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In a 3D game, it makes sense that stereo balance is based on the angle between your camera direction and the directionto the audio source.

Is 2D audio just "fudge the left-right balance until it sounds good"? Are there games where the audio balance was still character-oriented rather than view oriented (so a character facing south causes stereo balance to be backwards)?

I'd be interested in answers supported by examples where a notable game was played by blind players using audio cues. The only one that comes to mind is Brood War

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The spatial audio should be relative to the camera.

If you consider it, even in a 3D game, the audio is relative to the camera. Sounds that come from the right side of the screen are heard from the right speaker, and sounds that come from the left side of the screen are heard from the left speaker. It just happens that the avatar is looking in the same direction as the camera. (For example, an FPS with a cutscene that shows your avatar doesn't switch the direction of the audio when viewing your character's front side).

Remember that the reason you're implementing spatial audio is for the player. It would be rather unintuitive to hear a sound coming from your speakers and need to reference the direction the avatar is looking to determine which direction they heard it from. The audio is for the human playing the game, not the avatar in the game. With FPS style games, when in first person mode, audio is

The only reason you might implement spatial audio relative to the avatar instead of being relative to the player is if it was specific a game mechanic your game relied on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not just about which direction the avatar is looking at, it's also about their spatial location. Even if the camera is locked on the avatar, they are still looking at it from a distance. So for example, if a sound occurs to the avatar's immediate left, the best audio pan is not -1 (full left), but something like -0.1 (slightly left), because relative to the camera, the sound occurred in front and slightly to the left. \$\endgroup\$ – congusbongus Jul 7 '17 at 2:32

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