Soundself Has Got People Talking

Oh look, it's Malachai Rectum again

It bears reminding ourselves that old-school RPGs and adventure games with sky-high budgets aren’t the real reason that crowdsourcing is a tantalising new model for game development. Smaller, madder ideas with eminently achievable funding goals are why Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are a force for good. Soundself ticks all the right boxes – novel but not ridiculous concept, sensible target, playable prototype.

The ‘not a game’ lobby will doubtless be out in force should Robin Arnott’s voice-controlled curio achieve any kind of profile, but the rest of us can enjoy tinkering with the odd, mesmeric sound and vision generated in response to our own voices. It’s almost self-hypnosis.

Soundself has more than a few shades of Brian Eno to it, but any world in which that’s a bad thing is not one I want to live on. The prototype is only the rudiments of what Arnott has planned, not much beyond a screensaver which is shaped and reshaped by the player’s voice. A successfully crowd-funded version will apparently allow far more minute and flexible control – this is essentially proof of concept.

It did the trick nonetheless – my initial experiments in lowing and babbling at Soundself’s spirals of colour and ambient tones did take me into an almost dreamlike state of mind. Unfortunately I demolished this sense of passive bliss by electing to then test it with a reading of a news story about UK chancellor George Osborne. I was quickly so incensed by the truth-distortion and cruelty perpetuated by old Toadface McPoorHater that the calming spectrographs of Soundself could do nothing for me. Perhaps, when you try it, you should stick to nursery rhymes.

Here’s the pitch video, and you can try the prototype and/or fund Soundself here.

Lead dev Arnott, by the way, was responsible for the similarly relaxing/unsettling sounds of Antichamber, so he has form. He’s also hoping to include Oculus Rift support at some point, which is a compelling prospect indeed.

Soundself is only $8k away from its $29k target at the time of writing, so I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t make it. Only five days to go, mind.


  1. Berzee says:

    If and when the “not a game” lobby starts posting in force, I hope that someone will make a compilation video where the “not a game” comments get fed into Soundself.

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      Well, I just played it, fell in love, showed my wife, played together and backed it. And in the game.

      But seriously – try it out. It’s mind blowing and still being built. Experiments like this is what I come to RPS to hear about. I’m hoping enough other people agree and that this gets made properly.

      Thanks Alec, you beautiful bastard. Keep on ruining my bank account.

      • ragamesound says:

        Thank you so much! I’m really glad you had that experience with it. We’ve got a long way to go. Lots of work to do. :-)

        • colossalstrikepackage says:

          I’m telling every gamer I know about it. This is so my thing, it’s crazy. I really hope you guys get the funding you need to finish this. Meanwhile, I’ll play more with the demo.

      • Berzee says:

        If you want to use my timely first post as a springboard for putting your positive impressions near the top of the page, I require a token display of esteem for my worthiness and recognition of the original subtopic. Maybe something like

        “Berzee, your idea about filtering negative comments about the game through the game itself in order to create beautiful creations, is an idea of great power and poetic justice. This idea and the man who devised it (you, Berzee, *you*) are screamingly hilarious yet soberingly wise, like the best aspects of Jerry Lewis and King Solomon combined into one incredulously talented and probably handsome entity.”

        Feel free to copy and paste that into a fresh reply, then carry on with your approving remarks of this, this, this Soundself!

        • colossalstrikepackage says:

          :) My thinking was that a positive affirmation of the game would be a *sound* rebuttal to potential haters as well. Apologies for *sounding* *self*-serving, oh great Berzee. And your magnificent idea would indeed be an interesting one to try out – provided the haters were fond of using drawn-out words of disapproval (the visualisations seem to work better then).

        • colossalstrikepackage says:

          Then Firm Friends we shall be. A Bromance for the ages!

  2. kwyjibo says:

    This looks pretty cool actually. Looking forward to Dyad on PC too, those guys should get together.

    Give it a few years though, and the developer will stop shaving and start fucking animals.

  3. ohtorialumna says:

    I wonder what happens if you feed it an Brian Eno album as sound input now.

  4. Rian Snuff says:

    As an producer, seems pretty interesting.. I’ll keep an eye on this.

  5. ecbremner says:

    I tried this at Pax. While I agree its not a “game” (yet?). It IS awesome.

  6. RobinOttens says:

    Right, after Patrick Klepek’s interview with Arnott at GDC I had my eye on this. Of course, I forgot all about it a day later. Thanks for reminding me Alec!

  7. Tinus says:

    Backed this a while ago, real easy to get excited about this one. :)

  8. Urthman says:

    As the sort of dork who harmonizes with dial tones and microwave beepers, I can’t imagine not loving this.

    “What if the microwave beeper could harmonize with you?!” — Peter Molydeux.

  9. strangeloup says:

    This looks wonderful. I know a few people who will love it too, so I’ve passed on the link to a few folks that are interested in this sort of territory, and backed it myself (though I could only really spare $15).

    Sincerely hope it gets funded; I think it has great potential as a hypnotic/meditative tool as well as a relaxing curio.

  10. Japes says:

    OK so…am I being dense?

    I love the idea of this, downloaded the prototype, but my voice doesn’t seem to affect anything? If I sit silently, I get eerie sounds and cool patterns, if I start humming and doing stuff I get similar sounds and patterns?