Over the next several weeks, we’re spotlighting the top 20 3D Jam experiences chosen by the jury and community votes. These spotlights will focus on game design, interaction design, and the big ideas driving our community forward.

With its abstract visuals and sonic powers, Sander Snake’s Soundscape VR was voted community favorite by 3D Jam voters. Designed for the Oculus Rift, it’s available free for Mac and Windows on the Leap Motion App Store.

soundscape-vr

When did your development career begin, and what drove you to start building?

Ten years ago, I finished the Multimedia Producer course at SAE Amsterdam, which gave me good insights on creating digital media. Back then, the creative code experiments of Flash guys like Keith Peters, Ralph Hauwert, and Andre Michelle inspired me to specialize in Actionscript 3.

Over time, my interest shifted to Unity3D, and now I love to tinker with new hardware like the Leap Motion, Oculus Rift, or Kinect – which led to experiments like Hoverboard VR, Polyrider,  and Soundscape VR.

What motivated you to create a sonic exploration app instead of a more traditional game experience?

Music, and specifically creating music via software, has always been a major interest of mine. It started with FastTracker 2 and Cubase with VST plugins and a MIDI controller 20 years ago. Nowadays, I jam around with Reason, Figure, and also Collider for Leap Motion.

As a creative coder and person passionate about music, I started to write my own little audio engine around the same time Leap Motion announced the VR mount. When Leap Motion and IndieCade announced the 3D Jam, the idea of creating music with just your fingertips in VR really got me.

I started recreating the mesmerizing ToneMatrix experiment from Andre Michelle in VR with Leap Motion input which worked out pretty good. Soon I got the hang of it and spent time implementing a drumcomputer, a freestyle mode, nice environment, and optimizing the whole experience.

soundscape1

How does VR lend itself to more explorative cerebral experiences?

Looking at the amazing educational platform of World of Comenius or the meditative experience of Weightless, I think VR has a high potential for experiences like this.

Any tips for developers who’d like to pursue this road in the future?

Integrating the Leap Motion controller with the Oculus Rift in Unity3D was pretty easy. The Leap Motion VR assets available for Unity3D, especially nowadays, work out of the box. Next to that, I would recommend Leap Motion’s documentation about designing intuitive applications, which gave me some useful insights.

What’s next for Soundscape VR?

There are some features which unfortunately didn’t made the 3D Jam deadline, but definitely will be in a near-future version. I’d like to add a sampler, extra drumcomputer samples, as well as volume and BPM control. And I would like to make the experience more accessible by adding Xbox, Gear VR, and Google Cardboard support. Furthermore, I’m in early contact with the Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra to see if we can have a live performance in some way!

soundscape3

Follow @sandersnake for updates on Soundscape VR and beyond.

Nicci Reeve