Class: Sound Sensing and Analysis for Interactive Environments
Eric Keylor (programmer)
Spongfish was a quirky homage to Pong. The game was played by two players. It took place in the ocean and was projected on the ground. The ball was a fish, the spongfish, that swam across the screen. Players had to prevent the fish from crossing a line on their side of the screen. If the spongfish crossed your edge more than five times, you lost. Instead of a single paddle that pushed the fish, there was a line of bubbles that acted as paddles. The bubbles were voice controlled. The shape of the bubble paddles was determined by the formants of the vocal sound produced by the player. Whenever you make a sound with your voice, especially vowels, a range of frequencies (overtones) is produced that creates a specific shape because some frequencies are stronger than others. This is what produces vowel quality—the distinguishing feature that makes a vowel identifiable. Watching people play the game was as fun as actually playing it because players would make all sorts of crazy sounds as they figured out how to make the bubbles move. I made the game engine in Java. For the sound digital signal processing, we used Max/MSP. Max/MSP has an interface that allowed it to communicate with Java, so I could get the formant information from Max/MSP in real-time to drive the bubble motion.
The player on the right is in trouble. So far, five fish have crossed the right player’s edge. You can see the skeletons toward the top of the screen. One more and the player loses. There is a cyan blue light just in front of the line of bubbles on the left side. This marks the threshold where the player should prevent the fish from crossing.