Threshold: Forgotten Futures is an audio-adventure in the form of a free smartphone app developed for Android. The app is a portal to a thrilling space-age story and interactive soundscape (in 360 degree binaural sound!) that dynamically changes using real-time GPS data from your phone.
Designed for use at the Threshold Festival of Music & Arts, players were invited to download the app at the festival, and then be spirited away to a briefing room where their sci-fi saga bgan. Activating the app causes a sci-fi map to appear – showing all the venues and the streets inbetween them. The player’s location is displayed in realtime on the map.
A rich cast of virtual characters (voice-acted by renowned Liverpool-local comedy troupe Impropriety) inhabit the retrofuture audioscape, although players had to find them first by walking to specific sites at the festival – where the GPS tracking software would determine how close they were to the sites.
Other secrets could be found using the QR code reader built into the app. Large QR codes were pasted up around the festival that could be captured to unlock more audio clips!
Our aim at the Threshold Festival of Music & Arts was to fill the spaces in between music venues / stages with a unique adventure that anyone with an Android device and a pair of headphones could enjoy. I designed the story with much help from Impropriety; developed the app with the amazing support of Bill Butchart; worked on some amazing binaural soundscapes and ‘mini-story episodes’ (see below) with Biff Roxby.
LISTEN WITH HEADPHONES FOR BINAURAL EFFECT
We couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of the Threshold Family – thank you Chris, Kaya, and everyone who worked hard to help us out!
The project was very large, and as well as it being my first attempt at developing a fully functioning app I also:
- Ran a Kickstarter campaign raising £655 with my good friend Andrew Murphy
- Began work on a Twine version of the story! (soon to be released!)
- Worked with street artist Tristan Jacobs (from Hobo Bazaar) to create unique art that was pasted up around the festival.
- Made a physical sculpture hidden in a gallery for the players to find at the end of the adventure.
- Included data collection into the app for our collaboration with Liverpool University PhD students & science awarneness charity ScienceGrrl. This type of data collection for a festival setting was extremely unique in academic circles and although the data collected it was a great experiment.
- Inadvertently created the theme and contexual material for Impropriety’s improvised theatre show “Forgotten Futures” that was performed at the festival in The Lantern Theatre.
- Filmed theatrical prologue material shown at the festival + filmed music videos of local Liverpool musicians that we gifted to players as rewards for exploring the festival using the app! Much thanks to the Liverpool University Film Society and Andrew Ab for this.
- Collaborated with Boyan Baynov from the Digital Special Effects course at the NFTS to make amazing 3D art used in the retrofuture festival map.
This project was the most challenging due to its size, and we were unfortunate to have missed some killer bugs in the final build of the app due to lack of testing. We fixed this finally on the final day of the three day festival, just enough to get a few people to play.
A lot went wrong, and we failed fast! Very glad to have come out the other end scratched, bruised, and wanting more.