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Thoughts about having more advanced sound in games and Unreal Engine?

Binaural audio - I’m sure every has head the barbershop demo on youtube where it actually sounds like someone is cutting your hair, some games have used it tech, but I don’t often see it in new games. One common misconception is that binaural audio can only work if the listener is going to be using head phones. If the game know the players audio set up, it you should be able to deliver a great binaural audio experience as long as you have at least 2 speakers. Binaural is going to become more important when you are working on a horror game, or a VR experience like the Oculus Rift, where more immersion makes for a much better experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQmQD27uCt0

Precomputed Wave Simulation for Real-time Sound Propagation, or baking sound simulation for a game. Really just watch the Half Life 2 clips at the end of the video below, there’s a drastic difference there. Basically this tech simulates how a sound bounces and reflects in an environment. I’ve played a few games that change sounds the further you are away to make sounds act a bit more accurately (the sniper in halo 3 is the only real example I can think of), but the sound doesn’t change drastically when you enter a large room or step outside, most modern games use music to set these moods, but a more immersive experience should rely more on the actual sounds in an environment giving players more cues about the area they are in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQt1jtDBNK4

Would you like to see these or similar features in Unreal Engine 4? Why aren’t more games using this type of tech? Do you know any games that do?

You’d almost certainly think this would go hand-in-hand with next-gen tech, especially considering the fact this is several years old. With that in mind, it could probably even be computed real time at this point and be lite on performance (compared to realtime indirect lighting).

Just my $0.02 as I see it. Thank you for bringing this up, I’d love for this to be used more often.

Doesn’t that happen in a lot of games already? Recent racing games usually have reverb effects in tunnels and I’m pretty sure I’ve played shooters that change the sound behavior depending on where you’re in the level. I think UE has AReverbVolume for this purpose.

Regarding binaural audio, it sounds like an interesting idea. But isn’t it also very hardware and environment dependent? I imagine this would work better in cases where you have a preconfigured and fixed environment, like a cinema or exhibition. With Oculus Rift, you’re also continuously moving and turning your head. Wouldn’t that destroy any immersion immediately? I’d probably prefer using headphones in this case.

Reverb volumes are a one situation solution, the audio doesn’t really change if you are close to a wall, in an empty room versus a furnished room, around corners, walls, doors, and buildings, etc. It works well for racing games but for shooters, loud gun shots sound way too consistent.

Binaural audio definitely requires knowing where the speakers are or if they are using headphones, but we already ask people to adjust their gama/brightness/contrast before starting a game, why couldn’t we ask what’s your audio setup and speaker locations? Just have a picture of headphones, a two speaker setup, and a 7.1, and ask the player to pick their setup and ask if they would like to fine tune the exact placement for a better binaural experience.

Ah now I see what you mean. The second video is quite impressive. It adds a lot to the atmosphere. And I think this could even improve gameplay for certain types of game. Splinter Cell comes to mind, where you can clearly hear footsteps through a wall :slight_smile:

Maybe you should post/move this to Feedback for Epic.

I don’t really care for it.

As for answers why more gams do not use it:

  1. People buy monstrous GPUs, and powerful CPU to have best graphics, not for gun to sound better.
  2. Most people care more about visuals than about sound.
  3. Most people play using headphones and integrated sound card.
  4. Most people see better than hear, and for them it doesn’t matter if the sound is more subtle or something as long as you can make difference between foot step and gun shot. On the other hand things like bad shadows, bad lighting, incorrect skin shading, are noticed instantly.

That is why there is not much effort put into development of sound, and lots of research is going into graphics.

It’s like the hardware for audiophiles. It cost ridiculous amount of money, and about 99% of people scratch their heads and think how people can even hear the difference.

Did you watch the second video though? That one is not about binaural audio, but calculating the effects of walls and objects on the sound. As I said, this would probably very interesting and a big improvement for games that rely on sound, like stealth games or horror games. Ego shooters probably not so much. But even there, DICE did a great job with Battlefield 3/4 and people noticed. It definitely made a difference, even if that was probably a different and simpler approach.

  1. People buy expensive audio setups, soundcards, TrueAudio for AMD GPUs. With VR on the rise, sound is going to be a lot more important.
  2. It’s more immediately apparent, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve sound in games.
  3. Onboard audio on new motherboards is good, having a DAC is better for music/headphones than even sound cards. High end gaming motherboards always have better audio features. These 2 features would probably work best on headphones, but can work on any speaker setup. You don’t need high end audio equipment to benefit from either one of these features.
  4. Binaural audio will let you be able to hear where players and gun shots are happening on a level, it can improve gameplay and experience, you wouldn’t have to rely on a hit direction indicator.

Games are about the whole experience, if you want a completely immersive game, you’ll want everything to be top notch. Visual, input, and sound are the 3 most important parts of how people experience games. People obviously care about audio setups, and spend a lot of money on it, but you still don’t need high end hardware to benefit from it, like you don’t need an IPS panel and a mechanical keyboard to look at and play a game.