UDK Audio Implementation I – some considerations and tips to make it work

As previously announced, I’m very happy to start this series of posts about audio implementation on UDK.

At my master’s program I had to make a game (prototype), and since I had to deal with everything concerning the audio part, I learned quite a few interesting and fun things. here, I write strictly as a sound designer – I do not understand a damn thing about programming for games, and what follows is my view and my work-flow as an audio person who is also interested in implementing sounds in a game engine. There are good tutorials around the web, UDK’s documentation is also good but incomplete in this cases, so I had to make a soup picking one thing from here, another from there… I went sometimes to the forums with basic issues, seeking for some help on trouble shooting, and the answers I got were as if I understand a lot – after which I was left to alone to die there… -, so I decided to start this. Therefore, if by any means, I irritate or get some programmer or game designer bored, well… there’s a little x on the corner somewhere on your browser’s edge: click there. Unless you are willing to give some advice or correction. 🙂

To what matters:

It happens that I found UDK quite a thing for implementing sound easily! Skipping the programming part (I’ve been noticing that, on the other hand, UDK is a nightmare for programmers), the ‘language’ and interface are very familiar for sound people.

Roughly speaking, you will edit your sounds general behaviour with boxes with extremely easy-to-go parameters in one place (CueEditor), you place the sounds on your map with a (almost) simple right-click. You can also easily perform sequences on Matinee, that goes inside UnrealKismet which again is a box-environment program in that you make a sound play on some events you want. Also, spectacularly awesome are the AmbientZones. They should be called ReverbZones, instead, by the way. In short, these are areas you create in seconds that contain very important reverb parameters  – particularly for 3D games – inside which your sounds will be affected by them, and also the outside sounds will be heard in the way you want to be heard: to sum, one is able to create an environment extremely close or almost equal to our daily lives (if that was the purpose of games). Isn’t this awesome? Yes, it is.

Some tips that would save me hours if I only knew…

  • Import your sound files on this format: wav 44.1 kHz / 16 bit. No matter how you read everywhere that UDK can accept other formats, forget about it. You will probably have issues.
  • Import them to the game package and only to that package. This is the package that has the name of the .udk file of your map. Damn click on this package and only then click import. I’m insisting on this because this would have saved me many many hours of work. Forget about placing them temporarily on any other package to then tweak the files. No! If your UKD is for some demoniac reason duplicating the package, then something is wrong and once you open the project on other computer it will cause UDK to crash.
  • Once you absolutely  correctly imported your sound files you might give them some use on the map before saving and quitting UDK. What happened on my project was that the files were imported for some mysterious place after re-opening it. Just add a trigger or something to use that sound cue or node. Click ‘save all’ on the map. Once the package on the Content Browser and the files on it don’t have a ‘*’ any more, you are probably safe.
  • This is a little embarrassing but… Supposing you (me) don’t know anything at all about UDK and you want to add a AmbientZone. How the hell do you (me) click and nothing happens? Here: add brush (CSG add). You will probably will see nothing anyway; give it a shape below ‘brushes’ on the left menu and magic happens. Just tweak it to the shape you need, adjust it. With that clicked, click on ‘Volumes’ below and then you’ll find on the pop-out list. Yeah, ReverbVolume. You won’t see anything new again. Just drag the initial brush (red lines) to the side and you’ll see the exact same shape on yellow lines (default color). This is the ReverbZone. Congratulations to you (me). Now you can adjust the shape and size the same way. 🙂 And change the parameters on its properties (F4 shortcut).

(March update) Also, I found out this great site and here is an article concerning the creation of a basic level in UDK, and guess what: it’s from a sound designer as well, so you will be well served.

Next week, I’ll have another post, going a bit more specific. Just not sure yet of what.

Happy audio implementation!

9 thoughts on “UDK Audio Implementation I – some considerations and tips to make it work

  1. Hi Melissa, I stumbled across your site – looks interesting. You seem to be getting on OK on your own but if you want to save a bit of frustration with UDK then this book we wrote might help : http://www.thegameaudiotutorial.com/.
    If you can’t / don’t want to buy it then you can always just go to the site and download the tutorial level that comes with the book and hopefully pick up some stuff from there. Good luck !

  2. Pingback: UDK | Pearltrees

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