In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Scream

Coray Seifert

Impeller Staff
Staff member
No seriously, everything is in a vacuum, so no one can you scream, fire weapons or blow things up.

We've been getting a lot of questions about the sonic nature of Starfighter Inc., so we wanted to put together some information about how music and sound design will impact the core player experience.

The Sound of Space
Because combat is taking place in a vacuum, where there are no molecules to vibrate and pass sound from the source to the listener, the experience for the player is very different from your standard terrestrial FPS or fantasy space shooter.

What you do hear are three things:

1. The Interior of Your Ship – Clicks, hums and your own breathing provide the foundation for a sonic landscape that is unique, realistic and extremely immersive. If you've seen the movie Gravity, you can imagine how visceral this feels.

2. Vibrations from Near Space – When shock waves are extremely powerful (i.e. a massive explosion from a nearby ship or a warhead detonating nearby), your own craft may be hit by the force of that blast. Even the strongest materials bend and creak, and any loose objects in the cabin will be forcefully jostled. When something goes off nearby, it’s not like a Michael Bay movie, but you’re not going to miss it.

3. Your Situational Awareness System – Almost all ships are equipped with a situational awareness system that creates visual and auditory cues about what’s going on around your ship. What this sounds like is up to you. If you want clicks, beeps and traditional user interaction notifications, explosions based on approximate atmospheric corollary, or anything in between, you can customize your ship to reflect that purpose. Interestingly, if your Situational Awareness System is damaged, you'll hardly hear anything from the world around you...

Our first design pillar is realism. Accordingly, we’re going to present an in-cockpit experience that is as realistic as it is epic and awesome.

The best part? This game is going to sound like nothing you’ve ever played and we’re excited to explore that space (see what we did there?).

Musical Score
An epic space battle wouldn’t be complete without an epic score. Accordingly, Starfighter Inc. will feature an appropriately anthemic soundtrack, drawing inspiration from our rich tradition of science fiction scores in Halo, Mass Effect and Star Wars (the science may take a back seat in the land of The Force, but John Williams is legit!).

Players looking for a more immersive experience can opt to turn the sound off entirely, to recreate the truest form of simulation experience. However, we're excited about the raw energy that a premiere score can bring to an already intense battlespace.

Sound Off: Your Situational Awareness Setup
Get it? Sound off? We'll be here all night...

At launch, our goal is to have a number of situational awareness options available for players. What type do you think you'll go after?

Something more representative, where explosions sound like real terrestrial explosions, weapon fire sounds like real terrestrial weapon fire, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri sound like real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri?

Or something more abstracted, where hit indicators beep or buzz, warning klaxons let you know when you've been hit, and a soothing female voice calmly instructs you that your life support system is inoperable and that you should have a nice day?

Let us know in the comments!

As always, thanks for your amazing support and for staying involved with our campaign.


/Coray & The Starfighter Inc. Team


Active Member
I'm super excited at the realism that you guys are going for! I guess a plus with this is that when you're in space, you'll be able to hear your wingman on comms loud and clear :D


Active Member
Yea I noticed that! that unfortunately limits the ships maximum distance from each other to around 25 m. @dev team, does this mean that should we fly too far away from our wingmen, we will figuratively and literally be cutting the comms? :D
Well, if you're going for realism, then I believe that the most realistic thing would be that Situational Awareness Setup is engineered to be one that as efficiently and effectively as possible communicates to me what is going on in space around me. That should really be your goal: The player should know what is going on.
On one hand that probably means you don't want 17 different kinds of abstract beeps that the player needs to memorize. You want your sounds to contain some real information. Just like many people (at least westerners) associate the color green with 'good' and 'go' and the color red with 'bad' and 'stop', you want to try to pick sounds that the player intuitively understands.
On the other hand you probably also don't want to use literal engine and explosion sounds. They do not convey the right information. I would very much like to know whether it is a friend or foe that is behind me or that just blew up or whatever. A generic explosion sounds do not tell me who/what just blew up.


New Member
Alpha Squadron
For me, nothing feels quite as immersive as the warning chimes of a RWR system going off in DCS. I hear that tell-tale sign of a SAM launch and I'm going defensive. My pulse goes up and I'm sweeping my vision left and right, looking for the missile trail.

For those who don't play DCS, you can hear it in the opening of this: