Thomas Andrew Hansen
Game Audio
Advanced Sound Design | Pickups | Part 2

Pick-ups Sound Design Video

This demonstration uses the game ‘Unreal Tournament’ by Epic games to showcase advance sound design and implementation in the Unreal Engine.

All sounds you can hear in the demonstration were created by myself.

Pick-ups Sound Design Attributes to Consider

In a lot of games over the centuries, pickin up new items have always been a sense of achievement. Even if it is on very small scale (like sonic rings and mario coins) they all add up for feeling good until of course you lose them all.

Sound design plays a huge part in picking up an item and the feeling it gives you. There are a lot of different things to consider when creating the sounds for pickups and how to address them which include:

  • How significant the item is - is the item rare or common, powerful or weak?

  • How many times you are likely to pickup the item - The more times you pickup and item, the more often the sound will be played. So if you repeating picking up the item at a fast pace it is important to keep the sound, short in length and not annoying. On other hand, if you have an item you pick uthp once, you can add an extended length and as crazy as you want. Nintendo's Zelda has a good example of this.

  • What is the action of picking up the item - Think of picking up a pen or a sword up from a table. The item will slide/scrape or bump the table slighty when picking it up.

  • What characteristics does the item have - Is it made from wood, plastic or metal? Does it have a moving mechanical part?

Thinking and taking into account all of these attributes are important to help differentiate between each item and the feeling it provides.

Pick-ups Sound Design Examples

Here are some examples of the pick-ups sounds I created for the unreal tournament example in the video above.

Health Vial

The introduction to this video shows a  health vial for pick up and adding extra health to the character. This enables the player to endure more damage taken from other player giving them a more super human feel.

Health Vial Pick-Up Sound Design Breakdown

The health vial has three main elements.

  1. Initial attack - The click at the start helps give an instant feeling of when it is picked up. Because using 3 in a row are picked up at once, I like to give the feeling of knowing the precise time of when its collected. This can be acheived by a fast attack time and using high frequencey range as opposed to a slow attack.Also, taking into the account the action of picking it up n the first place as discussed before. The fast metal clamp/click sound seemed ideal.
  2. Characteristics 1 - A health vial in the game attributes to a very small amount of health being added to your total, even if it is at 100%, it will push higher to 105%. Therefore the impact is small but collecting them has a very rewarding feeling. Using a major chord in the synth sound design, I added an enforced positive feeling on a short time scale.
  3. Characteristics 2 - Another characteristic of looking at the health vial. You can see a green liquid looking substance within it. For me and my big imagination or lack der of, I was thinking it may have a compressed air in a canister type of sound. To make this I added the third layer you can hear in the video with the white noise.

Armor Pick up


  • When you pick up armor what do you think of?
  • What are the first things that come to your mind?

For me, when I initially think of armor, I always think of knights in their huge clanky metal suits ready for a middle age war. Hence you can hear a clangy metal sound combined with an choir sound.

When playing the game, armor assists significantly with resisting damage, you could say with almost a god-like ability. So adding the choir sound feels appropriate with giving the feeling of life, or being blessed by the gods type attribute.

In this scenario we are not in the middle ages, we are actually in the future (the game not the level). Therefore I didn't want to go all in on the ancient sounds, To counter this I layer and incorporate new synth type sounds.

Last but not least we need to take into account the action of collecting and putting on the armour.