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Hark The Sound

How to make a new game

I will attempt to document how you could go about making a new game or changing one of the games that ships with Hark The Sound. This document is an overview of what you can expect to find in each of the folders and how the game interprets them. You might also want to read the directions for using the Game Maker that ships with version 1.3 of Hark The Sound. Also, we have step-by-step directions for making games.

The guiding idea in the design of this game was that it should be really simple to construct new games. In the folder where the program was started it expects to find a folder named "Games" and one named "Rewards". The Rewards folder is simplest so I'll describe it first. If you look at the Rewards folder you should see something like this screen shot of the folder window:

Explorer view of the Rewards

The key thing to notice is that there are some files whose names begin with "Reward" and some that begin with "Incorrect". Some of the Reward files are ".wav" files that contain sounds of applause or fan-fares. Some of them are ".txt" files that contain text that will be read with a synthesized voice. For example, as shipped, the file Reward_2.txt contains "Great job!". If you want to add some more reward sounds to the game, simply copy them to this folder and change their name to be Reward_6.txt for a text file or Reward_6.wav for a recorded sound file, or even Reward_6.mid for a midi file. The number 6 in this example could be any number. The format of the name is important; we only accept names that begin with "Reward" or "Incorrect" in this folder. Suppose, instead of "Great job!" in Reward_2.txt you wanted "Great job, Billy!"; just edit the file with Notepad or any other editor to change what it says. On most systems you should be able to double-click on the file to open it in an editor.

Any file that Hark The Sound uses can be of several different types depending on the suffix or last 3 letters of the name.

  1. ".txt" files contain ordinary text that will be read by a synthesized computer voice. Sometimes you might need to misspell a word on purpose to get it to pronounce it properly.
  2. ".wav" files contain recorded sounds. You can find lots of these on the Internet. You can also record your own using the Sound Recorder application that comes free with most versions of windows (Click the Start button, go to Program Files, then to Accessories, then to Entertainment). I recorded several of the game prompts this way.
  3. ".mid" files contain midi music. These are like recorded sound but are much smaller. They can only contain musical sounds. Again you can find tons of these on the Internet. I like Laura's MIDI Heaven!

Now look in the "Games" folder. As we ship it, you should see several folders like this:

Explorer view of the Games

The name of each folder will be read when you are choosing a game to play. The names can be whatever you like.

Now look inside one of these folders. For example here is the content of the "Name that animal" folder.

Explorer view of the Name
That Animal folder.

I found the ".wav" files on the web. I used Google and searched for "wav dog cat". I changed their names when saving them to eliminate spaces, numbers, and other non-descriptive letters.

For each of the sound files I have included a hint file. In the folder you can see that its name is exactly the same as a sound file except it ends in the letters "_hint". The hint is played when the user hits the down arrow key. All of these hints happen to be text files but they could be wave files or even midi files.

You'll also notice that some sounds have several versions. For example Cat_1.wav and Cat_2.wav. These are two different meows that I found. They help to add variety to the game. To distinguish the names I added underscore and a number. The names before the underscore must be exactly the same or they won't be recognized as the same thing. I could have had multiple hints as well using the same trick.

One last thing about this folder. You'll see several files whose name begins with "Question". These are played before the sound. Question_1.wav is a recording of me saying "Can you name this animal?". Question_2.wav has me saying "Try to name this animal.". I could have included a text file as well, it would be read by the synthesized voice.

That's it. The whole game is just a collection of sound files dumped into a folder along with a Question file. The _hint files are all completely optional. The "Name that sound" game is an example with only sounds and a couple of questions.

The "Name that classical tune" game shows one more variation that is possible. Note that some songs include a file with "_name" at the end, for example "Beethoven's Fur Elise_name.txt". This file contains a misspelled version of the name so that the computer voice will pronounce it correctly. These could have been recorded wave files of a person pronouncing the name just as well.

I haven't used them yet but there are two more variations. A file name can end with "_reward" in which case it will be used as the reward for that item. Likewise a file name can end with "_incorrect" to replace the default "Incorrect" files in the Rewards folder. These files can also use the underscore number trick to have multiple rewards or incorrect messages for the same item.

This page last updated: 4 December 2003.

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