Last updated at 0:28, 30 Dec 2014 Uploaded at 23:39, 6 Oct 2013
Audio Overhaul for Skyrim
Voted mod of the month in October 2013
AOS is an extensive sound overhaul aiming to make the soundscape more immersive, clear, responsive, impactful and ultimately fun, while always aiming for maximum compatibility, performance and coherency with the main game. Ambience, weapons, magic, movement, reverb system, sound propagation, creatures and the whole mix are key areas of change.
Audio has been tweaked and often redesigned from scratch in thousands of instances of content and implementation, to achieve one coherent vision for the soundscape that does not rely on third party content or code.
The overall style and tone moves away from a "gamey" soundscape and instead uses more real life audio behavior as a guideline.
Another goal was to really make sure that this mod does not give it self away as a mod. Through subtlety and coherence, new and old content should meld together seamlessly, even if that means that the majority of changes will not be consciously noticed.
No content has been stolen from other games. New content is unique to this project and there is nothing that was just copied straight out of a sound library.
Audio Overhaul for Skyrim 2.2 is now available for download!
EDIT: I sneakily reuploaded the full package. It was not packed correctly to work with BAIN. Should work now.
EDIT2: There was a small oversight on the Dawnguard and Dawnguard + Dragonborn versions of AOS.esp. The new 2.2 Hotfix installer fixes that for those who have a slow internet connection and don't want to download the full mod again. It is an update, so it needs a full mod installation of version 2.2 (without hotfix) beforehand, which has been moved to the old files now.
I also reuploaded the main full installer, incudling all fixes and made it the main file in the download section. It contains everything you need. When in doubt, only get: "AOS 2_2 Full Installer including Hotfix"
EDIT3: Oh boy. The complexer it gets the more small things can go wrong...So there was an issue in the DG and DG+DB AOS.esps which would make a rather important layer to the pine forest morning ambiance not play. I reuploaded the full installer and the hotfix to include a fix. Hopefully this is the last time :)
Changes and Fixes:
- Extensive remix and redesign of all exterior base ambiences and some interiors
- Ambiences are now more dynamic, a bit less windy on average, leaving more room for wind gusts and other ambient sounds as accents
- Tweaked multiple ambients sounds from version 2.0 that didn't play as much as I wanted (elk and fox cries in forrests, loons etc.)
- Added a large variety of ambient flies, bees, beetles and mosquitos to better cover the close range ambiance
- Fall forest (close to riften) and pine forest now share very little content and have completely different base ambiences for all day times, pine is based on new recordings I made specifically for the mod
- Both forest types now have specific ambiences for morning time (loveley singing birds)
- Forests are now much more quiet and atmospheric during night time
- Forests are now less windy in general (especially pine) and for both forrest types the weather has more influence on how windy it is
-> With the new additions and polish AOS now fully covers all interiors and exteriors with a complete redesign of all base ambiences + roughly 400 additional ambient sounds carefully spread throughout different regions and day times, ranging from very close to very far wildlife, wind/air, debris, foliage etc., all fine tuned to be vivid and varied without overpowering gameplay. Ambience has become one of the biggest features of the mod and I am quite pleased with the result now.
- Fixed super loud and inappropriate wind in the Falmer valley (Forgotten Vale) from the Dawnguard DLC
- Tiny spiders no longer share footstep sounds with giant frostbite spiders, they are just silent now
- Foxes and Rabbits/Hares now have new footsteps sounds that are much more natural and subtle compared to vanilla
- Horse hoof attacks don't sound like huge explosions anymore, instead use more appropriate sounds
- Various fixes to impact data where some types of attacks didn't have anything assigned for a large variety of surfaces. For example bashing with bows was often silent, same for maces and more (these were vanilla bugs)
Full the complete changelist including changes and fixes to the AOS installer and compatibility patches, please see here, or click on the CHANGES tab, above.
If you already have an older version of AOS installed, simply uninstall the mod and re-install the new version, preferably using the automated installer which works with NMM, Mod Organizer or Wyre Bash. Scroll down for manual installation instructions.
Brodual Coverage Version 2.1
The following videos are based on AOS 1.0 - 1.5. I did not have time to make a presentation for 2.0 yet.
General Gameplay Footage (version 1.5) OLD!
Skyrim Mod Sanctuary. (version 1.5) OLD!
Comparison between some Combat Magic sounds. (version 1.5) OLD!
Comparison between some exterior ambiences. (version 1.0) OLD!
- A case by case treatment that includes minimum distance, attenuation curve and maximum distance settings.
For example the audible range for weapon impacts has been increased by roughly 200%. The range for an NPC biting an apple is still close to what it used to be.
- Overall the chance that you hear what you see and expect has been increased significantly. The world is more alive as a result.
- The game is about 10-15% louder (as much as the engine allows)
- Adjusted amplitudes across the board for optimal balance between gameplay relevance and immersion.
- More dynamic and airy mix (the difference between quiet and loud is more prominent)
- Tweaked specifically to work with attenuation distance overhaul.
- Changed frequency content of many sounds for a more balanced and dynamic sound spectrum. More high range detail, less cluttered low-mid, low and sub range frequencies. Skyrim has a lot of frequency overlap, especially in the low range so that for example the bass of a dungeon room tone almost completely masks the bass of an explosion.
- Instead of just a collection of individual assets the soundscape now funtions better as a whole.
- The mix has been constantly fine tuned with all it's elements for over 2 years now
(Reverb represents the reflections of sound from surfaces in the environment, this is arguably one of the most significant changes)
- Much more present than in vanilla Skyrim. Different environments now have a much more present, realistic and varied space response.
- Not just increased volume of reverb but remodeled reverbs for all different environment types for optimal balance between reverb sound quality and the core of each environments atmosphere, as much as the engine allows.
- Tweaked thoroughly in conjunction with the attenuation distance overhaul.
In vanilla Skyrim every sound would have generic standard settings of reverb send, no matter it's attenuation distance. This would lead to small range sounds like an object dropping on the ground cause more environment reflections than a massive explosion at the same distance, which is the opposite of what you would expect.
- There are outdoor reflections now. Being outside does not stop sound from reflecting from surfaces. The effect is very subtle, but quite effective and adds a more natural feel to the exterior soundscape.
- Explosions (runes, fireballs, dragonfireballs) now have special outdoor reflection tails as you would expect from a loud sound.
NOTE: If you have played with it a while and still feel that the reverb is too present on your system look in the OPTIONAL FILES for the reduced reverb plugin.
(the most work intensive part of this project, you have no idea how tedious this was, SHARE MY PAIN!)
- Almost complete overhaul of all humanoid, and some creature's footsteps. More than 1000 new sounds just for this.
- Worn armor types (cloth, light, heavy) are now coherent and always present for different surface types and movement speeds. Vanilla Skyrim took many compromises in that regard and mostly only let you hear your armor while sprinting with very limited variations. Walking, running, sprinting, stairs in combination with 3 different armor types and in combination with all different surface types....yeah it's a lot.
- The way armor movement is combined with footsteps is very inefficient in Skyrim to be honest and it bothered me a lot, but I kept the structure as much as needed in order to insure compatibility with all armor mods.
- Heavy armor sounds heavier than the other types.
- Reduced repetition by increasing the number of samples and designing all new sounds and modifying old ones to be clear of "give away" elements such as specific tones and rhythms, while trying to leave as much of the character of the sounds intact as possible.
(this was one of the most fun parts of the project SHARE MY JOY!)
- New sound design from scratch and modifications mostly for destruction and conjuration magic...mostly
- More clarity between casting, projectile and impact sounds. For example before you could not hear the impact of your own Firebolt because the casting sound completely drowned it out due to its length, frequency content and the low range/volume of the impact sound.
- More aggressive, snappy, punchy impacts and explosion design that comes through in the mix better and makes throwing projectiles at enemies more satisfying and responsive.
- More realism. Realism in Magic wooot? Yes, by emphasizing the elements that are being wielded and making the sounds more concise and dynamic rather than typical, whooshey game sound design.
- Better connection to the visuals such as the timing on icicles getting stuck and exploding after a while or fireball impact sounds that follow the expansion and collapse of the fire.
- More variation and specific sounds for different spells. For example before the exact same sound was used for almost all shock related spells, now unique spells have unique sounds.
- Sustained destruction sounds are now more intense when dual cast by adding additional layers.
- Hitting a surface/object with sustained destruction spells is now much more audible
- Projectile sounds. Now you can hear magic projectiles flying by your face no matter the distance it had to travel. This actually changes what fighting against mages feels like a lot.
- Conjuration now follows a theme, opening breaches to oblivion, dealing with demons and such.
- Reanimation has a sound now.
- Some other new sounds like iron skin and casting conjuration, which before sound like a metal impact, that I found inappropriate have been changed.
- Some modified shouts for more distinction and power between different levels of the sort.
- Impact sound for hitting a target with Unrelenting Force. (feels more responsive)
- Redesigning of some non-player magic/explosions (like Dragon fireballs).
- Redesigned weapon impacts for better distinction between weapon types and more presence in the mix
- Redesigned draw, sheathe, bash and block sounds with same philosophy
- Daggers now have unique content, no longer reuse sword assets
- Redesigned bows firing and arrow impact sounds. Made from real medieval bow recordings.
- Arrows now have projectile sounds. (this makes a big difference)
- Made sure the game uses the right content intended for different situations instead of falling back to generic samples.
- Completely redesigned all exterior base ambiences to give a greater sense of air, wind, foliage, life. Subtle and non-intrusive but significantly more vivid and varied compared to before.
- Redesigned or heavily remixed all interior base ambiences. Generally much more dynamic than vanilla.
- Roughly 400 new ambient sounds throughout Skyrim, in interiors and exteriors, choosen and placed with care in terms of location but also making sure there is not too much overlap and clutter. Some examples: bats, bees, eagles, dogs, rocks, branch cracks, various birds, supernatural dungeon tones, debris fall, town activity, elks, foxes, frogs, geysers, house creaks, loons, wooden support creaks, mosquitoes, owls, wolfs and more
- Different regions have different characteristics pronounced.
- Some regions have very different content based on daytime
- Forests are about birds, breaking branches and soft rushing wind through the foliage.
- The tundra is about open grass fields with insects and wind hitting your ears.
- The reach is bare and windy, with eagles and various birds echoing through the mountains and rocks falling in the distance.
- Snow fields and mountains are cold and have little life with biting gusts and snow carried away by the wind. Emphisis is on different snowing intensity, up to snowstorms
- The marsh swamp is eerily dead with just some insects and frogs.
- More focus on animated objects in the environment such as fires, waterfalls or windmills. I want the world of Skyrim to be more alive with these spots that can grab your attention and are panned in the 3d environment. You hear what you see and can use your ears to find things which you might otherwise miss, more than before.
- Adjusted content and timing of randomized ambient sounds (like birds, insects) in most exterior and interior regions. Lowered or even removed some sounds that were out of place or annoying, added others to emphasize the character of the environment. Remixed heavily.
Many really good vanilla Skyrim sounds were hardly noticeable before, some others stuck out too much.
- Optimized many looping sounds by removing "give away" elements, similar to the new foley, masking the fact that these sounds are often just very short loops.
- Interior rain (houses)
- Interior wind howls based on weather outside (houses)
- Lots of traps have been made snappier and louder in order to hopefully scare you more.
- Igniting oil is much more intense
- New sound design and many modifications for various creature types
- It reaches from small modifications (foxes) to complete redesign (like frostbite spiders).
- Special attention to things that are big and epic. Dragons biting, landing, flying by, tail whips, stampeding Mammoths, groaning Centurions etc.
- Dogs don't sound like asthmatic goblins anymore! (Why has no one noticed this yet? :()
Performance and Bugs
- Performance was a concern from the start. While increasing attenuation distance across the board will increase the number of sounds loaded and played I made a big effort reducing memory usage where I can.
The most extreme example would be fireballs. The memory usage of all fireball related sounds is now at 1/3 of what it was before even though there are now unique casting, projectile and exterior reflection sounds, which before did not exist.
- For most people there should be no performance issues.
- Many vanilla Skyrim sound bugs have be fixed either directly or as side effect of the other changes.
PLEASE READ THE LAST FAQ ENTRY ABOUT COMPATIBILITY, CAPS INTENDED!
- For the current version, all of the most common compatibility patches are included in the installer! The readme also answeres some questions about popular mods that don't need patches (since the question comes up a lot)
- For older versions a variety of compatibility patches which were made for version 1.5 is available here: AOS Compatibility Patches
- This mod is intended to be easy to use and requires the least possible hassle to install. No script extenders and special game versions are required. I tried to keep most things as simple and clean as possible. There are no new scripts that can get stuck and pollute your save game files.
- The Climates of Tamriel Sound addon is not compatible with AOS. The game won't break but the load order decides which mod takes priority in the regions in which both mods overlap. This means adding the additional CoT sound module after AOS will override most of AOS features in those affected regions.
- As you could imagine this mod is not directly compatible with most other sound related mods.
I need to stress that just installing a mod with other weapon sounds or a mod that adds new ambience sounds will also have other consequences as in removing other features from AOS due to the way things are connected and implemented in the engine.
A mod that changes weapon sounds most likely also overrides the instances of the sounds that determine attenuation distance, amplitude and reverb settings that don't match with AOS at all. A mod that adds ambience sounds will override region settings and also remove everything that was added and tweaked by AOS in those regions.
I have tried a few sound mods (like "Improved Combat Sounds" and "Sounds of Skyrim") and apart from problems like implementation being overridden there are also big differences in style and tone, and philosophies about mixing, subtlety, sync and cohesion. It is not about what is right or wrong, but mixing styles is not good. More is not always better! In my opinion you should not mix full changes of 2 or more mods to a forest ambience for example just like you would not play a melodic death metal song at the same time as a jazz song with both not even using the same bpm. AOS is ment to be complete in those areas it touches. Add and remove at your own discretion if coherency is not a high priority to you.
- SMPC sound fixes are heavily conflicting with AOS! It is unnecessary to use with AOS since AOS changes the same things, but SMPC sound fixes does so with the vanilla game as a base. When allowed to override AOS, SMPC sound fixes will significantly alter the mix and remove or break features, possibly even cause instability.
Similar problems occur with the Sound Propagation mod which tackles the attuenuation distances like AOS does, but AOS also tweaks reverb sends for each output setting in conjunction with the new reverb settings, and sounds have been mixed using certain settings. Overriding AOS with the Sound Propagation mod would basically make the reverb go completely out of hand and the mix would be very off.
What I am trying to say is that it is often not very obvious which things are connected and overridden when installing another sound mod and it will most likely undo one of the biggest goals of AOS, to provide a coherent soundscape that does not sound modded. Apart from that the other mod will most likely not play as its author intended either.
As a rule of thumb, if another sound mod includes an esp. file it will most likely result in unforeseen compatibility issues and diminish what either mod author intended.
In other news...
I started this project in late June 2012. The idea for the mod started even before Skyrim was released.
It took over a year, because I am also working in the triple A game industry which as many should know is extremely demanding. This, however, allowed me to actually constantly tweak and redesign things, with the new things I learn in my job every day, always listening with a fresh perception. It is a blessing in one way and a curse all the same, since I could never be convinced to release the mod. There is always more you can do until eternity, but at this stage I would consider the mod finished. It now covers everything I initially wanted to do and much more to a quality that is above what I first planned. This does not mean there will not be any updates anymore, but from here on out it is mainly polish and further improvements based on my own rising standards and there are already some things I am looking at. Thanks to those who helped me making the mod super easier to install and making all these compatibility patches which I would never have time for. Thanks to all who have reported bugs and even helped fixing them.
- There is a bug in Skyrim where for some reason there is no exterior reverb when you start the game in an exterior location. Only after you fast travel, or go indoors and outdoors again will it activate. It is not a game breaker whatsoever since it fixes it self while playing the game normally and the change is subtle to begin with.
- Animal footsteps and more efficient memory usage on humanoid footsteps
1. Download and unpack the main installer .rar archive
2. Choose one AOS.esp from the first 4 folders (001 -004) based on which DLCs you have. DG stands for Dawnguard, DB stands for Dragonborn. Place the correct AOS.esp in your Data folder within the main Skyrim directory.
3. Take the "Sound" folder from within the "010 Sounds Loose" folder and place it in your Data folder within your main Skyrim directory. Say yes to override when asked.
4. Activate the AOS.esp in your mod manager or from the Skyrim launcher
5. All the other folders in the installer archive contain compatibility patches for many popular mods. Place all needed patch .esp plugins in the Data directory as well.
6. Set your load order using LOOT, BOSS, or manually.
7. Play the game!
Recommended Installation: Use Nexus Mod Manager (NMM), Mod Organizer, or Wyre Bash
Recommended Sound settings in the game
Everything was tweaked to work best with the following settings:
- Master at 100%
- Effects at 100%
- Footsteps at 100%
- NPC Footsteps at 100%
- Voice at 100%
- Waterfalls and Rapids at 100%
- Music at 50%
Q: Does this mod change music? Are my music mods compatible?
A: Generally there should not be a problem. There could only be a problem if the music mod edits region data, which should not be the case most of the time.
There is but one change AOS does to music actually. It turns exploration music off in the Marsh Swamp area (near Morthal). I stand by that choice because it gives that area a much creepier character in my opinion. It is an important part of that areas atmosphere.
Q: I only want x and y but not z. Will there be a modular release?
A: This is harder to accomplish than you might expect. It is not a simple matter of adding and removing sound files. Each file has been mixed into the soundscape using a multitude of settings that come with the esp. If for example I would try to seperate the bow sounds I would have to change the behavior and content of the projectile sounds, revert to the old bow sound and revert to the old amplitude, pitch and etc. settings, revert to the old output settings, which need to be cloned just for that. But then it would have the wrong reverb send...In the end the sound would simply sound broken when put into the same world. Many sounds would require their own special treatment in order to be like vanilla. It would take a very long time to do and I won't promise that I will ever do it.
However, if you prefer the old version of a sound, your best bet is to go into the sound folder, find the sound you don't like and delete it. Except for things that are completely new, the game should then revert to the vanilla file but at least give it the same behavior as all other sounds.
Better make sure that a sound files exists with that exact same name in the exact same folder structure before deleting it.
Q: Will there be a compatibility patch for Sounds of Skyrim (SoS)?
A: There won't be from me for two reasons. One is that compatibility is tricky enough with making sure that the CoT weathers work with the compatibility patch. Adding SoS, another mod that edits region data into the mix and required it's own compatibility patch for CoT, will make things very complicated for me and the user. I didn't want this mod to be difficult to get working.
The other reason is that AOS and SoS don't match from a design perspective and are overlapping. It would result in a noise war and bloated memory if both mods are to be combined. Ambience for a game that is supposed to be playable is not just about quantity, it's about getting the right mix between elements and it would simply sound better and run better to have one or the other mod.
They are two different mods that work on overlapping things. Just like you have to choose between your favorite lighting mods for interiors you will have to choose here as well. Yes there are great things in SoS that I also planned to have in AOS in one way or the other. But scavenging another mod for parts feels wrong and insulting towards Cliffworms work. I will expand and tweak carefully where I see fit, without stealing anyones content.
Surely not the answer some people were looking for ;)
Q:Footsteps are too loud for my taste. Is this even a question?
A: There is a volume slider for Footsteps in the Audio options in Skyrim. Version 1.3 and up allows you to adjust NPC footsteps separately.
A: The mod is not dependant on anything and is self contained. Compatibility issues usually happen in "regions", which in the case of CoT is fixed with the compatibility patch. As a simple rule you decide what you want through load order priority. But be aware that many things are connected in a way that having one mod override one part in AOS might lead to other consequences that will likely kill the carefully tweaked mix (not break the game though).
In order to not break anything I personally place AOS and then the compatibility patch for CoT very late in the loadorder. Placing anything with conflicts, after AOS should be done under the users best judgement, taking into account that some features might not work or sound weird.
For all compatibility patch plugins, they must load after AOS and the other mod(s) they provide compatibility for.
Q: Can I remove the new bow sounds without breaking the game?
A: Yes, navigate to Skyrim/Data/Sound/fx/wpn/bow/fire and delete the 3 files there. Skyrim will revert to the old sounds. You can also replace them with those from another mod if you wish. For all sounds that AOS replaces (meaning the are vanilla files with the exact same names and paths) you can delete the AOS sounds from the sound folder to revert to the vanilla ones. But I suggest you try things in context for a while before reacting on something new and strange with deleting stuff.
Q: You claim realism, but what's up with the bow sounds and the lightning spells?
A: Reality can be surprising. The bow sounds are real mediaval bows, so are the flying arrows and impacts. The lightning spells are made from real electricity sounds. Why do they sound a bit like lazers? Because electricity is often used to make lazers! Electricity can make some crazy cool sounds.
The new lightning is shorter and snappier and lets you actually hear the impact. For me, it is not just about the firing sound being as huge as possible, it's about how it fits in with the gameplay and how clear and reactive it is. So in comparison the firing sound might be the most obvious change compared to vanilla, but there are many other things combined that are supposed to work for a more pleasant, reactive and immersive gaming experience.
Q: Why does this mod need so many compatibility patches? Can't it be easier to install?
A: The mod does not NEED all those compatibility patches. It is easy to install, considering what it does and how much data needs to be touched for it's features. Sound is connected to many things and I did make a conscious effort to not edit data unless I really have to.
How many patches do I use my self? Just one and I actually use other mods which have conflicts with AOS (and each other).
Many mods in existence have conflicts with one another without there being compatibility patches to sort those out. A conflict does not automatically mean that the game will break, in most cases the mod with the higher priority in the load order will override one with a lower priority if they both tweak the same data.
The fact that people have spend so much time and effort to sort out a variety of conflicts for tons of mods should be an advantage and not discouraging. Most compatibility patches sort out very small conflicts, sometimes just a single entry, which allows us to make sure that those who want absolute perfection at the cost of additional effort can get that and even merge everything into a single compatibility plugin for that specific loadorder.
I would always recommend the patch for Climates of Tamriel (if the mod is used) or other weather mods because otherwise a significant amount of features will be lost. Most other conflicts are much smaller in nature and might not even be noticed by the average player.
Special thanks to Bethesda for allowing everyone to modify their vast games and promoting an active and creative community.
Also special thanks for the support from:
Nelly and Jinn (you know who you are and what you have done)