Last week I had the chance to fire some questions at him about RjDj’s new Dimensions app – a sonic adventure game for the iPhone that, following its release last week has already reached the number 1 position of the App Store’s Music Games Charts in 8 countries. You can read our review of it here.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Could you give some background into how you started with RjDj and what first inspired you to work on developing ‘sonic experiences’?
In the 90s I had my first experiences in creating music on PCs. Most of the time the recordings didn’t sound that good but I always loved the creation process itself. Creating music on a PC is a real-time sound experience and it is fun no matter if the recording is good or bad. I was thinking how this creation process could become accessible to everyone. Combined with some wild experiences in the raving scene, I came up with the concept for RjDj in the late 90s.
Dimensions adds an engaging gameplay elements to the ‘augmented audio’ concept that worked so well with the Inception app – describe how someone might best experience this.
Inception already added a gameplay element to the “pure” augmented audio concept of the original RjDj app. We think that was one of the reasons why Inception was so successful, and we improved the gameplay in Dimensions. The player unlocks new dimensions by doing things in his real life, like walking or being still and quiet. This is very similar to the way the Inception app works.
In Dimensions we took it one step further and added a layer where specific things happen in the game, like the player is attacked by a Nephilim and he needs to react to it. The story of the game and your real life get mixed up.
Do you have any plans to make use of the camera function on mobile devices in Dimensions or future apps?
We would love to combine AR (augmented reality) graphics with AR sound. Dimensions certainly has the potential to do that through what is now the map-based gaming element. The reason why we didn’t do it yet was that the processing of the app right now is already at the limit, but there is a bright future for this and remember Bruce Sterling said already years ago when he listened to RjDj that one day we might consider augmented reality without augmented sound like silent cinema…
Could you explain why currently RjDj apps are currently iOS only? Is this due to fragmentation?
We are a super small team and it is already a lot of work to build and test for the three different iOS devices and also support older iOS like 4.2. Supporting Android at this stage would mean we would need to have a much, much bigger team or much, much longer development cycle. Both of it is not really an option for a small company like RjDj.
What are your thoughts on the gamification of music and audio? How likely is it that people will want to move from what is generally a passive experience to a more active one?
Well I think passive music listening will always be something that people enjoy a lot but I also think that we will see music and games becoming real close friends in the future. With today’s technology, artists can create really strong musical worlds by making use of gaming mechanics.
I think Dimensions is a great example for that and I would love to get feedback from music critics who really listen to Dimensions and see the app as an artistic piece, a music album, and not just one of those apps or games.
With RJDJ you allowed developers to create their own ‘scenes’ and provided the tools for them to do this. Is it likely that in the future you’d consider letting people develop their own ‘dimensions’ too?
Yes. I would love to do that!
Both Dimensions and the Inception app rely on external data and APIs to provide the app information about things like location and weather – bearing in mind the vast amount of APIs that are becoming available, where else could you go with this?
We call this networked sensory data. It’s almost like you get a lot of new sensors on the iPhone without having any new hardware… I mean think about it, you could add all sorts of sensors to the iPhone to sense the weather, or, instead you just look up the location of the user and get the weather through a weather data provider.
One way of extending this is by tapping into social data. Specifically your social context data. I think there is a lot of potential in this but it all comes down to designing great products from that data.