Using Audio to Enhance Your Builds
Put some good headphones on and make sure to have your volume up, because today we're going to take a deep dive on the new audio features added in for Alpha 5.
It sure has been a while since our last blog post. Since then, we've been chipping away at some interesting new features that are going to be included in the next public alpha, such as some new tools players are going to be able to use to bring their builds to life. You may hear more about them in another blog post, but today's blog post is going to be about one specific thing: Audio. Put some good headphones on and make sure to have your volume up, because today we're going to take a deep dive on the new audio features added in for Alpha 5.
As you hopefully would've noticed, Rothary's build is bustling with cool looking lights, as well as the deep rumbles of machinery and beeps of computers. For the next public alpha, we'll be adding brick components, which will allow you to attach things like lights, sounds, particles and more to your bricks and further liven up your build.
Since this blog post is about audio, we'll be focusing specifically on the audio component. This component allows you to select a looping sound that will play at the brick's location. You can then customize that sound and how players hear it, including its volume and pitch, among other things.
There will be more settings added in the future, but these are the ones given for now. They're fairly powerful themselves, and our QA team has made great use of them to truly customize the atmosphere of their builds. Simple pitch adjustments to the sound of computer beeps and machinery for example help make each contraption sound varied and unique compared to the others.
Combined with features already present in the released public alpha, that means that you'll be able to spice up your builds with global ambience and reverb, then complete the atmosphere with sound loops placed on various contraptions and objects that would typically make sound in your build. Later on, when we add our behavior system, you'll be able to finalize with sounds activated and changed with player interaction, such as buttons and levers.
Miscellaneous Audio Features
While audio components might be the champion of Alpha 5's audio features, there has been a handful of other neat inclusions too that can help make your build and subsequent gameplay feel more alive.
My favorite extra addition to Alpha 5 is the effects and sounds added when you dip your head under the water. Upon doing so, all sounds in the game world (not including interface and music) will become muffled.
Another fun little feature that was added was bullet casing and shell impact sounds. Previously, these make no noise when they hit something, and it was definitely noticeably missing when shooting weapons. Because of the way we create the casings and shells, it took a bit of fiddling to actually get it to work, but the next alpha will include sounds for when certain weapon particles collide with the world, or bricks. I can say for certain, shooting weapons (and reloading the pistol due to the animation) is infinitely more satisfying when you can hear the ping of spent bullets to your side.
Finally, a much smaller addition to the game is actually a change to how weapon sounds are played. Similar to most first person shooter games, the first few shots in rapid succession will be slightly louder than the rest. This is for two reasons - it's a more realistic representation of how you'd perceive gunshot sounds in real life, as well as a helpful feature to keep automatic weapons from becoming grating when emptying the full magazine. While I already knew the effect, I'd like to thank Russian Punch Productions for his tutorial on how to actually implement it in Unreal Engine. Since the feature is subtle in practice, it's much easier to show the recorded waveform so you can see how the sounds get quieter after the initial shot:
That'll wrap it up for this blog post. I hope your ears are left satisfied, and for the creatives out there in our community, I'm excited to see how sounds are going to be used to breathe some extra life into people's creations. As usual, if you have any questions or ideas, feel free to find us on Discord, Twitter, or e-mail.