Ambient sounds that provide player feedback and narrative in open-world games, why not?


'A Living Forest' is an application that was built for the purpose of examining the role of ambient sounds in open-world video games. It explores the potential of ambient sounds to contribute to the narrative within games, provide player feedback and create character perception, while maintaining a satisfactory level of audio-visual correspondence. The design of the application was based on the input from multiple game sound designers from leading companies like Ubisoft, Guerrilla Games and Pitstop Productions. All of these sound designers were interviewed exclusively for this research. In the interviews they explain that, in open-world games, ambient sounds are difficult to use for the purposes stated above due to the unpredictability in player behaviour.

Taking this into account, the application uses an adaptive ambience system that is designed to be able to minimise the risk of producing unwanted sounds, meaning; sounds that have the potential to cause distraction to the player or cause clashes with any music tracks.

By trying out different settings in the ambient sound system and testing them in different virtual environments, this research project concludes that ambient sounds can be a powerful and flexible tool in informing narrative, providing player feedback and creating character perception in open-world games and that there may be unexplored anwsers to the challenges that prevent game designers from using ambient sounds as such. It suggests further experimentation and play testing to assess the effectiveness of the solutions it proposes, and promotes a game audio approach with a smaller focus on music and a broader role for ambient sounds.

Click here to download the research paper: Graduation_Project_Koen_Schram_2022.pdf

Click here to see the application: itch.io

Contact me at:   schram.koen@gmail.com

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