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Posted by on May 4, 2011 | 2 comments

IGDATC Presentation: Footstep and Movement Sound

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Since embarking on my informal game sound study of footsteps and movement sound, things have continued to develop in a remarkable way. What started casually, quickly spiraled into a lengthy debate involving many people and uncovering  some interesting patterns.

I recently reprised a presentation I gave at GDC this year at my local IGDA chapter in an attempt to share the findings of the initial study and continue the discussion with some of the new information gleaned in the meantime. If you missed it at GDC or are interested in some of the additional insights that came out, this presentation breaks down the fundamentals and unique considerations that emerge across a diverse cross section of game genre’s and uncovers some curiosities and aesthetic choices .

It may be not so surprising to have found people who feel passionate about the role footsteps play, but it’s no less fascinating to hear how deep people’s experiences go, and how willing they are to share their perspectives. What once seemed like a small part of game audio, has taken on a whole new light after being placed under the microscope. I’m thankful to everyone who has contributed to the conversation during the last year, and hope that by sharing these insights we can all move forward and give appropriate attention to movement sound in games.

Hit the IGDATC link for some additional related articles: IGDATC Video – Footstep and Movement Presentation


  1. Really nice talk, Damian.

    The only thing I took issue with was the idea of a delay offset. While I wholly agree that it is odd and not natural, the idea of working it’s way back to delaying/offsetting animations is not where it would stop: 

    Delaying animations (without looking odd) would mandate the input system behind them not allowing for (or allowing for less) animation canceling, therefor making the games feel less responsive and more sluggish.

    I’m very big on not allowing audio to negatively affect gameplay, it should always serve to enhance.

    If, however, some genius programmers/animations out there have ideas on how to make the idea viable WITHOUT adversely effecting gameplay and control, bring it on! :)

  2. Thanks for having a listen!

    It’s great to hear your insights on the idea of delay offsets, I’m 100% with you regarding the support of gameplay.

    I think that my hope in suggesting it would be for audio to further support the realism of actual movement…with all of it’s inconsistencies. However, I’m not sure that realism is actually what would sound good or play nicely…hence my suggestion of experimentation. I think there is a current expectation that all of our player characters are superhuman in their ability to walk/ run at a steady pace for 30-40 hours of gameplay. Not sure if making them more “human” would make it more “real” or more “fun”.

    It would be great to dream it and solve these problems in conjunction with genius programmers/animators. I look forward to any further thought or experince on the topic. It’s been great hearing so many perspectives!

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