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I'm really not sure if this is the appropriate community to ask in. I want to use some sort of audio cue that provides feedback for a player's accuracy in a task. They perform some action in real time - which they have to maintain - that gives an output on a linear scale. There is a target they are trying to reach and maintain on that scale. I want some sort of auditory feedback to assist the player in reaching the target. I thought about a pure tone that has increasing noise the further away they are from the target, but this doesn't give a sense of whether they are above or below on that linear scale. Any suggestions?

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I would experiment with trying to add two different disturbing "you are wrong" sound effect in addition to the pleasant "you are right" sound effect. One high-pitched "screeching" one that signals that the player is too high and one low-pitched "growling" one that signals that the player is too low.

Another option would be to use stereo sound and have the "you are wrong" effect stereo-pan to the left when the player is too low and to the right when the player is too high.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ good idea with the high and low frequency sounds. Think I'll increase their intensity proportional to distance from the target too. I thought about panning the sound, but thought it might get confusing associating left with low and high with right, but might try this too. Thanks \$\endgroup\$
    – oweydd
    Jan 22 at 15:01
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One approach is to play a continuous tone at a fixed frequency at all times, and then play another continuous tone whose frequency depends on the output on the linear scale. The two tones will then sound out of tune whenever the player isn't accurate, and as long as the player has at least an average sense of relative pitch, they'll know if they're too high or too low.

Those tones shouldn't be pure sine waves, but they should be relatively simple, maybe like a string or woodwind instrument, or a classic analog synth patch. If you don't need absolute 100% accuracy from the player, you should also have a "dead zone" where the variable tone is set to exactly the same pitch as the fixed tone - this is to avoid beating.

You'll need to play around with what kinds of pitch ratios you'll get at various points on the scale, to avoid making something off the mark sound better than something closer to the mark. For example, if the variable tone is 20% higher than the fixed tone, you get a minor third, which sounds very pleasant compared to the ratios you get with pitches that are closer together. Generally, keeping the pitches within about 10% of each other should avoid that issue. On a similar note, you should experiment with non-linear mappings between the player's accuracy output and the variable tone's pitch.

Finally, to reinforce the sweet spot, you could add a third tone that increases in intensity as long as the player maintains their accuracy. You need something with no harmonic relation to the other tones - for example, white noise rising in pitch, or a drum beat that increases in volume or tempo. If the player has to stay in the sweet spot for some X number of seconds to get the reward, and this happens more than once in the game, this third tone communicates the remaining time by giving players something familiar that they can anticipate - like how power up music functions in Mario.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for a well thought out idea! Will try both suggested answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – oweydd
    Jan 25 at 23:06

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