Audio Cues in Action Games

If someone were to make a game, should every enemy attack have its own unique audio cue? Or should there only be one audio cue per enemy? Or should every enemy share the same audio cue?

All of these work. DMC has every attack given a different audio cue. Furi gives every melee attack the same audio cue.

Audio cures are helpful versus visual cues because average reaction time to audio is 170ms instead of 250ms from sight. The advantage of sight is you can process pictures in parallel, see the whole thing at once, where sound is a serial input, you can only really process one sound input at a time, even if you can juggle them really quickly.

Different audio cues makes more sense when players need to distinguish between different types of attacks. Same audio cues makes more sense when you want to train a uniform response to the same type of attack (as in Furi). Notably Furi has different types of attacks, and each of them has the same audio cue within their type. So all white melee attacks have the same cue, all close range pie chart attacks have the same cue, all the bullets have the same cue. In a more conventional action game, they have different cues because the attacks typically have more different properties between them. A point of Skullgirls’ design is that the attacks have different audio and different patterns of hit reaction sounds, which is why it’s so easy to do combos blind in that game. When you have this additional supporting layer of audio giving context to what players see, it’s easier for them to interpret what’s going on. This is especially true because in neurological terms, we basically hear something before we see it (kind of ironic, right? Considering light is faster than sound).

There’s also examples where two things might look similar, but have different effects. Audio cues can be a good tell for that. Like Q in 3s has a standard dash punch, and a low sweeping dash punch. These have different sound effects when used, so even though it’s hard to distinguish them on visual reaction, you can tell based on the sound effect.

So consider context.

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