The Challenge of Creating Audio
Using contextual impressions and data gathering to design crowd audio in Planet Coaster. My 2017 talk at the Develop: Conference audio track. Talking about the systems that enable very large crowds to have performant audio, using systems to tackle scaling implementation and of course coasters.

Thanks: Develop Conference | John Broomhall | Tandem Events | Hugh Edwards

Planet Coaster - Audio Showcase
15th of July 2017 - Shown during the Planet Coaster Audio Develop talk in Brighton. Showcase hihglights the crowd, ride and mixing systems that work together in creating an impresionistic soundscape for the Frontier's popular theme park builder and simulator.

Sound Architect Audio Review

"... Let's begin with saying that this is probably one of the best games I've heard in a while. As you build your park, you navigate extensively through menus, selecting and manipulating objects to taste. These menus have their own flavor and intricacy that makes them satisfying to navigate. The level of detail and how clean everything sounds is incredible. The mix on Planet Coaster is phenomenal. Everything sits just right, not too loud and not too soft. If you were to crank the volume up, there isn't a single sound that is jarring or in your face; everything is where it should be ..."

Read the full review written by Derek Brown.

Rollercoaster Audio:
Rollercoaster Audio in Alpha 2

Rollercoasters in Planet Coaster are created by users. There cannot be much prediction in how their creations behave or unfold so the implementation of audio measures real-time data and uses speed, acceleration, vertical and lateral g-force and look angles to manipulate up to 15 layers of coaster audio simultaneously (describing wind, train and tracks).
Additionally, a threshold system generates one-shots (an additional 60 one-shot sounds) to simulate the clangs and bangs of mechanical couplings and car interactions with the track turning, rolling or banking. These are fired off when crossing pre-set angle-steps for pitch, roll and yaw.
To score a wide range of coaster creations, from very mild to insanely exciting creations, coder Ian Hawkins implemented a real time parameter compressor/limiter that uses threshold settings based on current highest speed reached on the current ride. Any value below that threshold but above 25 meters per second is dynamically compressed or expanded so that all coaster creations sound exciting even if a track is build to go really fast all the time. This fixed the problem of building our systems for the fastest tracks (best "dynamic range") but not leaving enough variation for slower coasters. Choosing to treat the lower speeds more dynamically, and compressing higher speeds (when many sounds provide variation)

The swooshes and reflection system, created with coder Jon Ashby, is derived from a sphere test on each side of the coaster. The spheres test for collision with simplified world geometry (physics world). Based on distance of intersection, RTPC's (real time parameter controls == data send from the game we can use to manipulate sounds) are used to send part of the coaster audio to specially prepared buses while dampening the direct (dry) signal to simulate reflections. The buses are then hard panned to the correct side. This system is super fast and is a good impressionistic compromise between ray-casting ( a more technically correct reflection system) and not acknowledging the environment at all.

Additionally, a pooled emitter system also creates fixed place sound emitters on intersection with the sphere which play swoosh loops. A progress RTPC controls Doppler and correctly fades the swooshes. We attach these to scenery and intersection track-pieces.
Larger objects, such as buildings and caves, contribute to the "reflection" system, while smaller object (such as scenery or struts) create swooshes audio. This relatively "simple" system of reflections and swooshes helps grounds coasters in their environment better and is cheap so we can run it in real time.

Project Audio Lead (2015)

Planning and lead level direction

Management (3 programmers, 3 designers)

Overseeing creation and implementation of tech (creatively)

Roller-coaster audio

Ambience's audio

UI Audio


Foley and object recording

External partners additional coordination

Trailer mixes (5.1) and mastering


Planet Coaster | Official Website
Frontier Developments | Official Website


AudioKinetic | Using Data to Generate Dynamic Crowd Audio (1/3)
AudioKinetic | The Crowd Soundbox System (2/3)
AudioKinetic | Planet Additional Layers (3/3)
Develop | Designing the audio for Planet Coaster.
Frontier | The Sound of Planet Coaster.
PCGames | A sound designer took over an entire theme park.

Using Data to generate Dyncamic Crowds audio.
Juny 27th 2017 - A detailed desfcription of the crowd audio system created specifically for Planet Coaster. The main feature of the implementation is that it creates an impresiion of theme park crowds using a fixed amount of time per cycle, regardless of density, scale and location.

Part 1. Scaling Ambition
Part 2. The Crowd Soundbox System
Part 3. Additional Layers

Planet Coaster Community Steam: Audio
15th of February 2017 - Planet Coaster community stream focused on game audio with audio programmer Jon Ashby and hosted by community manager Bo Marit.

Topics include our dynamic music system which adapts to interaction, play-style and loading times, obstruction / occlusion in a user generated environment, context based mixing (using data rather than pre-placed emitters to drive audio) and of course, the sound of roller coasters in all its isolated layers!

The stream was aimed at the (non-technical) community but it does delve into deeper technical / creative aspects of the audio also.

Audio developer Diary:
Planet Coaster Audio Development Diary

Published on 17 Aug 2016
Check out our latest Planet Coaster Dev Diary. This instalment highlights the staggering detail that goes into making the Planet Coaster audio. Creating a rich and immersive environment that brings your park to life.

Reviews and Accolades:
... a game crafted with care. The interface feels familiar yet modern. The graphics look promising. And there is this soothing soundtrack by Jim Guthrie and JJ Ypsen playing in the background which instils a sense of focus and calm ... Planet Coaster is also just a gorgeous game, which of course it isn't necessary for to the business side of things but it is a great plus for a 3d park like this.

The Sound design is also right on point, giving you all the screams, coaster whooshes, crowd chatter and rickety mechanical audio cues ones needs to suspend disbelief. You can also customize this further with ambient sound generates and music customisation. And yes this also lets you drop in your own music tracks to fine-tune your parks audio visual theme.

... one of my favourite things about the game, so far, that I have discovered is the sound design ... Joey on GameSpot's Planet Coaster Live Stream ...
- review score: 9/10