Habitone is a sonic-driven educational game that explores the concept of the environment
as an instrument. It has three aims: to teach the player about the environment and human
impact; to let the player create virtual and sonic environments that exist, and could not exist,
in the real world; and to accustom the player to listening attentively. This game is aimed
towards school-age children, but it can be explored and enjoyed by a player of any age.
Habitone was made using Unreal Engine 4.21 and FMOD audio middleware. I began
using FMOD as I became dissatisfied with the flexibility of UNREAL’s audio options,
especially with regards to the specifications of this project. I needed all the music layers to
remain in tempo, and some events only to happen once the music reached a certain beat,
which can be achieved easily using FMOD.
The game has six customisable areas on the map. The player chooses a terrain out of the
following six biomes – woodland, rainforest, grassland, swamp, desert, and tundra – and this
starts a drone. Each new adaptation to the environment creates an adaptation to the music.
Spawning flora and fauna adds melody and drum layers, and choosing the temperature
changes the filters applied. These choices are made purely sonically. The menus have no
visual clue as to what will spawn when a choice is made, so the player can only listen to
decide which layer they would like to add.
Through this process, the player could create bizarre new ecosystems – for example, a
desert full of huge rainforest trees populated by arctic wolves – which would never work in
the real world. This sort of play is encouraged, as it lets children explore beyond the bounds
of nature, and also requires focused listening skills. Sandbox play like this can be fun for a
while but games progress by giving the player rewards for certain actions. So, if the layer of
music spawns a plant or animal that matches the original terrain, the player is rewarded with
information about that environment.
At one point, a city spawns in the middle of the six customisable areas. The player must
now listen out for the sounds of human impact in their environments and work out what they are.