Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning was a location-based, logic puzzle iPad game that I designed and built at the MIT Media Lab while I was a research assistant in the Changing Places research group. The game was built on top of the IsoLynx indoor location tracking system, which could track ten small tags throughout a large multi-purpose room. Dead Reckoning used two of these tags attached to a custom-built rig on an iPad to determine the player's position and orientation in the room.

The motivation behind the game was to explore the possible, unique interactions one could have with dynamic, spatialized audio. Most games heavily rely upon visuals for game dynamics, but real-life, location-based game systems open the door for audio to be a primary (and exciting) interaction mechanism.

Dead Reckoning was modeled after the classic "Einstein Puzzle", in which solvers must pay close attention to a list of statements and use the information embedded in them to match up related objects. In this game, there were 5 differently colored ghosts, with 5 different names, from 5 different countries, wearing 5 different outfits, and with 5 different ways they died. By exploring the scene and listening to what each ghost says, solvers had to match up which ghost was associated with which features.

As players physically moved around the room and explored the "audio-scape", they noticed that the sounds are fully spatialized. This means that as they approached a sound source, the volume got louder, and as they moved away, it got lower. Further, if they moved around an audio source, the sounds jumped from ear to ear as if it was really there in 3D space.

In addition to the audio-based logic puzzle, there were also a few interesting location-based puzzles that players had to solve to progress in the game. In order to speak with you at all, one ghost required you stand between her and another ghost. Another required you stand behind him. Yet another asked you to collect and retrieve objects placed around the room (other location tracking tags), and another required you walk around the room with him as he spoke.

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