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Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

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  • Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

    First of all, this is meant to be a small guide. People that have played a while may find it simplistic, but I urge everyone to read it through and try the training exercises at the end, they've proven invaluable to me in the long run.

    Ok, so I have a small complaint.

    People don't listen. I'm not talking about listening to the comm or your team (thats for another thread), I'm talking about listening for footsteps, listening for cloaked res nodes, listening for hives, whatever. I've seen times where there are at least 3 skulks on the far side of the doorway and the marine rambos in without even stopping, only to be suprised when he's suddenly two legs short of being bipedal.

    I've also seen people being banned from servers for "wallhacking" because they used sounds flawlessly. This is what your goal should be in training (to be as effective as if you were wallhacking, not be banned).

    The first thing to recognize is that even though the sound system of the HL engine is not perfect, it does several very important things:
    • Mixes sounds. More skulks = more footsteps playing, overlapping
    • Correct directionality*
    • Ignores sound phenomena
    *There are several small bugs related to directionality, mostly resulting in a sound appearing to come from the entire opposite direction when the noise is originating from a vector pointing almost straight up (or down) from your position. It is the result of a rounding error in the implementation of a quaternion. It happens rarely enough where we'll consider it to be an NS-specific phenomena.

    Sound mixing is extremely important. With relatively little training one can ascertain the makeup of an unseen threat. Directionality is of obvious use, direct applications include properly setting ambushes or running through a door with your trusty shotty jammed in the face of the foolish loud skulk. The fact that there are no real sound phenomena ensures that the sounds you hear are *entirely* accurate, allowing you to trust the sound explicitly. The exact use of these things should be obvious, so I'll get to the point of this post: Developing your sound perception.

    Training Exercise #1: Numbers
    Sadly this is the hardest exercise to do because it requires some level of organization to do. If you're in the TG server and there are, say, 4 people in, start a combat game and do this:
    1. Find a place where the marines are seperated from the skulks by a wall
    2. Have marines on one side, skulks on the other
    3. Have the skulks say on teamchat a number, then have that # run in circles
    4. Marines guess, after all have guessed, give the correct #
    5. Repeat, except have the marines run in circles as aliens guess
    6. Repeat x10, switch sides (Marines to aliens, aliens to marines)
    This exercise is hardest to organize, but gives the fastest results. People generally find that after 20 or so runs they can reliably identify groups numbering between 1 and 5 skulks. After 5 the sounds become increasingly difficult to discern, but thats ok, since you rarely have more than 5 skulks together at a time.

    Advanced variations:
    - Have the skulks randomly stop and start moving
    - Vary the units. The hardest thing to discern is the difference between a gorge and a fade. Work on it.

    Training Exercise #2: Crouching Marine, Hidden Skulk
    This exercise requires 2 people.
    1. Pick a map with a large room
    2. The skulk gets cloaking
    3. The marine sits behind a wall, unable to see into the room
    4. The skulk will then go into the room, and move into a hiding position, and cloak
    5. The marine then walks in, and tries to hit the skulk with a bullet
    6. to make the game more interesting, only let the marine use one pistol clip, and keep score

    This exercise will fine tune your ability to judge both directionality and relative distance. It can also be entertaining when waiting for the server to fill too :icon_wink

    Training Exercise #3: See no evil
    Just as a warning, use an alias when you do this one, people REALLY hate you for it.
    1. Find a server with many new people, playing a map you know very well.
    2. Join the marine team, and close your eyes.
    3. Move out soldier! No opening those eyes!
    I came up with this one when I was really bored one night, and found out it *really* helped my ability to track sounds passively, without focusing on doing it. The first couple times you do it you might not even get a kill. Once you start getting the hang of it, you can often get a 1:1 kill ratio. Note that this has obvious problems, you can't deal with ambushes at all, and silence is your bane. But that's why you're on a newbie server, such tactics are voodoo on many of them. What is really interesting is that when I train like this, I do better against cloakers than when I play normally. Most cloakers put too much trust in their cloak to bother with silence. Mistake.

    Thats all I have for now, I actually came up with these ages ago (as in over a year ago, modified slightly to allow for combat maps which are ideal for these, especially the last one), but I haven't played all that much recently and when I dug out my personal stats files from previous training runs and started running training sessions, I found things coming back quite quickly. Try them, decide for yourself if they help, even if they don't you should have a ton of fun :icon7:

    No skill without effort -> :icon32:


  • #2
    Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

    My skill at tracking sound has diminshed greatly since I abandoned headphones in favor of two standard speakers. This probably sounds bad, but I would game for so long that my ear cartilage would start to hurt from the pressure of the headphones.

    Because of that I'm forced to contend with other ambient sounds in the room. This is also why in "serious" games, I try and make people cut any un-needed chatter. There is nothing that pisses me off more than being ambushed by a skulk because a teammate is spamming voice chat with some innane request.

    PS: I am guilty of this sometimes, so feel free to call me on it when you notice it.


    • #3
      Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

      I've suffered from that, Fenix.

      I now use earbuds. About 9/10s of the effectiveness and twice the long-term comfort when it comes to hearing. I thought I would hate them, but I've been very pleased.
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      • #4
        Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

        What the Hell are earbuds?


        • #5
          Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

          Headphones that are just little speakers that fit in your ear. They come with damn near everything that requires headphones, and can also be had quite cheaply on their own.

          I can't imagine using them for any length of time a-la gaming, though. I usually use a 2.1 setup for my sound, and I have some nice Sony headphones that completely cover my ears should the need for headphones arise.
          NS Game Officer. TF2 Admin. BF2 Admin / Scripter. PM with issues.
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          • #6
            Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

            5.1 cranked up ftw.


            • #7
              Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

              Yeah I have a 5.1 speaker hax setup too.


              • #8
                Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

                5.1 headphones OOOOOAHHHHHH


                • #9
                  Re: Sound Training [Warning: Long Post]

                  Orignal thread: Solid :icon14:

                  sidetrack: Sound is just stupid, I reverberate(s?) my awesomeness and my foes simply vanquish before me, dont know how it happens, it just does.




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