Combat and Sound Design

Раскопал и публикую старые, но по прежнему актуальные выдержки саунд-дизайнера Chia Chin Lee (Soldier of Fortune, Heretic II, Hexen II и пр.) из бесед с военным консультантом, приглашенным специально для рекомендаций по звуку оружия в условиях реальной боевой обстановки к игре Soldier of Fortune.

In order to maximize realism in Soldier of Fortune, Raven hired Mr. John
Mullins to bring more authenticity to our game. After we repeatedly called
him a “Mercenary”, Mr. Mullins politely corrected our faux pas. Due to the
negative connotations that come with the term “Mercenary”, true
professionals in the field prefer the term “Consultant”.

Mr. Mullins retired from the Special Forces in 1981, after earning numerous
awards including the Silver Star, Bronze Star with three Oak Leaf Clusters,
and several Purple Hearts. Since his retirement, he has made his services
available both to the government and civilian customers. Mr. Mullins has
headed several operations in all corners of the world. These missions range
from VIP Protection to Hostage Negotiation and Rescue.

Although Mr. Mullins has helped us with every aspect of the game, my primary
interest lies in the area of Sound and Combat. During his visit at Raven, I
was able to speak with our Consultant on this very topic. Our meeting was
fruitful and inspiring, prompting me to approach the sound design of our
game with a re-invigorated and fresh perspective.

I will now give a brief summary of our conversation, which I hope you will
find interesting, if not slightly morbid. We are planning to implement
these sonic details in our game, which will greatly enhance the gaming


Overall, Mr. Mullins really enjoyed the unique resonance between the guns in
Soldier of Fortune. He provided several constructive criticisms concerning
some of the weapons (“this should be more muffled” or “this gun sounds much
sharper in action”). The sonic signature of our weapons add a lot to the
feel of the guns.


There are lots of Ricochets sounds in combat situations, and whiiiiizzzzing
sounds of bullets. When bullets hit around you (about 3 feet from your
head), you hear intense SNAPPPPING of bullets. It sounds like a firecracker
breaking the barrier of sound.

Soldiers learn to abide by the “Crack and Thump” rule: You first hear the
FIRECRACKER CRACK! around you, then the deep THUMMMMP of the weapons. You
can actually *count* the time between the Crack and the Thump to determine
the distance between you and your enemy.
Depending on the floor surface, you can clearly hear shells hitting the
floor. It has a distinct “tink” sound. Shotgun shells sound dull and
hollow, while other weapons are metallic. One should be careful not to trip
on the shells, as they can be slippery on hard surfaces.


All your senses are intensified in combat situations, so acute that “you can
hear a rat piss on a cotton ball”. You hear all enemy movements clearly,
including scurrying footsteps. The environmental sounds seem louder too,
because of your heightened awareness.


There are lots of tactical chatter amongst enemies, such as “GET YOUR ASS
DOWN!”, or “GET OVER HERE!”. Swearing is (not surprisingly) commonplace in
combat situations. Enemies usually don’t taunt you, as they are too busy
planning amongst themselves.


When asked what people sound like when they are wounded, the consultant
replied: “Imagine a woman who has just lost her child. Now imagine the
gut-wrenching, high-pitched cries that she lets out. That’s what people
sound like when they are hit.” Some people are more vocal than others,
however. Some soldiers pass out cold immediately when hit by a bullet.

Apparently, when bullets hit the flesh, it sounds similar to a watermelon
being hit by a hammer. A juicy thud. Due to your heightened sense, you can
distinctly hear wounded enemies, even as they are gurgling blood or wheezing
from a blasted lung.