Lack of audio source options in games?

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by Jedi2016, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Jedi2016

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    This was something I never really thought about before yesterday, when my headphones came in. My system normally runs on ye olde stereo speakers that I've had since time out of mind, and I just got a pair of 5.1 headphones.

    While my computer sees everything the way it should, it seems that games don't... they just use whatever the system default is, with zero choice to select which audio output you want to use. Before now, I never really thought about how useless it is when audio options only have two or three volume sliders and that's it. Most games don't even have a stereo/5.1 switch.

    This wouldn't be so surprising if no one did it, but that's not true... Blizzard games all support in-game audio source selection. It's as easy as going into the sound options and selecting the headphones from a drop-down menu, and bam.. the game just automatically plays through the headphones in 5.1, while the rest of the system runs through the stereo speakers.

    So far, these are the only games I've seen that actually support it.

    So why don't all games include that? Is the programming behind it really that complicated? There's only certain games (FPS, mainly, or those with chat) that I'd use the headphones on, and it just seems like a bit of a hassle to have to switch my entire system's audio output to the headphones before the games will use it.
     
  2. Silent_Buddha

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    A lot of older games do support it.

    I think it's another victim of the fact that most PC games now days are console ports. On consoles there is only one default anything. So, just like you don't get a lot of graphics options in most games, you also don't get a lot of audio options.

    At least Windows makes it easy to set/change the default audio device. If you have the speaker icon in your task tray you can just right click it and select Playback devices to change the default playback device. And if you have to change the number of speakers, you can hit the configure button on that page.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  3. grndzro

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    Games overriding system defaults is usually not recommended in the programming world.
     
  4. Blazkowicz

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    In the good old times games would let you choose between sound blaster, adlib, midi etc. and we liked it better than the "system default" i.e. PC speaker.
     
  5. Blazkowicz

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    Can you automate the selection?, i.e. selecting the system output through command line.

    If so then it's easy to launch your game with a .bat file :

    REM This is a batch file
    command to switch to 5.1 output
    d:\games\foo\foo.exe -options
    command to switch to stereo output

    This is how I would set gamma for a couple games (quake 1 is fun when you can see stuff other than the torches)

    Or you can do some crude GUI automation with autohotkey ("launch that GUI chooser stuff", [wait for the window to come up], "click on the 100th by 50th pixel", "close it", "run the game", "launch that GUI chooser stuff", "click on the 100th by 70th pixel", "close the stuff")
     
    #5 Blazkowicz, Sep 3, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2013
  6. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    That's not a good example. The current setup, where you can choose a default device in Windows and all games then just work with it, is hardly a step backwards from that!

    But at the same time it's fairly trivial for a PC game to read all available options from Windows and allow you to choose one of them and save that setting. I definitely blame lazy console ports / pirates (after all, if all PC gamers actually bought their games, things might change ... ) Instead, many of them prefer to spend their money on hardware. ;)
     
  7. Albuquerque

    Albuquerque Red-headed step child
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    One thing that I've found handy (IMO) is that Windows audio handler can manage the priority of output devices. Thus, if I do not have my headphones connected to the headphone jack, then the default output is my 5.1 speaker system. If the headphones get connected, then the default audio output moves to the 2-channel headphone output.

    The only caveat is that games read the default output port on startup, so if I want to play with the headphones on, I need to plug in the headset first before starting the game.
     
  8. Jedi2016

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    Yeah, pretty much this. It would be nice for certain games to just automatically switch to headphones because I've set them that way (especially shooters).

    Considering even the graphics options in most games these days is little more than a high/low switch, I think the problem is probably the ports. And even some of the PC-exclusive devs seem to follow suit, with only a two-slider "Audio Options" menu, compared to Blizzard's menus, which has a ridiculous amount of audio settings (including output selection).
     
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