Preview: ‘Intone’ is an Audio-Visual Experiment That Could Worry Your Neighbors

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Intone is an interactive audio-visual experience built by indie dev Dan Scott (aka ‘wheatgrinder‘), and while the experiment may seem fairly simple in concept—control the blocks with the sound of your voice—the effects are everything but. Beware: everyone in your vicinity will think you’ve gone crazy.

Intone is entirely hands-off when it comes to instructions, and that’s what’s most fascinating about experiments like Scott’s. It’s simple yet novel, and strangely beautiful all at the same time.

Floating in deep space is a cluster of undulating blocks, all the same color and shape. Selecting a block with the gaze-based reticle, I begin mumbling random words into the microphone. After a few minutes of experimentation (mostly whale noises like in the video), I found that rolling my ‘R’s produced a wonderful vibration effect that quickly converges them onto your selected block. I pronounce words like ‘burrito’, ‘rapido’ and ‘romatico’ in quick secession and with the bravado of a Telemundo announcer. The louder and faster I say it, the more control I seem to gain over the blocks, and begin to weave them through each ghostly planetoid surrounding me, unlocking new planetoids that change their shape, color, and physical behavior.

Download ‘Intone’ for Oculus Rift

Tightening down on my control of the blocks, I devolve my pigeon Spanish into loud animalistic growls and trollish gargles, and after about 10 minutes of spitting and dithering my tongue in interesting and new ways, that’s when I realized 1) my window is open to the street for everyone to hear and 2) that my neighbors probably think I’m having a schizophrenic fit. I can only imagine what I look like, waving my head back and forth and espousing my caustic mix of Dutch and Mongolian throat singing—something that would surely worry my girlfriend if she were home.

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an organic cluster of blocks dancing in space

That said, the VR demo held my attention for about 20 minutes, something I wouldn’t be able to say if it were on a traditional monitor setup. Of course, when playing Intone you don’t have to sound like a super loud crazy person to control the blocks, as you can get away with sounding like a slightly less loud crazy person with moans and diminutive gargling, but where’s the fun in that?

Intone works both on the new consumer Oculus Rift and DK2 via the updated 1.3 Oculus Home runtime.

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