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Have you noticed how older games use more memorable, less generic sound effects?

nkarafo

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Nov 30, 2012
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I'm doing a play-through of old, 90's PC FPS games, stuff like Doom, Duke 3D, Blood, Quake, etc.

One thing i'm enjoying about most of there games is the sound. I'm not talking about the music (which is a different topic by itself) but mainly the sound effects.

They may be low quality 22khz stuff most of the time, but the effects themselves give so much personality to each game.

Doom, in particular, is pretty iconic. If you play a single sound effect from that game, i could immediately tell it's DOOM. The door sound effect is in the same level as Mario's jump or Sonic's ring collecting sounds in terms of how recognizable it is. Also, the shotgun sounds (both the regular and double barreled) sound better than 99% of any game that uses similar weapons.

The same thing applies for other games like Quake. Every enemy grunt, every weird effect... Just use a teleporter and tell me if it's not the weirdest thing you heard (and it even uses a few different, random effects each time).

I think the last game i played that had memorable sfx was Half-Life 2. I remember loving the life support beeeeeep and the death confirmation whenever you killed an enemy soldier.

I miss stuff like that. I finished DOOM Eternal recently and i remember nothing from it, sfx wise. just generic, weak sounds. I don't think there is a single modern game where you can play a sound effect and i could tell what game that is. It's pretty sad.

Am i wrong with this? And if i'm right, what happened? They don't hire sound people anymore? They only care about composers and voice actors?
 
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LordCBH

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Jun 4, 2020
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Not entirely the same thing, but this topic just reminds me that they changed the explosive crate sound effects for the remastered trilogy of ratchet and clank and I still don’t understand why.
 

Kuranghi

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Apr 17, 2015
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I think the last game i played that had memorable sfx was Half-Life 2. I remember loving the life support beeeeeep and the death confirmation whenever you killed an enemy soldier.

Yeah man, the death confirmation noise is amazing. They are in HL1 as well but the damage notifications and HEV AI voice are sublime, Good ol Gordo Freeman must be off his chops on morphine for most of the game:

Alyx: "We need to stop the combine or the world will be forever in bondage!"
Gordo F: "Whatevvvvvvvs gurl, I'm coasting over here" *jolly phil spencer face*

I'm replaying Dead Space 1 now, its not exactly that old in the grand scheme of things but something I really appreciate is how unique most of the gun and enemies noises are. The linegun firing noise, then the enemy scream and the noise of them dismembering is super well done, its very unsettling.

Just generally the screaming and gargleing baddie noises are great, the jump-scare noises in the score can be a bit too much at times though, like okay I get it I'm supposed to be scared here, feels like it would trigger shellshock in an old soldier its so intense.

The computer lady voices combined with the sounds effect when machinery comes back online is so satisfying, imagine you had those noises at your real life work, would make it so much more fun.

I'll always enjoy a good *wonnggg* sound effect until I die I think. Who here doesn't love a good wong?
 
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Dr.Morris79

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Nov 19, 2018
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As shit as I find Doom eternal I must say I do enjoy the thump of the guns.. that double barrel is meaty!

But I agree, most new games have rather lack luster SFX. I've thought this for years too, back in the day I used to be hooked on a game called Persian gulf inferno on the Amiga and to this day I still havent really heard an ingame shotgun sound as good!

Skip to 9:20 of this video and tell me that doesnt sound good! And that was probably a few measly K

 
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Urban

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May 20, 2021
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Valve is the master of creating memorable sfx. From Half Life beep and duuuud to Dota 2 gold Kaching from creep kills

Not just the Creep kills. But the whole Sounds from the Game. Just use the Elder Titan Ulti with a Headset or Beastmaster "Roar" or the Campstack sound. Dota 2 Sounds are one of the best in the whole industry
 

Hugare

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Sep 8, 2019
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Valve is the master of creating memorable sfx. From Half Life beep and duuuud to Dota 2 gold Kaching from creep kills
HL sounds are so fucking good that it doesnt need a soundtrack for 90% of the game to keep you engaged.

Most of the time its just enemies sounds, guns, ambient ...

Its just a masterclass on how using normal, ambient sounds to build tension

Yeah man, the death confirmation noise is amazing. They are in HL1 as well but the damage notifications and HEV AI voice are sublime, Good ol Gordo Freeman must be off his chops on morphine for most of the game:

Alyx: "We need to stop the combine or the world will be forever in bondage!"
Gordo F: "Whatevvvvvvvs gurl, I'm coasting over here" *jolly phil spencer face*

I'm replaying Dead Space 1 now, its not exactly that old in the grand scheme of things but something I really appreciate is how unique most of the gun and enemies noises are. The linegun firing noise, then the enemy scream and the noise of them dismembering is super well done, its very unsettling.

Just generally the screaming and gargleing baddie noises are great, the jump-scare noises in the score can be a bit too much at times though, like okay I get it I'm supposed to be scared here, feels like it would trigger shellshock in an old soldier its so intense.

The computer lady voices combined with the sounds effect when machinery comes back online is so satisfying, imagine you had those noises at your real life work, would make it so much more fun.

I'll always enjoy a good *wonnggg* sound effect until I die I think. Who here doesn't love a good wong?
Dead Space is another great example

I havent played it in years, but I can remember exactly how it sounds to get a new objective. That little sound that pops up after finishing a task, sooo good and recomforting.
 

R6Rider

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Jan 22, 2020
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Sure some sounds are more memorable, because many of them were so out place and felt more like a reaction than something happening normally. Out place sounds stick out and usually in a bad way.

That shitty dying lizard yell used in Spider-Man for PS1 (and also re-used for other games) comes to mind. Sounds were also more memorable because you had far less sounds going on overall. Many games would have maybe footsteps, the enemy noises, and then sounds for your actions like activating something, shooting a gun, etc.

So for me more modern games have much better sound, but it's less memorable because it's used effectively. It's kind of like foley. Good foley won't stand out and bring unnecessary attention to itself.
 

BabyYoda

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Sep 9, 2020
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I find the same problem in movies, same with soundtracks, not as many iconic ones anymore. They moved away from strong repeating themes because it's not fashionable. Of course there are always exceptions.
Regarding sound FX, I think art made way for authenticity.
 
Nov 7, 2020
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People shit on Fallout 76 but the game has a unique sound for fucking everything. If you like Fallout it's basically ASMR. Perk card sounds/animations, different materials making different noises when you collect, lunchboxes, Pip-boy sounds. Pretty much every item has a unique sound for picking it up. Grabbing a Mr Fuzzy doll or one of the various teddy bears and hearing it squeek is hella cute. Older Fallout games had similar things too but Fallout 76 is like heaven with the exploration/setting/lore/audio for the real Fallout fans.