Tuesday, July 22, 2008

competing audio

A common problem in games on all platforms is competing audio tracks. Two sounds are activated simultaneously, and the result is either noise (garbled playback) or a sudden and annoying leap in volume.

I have no idea why the latter occurs, but it just happened for the Nth time as I was playing Civ: Revolution. In this case, construction of two wonders completed the same turn, so the sound for completing a wonder played at a volume far beyond normal.

In the case of a duplicated sound like this, the solution is simple: code the game so that only one copy of any (or particular) sound can play at any given time. I would think that'd be simple to code, but I suppose I could be wrong.

In the case of separate audio files competing for the same space, all I can say is that it's a potential problem that needs to be accounted for during production.


  1. I'd have thought it would be an easy thing to code. Maybe it's something overlooked by the developers.

    In Bad Company, most cutscene dialogue gets lost due to the constant artillery fire...good for realism but hard on the hearing.

  2. That's actually a big problem in the Flash game Bubble Tanks, which is otherwise quite a nice little game.

    One game I'm working on now is going to have two music tracks playing at once, a rather melancholy background track and some bright happy music and sounds over that. I'm not sure how well it will end up working in practice, but I'm hoping that the occasional clash of sounds would help people break out of their immersion and reflect on what they're experiencing. We'll see. :)


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