Fixing the Soundscape.
I am one of those people who always uses sound in games. Some games, you can literally do parts with your eyes closed because of the soundscape.
For a long time, Ingress was one of these. I'll start with two key points of the Classic scanner and then discuss Prime.
a. Combat damage - There are actually 5 different sounds for a Resonator taking damage.
- 1% or less
- up to 5%
- up to 25%
- above 25%
- the resonator exploding.
With these, you can do things like fire bursters without having to watch for damage to know how well you're doing. You can walk down the street secret agent style, with your phone in your pocket, headphones on, blowing up a farm without needing to see that you're succeeding or not.
b. Relative silence - Another key thing about the Classic scanner is relative silence when not acting. If you turn off the background noise and do nothing, you hear nothing. Tap a portal and you hear a beep, but then you continue to hear nothing while looking at the portal. This is significant in the age of wireless, battery powered headphones. If I'm walking towards a portal in the distance, I usually would simply open the portal on the screen, put away my phone, then walk towards it until the scanner says "Portal in Range" at which point I pull out my phone again. In the intervening period I can listen to music, or talk with friends, etc.
The greatest problem with the Prime Scanner's soundscape is the "noise". Using the analogy of signal to noise ratio, the noise for the scanner is extremely high and unavoidable. There are so many unnecessary and uninformative sounds cluttering up the soundscape, and they are not separated out into a band that can be disabled, without losing all sound.
a. Screaming in portals - Particularly annoying with ENL P8s, but also with RES P8s to some extent, simply having the portal open, floods the soundscape with ADA and Jarvis. Jarvis is so noisy to the point where you often can't hear music over his ranting. No-one needs to hear how he's not dead, all day every day. It's background noise that only the most lore-encased players want to hear. I don't select portals and walk to them any more because P8s are a screamfest for far too long. I also can't navigate in game to the portal, so I can't use that method to know when I've arrived. Additionally the crackling noise of the portal is just as unnecessary and should be moved.
b. External activities - I don't know the number of times I've heard "Link detected" and "Field detected" with no idea where on earth it happened. Once I opened up the map to find out that the link I 'detected' was more than 2km's away at its closest point. Four times what the scanner can show me. There is no way I could even see the link let alone do something about it in the moment. That was annoying, but not so bad. However, yesterday I did an entire Mission Day on Prime and discovered that not only was the nearby attack sounds saturating, but there was no way aside from turning off all sounds, to get rid of it. Playing with headphones, I was 'assaulted' with portal explosions and noise for nearly 3 hours while doing Missions, because everyone else was doing missions and the portals were flipping back and forth constantly.
c. Attacks - I can't yet confirm that there's actual information in the attack noises beyond the 1% vs anything else, but I'm yet to hear it if it is. I regularly fail to hear mods popping either because the sound is truncated because of everything else, or it simply is too heavily covered up by all the noise.
d. Scanner Sweep and Background Hum - This is also one of the most annoying examples of unnecessary noise. The constant background noise (while Background is off) means that wireless headphones are constantly on, and a run time of 12-15 hours is cut down to its minimum of 5-6 hours. Often I will play without music and just the Ingress sounds on, usually because I'm talking to others. The constant noise of the scanner pulse and the background "dum dum" every few seconds makes me either turn sound off completely, or turn down my headphones to the point that useful noises are far too quiet.
It's clear that no developer has ever left the client open with headphones on (sitting on the table beside you doesn't count), while the Background channel is on. It literally would drive you insane, like a Guantanamo Bay prisoner torture. It's also clear that developers haven't embraced the soundscape of Classic and its very good Signal to Noise ratio.
Either create a "flavor" channel, or move the majority of non-interactive sounds to Background.
- Scanner sweep and background hum - This must go to background. It is literally the background noise of the game. Turning on the Background channel simply amps up the amount of static. Turning it off does NOT remove the background noises.
- Portal attacks and external changes on the game field, both the voice and the sounds of attack, need to be moved to a combat sound channel. It's sometimes useful and in many cases would be left on, but at times, it makes audio impossible to use (e.g. mission days).
- The portal screaming needs to either be removed completely, or moved to Background. It does not provide any useful information and actively prevents Agents from playing in an efficient manner.
I'm sure other people can add more in the comments, but the logic here is that we should be able to configure our soundscape so that we hear
- Only voice associated with our actions.
- Only sounds associated with our actions.
- Silence when we're not doing anything, without completely disabling sounds.