tisdag 1 februari 2011

Spatial sound in computer games

I just (two hours ago) submitted a paper about sound in computer games and it's a huge relief to be done with it, the work has been quite intensive during the last week and today was the very last day to submit it. Only yesterday the paper was 10% longer that what was allowed and the threat of failing to shave off 500 words of the paper was pretty clear: "Submissions in excess of these limits may be rejected without refereeing".

The paper has been submitted to the journal IEEE Software for a special issue on "Engineering Fun". It will be published in the September/October issue if accepted. From the call:

"As large and complex software projects, modern computer games pose many software engineering challenges, with complex and performance-intensive design and implementation choices. As entertainment products, games also rely heavily on less well-defined, abstract properties such as playability and fun. The influence of soft, thematic, and aesthetic requirements on precise and practical designs introduces a variety of interesting development constraints and goals."

The paper is based on a great bachelor's thesis by a student of ours, Markus Bogren Eriksson. His thesis was presented half a year ago and it is called "The sound of reality: Simulated spatial acoustics in modern game worlds". The paper we submitted today is called "Fabricating reality through spatial acoustics". Markus is first author of the paper and I'm the second author.

It just so happened that I came across a call for papers to this special issue only two months ago and directly felt that Markus' thesis would fit hand-in-glove with this special issue. I directly sent a mail to Markus (in the beginning of December). A week or so later we had a great brainstorming session about how to transform (parts of) his thesis into a paper - and then I left Sweden for a month-long trip. Markus worked on the paper over Christmas and we have worked together on the paper (primarily through Google Docs) during the last two and a half weeks.

Even though the topic of the paper is not really my thing, I still think the paper turned out great in the end and I think it has a pretty good chance to be accepted to the journal. At the moment I have a hard time to distance myself from the paper but I hope it is a good as it subjectively feels right now! Here is the abstract:

Fabricating reality through spatial acoustics

We argue that sound is a neglected area of computer game development in comparison to graphics. At this point in time, increased realism and immersion in computer games might thus best be attained by expanding current two-dimensional soundscapes into the third dimension through simulated spatial acoustics (SSA). This recommendation is based on two studies or ours as well as an examination of 20 contemporary computer games and interviews with game developers, sound designers and sound engineers at two progressive gaming studios.

Keywords: computer games, spatial sound, sound and music computing, modeling, simulation


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