Since no one ever did a sound tutorial and since no one seems to
care a lot about doing sounds properly in maps I decided to write
a tutorial about it :)
A lot of mappers don't seem to be able to use sounds well; the
worst are maps with no use of sound at all. The lack of sound is
totally unrealistic. Everything makes sound in real life, think
about what you would hear if you would walk through your map in
real life. Now what you need to do is implement those sounds in
your map. You have to let them execute the environment, just as
much as you let your architecture do for example.
Most maps have only a bit of sound (Epic maps anyone?), mostly
default sounds, placed very rarely, and on very typical places.
For example: a fan that makes a fan sound, a ventilation thing that
makes a wind sound or engine sound and so on. These uses of sound
are just plain boring: they are always the same sounds you are hearing,
you can barely hear them, and they are all on such predictable places.
You are supposed to make sound that makes players say, "WOOW!",
sounds that completely enhance gameplay, atmosphere, and theme.
No one is impressed by just 1 or 2 ambient sounds like hissing or
other industrial sounds; those don't really do anything for the
environment. Be original! Everyone knows those standard sounds by
now- it's like making a map with uttech1 or richrig textures for
UT or using the horrible prefab tree from UT2003
You need to use a lot of sounds for everything. If you have a sky
for instance, don't just place a boring wind sound there; instead,
place wind sounds combined with animal sounds (a cricket or something)
and everything else that would be there if the environment was real,
like car horns and sirens if it were a city.
Mix the sounds. Use a lot of ambient sound actors next to each other,
with different sounds. Use sounds with high volume and low radius
for detail work, a volume of 230 and radius 8-24 (all depends on
the sound), can give cool effect for instance, certainly for the
people with 3D sound.
Another thing to get leet sounds is the very unknown soundpitch.
No one ever uses it even though it is the key to leet ambiance sound.
For instance, to get some cool and scary background sound, use a
sound with some variation in it- so no boring wind that always sounds
the same. Use sounds like the swamp sounds from outside.uax, or
crazy stuff like a churchbell, then give it a very low pitch, between
8 and 16 (depends a bit on the sound of course, sometimes it should
be lower or higher) and a big radius- say 192, and a high volume-
224 or so. Now, combine multiple sounds like this and listen to
what you get, it greatly improves atmosphere, and that's what a
lot of maps really lack.
A few other things you can do for your sounds are using dynamic
sounds, for example. You can find the actor in the actor browser
under: Actor -> Keypoint -> DynamicAmbientsound now you can
let it play 1 shot sounds every once and a while. This sound is
great for when you want a bird to cry each 30 sec or everything
else you can think of: a scream, the sound of a machine, a cricket,
etc. It could be handy to have identical dynamic sound events next
to each other, sometimes they are just too quiet, and since you
cant adjust their volume, 2 of them next to each other does well
enough in most cases. (UT only, for the UT2003/4 equivalent, see
at the bottom)
And besides that, a lot of people forget that a good echo is always
cool. It can be kind of buggy but with the right settings it can
be very nice and really enhance the environment. Change the zone
properties to Zoneinfo properties -> Reverb -> Reverbzone=true
and change the other settings too. Here's what the zoneinfo from
DM-StalwartXL looks like. (UT only, for the UT2003/4 equivalent,
see at the bottom)
Of course you can use sound for gameplay enhancement, too. Except
for obvious things like placing health vials and some shallow water
on the ground for locating your enemy, you can push the use of sound
even further. Things like cracking wood when you walk over it, plants
that make a sound when you walk through them, water
puddles that splash, metal that cracks and shudders, and anything
you can think of that would make sound in real life could fit for
it. This way you enhance the theme and realism (interaction with
environment and stuff) and you enhance gameplay too at the same
time cause you can easily locate where your enemies are.
You can best accomplish this effect by using a trigger or even multiple
triggers that trigger some nearby special events that play the specified
And don't forget the door and elevator sounds either, they can
greatly enhance gameplay, too. If you have multiple elevator in
a close range in a multiplayer map then make sure they have different
sounds. So if someone takes one of the elevators the other guy can
easily track him down because he knows which elevator makes which
specific sound. This effect counts for doors as well- doors are
a great alarm. An example is in CTF-Coret where the doors are one
the primary alarm sounds for the defenders.
Added september 28th '02 -
Another, rather logical, thing you can do is mixing the same sounds
but with slightly different pitches. The result is that you'll get
a more 3D sound. Since there are multiple sources it will sound
more 3D, thus more realistic, you are more "in to" the
sound. By having a slightly different pitch (like 1 sound pitch
70, the other 60) there will be more variation, and it will prevent
that you just hear the same sound louder like would happen when
all sounds got the same pitch.
Very simple actually, but works well. Ofcourse you could use different
sounds too, just experiment.
Added jan 25th '03 -
Update for the new engine, a la UT2003 :
Having a dynamic ambient sound in UT2003 is a bit different from
UT. You don't use a special actor anymore now, but just the normal
Ambient sound actor instead.
If you take the properties of a sound actor, and then expand sound,
you see a new thing, called SoundEmitters now, it's here that you
can add some sounds that will be played at intervals. Just expand
it, and push Add, after you've done that, you fill in the fields.
EmitInvertval = how long it takes before a sound is played again,
EmitSound = the sound to play, you ofcourse want to fill in a 1
play sound here, not a looped one.
EmitVariance = random amount of time to add up or substract from
the Emitinterval time, to play sounds more random
You can add quite a lot of sounds to the list if wanted.
There seems to be a bug, or I have one at least, that when you preview
those sounds in UED with real time preview, they are played insanely
loud, killing everything near your house :)
So be prepared for that.
Another thing that has changed is the "lack" of a special
event, to trigger event sounds. Like walking over a old rotten walkway,
and getting a creeping wood sound. In UT2003 the special event is
replaced by a Scripted trigger actor, which is a lot more powerful
and combines several actors of the old UT and Unreal in to 1.
Actors >> Keypoint >> AIscript >> Scriptedsequence
Do it like the pic.
You add the actions required to the actor, and then you trigger it,
placing a normal trigger, and filling in the trigger's event at the
Scriptedtrigger "Waitforevent action", under Externalevent.
For a better and more expand explanation about the scripted trigger,
look at this tut about it on the Unreal Wiki
Added Nov 3rd '03 -
In UT1 you had reverb to enable things like echo in your map. In the
new engine this is replaced with a more advanced and powerful Zonesounds.
You can find it when going to the properties of a Zoneinfo > Zonesound
> choose a preset > push ok, and it should work, though only
when you have EAX enabled AFAIK. Only one second to add in your map.