Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Bugs that we just recently fixed in our development version, and will get to you in the next release.
Zulan
Long Handed Inserter
Long Handed Inserter
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:55 pm
Contact:

Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Zulan »

A good part of the current version of the in game sounds could be improved significantly. While this may be up to personal perception, I know many regular players share this negative perception of the current sounds. It is also not just a thing of getting used to the "new" sounds, since they were released almost two months ago already (0.18.27 in may).

While this appears to be a broader issue with the sound design as it affects many sounds, I want to give some specific examples that are in particular need to be addressed. For me personally, the most obnoxious sound is the ghost placement sound.

Ghost Placement
ghosts.mp4
(1.4 MiB) Downloaded 177 times
I experience actual physical discomfort when hearing this sounds, similarly to the screeching of chalkboard. Looking at the frequency spectrum:
ghosts.png
ghosts.png (53.68 KiB) Viewed 2058 times
I suspect it are the frequencies in the 8k and 5k spectrum. It is known that frequencies between 2 kHz and 5 kHz are perceived as annoying. I am fairly sure the 8k is not much better. Maybe it is also related to the short duration of 20 ms and sharp attack.

Note that these sounds of user interaction are important in enabling precise control, e.g., counting how many entities have been placed.

Assembling Machine

Another pressing example is the sound that assemblers make. E.g. highlighted by this clip:

https://clips.twitch.tv/CredulousAnimat ... YouDontSay

All I can hear here is indistinguishable (white/pink) noise that, as noise does, is just absorbs all other sounds at the same volume (in this case background music that is normally clearly audible).

To illustrate here is a spectrum comparison of only assemblers between 0.18.36 (left) and 0.17 (right).
asm.png
asm.png (655.39 KiB) Viewed 2058 times
First, both are recorded at the same volume levels in the same setup - the new sound is significantly louder. That adds to the problem but is not the main point. Compared to the old one, the new sound has no distinguishable features over time or frequency. The old one, while also very "noisy" at least had some focus and identifiable clacking.

I could probably go on with the inserter and mining sounds as well, and I suspect other players may put other priorities. I would really appreciate to see these sounds in particular and the sound QA in general being addressed with the same meticulousness as the rest of the game.

It is difficult to offer a suggestion other than *not like this, please*. I can only say that the affected previous sounds were much more pleasant and distinguishable. I don't question that some sounds have improved with the redesign. But that worsened sounds have a much stronger impact on gameplay experience. Even just going back to them would be a strong improvement by now. And to repeat - I am convinced this is not just a matter of getting used to certain sounds.

Menu / UI

As a little "bonus", I would also like to point out the UI sounds. The problem here is different and not nearly as urgent because we don't have to listen to them for hours. When going quickly though the menu:
menu.mp4
(1.04 MiB) Downloaded 85 times
I believe I heard six (maybe seven) different sounds - some also being uncomfortable to listen to. That immediately felt like a fresh installation of Windows 95 - I distinctly remember disabling sounds was one of the first things after a Win95 installation was to disable them. UI design has made some improvement by now and these playful UI sounds feel like an impurity in a polished interface like Factorio.
Last edited by Zulan on Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

AntiElitz
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 298
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:37 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by AntiElitz »

I agree with the statements above. The sounds still need a lot of love to reach the same level of quality as the rest of the game. The sounds have specifically a problem on being too invariant. A lot of them just sounds like static noise to me, especially when placed in groups. The high frequencies of some entities have been a problem for many new sounds and is still a problem for some like the ghost placement mentioned by Zulan. This went as far as people telling me that they only watch my stream on mute, because they can't physically stand the current in game sounds.

Koub
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 5923
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 8:54 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Koub »

[Koub] Moved to Ideas and suggestions.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

posila
Factorio Staff
Factorio Staff
Posts: 4684
Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:35 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by posila »

I am going to leave this in bug reports for now, so it's more on our eyes, as "sounds being unconfortable" is a potential flaw that should be somehow addressed, and the post points out what might be making them unconfortable.

Rseding91
Factorio Staff
Factorio Staff
Posts: 11280
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:23 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Rseding91 »

When I wear my headphones the ghost placing sounds are also incredibly annoying to me; like static pop in my ears. If I use my desktop speakers it's fine; they can't play sounds in that frequency well and so they act as a sort of high-frequency-mute.

As for the menu sounds: the issue I have with them is the frequency (how often) they end up playing and how many different ones their are. Because GUI navigation involves a lot of clicks all over so many sounds play that any meaning they might have is lost; it's just noise in the end that I try to ignore.

Listening to the assembling machine sound changes: I agree fully - that's just white noise.
If you want to get ahold of me I'm almost always on Discord.

Rseding91
Factorio Staff
Factorio Staff
Posts: 11280
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:23 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Rseding91 »

Some comparisons for reference:

Inserters and assembling machines:

0.17: A smooth mixture of sounds each distinct but not annoying.
Inserters and assembling machines 0.17.webm
(3.89 MiB) Downloaded 161 times
0.18: A sawing noise: it's coming from the inserters
Inserters and assembling machines 0.18.webm
(3.83 MiB) Downloaded 123 times

Mining drills:

0.17: A smooth and pleasant sound with some light gravel sounds
Mining drills 0.17.webm
(4.15 MiB) Downloaded 101 times
0.18: A waterfall? Nothing about the sound says mining machine to my ears
Mining drills 0.18.webm
(3.92 MiB) Downloaded 117 times

Inserters and furnaces:

0.17: A pleasant burner-style flame cooking something with some slight mechanical arm noises
Inserters and furances 0.17.webm
(3.8 MiB) Downloaded 83 times
0.18: Again the sawing noise and the cooking is almost completely drown out
Inserters and furnaces 0.18.webm
(3.77 MiB) Downloaded 90 times

This is just a (super) basic factory making some green circuits: something I would expect a player to have going in the first 30 minutes of their playthrough - and it's incredibly grating on my ears and mind that I want to get away from everything and just mute the game sounds.
If you want to get ahold of me I'm almost always on Discord.

AntiElitz
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 298
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:37 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by AntiElitz »

I wouldn't mind a rollback to the 0.17 sounds for those specific entities stated by rseding.
There is also some nice new sounds like the new burner drill though, so I wouldn't say all of it is bad. Just these few entities stated here.

deanaroo
Manual Inserter
Manual Inserter
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:14 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by deanaroo »

I haven't played this version enough to jump on any sides, but I will say that the feeling I get when watching(listening) is akin to that of a fluorescent bulb going bad. I noticed it most when there's sharp relief between soundscapes: https://clips.twitch.tv/HandsomeGorgeousChickenSSSsss. In fairness he is quite zoomed in and they're his settings, not mine.

Qon
Smart Inserter
Smart Inserter
Posts: 1475
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:27 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Qon »

The new sounds might be more realistic or better by some metric, but in many realistic factories people must wear ear protection to avoid some of the noises. We don't want to play that in our headphones.

I like the clicky menu sounds, but I agree that there's so many of them that the actual sound playing is meaningless.

I haven't really built a standard factory in 0.18 because I'm doing so many experiments. I've been playing on mute some also. But that has mostly been to get away from the constant "laser turrets destroyed" in my testing factory, or because I tab out to collect data and don't want to hear the noises. But the milder sounds wasn't something I had muted before in earlier Factorio versions.

Zulan
Long Handed Inserter
Long Handed Inserter
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:55 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Zulan »

Thanks for all the insightful additions. I can only agree to that. It would be great if this could be addressed as the last "problem area" before 1.0.

User avatar
eradicator
Smart Inserter
Smart Inserter
Posts: 4246
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by eradicator »

Qon wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:43 am
in many realistic factories people must wear ear protection to avoid some of the noises. We don't want to play that in our headphones.
Fun fact: I actually made a mod called Safety Ear Muffs when the sound changes first came. Because to me some of them were unbearable and i'm not as proficient as @OP at describing why. I just wanted to avoid getting a headache. For unmodded games (mp) i've actually started turning the sound of completely :/.

So +1 for reviewing the sounds again.
Author of: Hand Crank Generator Deluxe, Screenshot Hotkey 2.0, /sudo
Mod support languages: 日本語, Deutsch, English
My code in the post above is dedicated to the public domain under CC0.

User avatar
MEOWMI
Fast Inserter
Fast Inserter
Posts: 130
Joined: Wed May 22, 2019 12:21 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by MEOWMI »

This is very tangential, but when I was playing with some mods, I had to actually disable environmental sounds because the mod featured quite realistic sound recordings for its machines, including many of the associated problems: Even after just a few hours with the mod I was left with temporary ringing in my ears and I do not want to run any risk of developing hearing issues simply due to a sound effect in a game. I don't think vanilla Factorio has anything remotely that bad, but it goes to show what sounds can sometimes do.

Hanakocz
Burner Inserter
Burner Inserter
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:06 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Hanakocz »

My biggest issue is LASER sounds. They just tear my eyes to pieces. The biggest problem is that once you have power armor and personal lasers, they are basically present nonstop, especially with specific scenarios aimed for combat mainly. It would be great if we at least could disable specific sounds in sounds menu, as disabling all effects is not really helping the gameplay.

Koub
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 5923
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 8:54 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Koub »

Hanakocz wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:03 pm
My biggest issue is LASER sounds. They just tear my eyes to pieces.
Now that's interesting :mrgreen:
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

darekols
Manual Inserter
Manual Inserter
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by darekols »

Hanakocz wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:03 pm
My biggest issue is LASER sounds. They just tear my eyes to pieces.
I feel the same thing.

Streamobert
Manual Inserter
Manual Inserter
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Streamobert »

Chiming in to move the discussion towards the point I find pivotal, which is the sound design in general. This is to differentiate it from Zulan's more confined post, in which he convincingly showed that some game sounds heavily use frequencies that are generally accepted as uncomfortable to humans - that are, in fact, used in torture. I invite you to read some of the wonderful CIA documents that have been opened in the last few years concerning their research into (aural) torture methods in the 50s-70s.
I do this because I'm afraid that the issue may be adressed by the devs simply by cutting out those frequencies in some of the sounds and be done with it. That would be an improvement, but I would not be fully content with such a half-step back. I put forward that the entire sound design has developed in a direction that should be turned away from 180°.
Here are the points I see Factorio sound design orientating itself towards in the last couple of months, maybe a bit longer?

1. Sounds are flat and trebly. They sound like they were designed for phones, since those are the frequences such tiny speakers sound better with. Factorio is not a mobile game and there is no reason to focus on that such a high, and, more importantly, narrow spectrum. Factorio is a game about scale. Huge, dieselpunky scale. Cities of greased, thick metal containers that would echo for hours if you whispered inside them, that shake the ground when they work. Flat and trebly sounds contradict this. And personally, even outside of torture ranges, these types of soundscapes annoy me fairly quickly if too present, or at the very least leave me unimpressed. It's like a small, tinny, rusty gear joint is squealing uniformally next to your ear, or perhaps a family of mosquitos is trying to get inside your brain. Listen to the sound of a regular ol' piece of underground belt.
underground-belt.webm
(88.6 KiB) Downloaded 55 times
Or this inserter.
inserter-fast-5.webm
(10.64 KiB) Downloaded 39 times
Do it with headphones, fairly loudly, and concentrate on it. Then tell me how pleasant it is. Now, you may think "But doing that would make any sound annoying." I disagree. Feel free to compare your results with whatever sound you find the most pleasant; for me that would be something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V-oI-z1NgI. Good sounds get better. Bad sounds get worse.

2. Sounds are too busy and undifferentiated. Let's compare a stone furnace with a steel furnace. The only difference really is that the steel furnace has an additional humming sound somewhere asymmetrally in the background. How exactly does that humming originate from the nature of a steel furnace? Is this a useful differentiation that helps our ears out? In my opinion, it doesn't help and it's not appealing, it just adds to aural confusion.
Another example.
See if you can hear the different values within the following two sounds, and what differentiates them. One is an oil refinery, one is a turbine. 1:
sound1.webm
(159.43 KiB) Downloaded 38 times
2:
sound2.webm
(261.53 KiB) Downloaded 39 times
. Well? Which one is which? How do you tell?
Probably, you've identified a burning sound in the second one, which makes it the oil refinery. But if you subtract that particular clue, how unique are the sounds really, how much do they tell you about their origins by themselves? They may tell you that I'm a liar, because in reality, the second sound is not an oil refinery but a heat exchanger, and the first one is just the ambient world wind. The real oil refinery is almost identical to the heat exchanger, there's just some narrow, trembly thing that passes through it sometimes:
sound3.webm
(105.12 KiB) Downloaded 26 times
Which I'm pretty sure is essentially the sound of a pump slowed down and pitched up:
sound4.webm
(23.76 KiB) Downloaded 23 times
. This is a turbine:
sound5.webm
(83.16 KiB) Downloaded 33 times
, which is, again really only differentiated from everything else that moves air by its particular niche of unpleasant whining/buzzing.
Last question, what inserter is this?
inserter.webm
(6.55 KiB) Downloaded 36 times
It's a biter.
I hope I've conveyed what I mean.
Let's go back to my above pleasant sound example and add some contrasting sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKBvaOLDem0, or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnU2qn6-hz4. Recognisable. Distinguished. Pleasant.

Look, I know it's hard to talk about sound design without devolving into either finger-pointing or subjectivizing apathy. But there are arguments to be made about sound design that are besides relativism. Like the fact that you should be able to easily identify a sound. You couldn't mistake the sound of connecting circuitry or deleting stone brick floors, for example. Or the fact that you should use the widest reasonable spectrum of sound available to gain depth and scale and to facilitate the aforementioned differentiation. Or the fact that you shouldn't use torture methods. Or the fact that your soundscape should create the atmosphere of your game's setting - I've worked in th heavy metal industry, nothing sounded like mosquitos there and nothing was rusty.

Proposed solution: After you've cut out all the 5k+ sounds (I've checked most of the sound files, I hear the painful ringing in many more than have been mentioned in this thread so far), make a map of the game sounds. Visualize the soundscape. Then create a deep, vast backdrop of sounds that represent the heavy machinery and sombre tone of the game, ontop of which you can place pleasant and easily distinguishable higher notes, like the furious whirring of a turbine, the meditative buzzing of electricity, the clear, reverberating clangs of steel striking steel, the cute beeps of bots.
Factorio should sound vast, but also relaxing. Its musical score does a great job at this. Instead, it makes me audio fatigued and annoyed at the moment.

I hope this post doesn't seem too standoffish. But I have spoken to so many people for quite a while now that have a similar experience, and Factorio has become quite important to me. I feel this strongly about the sound design. I hope you consider a rework from the ground up, keeping very good sounds, and completely reinventing all others.

Sopel
Inserter
Inserter
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:30 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Sopel »

I play factorio with almost silent sounds so I've never noticed this until this thread. Holy hell the new sounds for entities are so harsh. Playing that inserter sound is pure torture.

User avatar
Jon8RFC
Filter Inserter
Filter Inserter
Posts: 507
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 3:39 pm
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by Jon8RFC »

I'm relieved that this report wasn't haphazardly marked as resolved, so that I can append mine to it:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=80569
Image

kovarex
Factorio Staff
Factorio Staff
Posts: 7564
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:00 am
Contact:

Re: Game sounds are uncomfortable and obscure

Post by kovarex »

Hello, i took this post very seriously, I was just fully occupied with other stuff, so this had to wait for the last moment.

I just finished a revision of the sounds for 1.0, I didn't check absolutely every sound there, but checked the most commonly used sounds in the game and in gui and those mentioned in this post.

The result is, that some of the sounds are reverted to its 0.17 variant (miners, assemblers, inserters and basic furnaces to be more exact), some of the volumes tweaked a bit and 2 of the UI sounds merged.

As a bonus, I even edited the original 0.17 miner sound to just have the deeper part, as I was quite annoyed by the squeaking sound-line in it. So it will be different from 0.17, and maybe little bit more blurry because of this change, but I found it better than the squeaking annoyance.


Post Reply

Return to “Resolved for the next release”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users