Winter Update: New Audio System

Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
The first clip is in regular camera mode. The sound in this example is pretty much ideal; good separation between the speakers, the sound fades as you get farther, excellent acoustic setup. The second clip is the dark ride with multiple speakers in each room synced to the same song, all near the track and pointed toward the rider. Note: the first room does not have a roof and the acoustics are noticeably different. The third and final clip is the same ride with only one speaker per track in each room.
Hi!

Thank you again for going to such great lengths to help us nail this down. From the video I think it's clear what's happening and apologize that we couldn't figure this out from text alone.

It's a bug and a feature combined: You have the game paused!

  • In pause we normally do two things. We mute distance filtering / early reflection which is working as intended.
  • We mute all music to make room for the soundtrack while building and to keep ride-synced music in sync. User music has escaped this treatment.
We fixed it a while ago so I couldn't reproduce locally, doh! A new update will change the behavior so that you wouldn't hear any music in pause which is in line with how all the other music works. We don't have a system that could exempt this (the amount of rerouting and mix exceptions we'd need to accommodate would make that a really involved feature).

The other problem; those horrid early reflections. We have tweaked the amount you get in a "100% enclosed" space to be less. That might also helps explain why the room without a roof had less reflections.

As a stop-gap fix you could try putting a mix of the music (in time with the ride) on the ride to play from the carriages?

Hope this helps,

Matthew
 

Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
I have searched for a slider to adjust just the soundvolume of those speakers, but it seems there is no such thing, not in the settings nor in the specific speaker menu's. The volume of almost everything else is adjustable. Am I missing something?
It's one of the hardest problems to solve actually. Speakers on rides are instanced, meaning each piece of music (even if it is the same) is a new instance. So for each of those we create a new stream and decode, even if it's the same piece of music. This means we can easily make that stream louder or more quiet. This is fine for flat-rides and coasters because you can't stack a great many on a single spot, we always have some space to crossfade.

For user music / park speakers which could exist in a very small space, we only decode the same music once and send it to all relevant speakers (this is called multi-pointing). this is much "cheaper" than instancing and it's the reason why we have been able to do user music in the first place.

However, because you only have a single stream on multiple speakers, we can't make one multi-pointed speaker louder/quieter than another one. Hence the missing volume slider. We have some ideas how to solve this, but all of them involve tinkering with the audio middle-ware which is both a large task and potentially dangerous (as it could affect performance and stability).

The speaker not being modifiable as part of a building group is indeed not handy. It's been reported to gameplay code and when they have time they will look into this. Since there is a workaround (detach, change, add) it's not as urgent as fixing things that don't present a workaround. But we completely agree that it would be a really nice quality of life improvement.
 

Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
I have one scene that's already finished with all audio effects, but now you can hear them outside of the scene as well, making it much harder to separate my ride scenes in terms of sound, unless i use a workaround.
I believe it was always the case that you could hear sounds going through walls but It was just a lot more quiet.

This raises an interesting question. Keeping in mind we need to balance carefully the amount of objects that produce audio we choose a balance between a short fall off range that would give more control over what bleeds through a wall and a longer fall off range requiring less objects to cover the same area.

The ranges we currently have are listed below:

volume.png


Placeable Speaker (50m) volume falloff:
  • 20 meters 25%
  • 50 meters 0%.
Placeable Ambience (40m) volume falloff
  • 25 meters 25%
  • 40 meters 0%
Triggered Effect (50m) volume falloff:
  • 37.5 meters 25%
  • 50 meters 0%
All these speaker volumes halve when behind the speaker (ie. the volume is muffled and more quiet behind).

Question:
Are these values to large for you ?

Please keep in mind that the smaller the fall-off, the more speakers you need to cover the same area, and that's expensive. Keep in mind also we cannot give you a range slider (at least not unless we make really big modifications to multi-point speakers).
 
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Thank you for all the handy detail here Matthew. That last chart is really handy so we can work out cross over distances. Since you cannot have a full range slider for volume is there a chance we could have say 3 speakers with quite, normal and loud and have 3 instances rather than 1.

It of course adds overhead however it would limit it and means you could have 3 distinct falloff settings for them accordingly so we can make more ambience on track rides and coasters etc.

Edit: If you couldn't have 3 instances with different falloffs I would say the current falloff chart could have the rate increased by around 30% to allow more control without having to add a huge number of extra speakers.
 
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Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
Thank you for all the handy detail here Matthew. That last chart is really handy so we can work out cross over distances. Since you cannot have a full range slider for volume is there a chance we could have say 3 speakers with quite, normal and loud and have 3 instances rather than 1.

It of course adds overhead however it would limit it and means you could have 3 distinct falloff settings for them accordingly so we can make more ambience on track rides and coasters etc.

Edit: If you couldn't have 3 instances with different falloffs I would say the current falloff chart could have the rate increased by around 30% to allow more control without having to add a huge number of extra speakers.
Unfortunately three falloff's means possibly three more instances of a stream. We'd run out of memory on min spec quite quickly and medium spec soon after. In a game so reliant on UGC (user generated content) we need to avoid anything that doesn't scale well. It's a tricky problem but I like the way you're trying to come up with a different approach to the problem : )

30% reduction would mean 50m translates to 35m.
It would change all existing speaker placement but it's not an unreasonable suggestion.

Anyone else?
 
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I believe it was always the case that you could hear sounds going through walls but It was just a lot more quiet.

This raises an interesting question. Keeping in mind we need to balance carefully the amount of objects that produce audio we choose a balance between a short fall off range that would give more control over what bleeds through a wall and a longer fall off range requiring less objects to cover the same area.

The ranges we currently have are listed below:

View attachment 712


Placeable Speaker (50m) volume falloff:
  • 20 meters 25%
  • 50 meters 0%.
Placeable Ambience (40m) volume falloff
  • 25 meters 25%
  • 40 meters 0%
Triggered Effect (50m) volume falloff:
  • 37.5 meters 25%
  • 50 meters 0%
All these speaker volumes halve when behind the speaker (ie. the volume is muffled and more quiet behind).

Question:
Are these values to large for you ?

Please keep in mind that the smaller the fall-off, the more speakers you need to cover the same area, and that's expensive. Keep in mind also we cannot give you a range slider (at least not unless we make really big modifications to multi-point speakers).

Thanks for the detailed reply! :)


I think maybe the easiest and most convenient solution for now would be to "clone" both the ambience and Music speakers into two additional items each with the applied settings. Like short-range and long-range (the current levels are good for long range, though i think (according to the list) 50m is too long a distance for direct audio to come through.))

This could be a quicker solution than implementing a settings option.

  • Ambience Speaker (short range) - ( current model reverted back to old levels)
  • Music Speaker (short range) - (current model @ old levels)
  • Ambience Speaker (long range) ------|
  • Music Speaker (long range) -----------| new items with current settings EXCEPT maybe the range cut to 40m with similar falloff as is
And maybe, MAYBE, one with really high range settings (70-80m?) but less overall loudness (with a very flat loudness falloff) for park ambience.

I can only speak for myself, but there are 3 scenarios i would assume the speakers are mainly used for (at least in my case).

1. Sound FX on a given ride (triggered or continuous)
2. Localized audio effects (waterfall, cave, etc.)
3. General area ambience

cheers,
Arti
 
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Hi!

Thank you again for going to such great lengths to help us nail this down. From the video I think it's clear what's happening and apologize that we couldn't figure this out from text alone.

It's a bug and a feature combined: You have the game paused!

  • In pause we normally do two things. We mute distance filtering / early reflection which is working as intended.
  • We mute all music to make room for the soundtrack while building and to keep ride-synced music in sync. User music has escaped this treatment.
We fixed it a while ago so I couldn't reproduce locally, doh! A new update will change the behavior so that you wouldn't hear any music in pause which is in line with how all the other music works. We don't have a system that could exempt this (the amount of rerouting and mix exceptions we'd need to accommodate would make that a really involved feature).

The other problem; those horrid early reflections. We have tweaked the amount you get in a "100% enclosed" space to be less. That might also helps explain why the room without a roof had less reflections.

As a stop-gap fix you could try putting a mix of the music (in time with the ride) on the ride to play from the carriages?

Hope this helps,

Matthew
Matthew, good spot. I do keep the game in pause to avoid aging the rides, etc., when I build. I didn't even think of that. It sounds like you have a great fix in mind.

With the on-ride speakers, is that how they work? You put a select a track in ride menu, and then it is piped in to each car starting when the car departs the station?
 

Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
Thanks for the detailed reply! :)


I think maybe the easiest and most convenient solution for now would be to "clone" both the ambience and Music speakers into two additional items each with the applied settings. Like short-range and long-range (the current levels are good for long range, though i think (according to the list) 50m is too long a distance for direct audio to come through.))
Arti
Thank you for the very detailed answer, I cannot wait to ride your coaster. Hope you will have some Future Sound of London playing on it : )

Unfortunately, the "easiest and convenient solution" for you guys is a heck of a lot of work for us and as explained in a previous post, it's a performance issue to. We just can't do it that way : (

If we reign in the range to 35 meters (which I don't mind trying) do you guys and gals realize that a coaster at going roughly 125kmh will give you less than a second of time to hear the speaker? I assume you are all building more indoor-ish rides ; )

Perhaps that is more a Triggered Effect problem though, less so on ambiances/speakers : )

Just putting it out there ; )
 
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Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
With the on-ride speakers, is that how they work? You put a select a track in ride menu, and then it is piped in to each car starting when the car departs the station?
Yup, music starts as a ride starts, so you could (for instance) record a narration track and you'd always get the same sentence at the same part of the track. Or on a coaster, build every twist and turn to follow the music flow. Multiple cars all start and stop independently. This is also the reason why you cannot hear music on coasters so far our as speakers/rides. We needed to make sure they cannot overlap too much as that runs us into streaming trouble again.

We felt that having that functionality at least gives you a half-way house solution instead of triggered user music/soundeffects which represent a technical challenge we were unable to solve.
 
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Ok, i've been thinking about this.

Curlyriff's point about the overlap and such gave me an idea.

And let's extend this to the lighting also, let's do this in one throw instead of separately as they both to me fall into the same category.

What i would find very useful is if we had more of those in different variations.
The Scenery/LED Spot is really awesome for instance,
but has a quick falloff and relatively short range(don't change it PLEASE), which is good and i use them a LOT.
I miss more lights though with different settings. The model for them could be the same (maybe just minute scale variations)
But 2 variations to each of the 3 LED light objects would make things a lot easier to light with more detail or light larger areas
(especially useful when you build, i made myself a construction light rig to save some time)

With the audio, what Curlyriff got me thinking about further, it would be good to also have optional directional speakers
(with 80-130° hotspot and way more suppressed levels outside of said angle).
All right let me run with this, i'll brainstorm a bit


  • Audio
    • | Music Speaker - short range directional [hotspot angle 70-90°][max. distance 20m] {short shelved falloff (50%falloff curve)}
      |
    • | Music Speaker - short range undirectional [max. distance 20m] {falloff as is}
      |
    • | Music Speaker - medium range directional [hotspot angle 120-130°][max. distance 36-44m]
      |
    • | Music Speaker - medium range undirectional [max. distance 36-44m] {falloff as is}
      |
    • | Music Speaker - long range undirectional [max. distance 80m]
      |
    • | Music Speaker - long range half directional [hotspot angle 150-160°][max. distance 80m]
      | {with little falloff (but lower overall loudness) to the 60m mark and then a sloped soft falloff}
      |
      |
    • | Trigger Speaker x6 - same options as in list above --
      | ability to add custom sounds but access to all available sound library content (ambience, effect and music/custom music)
      | with length setting, tune slider
      |
      |
    • | Ambience Speaker - short range, sharp falloff [max. distance 16m]
    • | Ambience Speaker - short range, pre-winter-update falloff and loudness settings [max. distance 24m]
    • | Ambience Speaker - medium range, sharp falloff [max. distance 40m]
    • | Ambience Speaker - medium range, (with the currently applied settings)
    • | Ambience Speaker - medium range, lower loudness, soft falloff [max. distance 48m]
    • | Ambience Speaker - long range, sharp falloff [max. distance 64m] (+needs loudness option)
    • | Ambience Speaker - long range, lower loudness, quasi-uniform falloff [max. distance 80m]

  • Lights
    • | Scenery LED spotlight - (as is)
      |
    • | Scenery LED spotlight - bigger range
      |
    • | Scenery LED spotlight - bigger hotspot
      |
    • | Scenery LED spotlight - small hotspot (6°-12°) slightly raised range
      |
    • | Building LED spotlight - (as is)
      |
    • | Building LED spotlight - higher range, greater hotspot angle (+4-6°)
      |
    • | Building LED area light - (as is)
      |
    • | Building LED area light - higher range (model with rig like scenario spotlight)
      |
    • | Building LED area light - short range, sideways light emission (perpendicular to local Y coordinates)
      |
      |
      GENERAL LIGHT ADDITIONS
      |
    • | Flickering LED area light - the lights, even fire doesn't flicker currently (at least on my computer ^^ )
      |
    • | Flickering LED spotlight - settings cloned from Scenery LED Spotlight
      |
    • | LED spotlight STROBE - i use strobe effects on my Wipeout Ride for instance, but they needed loads of trigger-happy editing to look any good,
      | having a strobe light activated with just a single trigger would be great to have.
      |
    • | Spinning Alarm/Emergency Light - as per name
      |
    • | Rectangle LED Wall-washer (with close-to-flat light direction)
      |
    • |LED spotlight with rotatable Gobos.
      |
    • | thinking about above Gobo light, things like Showlighting and such could be integrated into the game's concept in more depth.
      | among other things like "E-Ticket"(ride classification) and (making the wooden ladder colourable to be able to build trusses [big grin])
      | this could add depth and possibilities to also bring some new ideas into the management part. (Breakroom for employees anyone?)
      |
      |
    • | Shop that sells in-Park music Soundtracks, or even better, a "big" shop that allows to place sales items via shop display items
      | (this could be a creative (and much more complicated [yum]) solution to the missing option to select the items you want to sell in a shop [big grin]
      |
    • | LED Construction light - like the Building LED Spotlight but with a much higher hotspot and range, but with less overall light intensity
Ok the list looks messy and it blows up the light item and speaker sections quite a bit, might cause confusion to some,
but then again those could be part of an "advanced" mode maybe? [happy]
 
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Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
Ok, i've been thinking about this.
Let me stop you right there...... oops to late : )

The speaker solution is clever, though wouldn't work with our code-side virtualization system which is expecting one speaker range...sorry : (

Light really is an entirely different beast so can't begin to comment : )
 
Let me stop you right there...... oops to late : )

The speaker solution is clever, though wouldn't work with our code-side virtualization system which is expecting one speaker range...sorry : (

Light really is an entirely different beast so can't begin to comment : )
*Luke Skywalker scream* Nooooooooooooooo!

Hm, then a crisper falloff and shortened range (like it was pre-update) would be great i guess.
If we want additional loudness we could sync another speaker up and work with that to reach the desired effect.

So, the virtualization system has one master setting for all the audio emitters including the Coaster ride vehicles?
That DOES make directional speakers a bit tricky to realize [where is it]

Thanks Matthew!

cheers,
Arti
 
Hello Matthew, thanks for your responses.

I can only speak for myself, but changing back to the Original 35 m (or is it 24 m as I read in another reply) for ambience speakers would not be a problem for me. I use those only on slow-moving track rides, a que or in decorated parts of my park. Never on quicker moving coasters because of the reason you mentioned. It would be nearly impossible to hear it racing by those speakers.

In my case the ambient speakers are not triggered, but playing continuously, so for me the 'problem' is speaker related ( in response to your suggestion a few posts back).

But as said, I can only speak for myself. My vote would be a +1 for reducing the range to 35 m (or 24 m, let's just call it pre-winter update :) ).
 
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Matthew Florianz

Senior Audio Designer- Elite: Dangerous
Staff member
I am not entirely sure where "35 from before the update" comes from, it was actually 75 before the update ; )

So we already reigned them in quite a bit. That is not to say we won't go with 35 for speakers and ambiences.

For triggered effects we might be able to create a variant, as suggested, we'll certainly investigate this : )
 
I am not entirely sure where "35 from before the update" comes from, it was actually 75 before the update ; )

So we already reigned them in quite a bit. That is not to say we won't go with 35 for speakers and ambiences.

For triggered effects we might be able to create a variant, as suggested, we'll certainly investigate this : )
Yeah I think a few got confused on that. Thanks for the reply though and shame that even 3 instances would overload systems that much :(

I wondering if it is worth investigation what happens between adjusting the fall off to 35m as suggested to allowing two instances? Could this in affect mean that two instances (when the player uses them correctly) could actually reduce the overhead by using the effectively compared to using 2 or 3 speakers to do the same thing.

Mind however if you could get away with even two instances I would suggest a 25m & 50m as that gives a nice 50% reduction scenario.
 
Yup, music starts as a ride starts, so you could (for instance) record a narration track and you'd always get the same sentence at the same part of the track. Or on a coaster, build every twist and turn to follow the music flow. Multiple cars all start and stop independently. This is also the reason why you cannot hear music on coasters so far our as speakers/rides. We needed to make sure they cannot overlap too much as that runs us into streaming trouble again.

We felt that having that functionality at least gives you a half-way house solution instead of triggered user music/soundeffects which represent a technical challenge we were unable to solve.
Matthew, thank you. I didn't realize you had built such a sophisticated system in already...if I had, I probably would have done it that way to begin with. In fact, it actually helps quite a bit because I can control what portion of the music is playing and avoid the few moments of silence when even the longest track resets.

A huge, huge, huge shoutout to you, the audio team, and the entire Dev crew over at Frontier. You have a masterpiece on your hands. As you continue to fill in the details, I continue to be more and more impressed with what you are rolling out. There are always bumps and bruises along the way, like this, but please pass on the praise of someone who has been playing Roller Coaster Tycoon since I was a wee little 10 year old, who waited with baited breath for his December birthday as a teen so he could get Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, and who is thrilled now that he has at least enough in his bank account to buy Planet Coaster for himself. Merry Christmas and I look forward to what the New Year holds.
 
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