Why Procedural Audio is so Useful for Games? | #GameAudio

So, we all know that procedural audio is a thing and that it’s gonna become bigger and bigger in the near future. I have already talked about it in some interesting articles for the blog (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture Procedural Ambience | Procedural Audio: a Lecture, by Andy Farnell (2013) | No Man’s Sky Procedural Audio), but I’ve seen that there are still some doubt on how it’s useful for interactive audio (specially for games).

So, looking around, I found this article (Why Procedural Game Sound Design is so useful – demonstrated in the Unreal Engine – by the A Sound Effect Blog), that is very simple and 03_game_audio_Procedural_Explosion-1024x423direct, that has a good example on why procedural audio is so useful. It also has two videos that shows the difference between a “simple” created explosion sound, and the difference of it when we use procedural audio.

To summarize, when we make a sound for a linear medium (like a film), the audience is gonna hear it only at that specific timeframe. So, the sound is directly linked with that scene, making it “unique” for it. But, when we work on a game (as an example of an interactive media), we never know how many times and when a specific sound is gonna be required to play. So, the problem here is: if the same sound plays in different occasions, it’s gonna sound cheap, generic and it’s probably  gonna “wear off”.

There are two distinct ways of dealing with this:

  • First, is to have many different sounds of the same type (like many different explosions or door closing sounds) in the game’s assets, and make them be chosen randomly when you need that type of sound. The problem with this method is that it takes lots of disk space, and also takes a lot of time for the sound designer to create 20-30 different appealing sounds of the same type, without them feeling repetitive.
  • Second, is to use procedural audio to make different sounds “randomly”, utilizing less assets (components) and less disk space. It takes some time to learn it, but it’s worth.

As you can see in the video below (from the original article – linked above), it’s very useful and more interesting to work like that. Also, it opens many more interesting creative possibilities. It’s all a matter of learning how to use the tool and learning the procedures.

Another big thing when we utilize this method is the possibility of making the sound “aware” of different variables that may change it. For example, the difference of a wood box exploding in comparison with a metal box. But this I ain’t gonna explain in depth, I’ll let you read about in the original article. 😉

Well, hope this gave you more reasons to study more about procedural audio! 🙂

See you all soon.

Mauricio Ruiz – www.mauricioruiz.me

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