Game Development Reference
At one time not so long ago, “3D sound” was hyped as the next big thing. There's no
doubt that for a long time, game sound lagged far behind graphics capabilities. It's also
true that good 3D sound can compliment good visuals, helping to create a more im‐
mersive gaming environment. Unfortunately, a lot of early 3D sound just wasn't that
good. Things are getting better, though, and with the use of headphones and a good
sound card, some amazing 3D sounds can be generated.
If used properly, 3D sound can give your player the sensation that sounds are coming
from different distinct directions. For example, a shot fired from behind the player
would be accompanied by the player hearing a gunshot sound as though it really were
coming from behind. Such directional sound really adds to the immersive experience
of a game.
How We Hear in 3D
3D sound—or more specifically, our ability to localize a sound—is the result of a com‐
plex interaction between the sound source and our bodies, not to mention the room or
environment we happen to be in. Ignoring environmental interactions, Figure 26-9
illustrates how a sound wave interacts with one's body.
Figure 26-9. 3D sound
One of the first things you may notice is that our ears are separated by some finite
distance. This means that the sound coming from the source on the right will reach the