Cosmic Quest - An Overview
Howdy, folks! This post is going to cover a general overview of what Cosmic Quest is all about. There will be a video below of some in-game play and I'll also touch base on what I did for sound design/music handling for the project. Let's jump right in! Cosmic Quest is this big interactive educational experience, I almost want to label it as an arcade of sorts (I'll touch on this again and explain), which is designed to engage visitors of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in what NASA has in store for the future of space exploration, namely the manned mission to Mars! The game focuses on the STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathmatics) with the intention of inspiring the next generation of space explorers. So that's the game at it's core and what it's meant to do, now let's talk features! Now we'll back up to that mention of it being an arcade of sorts, what I mean by that is the game is spread out throughout a building, on multiple game machines. You have interactive table displays (essentially a giant tablet), you have stand-at pseudo-traditional arcade machines (instead of buttons and joysticks you also do touch screen here), and large-screen IMAX domes. BUT, what's cool is that all of these different machines host different types of games, in terms of the tasks you need to accomplish, and they are all connected to eachother. So each station is aware of what tasks you've completed on other stations, some of the bigger encounters require that specific smaller tasks are handled first before "unlocking" (you gain the knowledge of how to handle the big encounters by getting educated by the smaller games and info you collect along the way). Pretty cool! (Note: I will locate some photos of the stations and edit this post when I do) All of these stations are activated by an RFID chip, that's housed within a badge/clearance ID card that players, which are referred to as "Trainees", that are given when they first play the game (which will be personalized and have a picture of them on the front). Trainees will be lead by Robonaut throughout the course of the game. Robonaut serves as a guide as well as helps with tutorials of controls for the different encounters of the game. I think that's a pretty good general explanation of the technical stuff for now, let's talk about the cool space stuff Trainees encounter in the game! So, the game is focused on the planned manned mission to Mars, like I mentioned before. This doesn't just mean the task of putting people on Mars, but also about all the steps for preparing for said mission. Trainees will get to learn about (in no specific order) how the grow food in space, how to set up systems to recycle resources, keeping astronauts healthy and fit over the course of the journey, about what materials can best handle the harsh "environment" of space travel, how to get a payload (on a rocket!) off the ground and into space, setting up a sustainable colony on Mars, and more! All of what I mentioned Trainees will learn about through this big interactive experience! (not to sound like an Ad, I just think the game is really cool and space exploaration is really exciting!) That should be good for the general overview as a whole, now let's take a look (and listen ;] ) at Cosmic Quest: Quick Note: The top left of the video has some extra buttons, this is for running the game without the use of an RFID chip and touch controls (essentially playing on a desktop computer). In the release of the game these are not present.
So what you are seeing (or saw) is a splice of a few of the interactive table games (mind you, not all of the table games, just a few. I don't wish to spoil the game!), which covers some of what I mentioned above. Namely, testing materials for space travel, learning how to farm in space, and astronaut health.
At the top of the video I left a demonstration of how Robonaut interacts with a Trainee and guides them through the controls, this happens at the start of each game. And a brief overview of the Sound Design and Music (I'll go over specifics in a followup post): For the majority of the sound design I used Native Instruments "Massive" synth pretty exclussively. I find it to be super flexible, especially with the use of the macro controls, being able to link a lot of different parameters together and automating/modulating anything and everything to get some really cool sounds out of it. Aside from using that, there were times I added in some organic or self-recorded sounds in as well to help give the electronic sounds more oomph, an example above would be the farming game clip when you harvest crops, there is a mix of crunchy vegitables in with all the elctronic blippy-bloopy stuff. (more on this in a later post) And for the music, Andrew Benz (who handled VO and all the integration, and who is the Audio Lead at Creative Kingdoms LLC) and I used the Psai Music Engine, which is available as a standalone application as well as a package for the Unity game engine, to handle the dynamic playback of the music. Using the "Horizontal Resequencing" technique, which Psai is primarily used for, the music was able to change in a random fashion per musical phrase, depending on specific routes I set for each clip to branch to. The music ranges a bit in terms of style in the game, from orchestral to electronic, as well as a mix of the two. Again, I will touch on the more technical explanation of what all this means more in depth as well as the creative decisions in a later post, geared specifically towards the audio for this game. So I hope you dug the brief look at the game, I will be posting more photos and videos soon so you can see more of Cosmic Quest, namely what the other stations games look like as well as what the actual stations themselves look like in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Thanks for reading, have a fantastic day, and see you in the next post! -TMR For more info about playing Cosmic Quest: www.kennedyspacecenter.com For more info about Creative Kingdoms LLC: www.creativekingdoms.com