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Hi everyone. I have a question about creating sounds that go with a video game. The type of video game is a player vs. player game where you choose your characters and fight over a short period of time to see who is the champion. Each character has his or her own set of moves and personality. It is a really colorful game with both sight and sound, a lot like Marvel vs. Capcom. If you have any ideas, please let me know. My question is, how do you make hit sounds sound great? If you have the chance, brainstorm some ideas. My basic hit is a recording of hand claps and leg slaps through cloth. The result, after some EQ and layering, is a full sound but not what I am looking for because it is lacking size and style. Thanks in advance for any responses you might have.

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4 Answers 4

This isn't just a game idea, it's a question of overall sound design approach. If you watch any action movie, those body hits are almost always augmented with bigger impacts and/or weaponry (boulder drops, cannons, etc.). They layer those things in underneath the main impact sound. The other thing to keep in mind is how much of the frequency spectrum you're making use of. If your impact has a narrow bandwidth, it's going to sound like it's lacking energy and character.

If you've got the memory/processing power in the engine, think about the characters and any attributes that are unique to them alone. After you've done that, think about real-world objects that relate to those ideas. For example, if one character is incredibly fast, a jet sound or some other sort of doppler by might work well as a lead in to the actual impact. Those are going to be higher pitch sounds, so maybe you'll want the low-mid frequencies to have a stronger presence at the actual impact. So, what's going to make your sounds unique isn't necessarily just the impact sound itself, but the acoustic movement into and out of the hit.

If you don't have the freedom to create sounds for each character, you can apply similar techniques to the different intensity of hits. Whatever you do, create as wide a range as you can (within the limits of the system of course), so you maintain strong variation throughout the game. Repetition is death for audio.

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Excellent post Shaun. –  Joe Thomas Cavers Nov 10 '10 at 19:45
    
A quick addition on the repetition is death for audio. If you're lucky enough to either be working with XNA, which has XACT, or have the budget for fMOD or WWise (or no one's making money off the project, which makes those free), all three audio engines have very simple pitch variation, with XACT being the easiest (it's a single check box). That will go a long way in making your sounds less repetitive, and reducing your overall file sizes (1 sound instead, varied in the engine, instead of 5 which are varied in the code). –  Dave Matney Nov 15 '10 at 5:11
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Some great answers! I find that the lazy, easy way out is to source hits/ bodyfalls on a sound library and layer/EQ from this point. But I find the best way is to foley them with at least 3 layers to get all the complimentary frequencies and energy. Like guns. body hits in games or movies sound nothing like the real thing. I have used heavy cotton bags or old mail bags w\filled with clothes for the cloth body hit, a perforated heavy foam board for the density and a skin hit for that organic feel. Has worked for me. As for body falls, phone book wrapped in duct tape and covered with the correct article of clothing for the weight and then sweetened with some arms and legs. Sounds great.

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+1 on Shaun's answer! You will definitely see the benefits of mixing various sounds together. Very often, real-world sounds that, if heard alone would sound un-related, can be layered in to great effect. As Shaun said, using sounds that represent some part of the character can work really well. Often this technique is done so subtly that the listener/user won't even realise what they've heard. Playing with the audience/user's emotion is one of the most powerful tools a sound designer has! In terms of EQing, you can also get really creative when working with layers i.e. build your overall EQ by manipulating the EQ of each individual layer. Get creative, think outside of the box and just try stuff out and see if it works. Some of the best results are often mistakes!

Good luck...

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+1 for Shaun - great answer. I would like to add a couple of things about the game itself. Like Shaun said character and design are very important, but you also have to 'teach' the player how to play and audio play a massive role in this, especially in fighting games. Most fighting games have 'powerups' before the actually hit - the bigger the hit the larger the 'powerup'. Each one has to be distinctive. Getting these right will also help in actually impact sound - 'framing' as Shaun outs it :). Death is also really important and should be distinctive and different from the normal hit sounds. To really touch base with the importance of audio in fighting games check out Brice Mellen he's a mortal combat master and plays purely by sound.

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