The Sound of Running Man - Part One

published Wednesday, 30 June 2010, 00:00 by Kenneth

The sound design, as well as the core design of Interstellar Marines is about making you believe that you are present in a realistic projection of the future.

At ZPS we have high ambitions regarding the sound of the Interstellar Marines universe. We believe that sound is 50% of the experience. And as a small development team it might seem a bit luxuriously to have one fulltime composer and one fulltime sound designer, but that just explains how dedicated we are to deliver a kick ass audio experience in our games.

The two keywords in our approach to the sound design are "immersion" and "realism". We need you to believe that you really ARE a Marine, and that the world surrounding you is "real". But again quite often reality sounds a bit boring, so we have actually extended the term "realism" to be more than that - you might call it "heightened realism" - to empathize the overall experience.

Hangar - One of the large rooms in Running Man

Reverb for the world

First of all this IS a shooter, and primarily it should be fun and thrilling to shoot your weapon, so we want the shooting experience to be loud, violent and asskicking! A lot of the shooting experience is the reverb - basically if you fire a weapon in an acoustically "dead" room without reverb, you will only hear a short "pop". So we needed a cool reverb system to spice it up.

In the current version of Unity (the game engine we are using) there is NO reverb system included, but in the next version (Unity 3.0), there will be a basic realtime reverb system. So in order to have any reverb at all in Running Man I had to make my own system...

In a lot of the games I have played, the reverb experience have been restricted to only one flimsy sounding realtime reverb of the room the player is located in. Which means that if the player is located in a small room and a grenade explodes in a larger adjacent room, you don't hear the reverb from the large room applied to the grenade sound, but instead you hear the sound of the grenade with the small reverb added... as the player is located in the small room... (hope this makes sense).

What I wanted to do was to have multiple reverbs, so that you hear the correct reverb added to each sound, instead of one global reverb added to all sounds.

On top of this I also wanted to add an echo, so that you hear a "bounce" from the walls, as well as having the reverbs "bleed" from one room to another.

This called for an entirely new, but very simple and effective, reverb design that I never have seen in any game before! Let me try to explain it...

Here you can see a small Reverbvolume pointing at a Large Reverbvolume

Shoot that Target...

I devide a level into "Reverbvolumes". A reverbvolume is basically an invisible box, which holds some informations of what kind of reverb should be added when a sound is played inside it. Each reverbvolume also hold the position of a "Target Reverbvolume".

So when a sound is played, It checks to see which reverbvolumer it's located in, and then adds the appropriate reverbtype to the sound. Some sounds are also set to play a "Target reverb", which means, that the sound again looks at the reverbvolume for the position of a "Target Reverbvolume", and plays the appropriate "Target reverb" at that position.

You can hear the result best by plugging in some headphones to your computer and start up Running Man. Fire your SMG (without silencer) in any room, and you will hear an echo from a distinct location. When you are in a small room, next to a large room, you will hear the small reverb from the room where you are located, AND the reverb from the large room through the door or opening between the small and the large room.

The reverb in Running Man and Bullseye is not a "realtime" reverb, which means that the reverb added is "prerendered/prebaked" as separate audiofiles. So when a sound is played, and the appropriate reverbtype and targetreverbtype is determined, I play two or three audiofiles at once: the direct sound, the reverb sound and the positioned targetreverb sound if needed.

One small bonus of using "prerendered" reverb is that I can use really really high quality reverbengines for rendering the reverb. The type of reverb I'm using in this case is a "convolution reverb", which if I ran it as a realtime reverb would be quite processor heavy.

Enjoy Running Man, and remember that this game should be played loud! ;-)

Cheers, Kenneth


Comments

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4 years, 3 months ago

Great article! Looking forward to more like this :)

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4 years, 3 months ago

good stuff! Its really great to get a small insight into the actual development. More! hehe

I still remember reading that "We believe that sound is 50% of the experience" around a year ago and thinking to myself "uh...they must be crazy" and then screaming something about gameplay as I always do ;) But you guys are really convincing me that more focus on sounds is required in games to push it to a new level for each new release. Keep it up!

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4 years, 3 months ago

What forge said! + 1 Like :D

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4 years, 3 months ago

Awesome stuff.

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4 years, 3 months ago

Pretty freakin' awesome. I admire the dedication it took to create your own reverb system.

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4 years, 3 months ago

I personally think that sound is a very important part of an FPS! Of course it is very realistic to see gun blazing properly, recoil working as it should, explosions coming to life around you, but what if there were no sound for these? It would be like a horror movie without sound, it sucks right?
To make my statement more precise take two of the most recent games BattlefieldBad Company 2, and Medal of Honor (BETA)(I have no intention of advertising them by citing them), when i play BC2 it feels very solid both for its gameplay and overall structure but i notice a BIG difference from playing it with War Sounds enabled or Headphones enabled, the first time i played Medal of Honor BETA i was shocked by the quality of the sound, it made me feel like i was really on that battlefield with bullets "whiz" near my head or while i ran for cover, the sound of bouncing granades, ecc. ecc.
Anyways thats only my opinion and as far as I'm concerned ZPS is doing a great job in keeping me well happy on this subject, so i can only copy forgefire and say Keep It Up Guys! ;)

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4 years, 3 months ago

The sound that I've heard in the release so far, is some of the best sound I've ever heard in a first-person shooter, so great job so far! I must admit though, I have a bad habbit of equipping a silencer to my gun, if one is available, which is really a shame because the weapon sounds so much more awesome without it.

And thanks for finally adding a new article, it's been quite a while. Keep up the good job!

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4 years, 3 months ago

You're definitely doing the right thing with pre-rendered reverbs! If I recall, Thief - The Dark Project from 1998, used mainly pre-rendered reverbs and the sounds in that game is still top class today!

Definitely good stuff going on in ZPS, keep up the good work!

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4 years, 3 months ago

Kiiiiiick asss :D We wanna see grenades then :D

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4 years, 3 months ago

@Siepher

Glad I'm not the only one that has that bad habit. But even the silencer sounds awesome.

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4 years, 3 months ago

So will you throw this system in the trash when Unity3 will be available?

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4 years, 3 months ago

@AdaptiveMass - I will probably use a combination. Prerendered revebs for high priority sounds, and realtime reverbs for lower priority sounds... Or maybe a third approach - I don't really know yet... :)

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4 years, 3 months ago

Nice news but the team will upload the offical running man soundtrack?

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4 years, 3 months ago

It's already in the Briefing Room Chillus. ^^

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4 years, 3 months ago

Looks like Hicks saw your comment Chillus.. : http://www.interstellarmarines.com/media-section/m
usic/

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4 years, 3 months ago

Great work to the sound department. ;)
I had a good read with this. I'm not a sound guy though, so I can't really comment on it.

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4 years, 3 months ago

Excellent article!!
I know you guys aren't open development technically but I would love to see more articles like this. It shows all the work you guys are doing with some good insight on the ideas you are using for game development. Keep up the great work and can't wait for the next 'slice'.

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4 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like Kenneth is having some fun figuring out sounds. Sound is 50% of the game experience. No pressure. :)

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4 years, 3 months ago

This. Is. AWESOME!!

You guys are doing a more than outstanding job at producing an immersive and incredible game. This will probably be one of THE best indie games around when it is released.

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4 years, 3 months ago

I thought this was Sparta?

Oh I'm getting old.

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4 years, 3 months ago

You guys are my god damn heroes! Every damn major publisher and title needs to look at this and learn not a few things but a whole new way of making video games. I am so impressed I'm going to upgrade to spearhead tomorrow once I get my check from work.

Keep up the good works guys. You deserve nothing but respect for what you're doing.

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4 years, 3 months ago

looking for thsi games i just get out of wow ..XD

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4 years, 3 months ago

Soundtrack please

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4 years, 3 months ago

will be a great game

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