As graphics get more realistic, cars in racing games can look as accurate as the real thing. But they don’t always sound like it. After all, what a car sounds like is a core part of its character. Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown developer KT Racing knows this. That’s why TDUSC will sound as good as it looks.
In a new developer blog, KT Racing sound designer Kevin Dedou explains how TDUSC's sound design will set it apart from open-world racers.
How Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown’s car sounds are created
When making car sounds in TDUSC, the audio team starts by looking at the engine type and the brand that produced it. From here, they “listen to a lot of car sounds, especially on YouTube” and read comments “to see what people like best about a particular engine sound.”
“In real life, the sounds of supercars are often so loud and violent that they don't give the same impression as when recorded through a microphone,” Dedou explained. “We also have to do a lot of work on how people feel about what they hear, to render it as effectively as possible in a video game.”
They then check whether recordings of engine sounds are already available or arrange recording sessions for cars that “sound too distinctive.” “We generally start with existing recordings and edit them: we take what we want from the sound and try to embellish it with various effects (compression, saturation, filters, exciter, etc.)”
In TDUSC, the engine sound adapts in real-time, responding to factors like the status of the engine or how hard the player is accelerating. “When we make an engine sound, we synthesise the acceleration and deceleration ramps (which means a recording that starts at the lowest engine revs and ends at the highest for acceleration and vice versa for deceleration), Dedou explained. “We cut all this out so that we can 'wander’' through the recording as we wish, according to the player's driving style.”
As for electric cars that don’t have a combustion engine, every sound is artificial and played through speakers. Since manufacturers don’t supply recordings of these samples, they won’t be in TDUSC. This meant the audio team had to start from scratch and “recreate everything using synthesisers and sampling.”
Every car will sound unique
KT Racing wants every car in TDUSC to have a unique character, with the sound striking a balance between realism and enjoyment.
“Our aim is to create a unique personality for each car,” said Dedou. “We've got a lot of cars, but we pay particular attention to the choice of recordings and the treatment we give to the sounds, to make the whole thing unique! We try to strike a real balance between what you'd expect from a video game and what you'd expect from a realistic representation, and I think we've struck a very good balance.”
As for which cars you’ll be driving, models shown in screenshots and trailers include the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, Nissan GT-R, and Porsche 918 Spyder. The car list won’t be limited to exotic sports and supercars either, with SUVs and pickups letting you venture off-road on Hong Kong Island.
Unlike Forza Horizon 5, you won’t be handed the fastest cars straight away: KT Racing says it will take 100 hours to unlock the best cars, giving dedicated players a sense of progression and reward.
The idea is to make you bond with your car rather than driving one for a few minutes before moving on to the next. It's refreshing compared to other open-world racers like Forza Horizon 5, where cars are disposable. This combined with the dealership experience where you browse official manufacturer options to make the car your own will give a sense of ownership that's missing in most modern driving games.
Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown is set for a 2024 launch on PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. There’s no exact release date yet, but we’re hoping for a new trailer and release date announcement next month as an early Christmas present.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the latest racing game news and deals straight to your inbox!
For more articles like this, take a look at our Other page.