Devil's Tuning Fork

First Person Shooters tend to resemble Micheal Bay movies. In plot, in setting and in hyperactive intensity they are eerily similar to the latest Hollywood explosionfestaganza. The cutting-edge graphics lead to a screen full of constantly shifting explosions and enemies. Most first person shooters just feel big, loud and fun.

Devil's Tuning Fork is what you get when you strip all that away. The sounds, the graphics, even the player's eyesight are gone. In the game world children everywhere have fallen into an inexplicable coma and you play as one of these comatose children. As you navigate your dream-state, your only guide is the devil's tuning fork, which sends out sound waves whenever you use it. However in this dream-state you don't see the level, you hear it. So the sound waves are rendered in stark black and white lines covering the surface of the level. You manage to navigate like a bat, making a sound then watching it bounce off the walls.

There are no enemies, just puzzles using sound waves and platforms. The challenge is trying to make your way to the stuffed animals, which bring other children out of the coma.

It takes the traditional feel of a first person shooter and stands it on it's ear, making a big cavernous room seem small and suffocating. You exist in a submarine in your mind and your world is filled with radar pings and deafening silence. Well, almost silence – you can constantly hear whispers from the other comatose children, as well as parents and doctors worrying over your state. Sometimes, you can make out another voice. A voice that's less friendly.

A student project of DePaul's Game Studies program, it's experimental in ways a commercial release simply couldn't be. And it pays off.

Why You Should Check This Out: It's a new way to experience a virtual world – you see with your ears. The devil's tuning fork sends out sound waves which illuminate your otherwise completely dark and sightless dream-world. You navigate the levels, trying to save other children from the comatose state you find yourself in. A game has never captured the feeling of blind, suffocating darkness as well as this game.

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Comments

I was totally going to submit this game for this column. Sooooo cool.

It's surprising how easy it is for total darkness in a level full of pitfalls and moving platforms to completely freak me the hell out.

Awesome find.

Looks like a great concept. Unfortunately I'm getting garbled graphics. Is it supposed to look like your screenshot?

stupidhaiku wrote:

Looks like a great concept. Unfortunately I'm getting garbled graphics. Is it supposed to look like your screenshot?

Yes, they do mention you may need to update your graphics drivers.

I started off on 9.10 catalyst, and now on 9.11 with no change.
Google doesn't seem to know the answer.

stupidhaiku wrote:

I started off on 9.10 catalyst, and now on 9.11 with no change.
Google doesn't seem to know the answer.

I've got ATI on the latest (updated 9/23) Windows 7 drivers. Seems to work fine.

stupidhaiku wrote:

I started off on 9.10 catalyst, and now on 9.11 with no change.
Google doesn't seem to know the answer.

Out of curiosity, what OS are you running? Vista 64 with the latest nVidia works for my 8800gt.

Win7 64.

It doesn't work for me either with my ATI Radeon X1650. I too updated to the latest ATI Catalyst 9.11 and then it starts but immediately exits without any (obvious) messages or errors. Nothing in event viewer either.

Win XP Media Center Edition SP3

???

My mind made an indescribably odd and abrupt thought-sound at the whole FPS comparison.

Judge_Digger wrote:

It doesn't work for me either with my ATI Radeon X1650. I too updated to the latest ATI Catalyst 9.11 and then it starts but immediately exits without any (obvious) messages or errors. Nothing in event viewer either.

Win XP Media Center Edition SP3

This game i the indie version of Crysis. The minimum specs are pretty high. Especially:

GeForce 8000 Series (Nvidia) or Radeon X3650

That's minimum. An x1650 is nowhere near that. Sorry. My 8800gt barely runs this well.

CapnDorry wrote:

My mind made an indescribably odd and abrupt thought-sound at the whole FPS comparison.

I love it, I kinda feel it's the anti-FPS blockbuster.

This is actually really interesting regarding your fact article here, This article is very informative.
Backlinks

Great interview about the artistic design here

Version 1.1 is out, which should include support for a lot more cards.
http://www.devilstuningfork.com/download.php

The download link in the article will also get you the updated version.

*edit* Now it does, who says it didn't!

Arggh.

Gave up in frustration in a level called Up.

Liked it until then, but just could not figure out how to proceed.

Spoiler:

The part where it tells you about ringing below the floor, then I hit all the bells below the floor, but the 3 or 4 steps (first is an elevator) that rise then don't allow you to go any further.

I remember seeing a prototype not long ago for gameplay very similar to this. Don't remember the source, but the concept was you had a "paint gun" and your shots revealed walls and other features around you. Anyone else remember what I'm talking about? Is that prototype related to this project?

BadKen wrote:

I remember seeing a prototype not long ago for gameplay very similar to this. Don't remember the source, but the concept was you had a "paint gun" and your shots revealed walls and other features around you. Anyone else remember what I'm talking about? Is that prototype related to this project?

I think it was called Unfinished Swan.

I'm going to have to check this out. Here's hoping innovations like this can make enough waves that big devs and publishers sit up and take notice of the talents that are out there.

On the theme of sound, did anyone else play the Blind Monks' Society HL2 mod, where the screen remained black the entire time? The puzzles in it were a bit naff, but the effect was interesting - a video game where it was easier to play with your eyes closed.

I'm not sure if it's the rose tinted, errr, headphones on, but ideas like that make me miss Aureal A3D a bit and shake a fist in the direction of creative. I remember some of the tech demos and well done game implementations (thief, early versions of quake3) being really great for working out not just positioning but giving you an idea of the environment.