You are lost, deep in the darkness of the land of the dead. Your eyes are useless to you but your ears are filled with sound. But what is it you can hear…? Someone is in grave danger and desperately needs your help. Can you save them and make your escape or will you be trapped in the blackness forever?
On Monday 20 th December 2010 digital indie Somethin’ Else is launching Papa Sangre, a breakthrough new audio only game for the iPhone 4– the first ever hand-held game to successfully use a 3D audio engine to truly replicate the way the human head hears.
Papa Sangre is the first game created anywhere using fully dynamic binaural sound. Game play takes place in pitch darkness, where immersive sound transports the player through the story via his or her imagination. Navigational aids take the form of vibrations and movements: there is no visual representation of space at all, just rich binaural sound.
Papa Sangre is a 90-minute deep-rooted psychological thriller set in a world where the afterlife is a malevolent, unpredictable carnival. The player’s mission is to explore each of the rooms of Papa Sangre’s mysterious palace and save the soul of the person they love.
The player moves through places and spaces guided by audio alone and must escape each room they enter avoiding man-eating monsters, navigating vast open spaces and small cramped holes. To win the player must find a way out of Papa Sangre’s evil dark kingdom and break through into the light.
This is a game, not a drama of which the player forms a part, hunted by a predator that can hear each and every move. Every footstep counts, making surfaces crucial to gameplay. Some, like soft grass or thick carpet will muffle your footsteps and let you explore in peace. Others will broadcast your every move to the sickly, hungry hunters who patrol Papa Sangre’s palace. Objects and musical notes can be collected on the way, which serve to help or hinder the player on their journey through the underworld, and which add to the richness of the sonic landscape you’ll discover.
The God of the game, Papa Sangre himself, knows you
“We are extremely excited to have created the first iPhone game using binaural audio created in real-time. We set ourselves the impossible task of rivaling any of the top 3D games on the PS3 or Xbox– using no graphics whatsoever,” says Paul Bennun, Director of Digital, Somethin’ Else.“Papa Sangre is solely about sound. It is the first time that genuine real-time, 3D, spatialised audio has been implemented on a mobile device. It’ll be different for every player, too— the pictures in your mind will be different from everyone else’s, because audio can stimulate the imagination instead of replacing it.”
Papa Sangre has been in development for just over a year with the support of Channel 4,“We are thrilled to have been able to support Somethin’ Else on the development of Papa Sangre, and to be part of this extraordinary technological breakthrough with audio,” says Lucy Wurstlin, Digital Commissioning Manager, Channel 4.“Papa Sangre is a great demonstration of the appetite that Channel 4 has for taking risks on innovative, boundary pushing digital products and services and one which we believe will resonate with hardcore and casual gamers as well as the growing demographic of smart-phone owning new gamers”.
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Notes to editors
About the Papa Sangre Game
There are four Palaces that the player must visit before entering the final Palace of Papa Sangre: The Palace of Brass, The Palace of Strings; The Palace of Wind; The Palace of Bones, each a bundle of four levels. There are four doors leading off from a central antechamber, North, South, East and West. The player must knock three times on the door they wish to open and enter.
The Song of Papa Sangre
At the start, the song of Papa Sangre is a bare percussive riff but as a player moves through the palaces the song builds, sets of notes are collected each forming a section of the song. Once all four Palaces have been found the song is complete save the lead vocal track, which Papa Sangre will bellow when the final Palace is found and its three levels complete– the Palace of Papa Sangre itself.
The Fluttery-Wuttery Things
These are creatures that inhabit each level, which flutter and whisper in the players’ ears, to guide, tease and torment. Some say important things that a player needs to know, others are unreliable and send players in misinformed directions. The player needs to work out who they can trust.
Dilemmas are creatures that can either be ignored or rescued from the chamber, but increase the challenge of completing each level.For example the noise of a crying baby will attract monsters if you pick her up and try carry her to safety, but can you live with your conscience if you leave her behind, frightened and alone in the dark?
About the Papa Sangre development team
Paul Bennun, Director, Somethin’ Else
Paul is on the board of Somethin’ Else and is also a multi-award winning game developer, media producer and sound designer. His credits include Grand Theft Auto, a series of games called Buzz! and Killzone 2, as well as working with Theatre de Complicite and John Berger amongst others. Paul is also on the board of global arts commissioner Artangel.
Ben Cave, former Head of Development, Somethin’ Else
Ben Cave was the producer of Papa Sangre– he is a highly talented producer whose extensive list of credits within both broadcast and interactive media includes work for O2, the BBC and Channel 4.
Adam Hoyle, Do Tank Studios
Adam Hoyle is the Founder of creative digital agency, Do Tank studios. Adam is an extremely creative coder and artist, whose work includes major projects for the BBC and the internationally-renowned Sancho Plan art project, as well as a legendary audio installation called The Dark, which involved the audience playing a game inside a pitch-black room.
Margaret Robertson, Games Consultant
Margaret Robertson is the former editor of Edge magazine and now works as a consultant to mainstream, educational and cultural game developers. She has designed games for everything from action movies to art galleries, and has worked on award-winning games on all platforms.
Nick Ryan, Sound Designer and Musician
Dr. Nick Ryan was recently made honorary Doctor of Music at Plymouth University, recognized as one of the most important and creative composers and sound designers working in the UK today. Nick holds top industry awards in technical and creative fields for his unique approach to sound and music for film, TV Drama and Documentary, Interactive Media and Orchestral composition. On 21st April 2008, Nick
Tassos Stevens, Games Designer
Dr. Tassos Stevens is an extraordinary talent of theatre, storytelling and game design. Tassos's most recent theatre show A Small Town Anywhere
About Binaural Audio
Binaural audio is like the Imax of sound created by building a model head with microphones for ears. A short burst of noise is beamed at the head from 1000 different positions and recorded. How the different positions affect what the head hears is modeled in code, which can then be used to transform any piece of audio to appear to a listener as if the sound was created n the very same room. The process is created in real time. It is complicated, intricate and computationally hungry and has never been done on a mobile device before.
About Somethin’ Else
…making things that audiences love
Somethin' Else has won Bafta awards for its work in gaming, and has worked on titles such as Killzone II, Grand Theft Auto and the top-selling PLAYSTATION® 3 franchise, Buzz! We’re the UK’s leading cross-platform production company, making programmes and content for radio, TV, mobile and online. Our radio division is the UK’s biggest independent radio production company, supplying more programmes (by revenue and hours) to the BBC and commercial broadcasters than anyone else. We also have a strong track record of creating branded radio stations for the likes of French Connection, Coke and Bacardi as well as advising on radio strategy to companies such as Disney and the BPI.
Online and mobile we work with Playstation, Orange, O2, BBC and government bodies such as the DCMS creating compelling content. We are experts at creating rich content for online and currently create filmed online content for clients such as Orange, Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3. For TV, we make programmes for all the major broadcasters. Oh, and we have a talent agency as well representing the likes of Jeremy Kyle (ITV), JK and Joel (Virgin), Ricky and Melvin (Kiss and MTV) and Georgie Thompson (Sky Sports).