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The Project

Last development team

When the project semester was over four of us decided to go on developing sonus. The development slowed down after the fmx/08 which was of great success for all of us. At the moment and in the future it is more likely that we are working on other projects but we would be very happy to see someone using or extending sonus. The development team consists of:

Alexander Lawrence

Alexander Lawrence
Representative and Developer for Haptics and Graphics

Martin Möhwald

Martin Möhwald
Game Designer and Developer for Audio

Raphael Estrada

Raphael Estrada
Level Designer and Developer for Physics

Roland Lößlein

Roland Lößlein
Game Designer and Sound Producer

Former University Project

The Starting

The idea of developing a game that relies just on audio and haptics has been worked out in 2007 in preparation for the so called project semester that is part of the study course Multimedia at the University of Applied Sciences Augsburg. It took place from October 2007 until January 2008. The main intention was to create a game that could be played by blind as well as seeing people and to make use of the new low-budget haptics controller, the Falcon, that we knew was to be released in summer 2007.


The team consisted of eight Multimedia students that joined up the project because they were convinced that they could form a real project out of the starting idea. Although everyone was more or less involved in creating and working out the game idea, the students had different focus in study. So half the team aimed to work on the project as "designers". The other halfs work concentrated more on technical aspects like programming and developing.

The former team consisted of:

  • Raphael Estrada
    Signed responsible for physics programming as well as SVG file import and level processing. Has been significantly involved in conceptual design, game design and the testing workshops.
  • Claudia Kobielski
    Former member of the design team, sponsoring.
  • Alexander Lawrence
    As the lead programmer he overviewed the team and coordinated the specific fields. His main tasks were programming graphics and haptics.
  • Roland Lößlein
    Has been responsible for sound design and producing. Was also involved in conceptual design in several areas and game design.
  • Martin Möhwald
    Accountable for the 3D audio and music programming in the past. Was furthermore involved in conceptual design as well as game design.
  • Simone Pötsch
    Former contact person for testers. Organised and carried-out the test workshops. Trailer production, general and conceptional design.
  • Florian Rieder
    Responsible for the old websites technical aspects such as the CMS. Former member of the design team.
  • Michael Titze
    Former head of organisation and assigned leader of the design team. Print and Animation.


Since no one of us had experience in game design or such we did a research for about one month testing and reviewing different games (not only computer games). After we had collected good examples for each genre we took the main aspects we thought that were responsible for fun, excitement and short and long time interest.

We decided to work on two different concepts: The first one was a more or less abstract variant of sound rhythm games like Guitar Hero where the player uses the haptic device as an instrument to play different notes in three dimensional space and is able to create individual sound patterns. The second one was a labyrinth where the exit emits a sound and the player is able to navigate through the labyrinth and feel obstacles with the haptic device.


We knew that making a game that would not make use of any visualisation would need testing and proof. The fact that we were aiming for a game that could be played by visually impaired underlined just that. We built prototypes and created questionnairies for each concept to test them on different people. At the end we wanted to decide which concept was the better one based on the results of the workshops.


With the results and a lot of research in the beginning we had gathered enough knowledge and experience to decide which concept we wanted to realise: A game based on the simple and fun proven concept of a labyrinth in combination with traces of a sound rhythm game.

Realisation of sonus:portals

After the workshops and their analysis was over we had our final game idea, a "rhythmic" labyrinth. We could now concentrate on the game-specific research. We had to decide on a variety of things in order to shape a realisable concept out of the idea. With the suggestions we gathered and the problems pointed out in the workshops in mind we made decisions on important game play aspects: Level size and shape, the sound atmosphere and range models as well as fun elements and many other things. Also the concepts for navigation and orientation had to be strongly improved. But we realised that this could not be worked out in theory only. We had to do another variety of prototypes to find the most suitable principles that were also as intuitive as possible.

In the meantime we also had to settle for a project and game title and get the product design done (although it was never planned as a commercial product our claim was to prepare it as a fictional one for the final presentation). We had a wide-spread variety of suggested names but decided for one of the simplest, sonus, which is latin for "tone" or just "sound". We found it suitable because that was just what the game concept was mainly based on. The reason we renamed sonus to sonus:portals lately can be read in the chapter about the future of the project later on.

When we began with the serious development of the game we had just about five weeks left. With three developers we started what was first planned as a framework. Before the project semester began we already worked out a concept that was about developing a framework that would help people in making games with haptic controllers and a collection of physics, sound and graphics modules. But that turned out to be not realistic enough in terms of time and overall team competence. So we settled for "just" realising a game. The main parts were done in these five weeks. Documentation and a code revision in some parts were done the weeks and months after the project had already ended. The exact structure of modules and the functional principles can be read in the "Architecture" chapters.

Finally we should not forget to mention the aspects of sound production which results led to a rich and enjoyable game experience. We wanted the sound to have a touch of fast electronic beats to provoke the players movement in favour of more adrenalin dischargement. The tracks for sonus:portals were all produced by one person, Roland Lößlein. A semiprofessional music enthusiast who put all his experience in music creation and production together to create the wonderful and exciting ambient tracks that make a whole lot of the game.

Preparation for the fmx/08

When we first heard we were in for the fmx/08 we were very excited. Soon we knew we had quite a few things to do until then: write this paper, make cards, design printed game information and leaflets, make a concept for our stand and realize it and work on the software itself.

In the beginning we planned to use four game stations at the fmx. We soon came to the conclusion that we would not need four stations and decided to make a stand with only two game and one replay station. We were sure this only would have advantages. On the one hand it would not look as if we had exaggerated expectations and on the other hand we managed to have a lot of people staying at our stand since they had a little waiting time.

The last time we used sonus:portals was at the final project presentation and so we had to do quite some work in development. First of all we eliminated bugs and errors and after that we implemented replays with a station making it possible to replay games over the network.

Martin Möhwald and Alexander Lawrence worked quite a lot on the software while Roland Lösslein did all the conception and layout for the printed material as well as motion graphics which turned out to be very helpful and attractive as visual aids and giveaways. Raphael documented?

Cleanup and documentation

After a successful time at the fmx/08 we came home with about 200 questionnaires and a few new contacts. Since everyone had to do lots of other stuff we did not develop further on sonus.

In August we decided to bring the project to a final status. We implemented an application structure with a menu to manage replays and the game itself, processed the questionnaire data and documented the whole code.