January 14
2014
We are planning to start adding sound effects in Space Engineers so I thought that this is a good time to share with you our preliminary sound design.
This document doesn’t represent the final work and there are things that may change in the future.
World/server in Space Engineers can be configured in one of two possible modes (it’s configured in world settings – therefore in multi-player all clients have the same settings):
  • Realistic (no sound in space)
  • Arcade (player can hear sounds even if he shouldn’t really hear them)

Implementation rules:

  • Realistic mode: player can hear only sounds that are generated somewhere on his or in his body or cockpit/ship
  • First-person mode and third-person mode are equal. “Audio listener” is always positioned in the controlled object (astronaut, space ship cockpit). In other words, when the player is in third person mode, “audio listener” is in the head of the astronaut (not where the third-person-camera is located)
  • The game should distinguish between sounds generated by the player and by sounds generated by other players. E.g. in realistic mode, the player can hear his own steps, but he can’t hear other players walking. In arcade mode, he can hear them walking, but it may be a different sound (wave file). For these reasons, I am using “player” and “other objects” terminology in the list of sounds.
  • These rules must be encapsulated in some audio class, so the code that just wants to play some sound doesn’t need to know about these rules.
  • These rules must work in single-player, multi-player, when switching between first and third person, when entering and leaving a cockpit (small or large), when dying and re-spawning, when switching between character through dev keys, etc.
  • Material type: rock, metal and human. When two objects collide, we get their material types and play the right sound for this pair of objects (e.g. rock vs metal, metal vs metal, metal vs human, etc.). Voxel asteroids and ore-items are always rock. Small and large ship blocks and other items (components, weapon, etc) are metal. Player character is human.
  • I have not decided yet whether sounds in “realistic” and “arcade” modes should be the same or different. E.g. the player shooting a hand weapon in realistic mode will hear a muffled shot whereas in arcade mode he can hear a real shot sound. We can decide and change this later.
  • HUD/GUI sounds – these sounds are played only for the player who activates them (e.g. if some other player turns on/off his lights, I won’t hear it).
  • Game sounds – We have 2D and 3D sounds. 2D sounds are played if the sound is generated by the player/listener and there’s no distance-volume-curve-attenuation. 3D sounds are played for sounds not generated by the player/listener (other players or objects). 2D sounds are stereo WAV files; 3D sounds are mono WAV files.

Inspiration:

Game sounds:

2D / 3D Listener is in suit or in cockpit Player / Other objects Description Realistic Arcade
2D SUIT PLAYER Player running on metal surface (forward, backward, strafe) YES YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player running on rocky surface (forward, backward, strafe) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player running on metal surface (forward, backward, strafe) NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player running on rocky surface (forward, backward, strafe) NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player sprinting on metal surface YES YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player sprinting on rocky surface YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player sprinting on metal surface NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player sprinting on rocky surface NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player jumps up (before he falls down) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player jumps up (before he falls down) NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player collision after jump down / fall down, metal surface (this sound may get replaced with collision sound) YES YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player collision after jump down / fall down, rocky surface (this sound may get replaced with collision sound) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player collision after jump down / fall down, metal surface (this sound may get replaced with collision sound) NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player collision after jump down / fall down, rocky surface (this sound may get replaced with collision sound) NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Missile explosion on player (he was hit) YES YES
3D COCKPIT PLAYER Missile explosion on player’s ship (his ship was hit) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Missile explosion NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Collision between metal and human – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Collision between metal and other player – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects NO YES
3D COCKPIT PLAYER Collision between metal and player ship – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects. We may decide to make a longer continuous collision sound (5-10 secs), as can been seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbnwQB9DlYY#t=108 YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Collision between metal and other player ship – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Collision between rock and human – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Collision between rock and other player – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects NO YES
3D COCKPIT PLAYER Collision between rock and player ship – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Collision between rock and other player ship – we may decide to make multiple versions of the sound to account for size and velocity of colliding objects NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player shooting a hand weapon YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player shooting a hand weapon NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player in space suit (may depend or not on recent activities such as running, jumping, doing things) – breathing, hearth beat YES YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Player in a cockpit – sound of breathing and heartbeat (similar to space suit sound) YES YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Player in a cockpit – sounds of nuclear reactors – turn on YES YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Player in a cockpit – sounds of nuclear reactors – turn off YES YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Player in a cockpit – sounds of nuclear reactors – running. I think that reactor output depends on consumers, so if e.g. thrusters start consuming more energy, reactors should generate higher-pitch sound. YES YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Small auto cannon shooting – muffled sound of rotating cannon and shots – start/loop/end YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other ship auto cannon shooting – normal shooting sounds (but then it may look weird if theplayer hears his own shot muffled) NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Small missile launcher shooting – muffled sound of launcher ejecting a missile YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other ship missile launcher shooting – normal launch sound (but then it may look weird if the player hears his own shot muffled) NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Missile flying (burning fuel, etc.) NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Nuclear reactor – turn on (this sound is played when the player doesn’t sit in a ship belonging to this reactor, he is just passing by) NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Nuclear reactor – looping (this sound is played when the player doesn’t sit in a ship belonging to this reactor, he is just passing by) NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Nuclear reactor – turn off (this sound is played when the player doesn’t sit in a ship belonging to this reactor, he is just passing by) NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Landing gear activation (snap) – muffled YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Landing gear activation (snap) NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Landing gear deactivation (un-snap) – muffled YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Landing gear deactivation (un-snap) NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Ship drill – muffled, sound of rotation, not crushing (start, loop, end) YES YES
2D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Ship drill – sound of rotation, not crushing (start, loop, end) NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Hand drill – muffled, sound of rotation, not crushing (start, loop, end) YES YES
2D / 3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand drill – sound of rotation, not crushing (start, loop, end) NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Hand welder YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand welder NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Hand grinder YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand grinder NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Ship drill crushing metal YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Ship drill crushing metal NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Ship drill crushing rocks YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Ship drill crushing rocks NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Hand drill crushing metal YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand drill crushing metal NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Hand drill crushing rocks YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand drill crushing rocks NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Jetpack – start / loop / off YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player jetpack – start / loop / off NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Jetpack – thruster firing (moving in some direction) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other player jetpack – thruster firing (moving in some direction) NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Small ship small-thruster firing (we may decide to make this a 3D sound and use the thruster’s position on ship) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other small ship small-thruster firing NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Small ship large-thruster firing (we may decide to make this a 3D sound and use the thruster’s position on ship) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other small ship large-thruster firing NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Large ship small-thruster firing (we may decide to make this a 3D sound and use the thruster’s position on ship) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other large ship small-thruster firing NO YES
2D COCKPIT PLAYER Large ship large-thruster firing (we may decide to make this a 3D sound and use the thruster’s position on ship) YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Other large ship large-thruster firing NO YES
3D COCKPIT PLAYER Small auto cannon bullet impact on metal – player ship YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Small auto cannon bullet impact on metal – other ship NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Small auto cannon bullet impact on rock NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Small auto cannon bullet impact on player body YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Small auto cannon bullet impact on other player body NO YES
3D COCKPIT PLAYER Hand weapon bullet impact on metal – player ship YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand weapon bullet impact on metal – other ship NO YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand weapon bullet impact on rock NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Hand weapon bullet impact on player body YES YES
3D SUIT / COCKPIT OTHER Hand weapon bullet impact on other player body NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player switching iron-sight on (this will sound like moving an arm in textile suit) YES YES
3D SUIT OTHER Other player switching iron-sight on (this will sound like moving an arm in textile suit) NO YES
2D SUIT PLAYER Player switching iron-sight off (this will sound like moving an arm in textile suit) YES YES
3D SUIT OTHER Other player switching iron-sight off (this will sound like moving an arm in textile suit) NO YES
TODO – add more sounds later, once sound design rules are tested and everyone likes them

HUD and GUI sounds:

Thanks for reading this!

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Warning: Space Engineers is still in development. Everything in the game is subject to change.

  1. That last fan made video you linked to ended in an epic way. Those sounds for collisions (in arcade/virtual or realistic/simulation) would be great! Also, notice they added faster breathing when there is a collision to simulate the player being nervous. 😛

    1. So the fact that Marek posts a blog on sound means it's a priority above survival and multiplayer ?

    2. Thanks Marek for putting up with and ignoring people like Job here,

  2. Amazing news! I am realy enthousastic to hear the same sound see in the video, in the game!

  3. The design is very logical and interesting. Really love the progress you are making on this game, continue the excellent work!

  4. I see in your table a lot of sounds happening on board a ship you can only hear when in the cockpit, I think you should also be able to hear those sounds if you're standing on a ship (affected by gravity) but very, very low frequency and only for very loud sounds, such as collisions with metal/rock or a player falling down after a jump.
    My reasoning for this is because, especially on metal, sound will travel through the metal and into the suit, although mostly the very low frequencies.

    1. Yeah, we were and still are considering this. It would just require a bit more programming, to detect when player is in contact with an object that has sounds happening on or in it.

  5. If we go for realistic, explosions CAN be heard in space (altough only the big ones) since the expansion of gases (the shockwave) does produce sound when it reaches you.

    1. The amount of force behind the explosion would need to be … excessive, and you would still need to be relatively close to the explosion to ensure you could hear anything as it would so rapidly dissipate. And you would STILL only hear the explosion very briefly and somewhat distorted from how you might expect it to sound (considering the frame of reference is all in-atmo).

  6. MarEK!!! *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP* MarEK!!! *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP* MarEK!!! *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP* MarEK!!! *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP* MarEK!!! *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP* MarEK!!! *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP*

    WWWHHHHOOOOOO HHOOOOOOOO!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!

  7. Will you hear the breathing like in one of the inspirational video's ? love the idea and that you guys pay so much attention to even the sound in the game. Just amazing

    1. I am not sure about the breathing at this moment. It's cool in movies but if players hear it during their entire gaming experience, it may get annoying. We will experiment with this.

    2. I would vote +1 on breathing audio but to lessen the "annoyance" that constant loud breathing would do in an otherwise pretty silent enviroment.
      I would suggest having very good/high quality breathing audio file(s) that work dynamically with what the player is doing and experiencing. i.e player running = heavier breathing vs. player standing still = soft and not so loud/intrusive. Explosions or general damage to player would equal more / heavier breathing,
      You could also have breathing audio just occur during these situations and have silence when no special condition applies to the player.

    3. exactly, more variety of the breathing or "silent" and "heavy"breathing in certain situations would lower annoyance of the breathing a lot.

    4. i saw in your awesome grid above heartbeat sound. I dont reccomend it because
      I know a lot people who are getting sick of that sound. maybe you can make there a on or off option for? just saying. Keep up the amazing work out there 😀

    5. Breath and heartbeat make the game literally unplayable with sound on.

      I had to spend more than 30 minutes reloading worlds just to figure out that you made your game a non-stop annoyance.

    6. can believe no one suggested for breathing sound to be toggleable in the sound settings.
      i'll be honest Heavy breathing is annoying, at all time

  8. Just brilliant! I love that you use Gravity and "Space Engineers with actual sound" as inspiration for your sound design. It will take this game to the next level. Keep it up, you guys are doing fantastic!

  9. if you add oxygen or compressed air or what ever, the realistic sound should be heard in side the air chamber.

  10. I fully agree with the realistic mode , and so do you , because you have thison your own page:
    ,,We want to create games that are based on real science, real facts, real physics and real emotions. No magic & fantasy allowed."

    1. i dont know but sometimes firing a massive laser feels pretty good. if i want to play something realistic. i going to play farming simulater. thats just realistic 😀 but two seperate modes fixed it already. so yeah this reply is pointless. and bad written.

  11. The Realistic vs. Arcade will have to be a server side setting in multiplayer so the Arcadians don't have an advantage over Realists.

    1. Yeah, but changing sounds to see what's better should not be a 15 minute ordeal involving three full world loads.

  12. Wow. Can you guys just flat-out HIRE the guy that did that third video? This is AAA-level quality.

  13. I love the direction you guys are moving with the sound design being different for realistic mode and arcade mode. Realistic sounds would be so awesome!

    Keep up the excellent work!

  14. fantastic game guys, absolutely loving it this is the game i have been waiting years for, it is exactly what i have been imagining all these years.

    Keep up the great work. 🙂

  15. Could you maybe work getting the game to work in general? Because it dont work. I feel like i been scammed out of my money. I understand its a work in progreess, but its completely unplayable. Ive tred everything.

  16. The sound update is pointless and annoying. Make a way to turn off the non-stop heartbeat sound. I cannot concentrate with that nonsense going on, and its either non-stop torture or no sound period. You setout to improve, and now there's just no reason to have sound on at all if you want to stay sane.

    Y'all seriously messed up.

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