SLASHER


PROJECT OVERVIEW

Slasher in an EEG-based survival horror game I created as part of my Master's thesis at NYU in 2016. The game was implemented using Unity, FMOD and Max along with various EEG technology. The calmer the player remains in the real world, the better their character performs in the virtual world...

Set in an abandoned asylum, the player navigates the game using conventional keyboard and mouse movement, however, they also wear an Emotiv EPOC headset which transmits their level of calm to the game via OSC. In order to complete the game, the player must remain as calm as possible. Their real-world level of calm influences many events in the game, such as how visible they are to enemies, or how fast they can move. 

An adaptive audio engine was developed to act as an auditory display for the player’s level of calm, in lieu of a distracting visual indicator. Every element of the audio was designed to adapt to the constantly fluctuating value. Procedural audio modules were created in Max, where player EEG data was simultaneously mapped to a myriad of modulators. FMOD Studio was used for non-procedural elements due to its facilitation of real-time control parameters, as well as its integration with Unity. Audio from Max and FMOD combined to create one unified soundscape.


THESIS

Completed as part of my Music Technology master's degree at NYU, this thesis documents the design and playtesting of Slasher. The main goal of the thesis is to quantify the success of the adaptive audio engine, which was built using a combination of Max and FMOD. Six different sound modules were used, plus a music event which features in the final level. The procedural modules created in Max include: heartbeat, binaural beats, electricity, ambience, and bell tones. The sixth module simulated the player character’s breathing, and was implemented in FMOD. The music cue was also implemented in FMOD.

Five test subjects trialled the game after 5+ hours of practice with the EPOC headset each. Results show that EEG incorporation was a subjective success, enhancing the immersive experience beyond traditional game settings. Results also show that certain sound modules were more beneficial than others at conveying the calmness parameter. Overall, the adaptive audio engine performed well as an auditory display.

You can read the full thesis here: Adaptive Audio Engine for EEG-Based Horror Game