Ear Monsters 3D Audio Game Interview

iOS and iPadOS Gaming
Hello Everyone, My new audio game for iOS, Ear Monsters, just went live on the App Store. Ear Monsters is an arcade-style, action game for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch that relies on sound, rather than visuals for the game's action. Instead of a longer, story-based game like (the excellent) Papa Sangre, I wanted to make a game in the old-school arcade-style; timed gameplay, where you compete against yourself (and your friends) for high scores. The game is based on quick, but skilled listening; Monster's appear quickly and must be killed quickly solely by hearing where they are. You will need headphones to play Ear Monsters. Ear Monsters is the first in a number of sound-based 'video'-games I plan on releasing. So I'd love any feedback you have, particularly on it's accessibility. The game is fully compatible with VoiceOver (no need to triple-tap before playing), and was designed to be played completely by sound; an audio game in the truest sense of the phrase. Features: •Timed gameplay for quick arcade-style action •Simple to understand and play …yet difficult to master —no elaborate training needed •Difficulty increases as your skill improves! •Practice arena to sharpen your ear •Multiple audio backgrounds, from city ambiance to a windy day to a full on storm •Visual and aural feedback •Stunningly vivid 3D audio effects •Unlockable 3D Sound Gallery features all original 3D sound effects You can see our promo video at http://www.EarGames.com, or see the game in iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-monsters/id652283694?mt=8 We also have a facebook page, where we'll be sharing game hints, tips and tricks: facebook.com/EarGames Thank you Brian Schmidt Founder, EarGames



Submitted by KE7ZUM on Saturday, June 15, 2013

The link you gave for the app store didn't work. I found the game and here is the correct link. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ear-monsters/id652283694?mt=8 Hoep that helps. I have not tried the game yet but I plan to.. Be blessed.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Sunday, June 16, 2013

In reply to by BrianSchmidt

Hi, I can't figure it out properly at all. I understand that you tap the area of the screen where you here the "RUN!" voice, but even when it's on the left and I press the left part of the screen, it's difficult to always strike them. I've only had a score of 21 on it witch is actually terrible. I defused a few bombs though. Do you get extra time the more monsters you knock out?

Hi James, Yes, you get extra time for knocking out monsters. There are only a 4 locations where the monsters first appear; very close to the center (you) on either side and pretty far out, also directly to the left or right. They'll always appear in one of those same spots. And if you don't get one, he'll show up in the same spot next time. As the game progresses, they start to appear in more locations. I'd love to know how you do after playing it a few times, or after trying the 'training' screen. Thank you, Brian

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Sunday, June 16, 2013

In reply to by BrianSchmidt

Hi, I'll give it a serious try again tomorrow. It seems like a really good idea though and i'm sure it's just a learning exercise with all of these games.

Hi Brian, great game but I agree with James, it's kind of annoying on when you get one and when not. James, my score is six. Yes you can laugh. :) I'll try again too Brian :)

It's not all that bad when you get going. Having got more of a hang of it, i've managed to score 301. It's one of the best games for the blind this year, because it has strategy, shooting at stuff and monsters. What more do you want. Really good job on it, wack a mole with firing.

Submitted by Ken Downey on Sunday, June 16, 2013

In reply to by jrjolley (not verified)

301 huh? I've only made it to 260 so far, but I'll get there. There are a few things I like to see in the game. First, I'd like to see customizable difficulty levels. When you first start the game, there are four positions the monster can appear, but I'd like to see six or eight positions in the beginning on hard level. Also, multiple monsters and bombs appearing at once would be cool… I'd also like to see Game Center support. This is definitely in the top three of the best audio games I've ever seen, Especially since the monsters don't just appear in a field from left Too right, but can also come in front of you or behind you. This is very cool!

301's pretty good! Let me know when you get to 500 :)... Game Center support is definitely slated for the first major update. I had originally designed the game with different difficulty levels, but took it out as a "simpler is better" mantra. The game does get somewhat fiendishly challenging once you reach around 500-600... That said, I have had some feedback that the game is too difficult, particularly for blind players, so I need to adjust the difficulty somewhat in the early rounds. Thanks! -Brian

My best score now is 445 so that's not all bad. I've got to the bit with the completely screwy monsters that sound like cats and stuff. Cattish Zombies, nice. I didn't actually try to hit it until the timer started beeping at me, I thought I was losing my mind when this cat started miaowing in my ear. Thought it might have been part of the background SFX.

for those of you having trouble the monsters voices change according to where they are, e.g. if they are high on the screen the voice is slightly higher pitched and if they are close the voice sounds closer. I am no where near a high score yet but that's due to lack of coordination more than anything. I think the game is good the way it is accept I didn't realize I had to hold the phone in landscape at first. I think it would be boring if it was too easy. Great stuff with the game.

I have made it to 857! You should put more sounds in the game. So far the best game of 2013!

Submitted by Amber on Saturday, June 22, 2013

OK, so I really like the idea of this game. I tried to play it, and did the training thing to try and figure it out. It was a little confusing to figure out even in the training arena. But I finally felt like I got it. Then, I went to start a new game, and there were these weird sounds that I had never heard in the training arena before! The objective of the game is explained well, but that is, ALL, that is explained well. What each sound is, what sounds to look out for, how to go about doing everything, the difference between the training arena and a real game, all these things are unclear to me. I don't know if I'm stupid or something, because everybody else on here seems to have this figured out already. But I'm just not getting it. When I started the new game there were these weird clicking sounds that are louder and quieter, never heard those before. And every time there's a bomb, I don't touch it in time to defuse it. I'm looking all over the vecinity of where I hear it for it and still not finding it. I really love the idea, I am just not understanding something, or something. I don't know. But I really want to play the game, it seems so fun. That's why I'm commenting on here. Oh yeah and one more thing. I never could figure out how to tell what my score is when I did get through being killed by an undiffused bomb. It would say it like one time with voiceover but I couldn't hear it because voiceover was trippy, and I'd look for it and not find it anywhere. Anyway, sorry about the long post, I just really want to figure this stupid thing out because it seems awesome. Thanks, and any help would be appreciated.

Submitted by BrianSchmidt on Monday, June 24, 2013

In reply to by Amber

Hi Amber, You said: "I just really want to figure this stupid thing out because it seems awesome". That made me laugh :). Thanks for your comments. The coming update, should make some of these things more clear. One of my problems was that the game was too difficult to understand for the visually impaired player. The "clicking" sound is the "out of ammo" sound. During the game,you get 3 shots at each Monster--after those 3 shots, you hear the clicking of an unloaded gun instead of your "swwwosh" attack sound. But you get as many chances as you can to defuse the bombs. The new training mode makes this more clear. The new training mode will also guide you to hit the monsters. One thing that makes it easer is to realize that monsters will only appear from a few discrete locations on the screen. I'm not sure about your score problem, though. Siri should say your score two times. Once when the game is over, and another when the game goes back to the main menu (when the spacey, background music/ambience starts playing again) . From the main menu screen, your score as well as the top for scores should be discoverable via VoiceOver. Your score is near the top left corner of the screen I'll let everyone know when the update is ready. I submitted it to Apple over the weekend, so it should be available in a few days. Brian

Submitted by BrianSchmidt on Sunday, June 30, 2013

I've updated Ear Monsters Here are the main changes: For VoiceOver users, during "training", you will get verbal help to help you locate the monsters. The locations of the monsters are a bit different. Specifically, I added a "Dead center" location. The game is a bit easier at the beginning with fewer, easier position, and gets a bit harder after around 700 points. Also, bombs don't appear until you've successfully hit a few monsters. Those things make it easier for the novice, but don't appreciably change the game for advanced players. Performance issue for iPod Touch 4th Gen is fixed. The game no longer auto-rotates. This was causing the game to sometimes rotate away from the player. Thank you everybody for your feedback and support! Brian

Hi. the update is awesome. Even though I've been playing for a while I tried out the training. Very well done. I have to get used to the new positions but a high score of 200 and something on an ipad isn't bad I don't think. Thank you for working on this app.

Submitted by Cherokee Eagle on Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hi, I haven't updated yet as I needed a better connection. However, I am looking forward to doing so in a few minutes. Anyway, I really like this game as well. One of the things I like is that killing the monsters and getting killed yourself isn't graphic and ugly sounding. Killing the monsters just sounds like you punched them. I'm not a passifist, but I don't like to hear sounds of graphic violence either. I love that this game is more challenging than the description sounds. Talk about a cure for boardom. Please keep up the good work and I look forward to your other games. Cherokee

Submitted by Ken Downey on Tuesday, July 2, 2013

There's a timer error… I think anyway. I've noticed that if the timer starts to tick on an earlier level, I have less time on all the subsequent levels. I don't think you should be penalized for all levels of the game if it takes you a while to find a monster on a previous level.

Submitted by Yujin on Friday, July 5, 2013

I have recently tried the game. Thanks to the new training system, where I can get to know the position of the monsters. The only problem I am facing is to deal with the monsters from the far left and far right. Maybe, I need to practice more on it. Just curious, what new features will be introduced in this great game in the future? Thanks for making this wonderful game!

Thanks Esther for the callout! Btw, by all means if you see a review of an audio game, please drop a note to the reviewer or post a comment showing your appreciation. Sometimes it is difficult for the more mainstream app review sites to take an interest in so-called 'niche-market' games like audio games. A couple other updates: 1) I started an EarGames Blog 2) Yesterday the GameCenter update for Ear Monsters was submitted to Apple. So it should be on the app store in about a week. Thanks! Brian

Submitted by DPinWI on Saturday, July 27, 2013

I am not much of a game player. But, I've bought a number of them. I play for a few minutes, and never again. I told myself to knock it off, and stop it. I bought Ear Monsters tonight. Brian, your hard work, active presence here, and the feedback from people who play the game wore me down. Thanks for all you do. Who knows, maybe this will be the one that makes a gamer out of me.

Submitted by BrianSchmidt on Monday, July 29, 2013

In reply to by DPinWI

Hello everyone, Ear Monsters Version 1.5, which added support for leaderboards and achievements is now live on the app store.. I expect to see some familiar folks on the leaderboard! GameCenter is only supported in Ear Monsters on iOS version 6.1 or greater. I also discovered that (sigh) Siri doesn't pronounce "leaderboards" correctly! she pronounces it led er board, not leader board. you all probably knew that already, but it quite surprised me that Apple wouldn't bother getting that right... Brian

Submitted by Katrine on Friday, August 2, 2013

Hi. Just to say this is a great game! I have played it a while and have a score of around 400, just where the horse makes its appearance. I have a few suggestions for future development. Like someone else suggested too, I think it would be cool if monsters could appear simultaneously. I am a bit confused as to what the plane floating over my head means. I get it's my friends up there, but when they fly, my pistol changes its sound and I don't run out of amo any more... How is that? Also, I think something that would really make the game more fun to play would be a shorter break between monsters. When I've killed a monster, I have time to think "that went well, I Wonder where the next monster will appear... hmm..." I think, if the monsters appeared faster, it would make the game much more excilerating and action-packed. And it wouldn't even make the game harder for beginners, just more fun! I really want to get to a higher level to see what will happen! Thanks for a great game! -Katrine

Submitted by BrianSchmidt on Thursday, September 12, 2013

In reply to by Katrine

Hi. I was fortunate enough to be asked by Mix Magazine (A professional audio publication) to talk about Ear Monsters and the interview appeared in September's issue. It's a bit technical, but I thought you all might find it interesting: http://mixonline.com/recording/facility_profiles/ear_monsters_a_new_breed_of_audio_video_game/ Thank you, Brian

Hello. I would like to thank Brian Schmidt for this intresting ear game app (Ear Monsters). I am adicted to ear games, especially audio challenging games such as this one, PapaSangre, The Nightjar, SixthSense and more. Ear Monsters is one of the daly iOS games I play at home, in the car, and public places. I'd love to see more ear games and apps by this developer.

Submitted by Katrine on Sunday, January 12, 2014

In reply to by Khalfan Bin Dhaher

Hi all, I haven't played this game for a while, but I returned to it today and encountered a really annoying problem! I'm not sure if it's due to an update of the game or due to IOS 7 since, as I said, it has been a while since I played. But my screen now Locks in the middle of game play! It happens in regular intevals, about every minute I think. Aside from going into settings and disabling Automatic screen Lock every time I wish to play this game, I don't know what to do. Has anyone else experienced this?

Submitted by billy lei on Sunday, January 12, 2014

I have a same problem here since I upgrade to iOS 7 what's being too do you need to turn off voice over before you play the game

Submitted by Khalfan Bin Dhaher on Sunday, January 12, 2014

In reply to by Katrine

Hello. I've experienced this a lot and sound crashes during the gameplay on iOS 7.0.4. I highly recommend you to change the auto lock screen option to 5min in order to prevent your screen from being locked during the gameplay. Hope this helps. Khalfan.

Submitted by Fredrik Andersson on Monday, January 13, 2014

Hello! I like the game but the buttons for highscores doesn't seems to wrok with voiceover. Nothing happends when I click on the buttons.

Submitted by BrianSchmidt on Saturday, January 18, 2014

In reply to by Fredrik Andersson

Hi All, I'm getting reports of issues with Ear Monsters in iOS 7.04 . I've started digging into it to see what Apple might have changed and will let folks here know when I discover the problem. Thanks for the support! Brian

Submitted by BrianSchmidt on Sunday, January 19, 2014

In reply to by BrianSchmidt

Hi.. I thought I'd give a quick update on my investigation.. There appears to be a change in iOS 7,where even if you're playing the game, the iPhone doesn't think you're touching the screen, so it eventually goes into "Screen Dim" and then "Screen Lock". Ironically, this issue only affects games that try to work well when VoiceOver is activated. This seems to be the only issue I've found with iOS 7, and I'm investigation possible fixes. Sorry for the headache.. The two workarounds right now are 1) set your screen dim time to something longer than the default 2 minutes or 2) turn off voiceover. Brian (EarMonsters developer)

Submitted by Brian Giles on Monday, March 10, 2014

Hi, I finally bought this game today, and I'm glad I did. While many iOS audio games are good, it seems like a lot of them have a similar premise--you're in a dark world and you must get out alive. That's getting a little old to me, but I like that this game takes that and applies it to a different genre. As someone else said, I like that the sounds in the game are more arcade like and not really graphic. I think it adds to the quick pick up n play feel. I've seen comparisons between this game and Fruit Ninja and other games like it, which are popular with some sighted mobile gamers. I always like having a game that is similar to what my sighted friends might be playing, even if it's not the same game. Now we need an audio endless runner or something like flappy bird, just so I can find out why everyone gets so frustrated by it but keeps coming back to it. lol Keep up the good work!