Recollection - An Experiment with Location-based Storytelling

Recollection is an experimental project. Classified as a “context-aware adventure audio book”, it is a purely audio location-based storytelling experience that crafts a personalized story for listeners as they walk. Familiar places become the setting of a dystopian, sci-fi adventure as you unravel the story of a confused time traveller from a collapsed future.

Can we build a location-based storytelling experience that is not screen dependant?

One of the most challenging aspects of building Location-AR apps and games is finding the right balance of on-screen and real-world interaction. It’s easy for developers to find themselves heavily influenced by “desktop bias”. This is the natural instinct to refine the gameplay of an app so that it plays well when it’s being tested on a monitor sitting on a desk. Location-AR games are distinctly different from a monitor-locked game, however.

The unique challenges are also huge opportunities. The player is outside, interacting with real objects and places and instead of treating these as a liability, developers should challenge themselves to see it as a huge benefit. The tendency is to focus on the game itself and how it renders on the screen. In the real world, the screen should, at best, perform a secondary role.

Recollection was the result of a series of challenges that we posed to ourselves:

  • Could we make a game, or at least an engaging interactive experience, that never required looking at the screen?
  • Can the user influence the experience simply by moving and making choices about where they want to walk?
  • Are we able tell a compelling story that took place entirely in the player’s neighbourhood?
Recollection - location based storytelling adventure, main character Metrona

Our Process

The authoring tool and ready-to-go templates let us start creating the story as soon as the project was approved. This significantly streamlined the traditional development process because the story development wasn’t hung up waiting for the app to be ready and for a free developer to program the story into the app. Our story creator started testing different approaches on day one of the project which meant that the developers only had to focus on the UI and app distribution.

The Solution

Recollection is one of the flagship apps powered by It shows off many of the core features of without the distraction of flashy on-screen AR and interactions. Some of the highly used features include:

  • Branching Narrative to change the story based on the player's particular location
  • Adaptive Content to drive the story forward regardless of the player's location
  • POI services to seed the story with location data
  • Locative Sound to enrich the story

Recollection proves that augmented reality can be much more than a camera-driven experience and focuses much more on the “reality” side of the AR equation. Recollection demonstrates the power of harnessing the user’s imagination to connect a narrative to the real world in a location-based storytelling experience.

Recollection - a location-based storytelling app UI