Marketplace for parametric sound events?

I used FMOD Studio for my last project and am considering using it for my new one as well.

One thing I’m really missing is a marketplace for parametric sounds. Sounds often have to be parametric to react convincingly to in-game events and conditions. Sometimes adjusting volume is enough, but often not.

An impact sound sounds qualitatively different based on the force level of the impact. Water running in a stream or river sounds different based on the size of the stream/river and how turbulent the water is (slowly/flat > down a slope > waterfall).

Many types of sounds are needed over and over across many different games, yet every game seemingly have to recreate parametric solutions from scratch from the most basic building blocks (individual sound files).

I’ve been using a lot to buy sound clips, but there is so much untapped potential in offering better ready-made solutions. Hell, in, you can’t even specify search criteria that sounds must be seamlessly looping, or set min/max duration. Most other sound marketplaces are similarly primitive. And indeed I haven’t been able to find looping water sounds I liked, or the few I found were needlessly long (over 30 seconds when 5-10 seconds would have been fine). So I have to loop them myself, and also often adjust volumes and equalizing in order for different sounds to just approximately fit together coherently.

The industry of sound engines would do well to:

  • Come up with an open format for specifying parametric sounds that multiple software solutions (FMOD and others) could import / export.
  • Establish marketplaces for such parametric sounds so every developer doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel for basic types of sounds that lots of games need.
  • And as always, take a cut of revenue.

Are there any significant reasons why this hasn’t been attempted yet? Or if it has, where can I see it?

Second best would be if I could just buy sets of audio files that are properly prepared to work out of the box, to fit together coherently, and where each file has numeric annotations about its properties.

So instead of a set of files called “Water01” to “water25” with properties that seem completely random from one to the next, I’d want “Water_size1_turbulence1” to “Water_size1_turbulence5”, “Water_size2, turbulence1” to “Water_size2_turbulence5” etc. This way, even if I had to still make my own parametric sound events, at least I would have straightforward, ready-made assets to base it on.

Is there any resource for sound effect audio files that is already sells well-structured sets of audio files like this? certainly isn’t.

My guess would be that games using “parametric” events like this, often have sound designers working on them who are able to design unique systems and sounds like this using their sound libraries or doing fresh recordings.

Also speaking as a sound designer here, I like that how e.g. a river sound isn’t just a generic river sound but is also takes the narrative, the artistic style, the gameplay, emotional aspects etc. into consideration. But I also know there is a market for stock sounds, that is just my designer view on it :smiley:

You could check out Audiokinetic’s Strata, it is doing kiiind of what you are describing here.

I understand and was expecting the “that’s what sound designers are for” angle, but that could be said for textures, 3d models, animations etc. too, and yet there are thriving marketplaces for those.

Yes, it won’t capture the individual nature of a specific game quite as well, but sometimes that’s just not a big problem, and other times something purchased that’s generic can be used as a solid starting point that game-specific alterations can be built on top of.

Thanks for pointing me to Strata. I had a look at the video for their “Fire and Water” package but it doesn’t seem like parameters are a big focus? They did show off some, but the changes to the sound they result in are really minor. It didn’t seem to have much range of sound effects either - the waterfall sound can only do “giant waterfall”, not a variety of sizes/intensities, and such.

Yeah I totally get what you are saying, it just pokes my sound designer brain :smiley:

I have’t tried Strata myself so cannot say a lot about it. Maybe check out their physics library.

If I am out of work at some point it might be fun to build a sound library around that concept - would like to have one myself actually

I think the main reason it hasn’t been attempted is the sheer price of the thing? For this to actually work you would have to record original sounds from multiple perspectives, for your river example. - This is already done for many pro libraries like car libraries. or ambience libraries. These basic edited files already goes for +100$ pr sound effect, and then you still need to do the cutting and mixing yourself. With the additional overhead of this i could see this going at like 200$ ish pr effect. The Strata one is also not cheap. But if there is a marked for it, it sure is an interesting take! Im curious, what would you think would be a fair price?

Fair price would depend entirely on quality of the audio and the degree of versatility / broad usefulness of its dynamic aspects. A variety of use cases could be covered by e.g. 3 different dynamic sounds, or alternatively by a single more versatile dynamic sound, depending on its scope and how it’s designed, so it’s hard to meaningfully discuss price without going into details of exact capabilities.

But also, in the end I have no idea; it would end up being a matter of supply and demand.

I imagine a way it could go is that if there was a marketplace for parametric FMOD sound events or similar, it would initially be populated with more basic content that’s not so high investment to produce. Depending on demand, increasingly ambitious and sophisticated products might get released. That’s how it often goes for these things. In the Unity Asset Store, there’s there’s products that on paper handle similar things, but some are much higher quality, and also much more expensive, than others.