Well, this week has flown by. I guess that’s partly because I took a day off to celebrate my birthday but mainly because we pushed the Flying Finland update out on Wednesday. It is always exciting to push new content out to you guys as we never really know what sort of reaction it is going to get. With Finland things have been very positive and it’s looking like you are getting to grips with the new v.2 handling too.
I guess now is a pretty good time to be talking about some of the stuff that we are going to be working on over the next month. Probably the busiest guys in the studio right now are the simulation team. As I write this they are working on the new cars that we will be including in the Modern Masters pack. On top of that they are also working through the launch cars and upgrading them to the v.2 handling. They have got the Group B cars up on the axle stands at the moment and we’ll be moving onto the Group A cars once they are complete.
As the lead times for our environment creation are significantly longer our environment teams have been hard at work getting the Sweden stages ready for the Winter Wonderland pack. One of the key characteristics of the Swedish stages are the snow banks, drivers will often lean on snow banks as they attack these snow covered stages. We are currently prototyping some new tech that will hopefully allow us to simulate the sensation of soft snow at the sides of the stage. We have a pretty cool system in place (if you’ll pardon the pun) but we have a fair amount of tweaking to do to ensure that the feel of those snow banks is just right. I’ll let you know more about how that is coming along in the coming months.
On Monday I sat down in the recently well travelled D-Box and recorded the first set of calls for Sweden. I’ll be doing more of that next week but to give you some insight into how we go about doing these recordings here’s Stuart Ross @stuartcross64 our Senior Audio Designer:
Visceral – that was what I was told. The game should tap into the feelings and emotion of the player. Ok, so how can I get this into the only voice in a game which tells you what do, constantly.
I looked at previous rally games and listened to the co driver, then listened to reference material of co-drivers out in the field. There were definite differences, and similarities. The similar things were obvious, right 4 into left 2 over crest; the calls were correct and functional. What was missing wasn’t so obvious and it wasn’t just one thing. After listening carefully I found it was the delivery that was missing, the urgency, the force of the car against the track, forcing the co driver around in his seat forcing the air in his lungs to be expelled at an uncontrolled force by the landing of the car. The volume he has to make his voice heard when the car is at 6000 revs going down a straight compared to braking quickly into a hairpin. The distortion on the headset caused as more air is used to control the voice as the co driver is punished by the car.
All these factors were contributing to the delivery of the co-drivers pace notes, and adding to the feeling of being in the moment.
After this period of research we set about designing a way to record in a similar scenario. Recording in a rally car on the required track was out of the question, so we went for second best. Our own tracks and a Dbox force feedback chair. We hoped the chair would give the movement into the voice and after a few variations of setup we came up with a system that worked well and quickly.
We record a near perfect run of a track and sit @kick_up in the D-Box chair, strapped in with pace notes in hand, helmet on, much like a real world scenario. The car is launched and Paul calls out the notes, feeling every turn and crest. I then record the output of the driver’s headset in another helmet, so we get the real deal and not some fake processing we think it should sound like. This is what it sounds like.
Paul also has a set of ear buds under his balaclava to listen to the audio from the game, to give some volume to his voice at different stages of the track. As well as ear buds, Paul is literally shaking around in the D-Box. We have it set quite high in order to exaggerate the feedback from the track surface and force more energy into the seat giving Paul’s voice a more forced delivery.
Once we have completed a full run, we do it again. I don’t like audio in games to be repetitive, it detracts from the experience and the human voice is one of the most obvious sounds we pickup on as being false if heard too many times. We also use speed as a factor, at slower speeds the voice is less forced as we set the D-Box feedback lower to give the player some idea that they are having some input to virtual world around them. So we record a fast pace set of calls twice and a medium paced set of calls twice, and also one set of calls without any force through at all, so if you’re travelling under 10 mph, there’s literally no force coming through the voice and as you speed up it switches to the medium and then to the high.
Each track has a bespoke set of calls for that one track; no calls are reused on other tracks as it would break the flow of the performance. We wanted a visceral experience, and adding these small differences to the recording to the calls is one step closer to the overall experience becoming the one visceral experience we wanted to achieve.
Thanks for that awesome insight Stu! We’ll be doing a more focused blog post from the Audio team soon.
Screenshot of the week
This week sees Michael E perfectly capturing the spirit of Flying Finland with some serious airtime in the 2001 Subaru Impreza.
Video of the week
Here is an awesome video that @tttransporter put together featuring the 2001 Impreza Flying through Finland with some awesome picture in picture:
— Obi Nkwonta (@tttransporter) October 1, 2015
That’s all for this week’s Road Book. Be sure to stop by and let us know how you are getting on with Finland.
Keep mid over big jump!