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I am very new to sound design and have been struggling to create gunfire sounds for my arcade-style shmup which emulates classics in the genre (for example, any Cave game).

I have ripped examples from my inspirations in an attemp to analyze them. I think I have an understanding of how they work. Let me summarize.

When a player presses the fire button a single time, a volley of bullets fires out, one after the other, every few milliseconds, as opposed to a single bullet. This suggests the use of a single staccato kind of sfx on every press (every time a volley starts), rather than repeated plays of an atomic sound.

You can listen here for 3 different examples from Mushihimesama, and two more examples from Futari here and here.

When analyzing the waveforms from these and other examples from my inspiration games (for example, Espgaluda 2 and DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu), it looks like they often around 0.45s long with a dun-dun-dunnnn pattern, where three atomic sounds play in succession, with the final one being drawn out. For example,

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Now that I have some understanding of what's going on in terms of length, number of notes, and general waveform, I am wondering what is next in terms of creating similar sounds myself.

I have downloaded both the REAPER DAW as well as Fruity Loops DAW and have been tinkering around for a few hours, but given I am brand new to sound design, I don't have a real sense of what to do next to create similar sounds as in my examples.

Fruity Loops comes w/ a ton of prefab instruments and it's easy enough to put them in the Channel Rack and create patterns and stuff, but that's about all I know how to do, and none of the instruments I've seen sound quite right.

Can anyone give me advice on how to procede? For example, how to create a proper instrument, organize notes, and/or layer additional effects to achieve similar results as my examples?

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I'm only going to tackle one aspect of this - I'm ignoring the implied 'how do I use a DAW' aspect, as it's well outside the remit of this stack.

The way you set this up could likely depend on the capabilities of your playback engine.

At its most simple, you can only play a one-shot sound for each event.

Set up your DAW to send three midi notes, each for one 'bang'.
Set them close enough that your DAW's playback overlaps them slightly.
Export the result.
Now, each time someone shoots they get a one-shot 'triple bang'.

Simple, but you'd need to provide a new sample for each shot type. If they held the trigger, you'd have to feed them that same triple-bang over & over again.

If your engine is smarter than that, then you can set up an ASR [Attack Sustain Release] mechanism.

For this, you go back to your existing 'triple bang' but separate it into each 'bullet' sound, so now you have 3 sound files, Attack, Sustain & Release.
As you're making these cuts, cycle round & round on bullet 2, until you hear the smoothest loop point - so it sounds like a convincing 'machine gun' whilst cycling. Don't worry about what it sounds like as you start & stop, that's what bullets 1 & 3 will be for.
Attack contains only the first bullet, but doesn't last long enough to hear the end of the sound, because your Sustain bullet starts too early.
Your sustain bullet contains part of the fade from the Attack bullet, but again has no fade of its own because you had to cut it as bullet 3 starts.
Your 3rd bullet - the Release, contains the end of bullet 2, & a complete bullet 3, right to fade.

So, this gives you the ability to send any number of 'bullets' so long as it's more than two.
For two bullets, you send Attack then Release.
For three or more, you send Attack, then Sustain [as many times as you need] then send Release at key-up.

If you still need a 'one bullet' you'd have to record that separately.

If your memory requirements are large enough, you could record your Sustain phase as multiple sequential bullets, perhaps varying pitch slightly; this would make it sound less repetitive… though as the term for a 'very repetitive loop' is "the machine gun effect" perhaps you won't need that ;)

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