Sunday, 12 October 2008

Ugly Game Sound?

When you play Dirt for the first time it is very obvious that there has been a lot of attention paid to the engine sounds of the vehicles; infact Codmasters boasts that they have recorded over 12 hours of actual engine footage, to give the cars the most realistic sound ever. But is this the way forward in terms of making the sound of the overall game the most realistic it has ever been?

There is no doube that the last game in the series to bear the Colin McRae title is the best one yet, but i think the sound could have been vastly improved in certain areas, to overall improve the sound and 'realism' of the rest of the game.

1/ Firstly and most obvious is the lack of sound information given to the player about the surface they are on. As you can see in the first section of the video below, there is no road noise from the dirt track that the vehicle is travelling along. Not only this but, when the vehicle leaves the ground, or crashes into the undergroath, the sound doesnt have the immediate impact that you would expect.
2/Impacts with trees and other foliage doesnt always trigger a sound, and when they do its generally a very weak snapping sound which is repeated, this can be seen in the video (1:50) when i crashed off the mountain side and hit 3 separate trees. Each of these collisions triggered a sound, but it was the same sound in all 3 cases.
3/ Sounds from the inside view, have a nice spacy feel to them but during impacts some of the sounds are a little distant, resulting in a less simulation feel to the overall game.
4/ Although a lot of care and attention has been paid to the engine recordings, i find them to be a little 'dry' this might just be a personal feeling, but there is very little change in feel of pitch to the engine which gets quite tiresome during the longer races.

Possible Improvents:
With regard to the fact that the Colin McRae Dirt engine supports Craetive EAX 5.0, which affords it upto 127 audio tracks allong with direct OpenAL support, for spatialistin sounds and also adding real time effects and reverbs to sounds. this could have been put to better use in this game.

1/ No or little road sound. firstly i would have added surface sounds to give feel to the track the player is driving on. These sounds could have been looped or somehow tied into games engine so that a real time surface sound track was being generated. secondly to asdd more of a feeling of speed to the gameplay i would have added some stone chipping sounds, these sould have amplitude and slight pitch modulation added to them to give a louder more aggressive thud when the car is travelling quickly.

2/ Impacts with trees and foliage. These sounds could be enhanced quite simply by adding a collision model to the trees and foliage and triggering a sound when the car comes itco contact with them. the sounds that would be played could be kept to a minimun in terms of size as they would not need to be too high quality. this is an example of how this could be achieved in unreal KISMET very simply.3/ Simply boost the gain of the impacts and add some extra sounds to give the impacts more volume.

I think the sound designers could have improved on these points quite easily. it may have been the case that there was simply no more space for sound after using such a high volume of real engine sounds; but in my opininon they sould have cut back on the amount of space devoted to these engine sounds and concentrated on creating a better all round sound for the game.

Still an awesome game though!

Ref :
Codemasters GDC 2007 On Youtube (All Videos)

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