Recently I've been experimenting with the sfx and music editors and while they are excellent in all their simplicity, there are some areas where I would like to see it improved. I'll try to make myself as brief as possible:
The way volume is handled in PICO-8 is that it increases linearly. The problem with this is that the way humans perceive sound is logarithmic, which means that a jump from volume values 1 to 2 is a lot more noticeable than the jump from 6 to 7. Below is an Audacity recording of a square wave in the tracker going from 1 all the way to 7 displayed in both the linear and logarithmic scale and as you can see the difference in these jumps is quite significant.
Is it possible that the way volume works in PICO-8 could be fixed to ramp exponentially? I'm not sure how many people notice (or even care) but it's something that makes it hard to make natural-sounding ramps up in volume when creating sfx and music, especially on the quieter side.
2: Suggestion: Display silent notes (0 volume) in the tracker
This is a simple one: I'd like to have some sort of option (maybe in the config) that makes the tracker display note properties even if the note's volume is set to 0. As it is now all we see is "......", which can be slightly annoying when dealing with arpeggios (since they take muted notes into account). Maybe you could use darker colors to make them stand out from unmuted notes. Quick mockup:
3: Suggestion: Ability to cut sfx short (for irregular time signatures)
The way it is set up now, the only way to play in time signatures other than 4/4 is to include a sfx in your pattern with a different playback speed (for example speed 16 + a speed 12 "sync sfx" for a 3/4 time signature). I would like to be able to accomplish this without having to effectively waste a channel.
One way to implement this could be to treat sfx with their loop start index > end index as having finished played when the start index is reached. For example, a sfx with start = 24 and end = 0 would play the first 24 notes (0-23) and then stop, which could then be used for 3/4 time signature patterns.
This would mean that you are no longer limited to certain set speed values like 12 or 24, and it could also let you go much crazier with irregular time signatures than you can at the moment, like 7/8 or 29/32 or whatever insane-sounding thing you want.
I second your ideas. I have been a little bummed about the audio limitations so far, but I'm trying to work with it. Another thing I would like is the ability to use SFX themselves as notes in the music editor. I can make better drum sounds with the SFX editor, but then I can't use them in their own channel of the music editor. I have been thinking of making a function to be a drum machine and do just that, but I am afraid of trying to sync up with the other music.
Perhaps I just need to accept the pico8 limitations tho and do the best I can.
(It would also be awesome if you could play just chunks of a SFX, cause then you could store a whole drum set in one SFX bank. Now you can start from a certain note, but you can't end at a certain note)
I'm with you in the logarithmic corner. Afaik the sid even used it, so there's no problem with "breaking the 80's vibe", I guess. :)
Having notes displayed while no note is actually entered though seems highly confusing to me. Actually no tracker I used up today (lots) does use this, as it's bad in two ways.
It's wasting space. As the Picotracker is not behaving like Protracker, for example, there is no need to display those notes. Just jump to Protracker and try a volume sliding arp. It gets weird to look at with some compositions.
- It clutters the screen. Even with the data being displayed in a darker fashion and therefore breaking the built in color palette, there is still a lot of stuff on the screen. Having blank lines really helps a lot while optimizing the size and channel usage of a tune. Good examples here are Goattracker and Sid Wizard.
Just my two cents to provide a different viewpoint. :)
Edit: Examples in comparison to other trackers.
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