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Thread: Meet the Team: Joe Hogan

  1. This is the last staff post in this thread. #1

    Meet the Team: Joe Hogan

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ID:	63905What does an average day at work look like for you?
    As Audio Lead I am supposed to be very sensible, so ukulele duels with my (equally sensible) boss Jim (Croft, Head of Audio) are an essential part of the routine. As is pulling silly faces and collaborating closely with the bonkers but brilliant bunch of audio folks that we have here. The audio team are legends.

    My role involves a lot of sound design, mixing the game, bug-fixing, and optimization. I also manage the Elite: Dangerous audio team day to day, assigning tasks, feeding back on work (and receiving feedback), eating carrots, and defining/enforcing a consistent style across the audio.

    I do my best to sniff around in other departments, to ensure we know what features everyone is working on, and that anything that needs audio support gets it.

    What aspects of the game have you worked on that you are most proud of?
    The first thing I did when joining the project was prototyping the ship engines. At the time, flying in open space felt very disembodied because you couldn’t tell how fast you were moving.

    So we needed the sounds to provide feedback on every ship movement. That sidewinder prototype ended up being a template for all ship engines, although it has evolved quite a lot since then! I ended up making sounds for the Faulcon DeLacy ships (Sidewinder, Cobra, Anaconda, Viper, Python) and the new Condor (Federation Fighter).

    The cockpit breach sequence with the windows cracking and then blowing out entirely. It’s only a little detail, but I am quite proud of it! And Duncan (Mackinnon) made the awesome Remlok breathing sounds and the final suffocation bit.

    Also, the FSD sounds (hyperspace, supercruise, capital ship jumps). I’m quite proud of these features as they were a technical challenge and a huge cross-discipline collaboration - Art, Visual Effects, Code, Design, GUI and Audio. (The hyperspace sequence is actually nominated for "The Best Gaming Moment" Golden Joystick award this year!)

    What's your favourite thing about Elite Dangerous?
    The scale. This game has a to-scale version of the Milky Way! That makes it a great educational tool/toy.
    Space travel in sci-fi films etc gives the impression that the galaxy is small and easy to traverse. Elite: Dangerous brings back a bit of that majesty, and mind boggling massiveness.

    What challenges did you come up against during game development?
    Keeping our work constantly presentable when we have regular builds going out to the public is a huge challenge. We can never leave the bonnet open for long!

    Keeping the audio optimal was not enough to stop the audio engine buckling under the weight of all the cool stuff we needed. So audio programmer wizards Steve (Hollis), Yogi (Klatt), Dan (Murray) and Dani (Varela), have been gradually adding more and more layers of voice management systems that make decisions about what sounds are the most important to the player at any moment, and use available resources accordingly. This is an ongoing endeavor.

    Supercruise is another. Making the audio make sense when flying round a solar system was a massive challenge and a lot more complicated than regular ship sounds. When measuring speeds in multiples of the speed of light and distances in light seconds, audio just doesn't make sense any more. It all scales up beyond exponentially, so making things sound responsive at both fast and slow speeds becomes impossible. We ended up using tricks like measuring everything according to the human perception of what is happening rather than actual science. For example, the distance to a planet is measured in multiples-of-planet-radius (how big it looks) rather than meters in order to make the planet flyby sound right, and we measure the relative-speed of objects using time-to-arrival (in seconds), rather than meters per second.

    Also keeping a consistent style in the sounds is a lot harder than you might think when you have a team of energetic, creative souls producing diverse but wonderful work. We can’t live in our own bubble, everything must work together coherently.

    Mixing this game has been surprisingly complicated too!


    What have you learned from working on Elite: Dangerous?
    I have learned that audio programmers are worth their weight in gold.

    Federation, Empire, or Alliance? And why?
    At heart I am too much of a hippy to align with any of these outdated self-destructive dogmas. So I would be Anarchy … but in practice I probably wouldn’t last very long in an Anarchy system, as I’m not mean enough.

    Tell the community a fun fact about yourself
    When recording surface grit sounds for the upcoming SRV, the dust made me sneeze. Jim (Croft) and James (Stant) ended up using the "fsshhh" part of my sneeze in the vehicle suspension noise!

    If you could ask the community one question, what would it be?
    What audio detail or features do you want to hear added to the game? (no promises!)

    Answer Joe's question below.
    - Brett C / bc
    Forum & Community Manager

  2. #2
    Great interview and thanks for taking the time to feedback to the community!

    So in answer to your question, what audio detail or feature would I want to hear added to the game, well, I did ask this question on the Reddit AMA and that's about adding speech. Jim did reply and I understand that it would be a big undertaking, but personally I think this would make the galaxy feel like people are real.

    In fact, even adding in pre-recorded speech for when a station greets you would add that extra immersion that someone else is interacting with you. Maybe have the existing station announcers greet you (or deny!) when requesting docking. Other speech like text-to-speech I agree would be difficult to prevent it becoming repetitive, but there must be ways around that e.g. what about the Ivona way of producing speech.....something like that? I'm sure you know of this and other methods!

    Anyway, just wanted to say that you guys have done an awesome job on the sound and the music by Erasmus Talbot is fantastic! Keep up the good work!

  3. #3
    Originally Posted by Brett C View Post (Source)
    Tell the community a fun fact about yourself
    When recording surface grit sounds for the upcoming SRV, the dust made me sneeze. Jim (Croft) and James (Stant) ended up using the "fsshhh" part of my sneeze in the vehicle suspension noise!
    Cool Story!


  4. #4
    The audio team is doing a fantastic job with ED! I agree that adding speech would be a great next step. I like the idea of having verbal communication from the station, but also speech from NPCs that you meet, or attack or that attack you. And an audio alert for incoming text messages.

  5. #5
    Nice to meet yet another member of the audio team

    However... do you have any other departments in Cambridge apart from Audio ?,????

  6. #6
    I will be broken record - awesome interview, and I love audio team's work. They should get Golden Joystick reward for audio, or there's no justice in world.

    And ohh, working like audio engineer for gaming is my dream work (even as 35 year old )
    Peteris Krisjanis
    Call sign: Eagleboy | Will play: All Online | Federation | Trader and Explorer, with a little of everything else
    Please support call for ED Linux port https://www.change.org/p/frontier-de...-linux-desktop

  7. #7
    Originally Posted by Brett C View Post (Source)
    What's your favourite thing about Elite Dangerous?
    The scale. This game has a to-scale version of the Milky Way! That makes it a great educational tool/toy.
    Space travel in sci-fi films etc gives the impression that the galaxy is small and easy to traverse. Elite: Dangerous brings back a bit of that majesty, and mind boggling massiveness.
    I agree with this, but with a caveat: the Galaxy is all too easy to traverse in E: D, which diminishes the sense of scale a lot.


    Originally Posted by Brett C View Post (Source)
    If you could ask the community one question, what would it be?
    What audio detail or features do you want to hear added to the game? (no promises!)
    Pretty much draws a blank here. Maybe instantly recognisable warning sounds when docking / undocking timer is about to expire (1 minute mark, 30 seconds mark?).

    Friendliest Meteor Police that side of Riedquat ... and keep it under Lightspeed!
    My Elite: Dangerous videos , Logitech Extreme 3D Pro bindings , Explorer visual reference

  8. #8
    Great interview, as always!

    Originally Posted by Brett C View Post (Source)
    If you could ask the community one question, what would it be?
    What audio detail or features do you want to hear added to the game? (no promises!)

    Answer Joe's question below.
    A geiger counter built into any cockpit. Go close to any source of radiation, be it a neutron star or just the planet Jupiter, a canister of radioactive waste, a particular asteroid rich in radioactive material, or the engine exhaust of another ship, and hear the ticks of the geiger counter becoming ever more rapid. In addition to static radiation sources, some events could produce short outbursts of radiation, like stellar eruptions, or the explosion of a ship (nuclear reactor!).

    Large objects, like starports, asteroids, planets and moons, could occlude other radiation sources.

    And even far from any potential nearby radiation sources, when you throttle down your engines and lay still to listen, you may hear the eerie ticks of galactic gamma rays hitting your ship now and then.

    (I still fondly remember the sections in Half Life 2 where the geiger counter in your hazmat suit would start ticking when you got near pools of radioactive sludge.)

  9. #9
    T.j is offline
    ...isn't sure what's going on.
    Moderator T.j's Avatar
    Yep great interview and sneezy suspension sounds will I'm sure become a firm favourite.

  10. #10
    Which Metro/Underground system did you use as the basis of the super-cruise sound tracks?
    WOOF! WOOF!

    WHAT!? You think I said or did something wrong again? Blame T.j's cat.

    8 out of 10 Cats, have me on their ignore lists: 5 out of 10 posters; have me on their kill lists?

    Oh dear, it seems that I have joined the Elite. Does that mean, that now I have to oppress the masses?

  11. #11
    Looking nice and relaxed there Joe, they're obviously not working you hard enough (only joking) Another great interview and I love the little insights that we get into the workings, when your canopy gets blown out still has the ability to scare the life out of me. Can't wait to hear your sneeze

    The thing I most want to be in the game is something that I have been asking for since I started playing in PB. Please, please, please can you make it so that the game audio persists when viewing the System or Galaxy map? When you've got 10,000Ls+ to travel and you want to flick through the Galaxy Map, there's nothing more frustrating that getting hooked in and then realising when you come out of the map you've overshot your target by 5,000Ls. You could have it as a toggle option if necessary, so you could still listen to the amazing sounds that the individual planets/stars make.

    Elite

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by Brett C View Post (Source)
    If you could ask the community one question, what would it be?
    What audio detail or features do you want to hear added to the game? (no promises!)

    Answer Joe's question below.
    I'd like the NPCs to speak to me instead of communicating by text. I know, pie-in-the-sky, but you asked.

  13. #13
    Originally Posted by Brett C View Post (Source)
    If you could ask the community one question, what would it be?
    What audio detail or features do you want to hear added to the game? (no promises!)
    Pulsars should pulse (do we have pulsars? We have neutron stars but they just appear to be generic stars)

    If we ever get aurora on planets - they should have a sound effect.

    In asteroid fields, how about small particles going "Plink!" against the canopy/hull?

  14. #14
    Originally Posted by Genar-Hofoen View Post (Source)
    In asteroid fields, how about small particles going "Plink!" against the canopy/hull?
    Or against the shields, if you are a sensible person and don't fly unprotected.

  15. #15
    I love those suggestions!

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