Today we’re taking a look at probably my favourite mobile game, True Skate! True Skate is a very simple game. You control a skateboard and use your fingers to do all sorts of tricks, while completing missions, getting high scores and so forth. I wanted to do an audio analysis of this because it’s pretty simple, teaches a lot about fundamental game audio concepts and actually sounds pretty good in the process as well.
True Skate is developed in Unity and as far as I can tell also uses the native Unity audio engine.
Since True Skate involves a lot of “driving”, a loop is needed whenever the player skateboard is riding on the ground from A to B. How True Skate handles this is by having a single loop for each type of surface in the game.
Whenever a change of surface happens, a small crossfade is applied to make the transitions less jarring.
The “driving” loops also react to speed. This is done by simply pitching the single loop up or down in pitch, corresponding to the pitch. The loop varies enough in itself, so it isn’t that noticeable when pitch changes are happening. The pitch is only pushed as far as the loop can “handle” without sounding too weird, making for smart and efficient use of a single sound.
The game also uses loops while grinding. It functions basically the same way, with a different grinding sound being played depending on which kind of material you’re grinding on.
It’s a bit more finicky, since the slighest repositioning while grinding causes the loop the basically start over. So, if you hit a grind on a weird angle, you’ll get several instances of the grind sound starting and stopping until you either reposition or jump off the rail.
The final loop in the game is the ambience. The ambience changes according to the level you’re playing, setting the right kind of mood, but it’s played extremely low. Playing it low makes sense, since all the ambiences are basically the sounds of the venues if they were completely empty.
So, if you’re playing in a warehouse, you’ll hear a subtle roomtone and maybe some distant boxes being dropped. If you’re playing a level that’s taking place in the middle of the city, you’ll hear some very distant traffic and maybe some wind.
It all serves to make you feel very alone while playing, which may or may not have been the intention (Especially since the game doesn’t have any music at all). Either way, it works in the sense that it really puts you in the mindspace of being alone and practicing the chops on your skateboard.
Footsteps and Impacts
Following the example of changing sounds depending on the surface a given action is happening on, the same thing happens you crash your skateboard into something.
Crash into a fence and a metal impact sound plays, crash into a wood panel and a wood impact sound plays.
A cool little impact detail, is that each of the wheel-sets (trucks) have their own impact sound when landing. So, if you land on the rear-truck first and then the front one, you get this nice “Ba-Plonk” combination that sounds really good!
To move the board forward, you have to swipe downwards on the screen to give it some momentum. Depending on where you swipe on the screen, the corresponding footstep sound will play. When is say footstep, it’s a really a combination of a small footstep sound with some skateboard impact sound being played on top.
Swipe on wood, and a wood-footstep sound will play. Swipe on dirt and a dirt-footstep sound will play. Pretty standard stuff.
One weird though, is that the sound doesn’t have a distance limit. Meaning that you could basically swipe on a ramp 100m away, and it would play the material footstep sound of that ramp. Take a look at the picture below.
Each of the red circles are just examples of where you could swipe and the material sound would play, but you could basically do it all over this screen except if you get too close to the buttons.
The good thing that this method of handling footsteps brings, is that if you swipe close to the board (which you do most of the time) it keeps you in the fantasy, since your “foot” can reach over and take a step on a different surface that what your skateboard is currently on, which is a pretty good detail.
A way to fix this could have been to put a distance limit on the swiping action, so if the player tried to swipe outside of the limit a default footstep sound would play corresponding to the surface that the skateboard is already on.
I personally love many of the small details that didn’t need to be in a game this size. A lot of attention has been put on getting the board to sound good while reacting to its environment as well.
I think it would be interesting to see how a game like this would sound with more attention being put on the world-building aspect. Maybe putting in more 3D sounds in the levels to make it come to life, maybe also adding a soundtrack, which is pretty “standard” for the skateboarding and extreme sports video-game genre. But who knows, maybe it would take away from the lone-rider practicing all by himself kinda feel.
If you’re new, I hope this opened your eyes on some common game audio systems. If you’re experienced, I at least hope I’ve convinced you to try out a cool skateboarding game!
See you next week!