An experience through sound
Remembering is an interactive VR experience. It doesn’t involve gravity-defying roller coasters or wormholes filled with shooting aliens. Remembering is played lying down and, is slow paced and contemplative.
It tells the story of life coming into existence, from completely nothing, through growth and evolving consciousness, up until birth.
It is sprung from our desire to create an experience where sound takes the lead, in which the unique characteristics of sound are used to tell a story. Human beings are extremely well trained in analysing visual stimuli, but are much more open-minded and inexperienced when it comes to sound. Sound enters the mind on a primitive, subconscious level. Meaning that with sound you can influence people without them being aware of it.
Remembering puts you in the seat of the music composer. You can't walk around, or shoot or fight or collect coins. The one thing you can do is move your head and thus aim your view at several object passing by. When looking at an object, you'll activate it – it will start making sound. These sounds will stack, allowing you to create your own soundscape based on your behaviour.
Tegelijk is de interactiviteit beperkt en kiezen we er soms voor om de regie een beetje uit handen te nemen, zonder dat de speler die grens zelf voelt. De interactiviteit die de speler voelt, de vrijheid om zelf te beïnvloeden, is een belangrijke toegevoegde waarde. Maar tegelijk willen we als makers ons verhaal zo sterk mogelijk overbrengen. En daarvoor is controle nodig. Met geluid als belangrijkste factor wilden we een beschouwing geven van groeiend bewustzijn en het besef van een wereld buiten jezelf. De verschuiving van een oer-bewustzijn naar een meer verfijnd bewustzijn.
From nothing to something
How would the start of all things sound? Before life, before consciousness, before space, before anything. Could we imagine, in sound, how a vacuum would evolve into spaciousness?
Before something can be, it should define itself by distinguishing itself from other things. Consiousness is realising there’s something around you that isn’t you. Remembering begins with trying to pull the player into this sensation. Visually not too much changes, but the sound of a growing world around you is all the more audible. (Please use headphones!)
Brain in sound
Before we could start working on the actual music and soundscapes for Remembering, we’ve done several sound studies, looking for ways to re-imagine in sound the wide range of moods and feelings of a complex being. And to try and capture the chemical processes in the brain that form the fysical bade of all these moods.
Listen to a selection of these. (And, again, use headphones!)
The first signs of consciousness
In the next video you’ll see what we as developers call ‘trees’. They’re not trees per se, you can form your own ideas as to what they are – that is not important. What is important, though, is that you interact with them. By looking at them, you’ll trigger a sound and a string of light that moves to the sound. These sounds symbolise the the first activity of the mind.
Somewhat further in the experience these abstract sounds are replaced by musical phrases, suggesting the growth of a more refined and sophisticated perception of the mind. Whereas in the beginning the sound is still very concrete and factual, it slowly evolves into a more intelligent and complex interpretation: music.
Since players decide what phrases are triggered, they can create their own, unique personality within these musical building blocks.
Eventually all these musical phrases merge into a complex system of sound, symbolising the somplex system of thoughts and emotions of a conscious mind.
In this part of the experience we’re balancing between the freedom of the player to dictate what will sound and imposing our premeditated direction as storytellers, secretly taking over control over everything that sounds. That way we can be sure the stoy arc and climax will be as we intended, while still giving the player freedom of choice and a sence of a personal signature in the sound.
Still further in the experience, the living organism has developed into a being that is starting to be conscious of itself and its surroundings. The ‘trees’ return and this time you’re triggering ‘real’ sounds, that keep on sounding, once triggered. The sound of a heart beating, for example, of blood that flows through vains, of liquid that surrounds you.
The being tries to define and categorise all these new sounds. It tries to connect them in ways that make sense, to better understand them and itself.
We’ve translated this maturation into audio by developing a system that lets all these sounds merge into a musically and rhythmically cohesive soundscape, that becomes more complex and deeply layered over time.
The ‘real’ sounds that the player initially interprets in a ‘causal’ way (trying to pinpoint the origin of the sound), are more and more perceived in a way that is called ‘reduced listening’ (focusing on the more intrinsic aspects of a sound, regardless of context).
Again, a certain amount of control is secretly taken back by us as storytellers: During the last phase a precomposed set of sounds takes over from all the separate sounds activated by the player. Again to push the experience to the right climactic arc that will convey the experience as we intended to all players, regardless of their playthrough.