Action Voice Pack Guide

Overview

Our Action Voice Packs are collections of typical vocal sounds made by characters in games. These are non-verbal sounds, e.g. grunts, yells, coughs. The style is natural and realistic, and will fit nearly any story genre – sci-fi, horror, dumpster diving. (Come on, make a game about dumpster diving, already!)

After working on voice recording for different game projects, we noticed that the same kinds of sounds come up again and again. We didn’t want to be forever recording these same sounds. In fact, compared to speech dialogue, they are quite time-consuming to record correctly and consistently. Why? Because the actor needs to understand the context of the noise they are making (hitting somebody? getting stabbed?) and the director needs to normalize the performance so it matches other actors. Some of the sounds, like the death scream, can be hard on actors’ throats, so it’s nice to minimize the vocal harshness by reusing recordings.

We’ve created a standard set of “action” sounds with consistent definitions of context, as well as file naming conventions. You’ll be able to write one set of code that plays sounds interactively for one character in your game. And then use that same set of code to switch to another character voice easily. As new voice packs become available, your game will just work with the new voice packs because of our consistent standard.

The Sounds

The tables below describe sounds available in any of our Action Voice Packs. The “code” from the table is always present in the filename of a sound.

Running

Code Sound Description Usage Notes
PantS Light panting – an easy jog Loopable, end with PantEndS
PantEndS Light recovery – stopped jogging, catch breath quickly Precede with PantS
PantM Medium panting – sprinting Loopable, end with PantEndM
PantEndM Medium recovery – stop and catch breath Precede with PantM
PantL Hard panting – panicked run, near exhaustion Loopable, end with PantEndL
PantEndL Hard recovery – stop and catch breath Precede with PantL

Attacking

Code Sound Description Usage Notes
GruntS Small attack grunt – closed mouth noise while throwing a normal punch/kick
GruntL Large attack grunt – closed mouth noise while throwing a more energetic punch/kick
YellS Small attack yell – open mouth noise while throwing a normal punch/kick
YellL Big attack yell – open mouth noise while throwing a more energetic punch/kick

Sickness

Code Sound Description Usage Notes
SickS Minor nausea – got off a merry-go-round
SickM Medium nausea – just drank some poison
SickL Heavy nausea – drank poison an hour ago, near death
CoughS Small cough – this gas may not be safe to breath
CoughM Medium cough – this gas is definitely not safe to breath
CoughL Large cough – nearly dead from breathing this gas

Effort

Code Sound Description Usage Notes
PushS Small, short exertion, e.g. throw a baseball, start a small jump
PushM Medium, short exertion, e.g. climb onto a rope, push a lever
PushL Large, short exertion, e.g. break a fall by grabbing a flagpole, swing a heavy hammer
CarryQuickS Small, short, sustained effort – carry a garbage can a few feet with two arms End with CarryEndS
CarryS Small, sustained effort – carry a garbage can across the room Loopable, end with CarryEndS
CarryEndS Conclude small, sustained effort – a slight exhale Precede with CarryQuickS or CarryS
CarryQuickM Medium, short, sustained effort – substantial exertion but no struggle End with CarryEndM
CarryM Medium, sustained effort Loopable, end with CarryEndM
CarryEndM Conclude medium, sustained effort – a full exhale Precede with CarryQuickM or CarryM
CarryQuickL Large, short, sustained effort – struggling, near limits of strength End with CarryEndL
CarryL Large, sustained effort Loopable, end with CarryEndL
CarryEndL Conclude large, sustained effort – big exhale after a difficult feat Precede with CarryQuickL or CarryL

Pain and Injury

Code Sound Description Usage Notes
OofS Small oof – taking a punch easily
OofM Medium oof – that punch hurt a bit
OofL Large oof – wind knocked out of you
CryS Small cry – a minor knife wound
CryM Medium cry – receive a vicious wound
CryL Large cry – lost an arm
GaspM Medium gasp – rip a bandage off
GaspL Large gasp – rip a scalp off
DeathQuick Quick death scream – some minor henchman gets killed, and who even cares?
Death Full death scream – a VIP gets killed

Variations

Sound files are suffixed with a variation#, e.g. PantL2.wav. These indicate a variation on the recording. It is recommended to just randomly pick a variation when you play a sound. This will help the player avoid getting fatigued from hearing the same sound all the time.

Sounds that are loopable can have their variations chained together randomly, e.g. play PantL1.wav and PantL2.wav in succession. You don’t need to stick with the same sound for the loop.

Similarly, sounds that are paired with a concluding sound don’t need to use the same variation# for the concluding sound. For example, if you play CarryS1.wav, you can conclude with CarryEndS2.wav just as well as CarryEndS1.wav.

More Actors

At time of writing, we’ve recorded ten different actors for the Action Voice Pack. It will take some time to get them all edited into products. If you’re in a hurry to hear some different actors for possible inclusion in your game, please just email us at info@seespacelabs.com and tell us what you need.

Adding Custom Dialogue for Your Game

Generally, the same actors that recorded an Action Voice Pack are available to record more lines. So you can hire us to record speech dialogue or other nonverbal sounds that are specific to your game, and it will match the wave files in your Action Voice Pack. It will match because we’ll use the same actor and recording environment. Email us at info@seespacelabs.com if you’d like our help here.

I’m also very interested in general sounds that you think would be good to have in this or other voice packs. For the Action Voice Pack, these should be sounds that go along with physical events in the game, and not dialogue or emotional expression (e.g. laughing). And beyond that, I’m interested in any other ideas you have for voice packs. Please feel free to contact me (Erik) and say hello!

-Erik Hermansen

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