Experimenting with Visual Sound Waves

As discussed in the comments in the last post, I took some time to do further tests with the new option to display sound effects that Final Fantasy XIV implemented in its 2.38 patch.

As noted before, the intensity of the waves can be controlled not only by the settings, but also by the intensity of the audio itself – in other words, it also depends on your volume settings. Higher volume shows higher waves. Whether the sound is determined by your character or the camera position is also a factor. This screen shows full volume – you can see high noises during a T4 run; music is present but it gets lost under the Fires and Flares:

wave high

If you mute a sound source, that wave disappears. In this case, I muted all SFX (both regular and ambient – yes, those are sound waves too!) and thus, only the blue BGM waves are present:

waves setting

I’m happy to report that macro sounds (those <se.xx> that players can add to their macros) are counted as system sounds, therefore they show as red waves. Here a macro went off, so a bunch of red lines fired at the bottom of the screen:

wave macro

Another cool detail is that the waves are… “stereo” (for lack of a better term). They will rise higher on the side where the sound is coming from. I first noticed this in Lavender Beds, near a waterfall. The screen shows green (sfx) waves on the right side, where the water is running:

wave stereo1

This applies to all sfx! Here, I stood between two crafters going about their business… waves for their actions rose accordingly:

wave stereo left


As stated before, this is the first time I see this system in a game, and while it sure has a long way to go to be an all-around solution for people with hearing impairment, it can be quite helpful for them, specially if they play with people that understand and support them: party members can create macros to announce special events, and they appear as red lines, directing his/her attention to the chat or a relevant event!

Kudos to the development team that took their time to implement this. I hope it becomes a system for the benefit of all who game.


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