Cube - Weapons

The weapons were mainly built from volume and pitch automating pink noise files and split into three sections: Mech, Body and Punch. I began with the chaingun, which wasn't too hard to do. The shots had to be quite short so there wasn't a lot of overlap when it was rapid firing. The mech sounds consisted of various metallic clicks. I also threw in one of the gravel footstep samples for a bit of a crunchy scrape. Since it's a rapid fire weapon i imagine it would expel a shell after each shot. I recorded the sound of a butter knife tapping a drinking glass and layered it in. It adds a nice "plinky" sound over each shot that sounds like a shell popping out. The body mainly consisted of pink noise to simulate the blast itself. Volume automation was used to make the fade out less smooth and artificial sounding. This was also run through a distortion plugin to make it sound more gritty and aggressive. The same pink noise was used for the punch layer, though a shorter duration and low pass filtering. I also added a kick drum for some extra thud.

 

Chaingun project

 

I was able to duplicate the chaingun design to use as a starting point for my other sounds. The rifle and the shotgun were made in a similar way, but with different lengths and amounts of processing. These two weapons also came with the added challenge of a reload sound. For the shotgun pump i used a sound i had previously created for another project. It was made from small metal clicks and the sound of a tape measure retracting. I sliced it up and layered it with pitched down versions of itself to add a bit more beef. The rifle cock was done the same way but with the sound of a stapler being pulled back.  When implementing these i split them into "pump in" and "pump out" sounds, each with pitch randomisation and then altered the trigger rate until they synced with the animation.

 

Shotgun Project

 

For the rocket launcher i didn't make three variants of audio files for each sound layer like i did the other weapons. This was because the body sound is so powerful that it really drowns out a lot of the mechanical subtleties, so in the end it's really just going to be wasted memory. Similarly for the body i didn't feel there would realistically be that much alteration in the sound so it wouldn't be worth the memory when pitch randomisation can create enough variation. The rocket will always travel at the same speed and therefore the attenuation will always be the same too. Originally i was simply going to use the thrust sound by itself, however since it had to be continuous it would mean the initial firing sound would endlessly loop as well. To create the quite realistic firing sound i automated a low Q sweep on an EQ of pink noise and added some distortion. In the implementation it sounds like a seamless transition between the body and the thrust. I did have to alter the Main Attenuation parameter in Wwise as it was chopping the audio off far too early. I still need to create my own explosions.

 

Rocket Launcher Project

 

Finally the fist throwing sound was made with a simple synth patch consisting of a resonant filter sweep over pink noise being automated by an envelope.

In Wwise each weapons actions were put into a sequence container. The body and mech components were placed in random conatiners with pitch randomisation on the individual samples for  a high degree of variation. The punch layers i didn't feel needed multiple variants. I personally think they should feel quite consistent. The final thing i did was set up my containers for the shells hitting the ground.

Cube - Water Effects

A problem i discovered with Cube that only a limited amount of textures are actually assigned a material switch. I wanted there to be water in my level but there was no way to connect the water switch to any of water textures. The only way i could see around this was to use another switch and simply assign water to that instead. When building my level i kept this in mind and placed sand textures underneath every body of water there was and assigned my water steps to the sand switch. The game now gives the illusion to the player that they are walking in water, while Wwise is actually triggering the sand. I recorded my water steps by filling up a cat litter tray (a clean one) with water and stomping away in it. Rather then using a heel/toe method i seperated the audio into splashes (foot down) and lifts (foot up). I also attempted to try and make the landing sound from jump react to the switches by creating audio for a grass landing, stone landing and water landing, but it seems that the material switch is only triggered by the player taking a footstep.

I managed to also create an underwater swimming sound from a bug in the game. When the character is in a body of water the game doesn't seem to disconnect the player from surface that lies at the bottom of the water, so it plays footsteps sounds normally. To make use of this firstly i changed the underwater floor textures to sand so that it at least was triggering the water footsteps. Then i tweaked the PlayerInWater state to attenuate the high end of all the audio. The result was the sound of underwater motion, without there being any available swimming event to link to.

I also attempted to try and make the landing sound after jumping react to the switches by creating audio for a grass landing, stone landing and water landing, but it seems that the material switch is only triggered by the player taking a footstep. I'll leave the containers and audio in place anyway so at least it can be seen that i made the effort.

Cube - Artificial Ambiences

I started playing around with the editor mode in Cube and it gave me a lot of ideas for possible level designs. I noticed there was a lot of either metal or Egyptian textures and i found the latter more interesting. I've decided i'm going to create a large temple scene where the player can explore the outer grounds where it's bright and sunny, or enter the temple that is much darker and creepy. My plan is to use an RTPC to alter the ambience dependant on wether the player is outside or inside. However i'm unsure if i'm able to create this without diving into code.

My level (outdoors)

Wind patch (u-he Hive)

Looking over the WwiseProjectAdventure documentation gave me a deeper insight into how to create varied ambiences. I started by creating a wind patch on a synth plugin in my DAW and recording about thee minutes worth. This was done using pink noise and a random LFO connected to the filter cutoff and resonance. I had two oscillators running simultaneously. One of them had far less resonance and the LFO also controlled the EQ low gain control for some occasional rumble. The second oscillator was much sharper and had less low end so that it created a whistling. There was also random panning assigned to it. After recording the audio i found the sections that were the quietest and split them, ending up with five audio files. In Wwise i imported the wind samples into a random container. Using the continuous play and xfade (power) functions i was able to create a seamless and infinite looping wind sound.

To make the ambience more interesting i needed some wildlife. A problem i had with my original ambience was that the birdsong was embedded into the wind track and therefore had no variation. I managed to record some isolated bird chirps and split them into separate samples. I imported these into a random container and then created a parent sequence container for all wildlife sounds. This was so i could add a silence object in the sequence, so one animal sound plays and then there is gauranteed silence for a random amount of time. This also gives me the option to add other random containers for different animals. There were still a few more things to do with the bird sounds. Currently they were all still playing central in the stereo field, so i needed to randomise the placement of each playback. To do this i used the position editor and created a number of paths that were chosen at random each time a bird sound plays. Next i wanted to add some reverb. Even though the player isn't indoors i think it would be nice to hear some reflections that would be bouncing off the temple walls. To do this i used a relatively short decay time but made the early reflections quite exaggerated to give a slapback delay effect. It took a bit of experimenting because this wasn't a sound i'd ever attempted before. The final thing to do was add the wildlife container and the wind container to a blend container so they could be balanced into a single ambience. The results can be seen below. Next i need to connect the ambience in game so that the bird positions react to the direction the player is facing.

Wwise project file in action

Ambience playing over gameplay

Cube - Recording Ambiences

There wasn't much in the city of Dundee that i wanted to use for ambience. I had already planned a trip out to a nature reserve near Tayport to record some forest atmospheres and various other things, so i saw it as an oppotunity to use them for Cube. I'm still undecided on the theme of my Cube level, but now i'm thinking something the merges nature and mechanisation. It could create an interesting juxtaposition.

Issues arose on the recording day, the main problem being how windy it was. This caused a lot of rustling from the trees, which may seem out of place in the game. I began by using RX to clean up a lot of the noise, but it wasn't able to remove it completely without affecting the bird sounds. I also had to apply a lot of EQ to remove wind rumble, as well as reduce a very sharply pitched bird call that was on a tree nearby. I've recently purchased "The Sound Effects Bible" by Ric Viers and it had given great insight into how to edit. I orginally had turned to compression for this bird call to try and even out the dynamic range, but quickly learned what a mistake this was as it noticeably brought down the background noise too.
Surgical EQ was a much better method that left me with an audio file that was far more comfortable to listen to. The before and after effects of the processing are linked below.

EQ and RX settings

 

When it came to creating the ambience loop i chose to avoid having too much bird song at the forefront as i thought it might break the illusion of the game world if the player was to turn in various directions and the bird was fixed in the stereo field.

Loop editing

Loop editing

Cube - Creating Powerups

Armour Pickup

I wanted the armour to have quite a metallic and futuristic sound to it so it would fit the theme of the game world. I started with a sub heavy synth patch to underly the rest of the sounds and provide that futuristic feel. This involved using a sweeping LFO to modulate the sub oscillator level and the cutoff filter, resulting in a sharp punch. Next i needed some metallic layers, so i took a sample of two of my kitchen knives scraping together and the sound of a butter knife clanging against a drinking glass. This is where things got interesting. I sent the kitchen knife scrape to a reverb bus and then recorded the reverb output onto a separate track. Removing the lows and mids left a very nice shimmering sound. I applied the same technique to the synth patch, creating a reverb swell after the dry sound plays. I then returned to the orignal metal sounds and reversed them so they created a short and smooth build into the rest of the sound. Finally i wanted some more physical sounds, as though the player is putting the armour on. I had some recordings of my jacket being dropped onto the floor, which gave the sound a general rustling quality, as though the player is putting the armour on. The final sound was the recording of a zip to reinforce the idea of the armour being phyically put on. These last two sounds weren't so much for the purpose of realism, but more to add relatable sound for the players brain to understand. Finishing touches involved some EQ, compression and reverb to glue everything together.

Armour Project File

 

Health Pickup

For the health i want the player to feel relief, so the main sound i was focused on was an exhaling, calm breath. This could remind the player of a lot of things: meditation, emerging from water, swigging a large cold drink, anything really that provides some satisfying relief to a person. On top of this i wanted to add a more processed and surreal breath layer to make the sound more interesting. Much like with the armour, i reversed a second breath recording and used it as a quick fade in to the overall sound. I then added a reverb to this that tailed off in time with my first breath recording. Finally i wanted to drive home the health aspect of this pickup, so i did the rather cliché heartbeat sound. I made this with a simple sine impulse and quick decay time. Finally a bit of EQ, compression and reverb to glue everything.

Health Project File

 

Ammo Pickup

The ammo was quite simple to make. When i was editing my footstep recordings previously i noticed that the gravel sounds almost had a shotgun pump quality to them. They weren't close enough to suit an actual shotgun but i thought the sound was relatable enough to have an "ammo-like" sound. By placing two sound files next to each other with a small interval between them i could deliver that shotgun pump motion. I then layered another two gravel sounds to add more depth to the sound. I then needed a more foundational sound to glue the gravel files together, because as they were the gap between them wasn't very comfortable to listen to. My winter jacket recordings worked pretty well for the armour, so i tried it out again and it added a nice layer of garbled noise that stitched everything into one sound. I experimented with various other metallic objects to see if anything else could make it a bit more interesting. Using a sound file of my keys jangling and pitching them down created a sound quite similar to shotgun shells rattling, so i layered this in as the final sound. The usual compression, EQ and reverb finished it off.

Ammo project file

 

Powerup

The powerup in Cube is a Quad Damage, so i wanted it to sound quite big and powerful. There's not really any physical component to the sound of a powerup so most of the sound was synth generated. I started but layering a couple of sweeping synth patches on top of each other to create the effect of an enegy build. I then ran them through a delay to give it a nice tailoff. To fill out the sound more i took a recording of my microwave running and swelled it in at the start. This made it sound beefier and also added a radioactive hum.

Powerup project file

Powerup project file

Cube - Integrating Footsteps

With the recorded footsteps i've been able to get to grips the Wwise implementation process. Both the heel and toe elements of each material had to be imported into a 'Random Container' so that with each footstep a new file would play. Just to ensure there would be no repetitions to close to each other i change the random play order to 'shuffle', from where i told Wwise to never repeat the last five audio files played. In order to make the heels and toes play in sequence, both random containers need to be contained inside a 'Sequence Container'. Here i can designate a play order of anything that is inside the sequence container, ensuring that a random heel will always play before a random toe. The trigger rate between the heel/toe can also be customised to either lengthen or shorten the gap between playlist contents. The process was repeated for all other surface elements.

All of the sequence containers are within a parent 'Switch Container' called "Footsteps". The purpose of the switch container is to receive game syncs from the engine and switch the footstep audio to match what the player is walking on on-screen. A 'Switch Group' is made for each material and these link to the game engine. he appropriate switch containers are then assigned to their specific switch group. I added some global EQ to the Footsteps container to make them sound less present. Low end filtering removed the proximity effect, some 2-5KHz reduction reduces the presence and finally a small high shelf to replicate the dissipation of high frequencies before reaching the characters ears. Finally some subtle volume and pitch randomisation ensures the player won't hear the exact same footstep twice.

 

Cube - Recording/Editing Footsteps

The focus of the sound at the moment is the players footsteps. This involved recording on five different surfaces: metal, grass, wood, concrete and gravel. The recordings took place in the studio at Abertay using Foley boxes and other surfaces.

I recorded on my handheld Tascam DR-40 so i didn't have to record into and bounce out of Pro Tools. I'm faster at editing in my own DAW and wanted to save some time. However, multiple issues became apparent upon listening to the audio files:

1. The stand i used was not built for shock absorbtion and some of the vibrations were causing the metal to rattle, adding subtle metallic overtones to the audio

2. The proximity effect was causing a lot of low end in some cases. This was especially problematic on the grass files and i had to high pass a lot of it out.

3. Loose trousers were adding a rustling sound

4. I'm unsure of the actual cause of this but in some of the files, mainly the gravel, the sound quality was very hollow and had a 200Hz 'boxiness' to it. This could possibly have been phase cancellation occuring from the room reflections, as i never used the acoustic panels, though i didn't think the sound would be loud enough to require them. Another possibility is that it was the sound reflecting off of the edges of the Foley box itself. Making an EQ reduction at 200Hz lessened the boxy sound but i was unable to remove it entirely.

 
 

When it came to editing i kept the best footsteps that had little unwanted noise and a good distance between the heel and toe sounds. EQ was used on numerous files to remove low end thump and they were compressed lightly to bring out the nuances a bit.


So to conclude, the recordings came out quite poor but i'm aware of the mistakes that were made. The proximity effect can be avoided by having the mic slightly further away, but i also think the actor will need to be far softer on things like grass to avoid thumping. Tighter trousers are also a requirement. I think the gravel Foley box needs to be fuller to reduce the sound of the box itself. I'll also try it with the acoustic panels, just in case it's the room.