Testing is half the battle

Testing is half the battle



While developing a video game sound is sometimes overlooked. Good audio takes time, and testing is half the battle.

You could be working with the best sound designer on Earth, but if those assets are implemented poorly your game will sound terrible. There’s a lot of common issues that occur in implementation, here are some things you should keep in mind when implementing your audio assets.



We’re humans. We have two ears and endless years of evolution used to depend on our ears. Our ears take in sound from two inputs (each ear) and from that input your brain is able to instantaneously perceive where in space that sound was made and look over in that location. So when a sound is triggered in game and its location feels off, immediately our years of evolution tells us something’s off or wrong. Proper sound source implementation and testing will allow you to fine tune where your sounds are coming from and if they feel natural to you and your team.


Timing & Triggering

Another big item that takes humans out of reality is the timing, or the triggering, of a sound effect. Even if you have a top-notch sound effect, how it’s triggered and when will make or break that sound. Common issues that arise are sounds that are intended to synch with in-game actions, like a UI element or character action, that are triggered too late or too early. This can be very problematic for the experience element, but more importantly if you’re trying to immediately inform the player of an important action in-game that is peril to their survival.


Volume & Attenuation

Dynamics are key to excellent audio implementation. If every sound is the loudest all other sounds lose relevance. The most common reason why audio is turned off by many people is the volume at which its produced, next to poor audio quality. Try to map out what sounds should be the loudest for the player (pay-off sounds, explosions, rewards), and what are least important (footsteps, UI elements, environment sounds, etc) and begin adjusting those sounds so that the player isn’t bombarded by the constant playback of unimportant sounds. Audio is there to complement the experience and not take the lead. Use it sparingly, with intent, and gather lots of feedback from people other than yourself.


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