White Shining Rock Logo
White Shining Rock Logo


September 25, 2013 | Dukus | 52 Comments

It's interesting to me that sounds people have complained about in some of the recent videos are samples that I intended to change. The pounding of metal on metal at the blacksmith is too loud, the river sounds like a trickling spring, and something about the people hoeing the crop fields sound incorrect. It's nice to know that what I feel needs fixing is what people are picking up on as not quite right.

So I've been spending a little time polishing the audio and balancing some of the levels. If I don't get it quite right, the game options do allow you to balance the volumes of user interface sounds, effects, ambient, and music as you like.

I'm not a really an audio person. I've implemented music streamers, computed 3D attenution and panning for surround audio, and used sound libraries to get audio to play on consoles, but I don't know much on theory of sound, good practices, or what makes a game sound good or not. But as I'm making a game myself, and don't want a silent game, I've been having to learn more.

I use some free samples for the game, but a whole bunch of the audio I do in my basement. It's fairly quiet, and having a lot of hand tools, I can make all sorts of noises. I'll pound on a metal plate with a hammer, or run a hoe through a large pot of dirt.

Sometimes though, I have to record outside. This is fine, except for picking up distant background noise. Where the river runs through my town there's just too much road noise, even from a half mile distant. So I took my bike several miles down an old railroad bed along a river that's got high canyon walls on both sides. I recorded about 10 minutes of riffles from several locations, and farther on I found an open field with great crickets and general bug sounds. These samples got chopped up, edited, volume balanced, and they replaced what I previously had. The water in the game sounds much more river like now.

I also found a pretty good sample of a crowd talking from a distance. The game now plays it as a background ambient in places with a lot of houses. This does a bit to liven up the established parts of town, instead of just hearing birds, crickets, the river, and whatever work people are doing.

The audio system in Banished is pretty simple overall - it just plays mono or stereo samples with some left/right pan and volume adjustments. There's simple sounds attached to actions - someone chopping down a tree, or working in the soil. Events that occur during animations start these sounds and they are simply attenuated based on the camera position.

Ambient sounds work in a similar manner, but the attenuation works differently. If the audio system finds 10 river audio emitters in view, it will pick the loudest one and play a single looping effect. There's also a fancier environmental ambient emitter that chooses which sounds to play based on the environment. If the area of the emitter contains mostly trees, it will chose to play an ambient of a forest - mostly birds and wind in the trees. If it the area is mostly open, an ambient of a field with crickets plays. If it's mostly full of water, it will play the sound of frogs and the occasional water droplet. The environmental emitter also takes the season into account. When winter comes, the birds, crickets, and frogs fade away, and are replaced by the noise of wind and the noise of bare trees branches hitting each other.

There's also an ambient emitter of just wind far above the landscape. When the camera zooms above the town, the attenuation of all the normal sounds becomes very low, and is drowned out and eventually replaced by just the sound of wind moving quickly.

One day (but not soon, as I'm really avoiding any new features or additions now), I'd like to do some research and try some filters on the audio. I've got ideas for things that might be neat. The audio during a snow storm could be muted and muffled, highlighting the sound of the wind. On a cold day sounds should be crisp and travel a long way. A humid summer should muddle the audio a bit. When the camera is far away from a sound, the samples should be have high end frequencies removed and leave the din of lower frequency sounds.

Funny thing about making this game, I can always think of ways to improve it...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

52 comments on “Audio”

  1. "One day (but not soon, as I’m really avoiding any new features or additions now), I’d like to do some research and try some filters on the audio."

    This made me clap. We must be getting close now.

  2. its amazing how much stress these updates cause for me since Im so anxious to play a game that should be a calming experience!

  3. As long as you manage to squeeze 7.1 3D audio, I'm pleased as a peach. I just love zooming all the way in and hearing all of the sound on all sides.

  4. Good that you decided to look into it, I love how you describe making some of the sounds yourself, probably the best approach because you can directly emulate different levels of intensity (Blacksmithing sounds for example).

  5. Okay, okay, okay.

    Charge me already and get me the game.

    You can continue to work and sell the the updates in an expansion.

    You obviously LOVE your craft and are apparently quite gifted at it. But we are DYING for this game!!!

    For the love of Pete, end the madness!!!!! I'm going insane during the wait.

    You still looking to have it out by end of '13?

  6. That sounds great (no pun intended)! It's interesting to hear how you have went about, collecting the sounds and all of the thought put into the various elements, such as how close you are to the environment and the changing seasons. I love this depth of immersion put into a game. You're making me want to create a video game again. =)

    Keep up the good work. I can't wait to play.

  7. With every update my desire to play this intensifies.

    Please keep up the excellent work while I keep hoping to play this soon.

  8. I like! Does the menu have options to disable sound? Sometimes I like a game up on one screen and netflix on the other.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with next!

  9. The new river audio sounds great.
    And it really looks like you are finally getting into the final steps now (Which always take the longest).

    Cant wait to try this out when its ready, but again, I prefer to wait and get a polished product than a rushed and buggy game

  10. "I’m not a really an audio person. ... I don’t know much on theory of sound, good practices, or what makes a game sound good or not. "

    You were not an audio person before you implemented all of this awesome stuff, and then wrote about it on this site !

    Now you are an audio person !! πŸ™‚

    When this releases I will buy it instantly !!

    .. and I will tell everyone else to buy it also !!

    p.s. I finally signed up for email updates, and therefore I finally was able to learn your username on this site. "Dukus"... prior to this, there was no way at all of determining that simple fact.

  11. Don't rush the game as some have requested above. Take your time and polish to a mirror shine. Its not like we don't have other things to do in the meantime for goodness sake.

  12. Agreed with John. Please make sure it's as polished as you're happy with before release, no matter how much you may piss off some impatient people.

  13. That sounds nice :).

    But I wonder why are you doing everything alone. Hire someone! Maybe open up to kickstarter to get some money to hire someone. You can't do everything alone

  14. If this continues I'll take the money I have reserved for this game and throw it at EA and buy Sim City!!!!

    I'm obviously joking and will never do such atrocity. But it gives you an idea on how impatient I have become for this release! Keep up the good work and see you for release in a galaxy not so far away!

  15. cant wit till the game comes out been waiting for ever but i know you re doing a good job on this game and its looking better and better with every update and im getting more and more excited i cant wait to play this game

  16. He has stated that this game is a personal challenge to him. He doesn't want to hire someome because he WANTS to do it by himself. And from the looks of it from the updates that he enjoys it and doesn't see it as a chore.

    Great work with the updates, more power to you. It's always enlightening keeping track of how you're developing your game.

    And to the person who said to launch the game now and leave everything else for paid expansion? Know that you're a horrible person, people like you are encouraging game devs to be greedier with things like on disc dlc and day one dlc.

  17. Don't get me wrong, I'd love for the game to be released or just to test it or something, but at the same time I'm happy waiting knowing he's putting so much effort into building a polished game, playing/testing himself and giving us a decent product.

    Lets face it 80% of the games released today are released in a god-awful state and are basically unplayable for the first few weeks until they're patched to hell and back. Good release + great game = waiting longer, crap release + ok game = the 'just take my money' crowd. Wait and be happy with what comes πŸ™‚

  18. I hope you're ignoring the pressure from random Internet folks to rush this out. It sounds like you're very disciplined and sticking to your own priorities, which is a huge plus. You're moving blazing fast on this for being solo, and honestly the blog posts are great (for us to read and for marketing)!

  19. do not let impatient players stress you into releasing a half finished product full of bugs. I would gladly pay more for a finished Product.

  20. Just a suggestion, as one non-audio programmer to another:

    Listen to your sounds in your normal environment. Then listen to them again with a fan blowing and a news channel on in the next room. Then go find a pair of worn-out, crappy earbuds and listen to them again.

    I've been amazed by how different the same audio can sound in different situations. It's worth spending a couple hours checking your sounds.

  21. I recommend making the game Moddable so if people have better sounds for certain things that can add them and share them around as well as textures, building models & NPCs etc

    maybe even make it so people can make and add there own mini game mods

  22. Hey, I do audio professionally. One thing I'd recommend on top of the obvious stuff is to roll off the very low bass frequencies (like <50Hz) on your samples. Your audio software should have some sort of highpass filter or graphic EQ to do that.

    Not because YOUR samples have bass issues, but in general there can be some low rumbling in field recordings that you can't really hear, but ends up messing with people's speakers and muddying the sound in general.

    For more trebley samples you can roll off the bass even more to add a bit of clarity when several samples are playing at once. Like, just move a highpass filter up until it starts to sound different, then roll it back down a little bit.

    Apart from that, filed-recorded sounds are like recording an orchestra: You can mostly leave things as they naturally are. πŸ™‚

  23. River sounding like a stream? Understandable.
    Blacksmith too loud? Reasonable.
    Hoeing sounds wrong? Wat.

  24. Awesome, glad you are putting so much attention to detail, it is what makes or breaks such games. Sound immersion is more important than most people think, it makes you "believe" in the town.

    Other things that would be awesome to see at some point:

    1. Justice system:ο»Ώ Townwatch with watchmen, courthouse with judge, jail with turnkey, gallows with executioner (optional).

    2. Church: Increases happiness and a venue for funerals and weddings.

    3. Windmill and Watermill: Get most yield out of your crops.

    4. Horses and donkeys to shuttle products and materials more efficiently.

    5. Fairgrounds: A place where visiting performers can stage seasonal events (a circus, a theater troupe, a band of traveling musicians)

  25. Love your updates, please keep them coming.
    I was wondering if there will be any spoken dialogue or will there be some type of Simspeak?

  26. So far every thing you do is utter perfection, I could imagine you'd be very worried about whether the "average" consumer will like it right now. Don't worry man, if it's anything like the videos or pictures everyone will love it. I would trade in my copy of Sim City 5 for it. Not that that's a fair trade because Banished looks so much better. Keep up the progressive work, and thanks for keeping us informed, we love updates.

  27. ITT (and all the others): people whining that the game isn't released yet (where if it was, they would whine it wasn't bug free). Meh.

  28. I'm loving this posts! specially this one, since audio programming is something i'm really interested in.
    One question; what equipment do you use to record these sounds (DAT, microphones, etc)?

  29. Don't be to hard on yourself when it comes to sound!
    All the brands of speakers contribute to how the game sounds for them.
    I have 2 different sets of speakers on my pc.
    Just a $60 normal pair plugged into the speaker jack, and a (low cost) 5.1 SS plugged into the Composite Out plug. Even if a game hasn't got 5.1, I can still pick up more things with that than i do with the normal speakers.
    So unless you have a proper sound proof recording room, don't be to fussy!

    The most important thing is that the sound isn't out of sync with the video!
    I was a beta tester for a low budget hunting game back in 2009


    Before it had MP, 1 of the thing's they had wrong was the positioning of the sound. With headphones on, as i walked it actually sounded more like someone was walking behind me, and i kept wanting to turn around and see what was there. But with headphones on i could rotate them, and even though they were positioned wrong on my head, it made the walking sound right.
    So keep an eye more on positioning and synchronisation!

  30. It's impressing the ammount of knowledge and experience you are gaining from the development of this game.
    Go on with the good work!
    p.s. just a motivational post, sorry πŸ˜›

  31. Minor, nitpicky feedback:

    The sample you posted sounds lovely (on fancy in-ear buds), but there is a slight... I'm not sure. Scratching? Tapping? sound in the background, like you were fiddling with the mic when you recorded it. On speakers I imagine it's not noticeable, and maybe with other ambient sounds around it won't be either. Just a heads up in case you're picky about such things.

  32. Speaking of audio, will there be a way for us to load up custom music? It would be nice as a feature (to be added to a future release, of course), but even an easily-moddable way of doing it would be fine.

  33. The only advice I can give in the world of audio is... Start with FLAC, or any other form of lossless encoding, then make adjustments if the audio files are too big.

  34. I have anticipated this game for ages and my respect for it, and you as an independent developer is increasing with every blog update.

  35. Unbelievable all the impatience of the Commenters. They are Players and not Artists for sure. πŸ˜‰
    Sounds, you say....wow, that sounds actually interesting.... I like sounds and there is so much of it everywhere we go, unfortunetly we don't actually listen to all the sounds we hear, it just gets filtered. Ever sat down in a Park near some residential buildings close to the Citycenter and closed your eyes, while listeneing and filtering all the sounds you hear? Well, that'll keep you busy for several minutes, if not hrs to get them all separated and identified (something I used to do when I was a kid waiting for the bus) ....that's how many sounds we hear.
    Great job, I didn't think about the sounds of Banished, until you mentioned it. Thumbs up.

  36. I'm glad to hear that the sharp metallic *cling* sound from the blacksmith is being worked on. It's certainly something that would drive me nuts (and/or give me a headache) in the long run.

  37. Don't listen to these pushy poo-nannies. Release it when you're happy with it man. Relax and enjoy the process! I really like reading your devlog

  38. Lot of developers/programmers, forgot about good quality audio engine cause it's not seling the title like good visual render - but, for some realible game world perception a good Audio is much more nesesery then graphics.

    p.s. for Your consideration take care about:

    - samples equalization (cut out frequencies that in the type of sound is not nessesery)
    *lot of samples have subbass and its not nesseserry for them.

    - Reverberation / delay / echoes on rocky lands

    - very Little random volume changes in same sample when is start playing

    - % usage of not corelated to scene sounds of birds, wind, etc. (like in the FMOD library when you can use % amount of sample)
    *to build more realistic background scene

    p.s.2 sory for my english im not a native speaker

More Posts

Code Rot

April 17, 2022
1 2 3 47
Back to devlog
Back to devlog
Β© Copyright 2021 Shining Rock Software
Website Design & Branding by Carrboro Creative
menu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram