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Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:08 pm
by JakSparro98
The day I downloaded the new update for SFD I noticed that the new soundtrack took a bit to download, curious for this I looked for the tracks in the install folder and I noticed that most are encoded in 320 kbps.

Standard audio quality usually is 128 kbps, converting all the new tracks from 320 to 128 kbps won't affect the audio quality, only the files size, that will be more than halved.

Seeing is believing, this is "Anarchy" converted to 128 kbps, about 3 MB, while the original one in 320 kbps is about 8 MB.

We do not have the same internet subscription, someone could have optic fiber subscription (lucky ones), others the old copper connection ADSL (like me), and others even worst like a pay for GB subscription, so I think we shouldn't take game files size like a marginal problem.

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:29 pm
by Splinter
I wouldn't call 128 kbps mp3 "standard". It's used in streaming services such as Youtube and Soundcloud, because they prefer fast streaming over quality. The quality difference is big, you can hear higher frequencies getting "opaque", less bright, for example.

However, when I was downloading the beta, I noticed that the music was taking long to download. In the future, when there are 30, 40 tracks in the game, it could be a bigger issue. Of course I don't want to sacrifice too much audio quality, but I'll talk to Gurt and Hjärpe about this, at a later time.

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:56 pm
by Gurt
As long as the tracks don't change from update to update you don't need to download the files again. See it as a one-time download only using the launcher.
If you download the installer or .rar file from scratch then you download the whole game again included the music files. Not much to do here.

Lowering the overall quality of the game just because there's a poor connection isn't really a valid reason for us considering we will most likely be changing how we distribute the game when it's paid (more info on that at some later time).

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:21 pm
by JakSparro98
Splinter wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:29 pm
I wouldn't call 128 kbps mp3 "standard". It's used in streaming services such as Youtube and Soundcloud, because they prefer fast streaming over quality. The quality difference is big, you can hear higher frequencies getting "opaque", less bright, for example.

However, when I was downloading the beta, I noticed that the music was taking long to download. In the future, when there are 30, 40 tracks in the game, it could be a bigger issue. Of course I don't want to sacrifice too much audio quality, but I'll talk to Gurt and Hjärpe about this, at a later time.
Gurt wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:56 pm
As long as the tracks don't change from update to update you don't need to download the files again. See it as a one-time download only using the launcher.
If you download the installer or .rar file from scratch then you download the whole game again included the music files. Not much to do here.

Lowering the overall quality of the game just because there's a poor connection isn't really a valid reason for us considering we will most likely be changing how we distribute the game when it's paid (more info on that at some later time).
I can't really hear the difference between the two bit rates,I can see the clear difference only through the sound spectrum.
Since the previous composer did his theme in 128 maybe this sound quality isn't that bad, the tracks are 8 bit-like music after all.

Gurt, I don't want oblige noone, the suggestion section is for discussing what and what not to do to enhance SFD and of course the final choices are yours, otherwise the game would have been developed by me, but if you can really hear something different in 128 version only then you should say "lowering the overall quality", and it's not for sure you won't manage to hear the difference.

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:03 pm
by KliPeH
Absolutely not. Never lower the quality of your work to cut on something as trivial as file size or download time. Just because a download takes 5 minutes to complete instead of 3 doesn't mean we're nuking some seriously good work to cater to "poor connections". Find a better connection or wait a little longer, your personal ISP shouldn't force us to listen to tracks in (objectively) worse quality.
JakSparro98 wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:21 pm
I can't really hear the difference between the two bit rates,I can see the clear difference only through the sound spectrum.

[...] if you can really hear something different in 128 version only then you should say "lowering the overall quality", and it's not for sure you won't manage to hear the difference.
This is the Pistons argument all over again. "My personal equipment can't handle this so lets just downgrade everything until I can play the game the way I want to". You don't notice the difference but I do; so will other audiophiles and people with good headphones or really good speakers. You know how the saying goes - if it ain't broke don't fix it. At the end of the day we're trying to create a good game, not necessarily a game everybody can afford to play.

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:40 pm
by JakSparro98
KliPeH wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:03 pm
Absolutely not. Never lower the quality of your work to cut on something as trivial as file size or download time. Just because a download takes 5 minutes to complete instead of 3 doesn't mean we're nuking some seriously good work to cater to "poor connections". Find a better connection or wait a little longer, your personal ISP shouldn't force us to listen to tracks in (objectively) worse quality.
JakSparro98 wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:21 pm
I can't really hear the difference between the two bit rates,I can see the clear difference only through the sound spectrum.

[...] if you can really hear something different in 128 version only then you should say "lowering the overall quality", and it's not for sure you won't manage to hear the difference.
This is the Pistons argument all over again. "My personal equipment can't handle this so lets just downgrade everything until I can play the game the way I want to". You don't notice the difference but I do; so will other audiophiles and people with good headphones or really good speakers. You know how the saying goes - if it ain't broke don't fix it. At the end of the day we're trying to create a good game, not necessarily a game everybody can afford to play.
this is something I was trying to imagine and you could be right, maybe the "good headphones or speaker" is the reason why I really cannot get differences but few people would expect to hear slightly compressed audio files in a game that is focused on 8 bit style for graphics and sounds.

Sorry, I acted like the one that thinks that his hardware is the only key to success, I was only trying to say that compressing data is something we cohabit every day due for end users' hardware inequalities, mine is a tragical situation about network connection, but it's not the main motivation for wich I started this thread.

After all I'm an not even a sound designer, I won't give my opinion about other kind of things out of my skills anymore, since it seems when I do I become a sort of flame target that dares to give imperfect human opinions.

Gurt, Hjarpe, and now Splinter, can choose how to continue to develop the game regardless what we say, I would like to be proved wrong, like Splinter and Gurt did, and not submerged by insulting comparisons like "This is the Pistons argument all over again". Can I, as good inferior human, think that maybe they could have put big redundant sound files without realizing it? maybe slipped from their mind? Now I know it was intentional, I will survive this, that's all.

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:41 am
by Noble
I think that good quality sound is necessary but I can see what's your point and why you made this topic. The difference exists but at least I never felt yet the necessity of very high quality sound, plus the tracks actually doubled the size of the game so this can shock anyone.

The long time to update the tracks was a launcher issue, it took me 40 minutes to give up because it seemed the game would never finish updating (even though my internet speed is pretty good). Europeans probably had not the same problem. I downloaded the installer and it was easier and faster, around 5 minutes.

Well... In addition to that and reinforcing what you said, the update didn't fit well in my computer and the same for a lot of people, the music takes a lot of time to load and freezes all my screen. I'd say most SFD players (mainly those who aren't active in forums or are from third-world countries) have connection or computer issues, and I think they are more than 2/5 of all SFD players, maybe even more. The entire Latin America community I'm in is filled of people having really poor local performance, low FPS and they are forced to play in compact maps, like Slum, Melee Island and 'melee maps'. That's something I usually don't point, since it's different from most forum users and they, even if they are very active players, don't 'contribute' as Beta players or some aren't willing to pay for a game.

The reason for this is because most expect to play a light and cool 8-bit game that can run well anywhere. Seems like game is getting heavier as the time passes and I don't like this as a problem, game should be fine to all masses. :(

I'd like if there's an option to reduce sound quality or even more the graphics quality.

I'm taking what Splinter said as absolute truth though, but because I think he might have something in mind for this.

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:08 pm
by Gurt
I'm gonna be a bit blunt here.
Noble wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:41 am
8-bit game that can run well anywhere. ... game should be fine to all masses. :(
SFD is not an 8-bit game. SFD doesn't have to be able to run on an old Pentium 4 or some old laptop.
We learn by doing and you can never expect some full optimization like a heavy triple-AAA studio can afford in resources, time and money.
The music is run in parallel and the animated intro logo can be skipped by pressing any key.

We still have room for some easy optimizations but we don't know how much it can affect individual users or if you ever will notice it.
What we are missing right now is to be able to completely disable all music and/or sounds which is for another time.

If you live near the server the launcher connects to to update the game it takes about 1 minute or so. High latency will increase this time as the launcher use a very simple and stupid technique to download files.

You can replace or remove the music files as you see fit if you want to experiment with lower bit rates or completely remove the music from the game - but we don't recommend it.

Re: Reduce soundtrack bitrate from 320 to 128

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:03 pm
by Gurt
Update: Setting the music volume to 0 in the next update will actually stop playing current music track and not only setting the volume to 0. This might help performance for some users. A minor optimization.