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Sound in Games

History of audio in games consoles.

Robert Daley

on 17 June 2013

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Transcript of Sound in Games

Sound in Games
History of audio in games
The Xbox 360
Playstation 3
Wii U
Playstation 2
PS Vita
All games made for the Xbox are required to support Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The console also features over 256 audio channels and 320 independent decompression channels using its 32-bit processing. Sound files for games are encoded using Microsoft's XMA audio format. VC-1 or WMV is used for streaming video and other video is compressed using VC-1 at non-HD NTSC and PAL resolutions or WMV HD.
The Playstation 3 can play sound to the same, if not better, specifications of its main rival, the Xbox 360. *All models can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, to be output as LPCM.
The Wii U has surprisingly disappointing audio prospects considering it is a next generation console. Audio output formats are limited to the following;

Analog stereo

This doesn't even match up with its seventh generation predecessors!
The Gamecube was already old, even when it had been first released, audio file formats were limited to the following;

Analog stereo (support for Dolby Pro Logic II)
The PlayStation 2 supported audio playback such as Dolby Digital and DTS, quite advanced for its generation of console. This was all implemented because the PS2 was the first games console that could play DVD's, this meant that it was marketed as a home entertainment hub, as-well as a console.
The PS Vita is a hand held, eighth generation console. Because of this, you would expect the audio playback it is capable of to be fairly good. The formats it can handle are as follows;
The Xbox 360 has the following playback types;
-Analog stereo
-Stereo LPCM
-Dolby Digital 5.1
-Dolby Digital with WMA pro
The storage capacity of game media
The Xbox 360 uses standard 2.5" SATA hard disk drives. The drives are detachable, making it possible to move data from one console to another, and to upgrade the size of drive on a console. The capacity of these hard drives varies depending on the model of the console, varying from 4GB to 250GB.
Benefits for the gameplay and player experience
The gameplay and player experience is enhanced by the Xbox's ability to distribute sound via its wide range of playback formats, surround sound for example. In addition to this, the Xbox makes use of its 256 audio channels to give the player a sense of realism. These attributes give the 360 sound capabilities that cant be matched by any other console except it's main competitor, the Playstation 3.
It can also play back in the following types, to name just a few;
Dolby Digital 5.1
DTS 5.1
Dolby TrueHD Bitstream
Dolby Digital 5.1
DTS 5.1
Much like the Xbox 360 and other seventh generation consoles, the Playstation 3's game storage capabilities vary depending on the specifications of the console itself. Ranging anywhere from a couple of GB up to 50GB.
Ultimately, the gameplay experience and affect this should have on the player should be far superior to any other seventh generation console, as it has far better specifications and playback types. However this is not the case as it is only on par with the performance of the Xbox 360 as game developers prefer to develop for its hardware because it is simpler to use. Ultimately, the experiences are very similar, if not impressive.
As the Wii U has only just been released, it can only be assumed that the storage capacity of the console will only go up when it has gained in popularity. Specifications are not available at the moment. As for the disc, Nintendo upgraded to DVD discs with the Wii, so storage regarding disc space will not have changed.
Gameplay and player experience is an upgrade on is predecessor, the Wii, as the Wii U can now play audio and visuals via HDMI. This is what we are use to on other consoles such as the Playstation and Xbox, nothing particularly new, yet a much needed and welcomed improvement from the Wii. Game experience is standard of a Nintendo console, family orientated, not overly realistic.
Even for its time, the PS2 and first Xbox could easily out perform the capabilities of the Gamecube. However, Nintendo have never been into making 'serious' consoles that are on the cutting edge, instead preferring to innovate and change the ways games are played.
Storage capacity on the Gamecube was limited to what could be stored on a separate memory card.
Another issue was that Nintendo opted to use micro sized discs which could hold only minute amounts of data compared to DVD's used on other consoles, this meant that games, audio etc. had to be co pressed and even discarded, just to fit onto a disc!
Ultimately, this all meant that player experience and gameplay was not much of an improvement on its predecessor, the Nintendo 64. Nintendo failed to make much of an improvement in many aspects, the transition from cartridges to micro-discs could be seen as a downgrade as third party developers decided that developing on the console was not viable. This all affect player experience as audio and graphical performance was affected due to less storage on the discs.
Gameplay and experince
Storage capacity was also limited to the amount of data that could be stored on separate memory cards and what could be stored on a DVD disc, in terms of game data (or films for the DVD playing capabilities). The storage capacity of memory cards was around a few megabytes, a fraction of what we are use to today!
Gameplay and player experience was cutting edge at the time, this is still shown today as triple A titles are still being released for the console. This success as the worlds best selling console are coincidental, the introduction of Dolby surround sound to playback audio, coupled with the graphics and third party development for the PS2 made it an instant hit!
Gameplay and player experience
MP3 Surround
MP4 Audio
MPEG-4 Part 3
AAC / AAC Low Complexity (unprotected)
This audio capability is fairly impressive for a hand held device, considering that the audio will usually be confined to headphones where the sound is often distorted anyway. The presence of Apple's aac files and mp3/4 files show that Sony wish for the console to be used for a variety of reasons, i.e. a music and video player!
In an unusual, but understandable step, Sony reverted back to the use of cartridges within the Vita, this means that the capacity of data that each game can hold is reduced compared to that of its old UMD discs. Obviously, if less space is available, then factors such as audio quality may be affected as some data may need to be discarded as the files are compressed. The use of cartridges means that the Vita no longer has any moving parts, making it more reliable when it is often being transported around. This also explains the lack of internal memory as a hard drive spins which could take damage and would take up considerable space.
Game Capacity
Gameplay and Experience
Gameplay and player experience on the Vita is very enjoyable for a hand held console, a worthy eighth generation console due to its audio and graphical capabilities that haven't been held back by the decision to use cartridges to store games on. Ultimately, this has no affects on the players experience or the gameplay as it seems that the supposed 'reduced' storage hasn't compromised the quality of the games.
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