Designing A Game With No Graphics

The Design Challenges of Follow My Voice

Follow My Voice is an experimental first-person game where players must navigate a level without being able to see. Making an entirely audio-based game was an interesting challenge, and I had loads of fun trying to figure out how to make the game playable without feeling too difficult or unfair.

The most important problem in this game was figuring out how to let players orient themselves in 3D space without being able to see. Normally if you’re walking around with your eyes closed, you can feel around in the dark with your hands to find obstacles or tilt your head to hear sounds coming from different directions. However, if you’re blind in a video game, you don’t have access to all the extra senses you would have in real life (like balance or proprioception), so navigating in a game without visuals is significantly more difficult.

In order to work with this fundamental lack of information, I made few design decisions that restricted the way level design and player movement worked:

1: The Level is Completely Flat

One thing I noticed very quickly is that when you’re wearing headphones, it’s almost impossible to tell if a sound is coming from above or below you. In real life, if you wanted to figure that out you could tilt your head from side to side, but without a VR headset or some extremely wacky controls, that’s not possible to simulate. I made the level flat to take away that ambiguity.

2: The Player Can only Look Left/Right

Have you ever been playing a dark first-person game (not an edgy game, just a game where there’s not a lot of light) and gotten stuck because it was too dark for you to realize that you had been staring at the floor the whole time? Take that problem and multiply it by a thousand and you get Follow My Voice. This is another situation where in real life you could use your other senses (in this case balance) to figure out whether you were standing upright, but you can’t bring that sense into a game (especially an entirely audio-based game) without some extremely wonky controls. Once again I solved this problem by just getting rid of it; if the player can only look left and right, then they can’t get stuck looking at the floor.

3: Beacons! Beacons! Beacons!

Giving the player a way to figure out what direction they’re facing is probably the most important problem to solve in a game like this. If the player doesn’t know which way they’re facing, they can’t get their bearings and the level will devolve into a nightmare of running in circles and crashing into walls. My solution for this was making sure to always have at least one sound playing at a stationary location at all times. The ghost’s constant whispering doesn’t just serve as a goal for you to move towards; it also serves as a beacon to remind you which way is forward.


If sound is the only information you’re giving to your players then you better make sure that absolutely EVERYTHING in the level provides auditory feedback in some way. Here’s a quick list of some of the most interesting sounds I added to help players navigate:

While players will never see them, the game does actually have visuals to make development easier; I just have the camera turned off in-game. My roommate (creator of the hilariously flip-floppy eel physics game Deep Undercover) and I joked afterwards that the levels looked like clown cars when you turned on the lights because of my color-coding:

This is what the guide character looks like. In the back you can see one of the markers that defines the path he takes as he guides you through the level.

I don’t want to post the full level layout here because that would spoil the fun of bumbling around in the dark, but if you’re interested in checking this game out grab a pair of headphones and prepare to travel deeper and deeper into the darkness!