This is a virtual sound environment inspired by my many hours spent sitting in train stations. I'm not sure what it is exactly about train stations that captivates me. Perhaps it's the solitude, the hours of near silence broken by moments of cacophanous thunder, the glacially slow but steady rhythm of gathering, boarding, and unboarding.

Things to listen for:

Music

Pay attention to the ambience that only plays while walking on the tracks, and how that ambience changes later on once the quartet of radios have been activated. Try playing with the quartet of radios themselves, paying attention to how the patterns interact. They may not always line up perfectly in the web player, since I do have to compress.


Sound Effects

I'm trying to walk the fence between realistic and surreal. I want participants to feel enveloped in the world, but I also want to acknowledge the surrealness of the environment. To that end, I've done my best to change the footsteps when appropriate, use reverb volumes to bring the various spaces to life. The background ambience is constructed largely of various birdsongs which are glitch processed, which brings both the naturalism and the cyber-surrealism I was looking for.

Learning Experiences


Bottles

I've done my best to put care and attention into little details to make objects sound natural. The bottles, cans, etc. provided a particularly valuable learning experience. Using only three sound clips for the bottles worked okay when dealing with a single bottle. But when I stacked them up as you see in the scene, the cascade of triggers immediately betrayed to the ear how few assets I had used.

I decided next to randomize, ever so slightly, the pitch of the sound whenever a sound was triggered. This helped the bottle sounds be a little less "same-y", but it wasn't very realistic. When I thought about it, the pitch of a bottle doesn't change each time you hit it, but each bottle does have a unique pitch at which it resonates whenever struck.

Eventually I decided to randomize the pitch of the sound emitter component for each bottle on load. What this means is that each bottle in the scene has a unique pitch, just like bottles in real life, but the pitch of each bottle isn't constantly changing. This resulted in a much more realistic stack of bottles, as well as the trash cans and boxes I eventually filled the world with.


Lightning

I seldom turn my attention to graphics. I am, after all, a sound guy through and through. I wanted to have the appearance of lightning bolts or an electrical arc as representation for some kind of power transmission from the track to the train. Thankfully, the Unity engine has a tool called the line renderer. All that was needed from me was a list of coordinates, and unity draws a line. Basically, I send the line renderer a set of coordinates which I think look like a lightning bolt (including the overall shape and the jittering). To achieve the effect, I ended up having to learn a lot about C# lists, which I thought I was pretty familiar with. In order to achieve the effect of the lightning bolt snapping to the player or the train, I actually had to look up the quadratic function (my inner 14 year old felt utterly betrayed). This whole project has represented an unexpected journey into the world of game graphics