With your design, visuals, and tech working properly, people are able to grasp what your product would be like in its finished state and are able to provide feedback. However, people forget to transfer some love to a game’s audio. Audio is often not getting enough love within projects and may even be forgotten – which, I believe, is because of the scale of the project or a lack of human resources or knowledge.
We work together with Giliam and Elephant Ears for RITE of ILK’s audio. When we started tackling audio for RITE of ILK, the first thing on our shortlist was to improve the workflow and pipeline of audio within our game’s development. As a result of that, we’re now working with Wwise as our sound engine!
Down the production-line, the workflow should encompass all disciplines (art, design, tech, audio) and allow for everyone to contribute to the project simultaneously. We did this by segregating our levels.
We started off by using Unreal Engine’s built-in sound engine. Our audio guys weren’t accustomed to Unreal Engine 4 and had to learn how to implement and mix audio assets in the engine. Early in our development cycle, we learned that in order to hear our audio implementations; we had to stop the game, make changes, and hit ‘play-in-editor’ each and every time. It isn’t a very creative workflow, takes up a lot of development time, and leaves you frustrated instead of in a creative mindset – especially when you want to iterate fast.
Since we weren’t satisfied with the iterative workflow of Unreal Engine’s built-in sound engine, we wanted to find a pipeline to improve our development cycle. We had received suggestions to try out Wwise for our audio pipeline and decided to jump on the bandwagon. We soon figured out how much our pipeline’s speed and the audio quality increased by using Wwise!
(Figure 01: Development cycle: create, implement, test, iterate assets.)
See the changes that were made from switching to Wwise in Unreal Engine 4 below.
(Figure 02: Before and after image of audio assets in our content folder. All assets are now linked in an ‘Audiokinetic Soundbank,’ this way it’s the sound designer’s responsibility to maintain it.)
(Figure 03: Placing audio in the world remains the same. No differences here.)
(Figure 04: Audio mixing is now done in Wwise, which has a more comforting interface design for sound designers.)
(Figure 05: Implementation in Blueprint to activate the right audio file. Beforehand, we had to select each soundcue, while right now we just apply a predefined string and Wwise handles the rest of the logic on what sound to play.)
(Figure 06: Real time iteration in-editor but also in builds. Here you can see an adjustment of the attenuation and real-time feedback in Wwise. This can be done on the same computer or remotely.)
With all these changes and new possibilities, we were able to adjust and improve our ‘pillar puzzle’s’ audio faster than ever. The ‘pillar puzzle,’ as the name implies, is a puzzle with pillars, and each pillar needs to be activated by having the characters’ rope interact with the pillar. Upon puzzle completion, it will hide all pillars and opens up a path or mechanism leading forward. Each pillar contains its own sound-pitch and was designed to build-up a harmonious vibe when multiple pillars are interacted with. The video below showcases the ‘pillar puzzle’ implementation that was done in Unreal Engine’s sound engine and afterward (from 0:25 seconds onward) the Wwise ‘pillar puzzle’ implementation.
(Figure 07: The ‘pillar puzzle’! Notice the difference when each pillar gets activated.)
Thanks to Wwise we can now deliver one-on-one audio mixes, iterate real-time, and profile the entire audio for RITE of ILK and future projects. This improves our workflow & pipeline between audio designer and audio programmer a great deal and effectively shortens development time without a loss of quality. I would suggest everyone to at least try Wwise out for yourself and see how it can benefit you and your project on the short and long term.
I hope that in a next audio blogpost, I’m able to show you behind-the-scenes audio implementations and focus more on actual audio instead of our pipeline. For now, please watch and listen to our official teaser trailer to get a feeling for the audio that’s inside the game!
Technical Programmer at Turtleneck Studios