Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mood Makers or Mood Breakers?

Sometimes its nice to sit somewhere in SL where the crickets sign softly while the particle fireflies make patterned circles about your head without worries of snorting one up your nose. Maybe you prefer to take your ambiance alone, or perhaps with a friend or partner - however you want it - its available in numerous sims.

I love scenery. I like land that's actually landscaped and not just flat and green. The builders/estate owners that have gone the extra step to add their own texture to the ground get a big thumbs up from me. I like to hop from pose ball to pose ball in the gazebos that seem to be plentiful waterfronts ... but I confess I have to do all this with the sounds off.

Think of all the random background .wav files that are slapped into objects. Earlier I stood next to an 8' tall waterfall (approximately) and it sounded like an A-10 was taking off near my head. And I *know* what an A-10 sounds like taking off, people!

I understand that these things aren't silent in the real world. In fact many waterfalls are so loud and have so much force that they nearly knock you over. However, the small ones in which I am referring should not be that loud. It seems you get one of two sounds in the "Waterfall o' Doom" so your choices are limited. You get the "A-10 Taking off in your face" or the "Beer Piss". Its either loud and roaring, or just an annoying trickle. W T F

It doesn't stop there, though. That horrible HOWWLLLL that we all probably have somewhere in our gesture cache is also a 'background' noise. Why on earth anyone with a beach house would feel the need to have a random "HoWwwwLLLLlll" going off every few minutes is beyond me .. but I tell you the truth. So now you have a fighter jet, drunk hobo, and a cartoon wolf all within earshot. Oh, but it gets better.

I've noticed that many sounds have been 'remixed' in that they aren't the exact sounds in every object that is similar. Does someone sell 'annoying background loops' on SLexchange? And if they do - why has no one made some that involved more variety in the sounds? On any given summer night I can open a window and hear many of these sounds - except the waterfall - and there is no pattern to these sounds. The sounds in SL are more of a drone than anything.

White noise schmight noise - how do these sounds create a mood at all? I know it would probably be really boring to build a great waterfall and have no sound in it ... but to me its worse to have a beautiful waterfall or lagoon with frogs that croak with a sonic boom or if your waterfall sounds like the rumble of train tracks.

So do these loops help set a mood, or do they break them? Well if used correctly I could see how they could help enhance the visuals, but it seems so rare that the sounds are used in this way. There are so many sounds that just aren't a part of SL that maybe should be. Like doorbells. I know its pretty pointless to have a doorbell or even doorbell sound in sl (other than the ding ding you get when you get an IM) but wouldn't it be great if we could modify our SLounds? Instead of the default ding ding if it were to make a different sound. Man something, ANYTHING to kind of switch it up!

I'd like to know just how many people actually turn their ambient and sound features way down or even off in order to escape the ear drum barrage that's included in so many builds. Better yet - if LL insists on giving us options that no one really wants until everything else is more stable - why don't they offer more customizable UIs? Why can't we change the sound of our IM notification? Why can't we change the 'clunk' that we hear when we right click an object?

It just feels as if the sound loops are overdone - or maybe they aren't done enough since (as far as I know) no one has taken steps to remake any or better them in some way. I do know that I've had quite enough of ponds that sound like flushing toilets, splashy pool water that sounds like a killer whale is doing a belly flop, howling, owls louder than cars ... the list could go on and on.

Is this a new form of metaversal sound pollution or do I just have over sensitive ears?


Storm said...

There's a couple reasons for the environmental sound tedium.

Sound on the grid requires scripting. You can learn to script, buy prescripted items, or (blatant self-promotion here) grab yourself some free Sound Prims. Most people just find or buy a noisy item they like and rez it.

You can only change the volume of a sound inside SL. Can't change the pitch, or the length of the sound. So if you want a handful of "water flowing" sounds, you have to upload each one.

Sound has a lot of little requirements. Sounds must be less than 10 seconds, and in 16bit/44.1Hz Wave format (.wav). So you'll have to learn to trim and convert your files with some sort of sound editing software. Then when you upload the sound the SL client throws a radio button dialog in your face asking you to select encoding quality for your sound.

Orchid said...

Right. I know the mechanics behind sound as I've uploaded gestures and such through the years - but I want to know why all the environment sounds are so sodding aweful!

I don't care so much about the volume of each sound as the quality. I'd rather hear a different sound when I get an IM instead of ding ding or no sound at all if I turn it off.

Gillian Waldman said...

This was on Torley's blog...

It's not for SL but could be decent background ambiance while you're in SL.

Rosie said...

Sounds? In SL? :P Yea for the most part my sounds are off. Usually my music is off too until I am guilted into turning it on so I can say oooh yea you rawk as a DJ when I'm with certain people. I guess alot of the time I can't concentrate with the multi-tasking I'm doing with sounds going off in my ear... well that and skype kinda distracts from ingame sounds as well. Guess too much makes me crazy :P

Tigerlily Koi said...

I rarely (like maybe twice a month) have sound on because the noises do irritate the crap out of me. The gesture noises are annoying. The music tends to annoy me.

I don't know if it was Haedon or Pushbutton, but we have the most amazing sound in our old run down boatshack. It sounds like water hitting a pier. (Imagine that in a boathouse!) It is repetitive but not annoyingly so. I'll often sit out there with sound on for several hours while I'm not building, or even just run it in the background while I'm working on photoshopy stuff.

But yeah, in general, sounds suck. And those trickle waterfalls make me have to pee.

Silent Sonnet said...

I attest to the background noises...but A-10's sound so fucking cool though!

And yes...I KNOW what they sound like. I used to be a spark chaser on the flightline...

Anywho, beer piss, yes, know that one too.

I usually forget about the sounds and the hurricane force winds in my ears... I'm usually ADD'd into something more flashy and sensual...

Something that craves cheese and cock.

But that's a post in itself.