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Syrinscape board game app review: Add immersive audio to board games
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The Settlers of Catan audio sound set includes all kinds of sounds and music to enhance game play. Gamers will love their board games all over again with audio enhancement. - photo by Ryan Morgenegg
Entertainment is all about immersion. What can creative minds think up that provides more realism, more depth, more emotion and more fun. In the world of board games, a few attempts have been made over the years to add an audio element to gaming with CD soundtracks, but nothing comes close to the quality provided by the new Syrinscape Board Game Player app.

Last February, the Deseret News reviewed the Syrinscape fantasy player for tabletop fantasy role-playing games. The immersive audio app provided impactful and fresh options for the role-playing market. The new board game app is a natural migration to all things fun on the game table. Syrinscape creator and sound designer Benjamin Loomes said, The market for this product is those who like to gather with friends and family and play popular board games.

For those new to Syrinscape, imagine a gaming group has gathered to play the popular board game Settlers of Catan by Mayfair Games. A player brings up the Syrinscape board game player app and begins playing the sound set specifically designed for Settlers of Catan. Suddenly players are transported to the isle of Catan. The birds are singing, insects fly by, a horse whinnies, a person is chopping wood in the distance and the voices of farm animals can be heard. There are also sound effects that can be played each time a player accomplishes a specific task or goal in the game to add emphasis.

Using the app is easy, said Loomes. It is straight forward and accessed with a few clicks of a mouse or touches of a finger. Its even fun for children to get involved at the table. Kids can mix the sounds together however they want. Ive played with my 11 and 14-year old and they love it. It may be that you have a child that is not into the competitive aspect of a game but who loves to sit and mix different sounds at the table and add to everyones experience and fun.

For the game Spellcaster by R&R Games, the app features a sound set with 60 spells that players use against each other in the game as their wizards do battle in an arena. When a player uses the Syrinscape app, he or she can click an icon for any spell in the game and it will play the voice of a wizard and a sound effect for that spell.

For example, the lightning strike spell begins with a commanding voice uttering magic words and then a powerful lightning strike rolls across the sound landscape of the room as if a bolt of lightning just passed through. A pounding, energetic music soundtrack fills out the rest of the audio space like listening to a movie. The app even includes male and female voices for each individual spell for a total of 120 unique audio presentations! Its that attention to detail that makes Syrinscape truly amazing.

Speaking specifically about the Spellcaster Soundset, Loomes said, We designed an entire language to make the vocabulary sound right. We hired professional voice actors to speak each incantation. The results were something special.

One of the coolest parts of the board game app is a random audio dice generator for both a six-sided die and two six-sided dice. A player clicks on the die icon in the app and a voice mixed with the sound of dice rolling tells him or her what was rolled. For example to create the two six-sided dice generator, Loomes and his team determined the probabilities of each number from two to 12. They then created a sound file for each number in the correct quantity of possibilities.

In Syrinscapes sound design there are three ways to play sounds. The first is to play sounds in a certain order. The second is to shuffle the sounds. The third is to have a sound player play a file at random. We used the random sound file selection for the die generator. The key was to record the correct proportions for each number. There are six ways to roll a seven, so we created six distinct sounds of a person speaking the number seven.

In the game Spike by R&R Games, players take on the roles of railroad builders in American history. The Syrinscape sound designers used regional dialects to add realism. Frank and Dan DiLorenzo, founders of the games U.S. publisher R&R games, helped with the voice acting. We did recordings over an iPhone from the United States to Australia, and the sound quality was amazing, said Loomes. I never thought we could be able to do sound recordings over an iPhone.

And getting the sounds right can be a difficult process. The point of the app is to immerse gamers in the world depicted in the board game. The sounds have to be realistic, and rest assured that the quality of the sound setss for Syrinscape are scintillatingly cinematic. Its fascinating to me how odd something can sound until it all comes together, said Loomes. But you know its right when you hear it."

Currently the board game app has sound sets for Settlers of Catan, Spellcaster, Spike, Chess and Casino, with more on the way. Stay tuned for more games coming to the catalog. Syrinscape is in negotiation with several large board game companies at the moment to provide additional sound sets, said Loomes.

You can unlock everything that Syrinscape has made with a 30 day free trial here: syrinscape.com/freetrial/. You can also go to catan.syrinscape.com, spike.syrinscape.com or spellcaster.syrinscape.com to find out more. It works with PCs, Macs, Android Phones and Tablets, iPads and iPhones.