The sad State of Audio Games


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The state of Audio Games

I will put this disclaimer early on. These are my opinions and even though they are facts, I will pretend like it is all just opinion and that it is just fine if you want to disagree.

Introduction

I sat on the fence for quite a while deciding if I should attempt to write this article at all. Some people and I won’t name any names…Smoke, thought I should assuming I would upset people. I am not here to upset, I am going to be nice and constructive and hopefully not step on any toes.

The Problem

It is the year 2021 and the state of Audio Games is honestly nothing more than a joke. I know for me personally very little to nothing that has come out has managed to capture my interest in years.
I know people who say, you will find nothing more depressing than looking at the new releases section on the AG Forums. I do look at the forum every now and then to try and find games to review, but rarely do I come across anything worth playing to talk about.
The truth is I could easily write a 5 part series of articles covering everything wrong with audio games; From the communities on certain games, to the developers and the way they choose to promote and certainly many other things. Instead as I have already written about most of these topics, I want to cover the 3 biggest issues with most new audio games coming out.
A final comment before we dive in. I have been told before that I can be too negative, so please note this. For every problem I bring up I will offer a solution to that problem.

Sounds and Voicing

Lets be real this is easily something that could be 2 separate topics and several sub topics, but we are going to smash it all together.
It can be tricky when it comes to voice acting in games. Some people don’t have access to good equipment, or they need more than 1 voice for the game. This seems to lead to 1 of 2 things happening.
First they just have any random people voice things in the game. usually with terrible microphones and little to no editing done. This can be truly terrible and this option should never even be considered let alone used.
The second is to just have screen readers do it all. This is a fine option assuming you allow for control of the speed of the voice, or allow the player’s screen reader to read it, but some games don’t even allow this control. Meaning people who are used to fast screen readers are stuck listening to what might as well be Microsoft Sam from the Window XP days.
This should all be bad enough, but there are developers that get people with good Microphones to record the voices, and they still fuck it up.
“How?”, I hear you asking. That is simple. With terrible scripting.
There is nothing worse than starting up a game and hearing well recorded voices saying things that make you want to cringe out of your skin.
This seems to double down around blind characters. Right we get it! We are blind and we are playing an audio game. Lets not throw cringe worthy stereotypes in to your crappy game as well.
But now lets talk about just the general sounds in games. Because really it is the same sort of thing with sounds as with voices. Sure I understand that not everyone has access to massive libraries of brilliant sounds, but that doesn’t mean you need to fill your games with the worst sounds you can possibly find.
Sound editing can really make or break an audio game, so if you have good ideas and some solid coding experience Perhaps look at bringing another person or people in to help with sound design. If you are content with doing it all yourself, all I ask is that you take the time to really work on the sounds you are using.
I said I would offer solutions to my problems so here goes.
For starters with voice acting start with your script. No matter how it is read make sure it is a good script. Not something thrown together in 3 minutes after you finished coding the game.
Once you are sure about your script then look at how you will voice it. If you can’t get high quality voice recording settle for having a Screen Reader do it. Just make sure the player can control how it is read. You don’t want slow reader stuck listening to things to fast. you don’t want fast readers left listening to something to slow.
If you are going for actual voice acting make sure it is high quality. Nothing that sounds like it was recorded on an Iphone in the bathroom. Weather this means having people you know voice it or reaching out or even paying for voice actors.
When it comes to sound make sure the sounds are at least half decent. You don’t need to be a high end studio to get half decent sounds. Make sure it is all balanced. Nothing to loud and nothing to quiet.
Finally if you are unable to get these results on your own. Look at bringing someone else in to your project to do sound editing. This gives you more time to work on the core game play and hopefully provide a better experience for everyone.

Game Play

This section is actually much easier for me to write. Because even though it is probably the most subjective thing in this article. I have pretty strong opinions about it.
2 buttons does not equal a good game.
More and more I keep hearing about new games that people are over the moon about. They tell me how amazing the sounds are and how awesome these games are going to be; Only for them to be so down right boring I might as well be playing a book and just tapping random keys on my keyboard.
Truly I get it. I understand the casual gamer does exist and for them simpler games are better. But simple and boring are to very different things.
Take for example blind drive. Now before all the blind drive fan boys and girls smash that dislike button at the top of the page. Keep in mind I understand that we all like different things. But liking blind drive is like licking paint off walls. I no people do it I just hope they are seeking professional help for there problems.
But back to the point at hand. Blind Drive is a good example of a game that has good sound design. I might argue some of the voice acting is a little cringe. But I actually thing for the most part it is fine and the rest of the sounds are really solid. But it has such a laughable concept of game play it really isn’t even funny.
Go left or right as need be. that isn’t a game as much as it is a mini game. Literally you get the same experience in a mini game on Crazy Party.
Had this been a game where…you know…I actually felt like I was driving a car I would have been like hey this seems like a fun game. But it isn’t and it really isn’t.
This example over all sums up my point well and brings me to the solution.
If you are going to put the time in to sounds put it in to your core game play as well. If you want to have a game about driving a car go for it. But make me have to drive the car. Don’t just make it a left right button pushing snoozefest.
Take the time to make your game worth playing…or don’t. Honestly with the amount of people who like this crap you will probably keep getting away with it.

execution

That is right corporal punishment. Take down all the developers who push there shitty games on us. While we are at it the mouth breathers who keep singing the songs of joy and love for this steady stream of total shit!
Of course I am joking I don’t condone violence against people for producing substandard games. What I am actually talking about is those people who have good ideas but drop the ball on putting together a game worth playing.
Take your pick of games for examples here. Games that start out sounding good but end up with so many bugs they aren’t worth playing.
Games called First Person Shooters that have no aiming system. Just snap to 1 of 4 directions and empty your clip.
Games that are meant to be the audio version of ‘insert main stream game here’, but are nothing like them and simplistic or stupid at best.
The funny thing is we don’t seem to have any shortage of good ideas in the community. So what then can I offer as a solution here.
Honestly I think the best I can say is this…
If you have good ideas don’t rush them. Don’t push your game out because you want people to be playing it. Take your time. Get help with things you need help with. Work with other developers or sound editors or what ever you need.
If you don’t have good ideas either work with other developers who do and just do solid coding. Or find another hobby. Take up knitting or something.

Final Thoughts

If you read all this and feel like I am attacking the games you have made or the games you like please know this…
In the end I know absolutely nothing about coding. All I can do is offer an attempt at constructive criticism.
For those who like these games I refer you to my seeking medic help line from above. Like what ever you want just know that there is a chance you might like something more complex allot more.

Conclusion

If you liked or hated this article don’t forget those like and dislike buttons at the top of the page. Feel free to leave a comment below telling me how right I am or how wrong you are. Sorry how much you disagree with what I said.


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5 Replies to “The sad State of Audio Games

  1. I don’t agree, because the storyline off blind drive is fun, and mehanics are simple but fun anyways.

  2. That’s the basic reason why I mostly switched to mainstream gaming over the last year or so. My PC, emulators or the ps5 have so much more in depth games to offer than the sad first page of that new releases room.
    Sure, I pick up games like the BK series, shadow line, Time of Conflict or Lonewolf from time to time, but these games are actually good in my opinion, offering a deeper gameplay, strategical planning and generally a fun experience.

    Regarding blind drive, i guess I gotta disagree with you abit here. Generally yes, the gameplay is simple, but on the harder difficulty levels it does get pritty intense and does offer a cool little challenge.
    Regarding the story, I quite liked it to be honest. Yeah sure, it’s a b-movie story but with characters I could actually chuckle about, and with some secret levels and the soon to arive endloss mode, it is a game that I can play for a while if I have to beat 20 minutes or if I am stuck on the train again.

    BTW, any chance you guys can get your super mega baseball 3 knolledge out to me? I really wanna play the thing and heard that you guys play it as well.

    1. Always happy to hear from people. Some very exciting things are happening in the main stream accessibility areas so I can’t blame you for that. In the end if you like blind Drive I am not going to talk you out of liking it. But simplistic game play really can be a deal breaker for me. And don’t get me started on endless mode in games.
      Also if you catch this comment in time. Smoke will be streaming SMB3 this Saturday at 4:30 PM Eastern. If you miss the stream it will be available 2 days afterword from Black Screen Gaming.

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