020-07-28 17:48:43


To claim a community copy, you'll go to soundStrider on itch.io and look for the button labeled Claim Access. It's below the H3 labeled Community Copy. That will open a dialog to purchase soundStrider for $0.00. Clicking "No thanks, just take me to the downloads" will claim the copy without payment. I'd recommend having an itch.io account so it's added to your library.

2020-07-29 08:57:37

@72. Thanks.

VIP Lounge. an active discord server for blind and vi people to chat in!
If you found this post helpful, amusing or funny, please thumb it up!
To get in touch, please email me using the email link below this post. If you prefer, you can also send me a friend request on discord. I'm thetechguy#6929. Please do not send me a PM on here as I don't check those often.

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2020-07-30 09:13:31

Hi folks,

Today I hotfixed the game to v1.0.2. This update addresses some of the performance degradation issues noted earlier in the thread. Basically it solves leaks caused by eight sounds that would get worse whenever they were triggered. If you're interested in the code (or what's coming in the next update), then I wrote a post about the specifics. If you were experiencing issues with stuttering or drop-outs during prolonged sessions, then I encourage you to try out the new build and let me know if it helps. Otherwise it's not a critical patch and you can keep playing on your installed version.


2020-09-12 06:54:21

Hi guys, sorry for reviving this somewhat old thread, but I figured it'd be better to post here since this is the release thread for the game.

At first I didn't think I'd really be into this game, as it sounded really... out there. Somewhat meditative, somewhat musical, somewhat exploration, all combined into 1 package, and as someone who tends to like simple action games, I couldn't see myself really getting into something as out there as this. But, I really do like audo, and as someone who loves synthesizers and sound design, I found myself intrigued enough by that to give the demo of Sound Strider a spin today.

I really, really like what I'm seeing here. I'm generally not the abstract-thinking, imaginative meditative type when it comes to stuff like this, but listening to the sounds technically and musically was pretty cool, and the binaural cues made it all work. I imagine people who are more into this sort of thing would really enjoy it. Heck, I really do too, it just doesn't have as much staying power for me. I still plan on buying the full version soon, even if it's just to hear the interesting sound design this game will throw at me.

I find myself a bit confused about a few things during the demo:
1. what is the difference between turning and strafing? The manual seems to suggest that both are different.
2. I can navigate my way between the waypoints pretty easily most times, but sometimes I am unsure where to go as the compass doesn't seem to provide any feedback (it doesn't make any sound no matter where I turn). I'm assuming this is because I just have to explore and find the waypoints myself. The manual seems to suggest that if I miss waypoints, they'll reappear ahead of me at some point, so I could, hypothetically, not worry much about going in random directions and just keep walking forward until I collect them all? Or am I getting this wrong?
3. How do I go between the worlds? Are they their own entities, or are they just connected in one giant space for you to explore? If so, I guess the aim is just to explore and have fun, rather than focus on hard objective like in most games. I admit if this is the case it's something I have to get used to, but I'm open to the idea anyway.

So yeah, as you can tell I'm a little unsure of my footing here. Maybe I just need to enjoy the ride rather than try to figure it out, idk. If such is the case, just let me know.

In any case, really enjoying the sound of this one! Hoping to see more from this dev in the future; the realtime binaural synthesis is outright intriguing for me, and I couldn't ever really find it in my heart to truly dislike anything with this kind of thing in it.

Make more of less, that way you won't make less of more!
If you like what you're reading, please give a thumbs-up.

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