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The tragedy of bad sound design - Elf M. Sternberg
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The tragedy of bad sound design
One of the things I really like about Doom 3 and Quake 4 was the sound design. Both of these games went out of their way to make sound an integral part of the game. By doing thing with the range, volume, and pitch of a particular sound effect, these two games did an incredible job of creating a 3-dimensional sound experience where sound informed you as to the location and distance of immanent threats. Early threats came at you head on, and you learned what they sounded like; later threats came from all sides, as well as top and bottom, and acoustically aware filtering let you know from where the attack was coming.

Not so with Prey. I just finished the game before realizing that I had the left and right channels on the headphones backwards. This affected gameplay not at all. And that's really sad, because Prey had some excellent combat moments that were completely disorienting, and some huge rooms with massive machinery and explosions that could have benefitted greatly from the experience.

Part of this may be due to technological improvements. Prey is based upon the ID Tech 3 engine, whereas the other two games mentioned are based upon the ID Tech 4 engine. But that's probably a bad excuse: Prey suffered from sound as an additional, and not an integral, component of the development process.

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