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What does UT Sound like?

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    [OFFICIAL] What does UT Sound like?

    I've been trying to map out where I'd like to go with UT's Audio Design. Thus far, our pre-alpha build is (mostly) composed of audio that is simply ported over from previous games. It's a hodgepodge of various styles, levels of quality, and source material. And, yes, it sounds inconsistent. This is somewhat intentional, as it is all meant to be temporary. Before we start moving forward with our new design, I was curious: "what do you think UT sounds like?"

    When I hear an audio file, whether its weapon fire, a musical stinger, or a creature sound, I can instantly make the call in my head whether or not it "sounds like Gears of War". That game had a very specific sound that we were trying to capture, and an emotional response that we wanted to evoke. It's moody without being melodramatic. It's "Vietnam War era sci-fi" without laser beams and space opera. It's dark and serious, with moments of whimsy to recall the bright points in a life of sorrow, and the mood of the visuals and the audio evolved, slowly, from game to game in a progression that match the events of the storyline.

    But I struggle to find a parallel description for UT. UT is sci-fi, but not Star Wars laser beams. It's also industrial, and gothic, and open landscapes, and... what we call "pyramids in space". Rather than evolving or progressing linearly between titles, it just kind of... changed focus. UT99 was fairly hardcore and matter-of-fact, but it didn't take itself too seriously; the tournament aspect had an undercurrent of something that I can only describe as "inspiring". UT2003/4 were more whimsical, like watching a football game broadcast (or maybe a post-game interview in the locker room). UT3 tried to be impactful, but took itself TOO seriously and came off as melodramatic for many people.

    If I had to capture the soundscape for THIS UT, I would say:
    - somewhere between Bladerunner and (the original) Highlander in tone
    - technical mix of sci-fi synth and crisp mechanical
    - flippant, but not whimsical

    Which of these is your UT? Or is it something else entirely?
    Last edited by Entropy; 04-01-2015, 09:49 AM.
    Jim Brown
    Epic Games

    UT2kx wasn't entirely in the wrong direction, though it was too "bombast and pomp". Spectacle is ok, but like you said it's not the superbowl per se.

    There wasn't much inherently wrong with the audio direction of UT3, aside from the cutscenes and dialogue that necessitated certain choices. Less cheesy dialogue is a plus but that is a side effect of good writing. Characters can be over the top here and there, but certain taunts for instance might age faster than others, especially if they are based on current trends.

    But we can do better than either of those no doubt and the goal isn't so much middle ground between those but more toward the spirit of the first game in my opinion. Some of its ideas have aged poorly, others are timeless.

    Weapons I think should sound crisp and clean in fitting with the clean feel of environments we are after. That isn't to say that grit and chunk aren't called for where appropriate, but the two aren't necessarily diametrically opposed.

    I would like to see a bit of random personality infused into the announcer, though I understand it's the sort of thing some may choose to turn off, what I mean is some random comments here and there to infuse more of this sense that the events are being broadcasted. This can be turned off for competition or twitch broadcasting.

    Spectator bots or screens with a bit of mechanical whir and whine here and there, bring consistency in the audio between tight indoor and lush outdoor environments. Another reason these things should be considered as more than an afterthought.

    Music probably shouldn't be too all over the map. And while I dig metal, this may be another thing that made 2kx feel like wrestling with its added electric guitars. Electronic related genres say cyberpunk and dystopia more than epic film style arrangements or guitars.
    Last edited by HenrikRyosa; 03-31-2015, 06:46 PM.

    UT4 modding discussion: #UTModders
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      Probably not what you're looking for but one thing I'd really like to see (or should I say hear?) is proper sound occlusion. I don't think we should be able to hear everything on the entire map all the time. I shouldn't be able to hear an opponent pick something up from clear across a big map, especially not when there are multiple walls (or even rooms with battles going on) intervening.

      Make positioning yourself to hear things better part of the strategy and tactics rather than ezmode free information. Like it was in 99 *before players figured out the sound volume ini tweaks to make it so they could hear everything from anywhere.

      As it is now, it doesn't matter where I am or what's between me and any pickup on the map. If someone picks it up I can hear it and automatically know exactly where he is just by the sound. I don't have to do anything special, it's just automatic free information.
      Last edited by MoxNix; 03-31-2015, 06:46 PM.


        The original game sounds set the bar for me. I can always recognize a health vial pickup, or Flak, Rockets or ASMD weapons fire. Many of the UT2003/4 sounds were good, too.

        Take the footsteps in UT1 and compare them to the UT Pre-Alpha. The originals may not have been uber-high quality recordings compared to today's tech, but the current footsteps sound like I am wearing oversized boots that are waterlogged. That so does not sound like UT to me.
        Promotional consideration brought to you by: Tarydium Shards, those neat little projectiles that remove unwanted flesh...from your opponents!


          This is pretty tricky for me. I grew up with UT99's iconic sound in mind, but working with one of the sound designer for Gears of War and UT3 I have learned to think that bigger, heavier epic sounds are the way to go. I do want UT4 to be a larger than life experience and the sound to go with it. I love the spectator aspect of UT2XXX (the announcer, the bombastic music), but did not care for the sound design at all (particularly the footsteps and the weapons.)

          I have been toying around with the armor and health sounds (I originally had some classic armor sounds "clank clank clank", but slowly started to migrate towards futuristic bleeps and other synth elements.) I would love to create some iconic sounds. It's the future, it's a tournament where watching (hearing ) it should be fun and exciting. I don't have a name for it yet, but I guess this requires more thinking on my part.


            The music and sounds in UT99 were some of the main things which kept me playing it when I first tried it. It created deep immersion for me (much more than q3a) in game as I'm sure it did for many others. Nowadays I don't play with music on, but I hope in the new game, new players can feel what I did all that time ago and stick around.
            Last edited by nuxx; 03-31-2015, 07:13 PM.


              I started out with UT99 and that music was going through my head all day at work that made me want to get back to the game to hear the music. UT2003/U2/UT2004 and UT3 sounds and music to me improved but so has PC sound cards.
              UT99/U2/2003/2004/UT3 Unreal Life Doz Digital Studio UT MAP MUSIC


                I think the best sounds in UT were understated but distinct, each sound kind of had its own identity. The music kind of followed the same theme of being both undistracting and distinct. Everyone knows the song that plays on face. It's quiet and distinctive. Distant and dreamlike. Nothing is startling or unpleasant to listen to.


                  Growing up playing UT99 a lot, the UT sound was a non-stop barrage of taunts and weapon fire. Yet, behind this was the music playing along, totally independent of the carnage. I would say the UT sound is a complex ambience slightly themed to the context of the map in which it is being played. It is also fast since the game is fast. The one time during a match when it really shines through on its own is at the start during loading time, so for me the UT sound really has the opportunity to express itself in the first minute before seamlessly yielding to the action.

                  Totally agree the UT sound is not whimsical.


                    I think the overall mood is a combo of dark/cyberpunk/scifi/grunge/metal.
                    For comparing to existing soundscapes, I think The Fifth Element/Bladerunner/Dredd3d and Alien/Predator all have great sounds which can be gathered as inspiration for UT.

                    Some ideas

                    Guns and more guns. Gritty mechanical scifi goodness.



                    Music really depends on the level being played, but here's a couple I found that contain some good mood.



                    Something to stay away from is random music. Each level should have it's own mood and music is a big part of that.
                    3d Artist
                    UT Cosmetic Items |
                    UT Cybernetic Build


                      I'm gong to seperate my thoughts regarding this in a couple of sections. Kinda long though, sorry!


                      The firing sounds should sound like they have a punch to them (which i think the firing sounds for the enforcer and flak cannon currently lack, MaxCarnage has some good sounds for them up though, and recently updated the flak cannon to sound more punchy.) with most guns while still sounding distinct from others. I dont really know what to say when it comes to weapon ammo pickups however, the only thing I can really say in that regard is make sure they sound distinct and like they match with the weapon you are picking up ammo for.

                      Health/Armor Pickups:

                      Updated versions of the iconic sounds would be great if possible. But really, if that isn't possible, try to make health pickups sound like they are a relief to pick up, like they are refreshing and, well, good for you. As for armor, clanking sounds that suit the armors that are being picked up and being put on would be best.


                      Again, Updating the iconic sounds for the U-Damage and Shield Belt would be best imo. As for the other power-ups (or if you want to make new sounds for the Udam and SB), it really depends on what its supposed to do. In theory, if there is a regeneration powerup, it should follow suit with what health pickups sound like and should sound similar. Same goes for any armor related power-up or gun power-up. Also, if the weapons sound like they are "angry" when being shot while using berserk, that would be great!

                      Character Vocals:

                      PLEASE give the characters in UT more character this time around! Making them have special lines, a backstory that is apparent (but not shoved into players faces), more personality for the characters themselves, and relationships with other characters (character-association specific vocal taunts?) would REALLY help keeping the characters interesting and entertaining for players of all types imo, so long as there isnt constant talking I suppose. However, keep the vocal pack system in place. Something I thought was cool and entertaining about the old UT's was how you could switch the character's voice even if it didn't fit the character, and keeping that in would still be great. Basically, giving the characters more character would help keep the game fresh and entertaining and would likely also help expand the universe that UT is set in.

                      Announcer Vocals:

                      Having announcers that could be switched out in UT2004 would be awesome, and giving access to community made ones through the UT Marketplace would be great too, and would likely be very reminiscent of Dota 2's announcer pack system. As for what the default announcers should sound like, make sure to make the Reward Announcer sound as enthusiastic, manly, and raw as possible (SatansFather had a good one going!), and make sure to make the default status announcer sound more feminine and informative. However, to work with the whole switching out announcers thing, there should be the ability to use either one as status or reward announcer voices, along with any other announcer packs that could be made.


                      The angle in regards to music that any genre can fit UT is a good one, however, it should fit the environmental theme and overall tone of the level its used on. For instance, for a track like Organic, I would use it on a level like DM-Viridian or DM-Ironic, while I would use a track like KR-Action2v2 in maps like DM-Metallurgy or DM-1on1-Trite. Also, generally, if a map had a certain theme from one of the past games that is iconic or commonly associated with the map (Deck, Face, TokaraForest, Rankin), try your best to remake, remaster, or remix that theme for the new version of said map in this game.

                      Ambient Map Sound:

                      Make sure the ambients on maps fit the area that they will be associated with. For instance, if there is big machinery in an area of a map that may be moving, some mechanical sounds related to whatever the machine may be doing would be best. Also more of those map-unique sound related stuff like the announcements on DM-Outpost23 would be friggin amazing, please do more of that!

                      Objective Related Sounds (Flags, Dom Points, BR Ball stuff):

                      Make sure these things sound important. I dont really know what else I could say, but making sure the sounds coming from these objective items (if any sound) sounds "important" would really be best, considering objectives are really the most important parts of team based modes, so making sure they sound like they are noteworthy and important would really be the best thing you can do on that end.

                      ...Aaaand I think that's all I can really say at the moment regarding sound design and this new UT. I hope everything i've said helps somehow!
                      Last edited by MacD11; 04-01-2015, 01:25 AM.


                        Well I had to Google whimsical and flippant. Overall I think this UT should sound technical and clean, but very aggressive at the same time. MaxCarnage is doing a great job specially with the pickups etc. I'd say thats the way to go. Pretty much agree with MacD11.
                        Soundcloud / Soundtracks Thread


                          Good one Jim,

                          To me the sound of UT is the tech, sci-fi, spacy sound scape i've experienced with UT99. Since im a sucker for soundtracks as music i was very suprised with the music Kevin Riepl came up in the UT2k3 and UT2k4 series. and really liked that direction, so a mix with high-tech spacy sounds with some 'Epic/orchestral/electro' Music, is how UT should sound to me. I have to agree with others, the direction and feel MaxCarnage has and takes with this UT instalment is something i only can applaud to.
                          Last edited by Mcjansen; 04-01-2015, 09:37 AM.
                          | Designer | Copywriter | Writer | Editor | Soundtrack lover | Known as 7eVeN^ since UT'99!
                          Follow me at Twitter @Mcjansen


                            It would be nice to get back the doppler effect for sounds. It sounded pretty neat with the moving lifts and razor projectiles flying by your head in UT99.


                              Of the games that are out now, Unreal/UT99 had my favorite sound (a certain amount of nostalgia, I'll admit, but regardless, it remains true), and UT3 had my least favorite. I suppose, having played all of them, seeing UT3 try to take itself too seriously was off-putting. That's not what UT is to me.

                              I like the direction you're suggesting with the Bladerunner/Highlander thing.