Version Reviewed: 1.5 build 1020 32bit
I recently became aware of SceneSound when it was a featured on EN World. SceneSound is a new sound effects application specifically built for use in tabletop gaming. I’m always looking for new tools to complement my multimedia-heavy gamemastering style. The website was spartan, but I was intrigued enough by the screenshots to register an account and take this little sound program for a spin.
- Simple interface
– Scripting interface is easy to understand
– 32bit and 64bit Windows support
- Short on features
– Inconsistent interface
– No instructions at all
Upon launching SceneSound, I was immediately impressed by the simple interface. There’s no digging through layers of menus and dialogue boxes here. What you see is what you get when you launch the application.
The window is divided into five sections; Library, Environmental FX, Random FX, Sound FX and Scene Scripts. The Library pane allows you to load sound files on your computer. If you are like me, you have probably built up an extensive library of sound effects. The Library section will automatically import all the subdirectories of any directory you add here. Once added, you can drag and drop sound files onto other panes to quickly load them.
The Environmental FX pane is where you put your background sounds. Click the circular loop button and your sound will loop endlessly. The Random FX pane will play a single sound at a random interval of all the sounds in the pane. Drag the sounds you want to trigger manually to the Sound FX pane.
If you right-click any sound, you can set a trigger key to make the sound play. It’s useful during the game to be able to just tap a key to play a sound rather than have to make sure you click in the right place. When I run combats, I often have a few sounds mapped to the keyboard, such as the sound of a person screaming or a dragon breathing fire. A well-timed sound effect can add humor or tension to your encounters.
The Scene Script pane is dead simple. For many people, this is probably a plus. For me, its a bit thin. I like to program my sounds the night before the game and I make heavy use of RPG SoundMixer’s scripting and section features. The scripting interface in SceneSound doesn’t even support all the features in SceneSound, such as enabling and disabling the playing of random sounds. However, if you are building a single scene and have no programming experience, you may be happy with the scripting interface.
For me, the program is too simple. I’m not trying in any way to discourage the author. It’s a great start and a nice price (free), but I want more features and more configurability. One thing I would like to see is a simple way to load and trigger multiple scenes. If you want to create scenes for different encounters, you have to save each scene to a different file and manually load each one when your scene changes. For the harried DM trying to set a mood, this is a bit cumbersome. I’d really like to see a Scenes pane that lets you switch scenes with a click or key.
There are also a few inconsistencies in the interface. In most of the windows, you click the drop-down arrow in each pane to access a menu. The Scene Script pane has an arrow, but it doesn’t appear to do anything. I finally right-clicked the pane and discovered a menu where I could add a new script.
My last gripe is with the lack of documentation. The application is so simple that its use is mostly obvious, but there are a few mysterious buttons. There is a small icon on each sound that looks a bit like a cell phone. I have to idea what it does. No instructions are included on the site. There’s not even a pop-up when you hover over the “cell phone” to give you an idea of its purpose. It seems like it wouldn’t take long to create decent documentation since the feature set is so small.
|Supports 32 and 64bit Windows Operating Systems only.|
|Scene Script has a very simplistic scripting interface. I prefer something with more meat but at least it has a scripting interface.|
|SceneSound is easy to learn, but at the cost of features.|
|If you want simple soundscapes and don't mind having to manually open and close your scenes, you will love this program.|