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How to Guide Your Player's Gaze

A player's user experience is dependent on clarity and comprehension. If they know where to look on the screen, they're going to have an easier time understanding the gameplay. Our gaze follows gradual changes in pitch, so let's use this to our advantage.

Here's we can use gradual changes in pitch and panning within the gameplay to improve your player's experience:

Raise the Pitch When You Want Your Player to Look Up

By designing certain attacks and maneuvers to have these changes in pitch, we can guide where the player looks. For example, the Timekeeper boss in Dead Cells has a chain attack that gradually raises in pitch as the attack launches upward. In Cult of the Lamb, the frog boss's, Gusion, hops rise in pitch as he jumps up in the air.

Lower the Pitch When You Want Your Player to Look Down

Do you remember when characters would fall over in old cartoons and you'd hear that slide whistle? That gradual descent in pitch guided our eyes from a higher part of the screen to a lower part of the screen. The film Throat Notes by Felix Cosgrove also features a blend of sound design and music features a descent in pitch as a mosquito clumsily falls down.

Use Panning and Spatialization to Orient the Player

Proper audio implementation can make a big difference in the game's readability. Being able to follow your cursor or character's movements from left to right, for example, increases immersion and keeps the player focused. This implementation can be done within the game engine or with the help of middleware, such as Wwise or FMOD.

In Closing

Guiding the player's gaze with strong sound design and implementation can improve user experience. It offers clarity and gives the player more agency. For more advice on how to influence players' perception of your game with audio, contact me.


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