A History of ‘Hup,’ the Jump Sound in Every Video Game

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Courtesy of EPIC Games

The blunt tool of jump vocalizations was replaced by more advanced means of facilitating player awareness. As a result, many of the most popular modern multiplayer shooters, like Apex Legends, Fortnight, Battlefield V, Left 4 Dead, PUBG, Tarkov, and Valorant, exhibit silent or nearly silent jumps.

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It’s been 25 years since the release of Quake, and in the intervening years, the hup has become something of an audiovisual libfix. In the way almost no one referring to a scandal as [noun]-gate means to evoke the downfall of Richard Nixon specifically, the hup persists but largely as an aesthetic rather than functional piece of gameplay.

Big-budget hero shooters like Overwatch include one, albeit buried under layers of additional Foley and only triggering on about 50 percent of jumps. “It’s not a major gameplay cue for us, but like they a do little *huh! huh!–*type thing,” Scott Lawler, the game’s audio director, told me. “In jumping in first person, I think there’s 11 materials we support, there’s 11 different jump sounds for all different types of materials, there’s 11 different jump land sounds, there’s a fall loop—if you fall off the ledge it goes whooooooosh,—it’s got a fall land, which is a big land on the ground after jumping for some height.” And all of this is not only duplicated for third-person view and passed through a variety of reverbs to simulate the environment, but it’s fed into the game’s “importance system,” ranks and appropriately boosts or attenuates those sounds in order to achieve what he calls “the impossible goal of turning the screen off and knowing what’s going on in the game.” Of these, the characters’ Street Fighter-influenced ultimate attacks as well as team chat massively outrank the rustling and faint grunt of the jump. And while the patch notes don’t reflect it, iterations of the game’s audio have received various remixes and balances. While the hup may have been greatly nerfed, the arena shooter’s influence peeks through in places. “The jump pads in Overwatch were definitely very inspired by Quake and those games,” Lawler said. “And even the sound was something the design was really particular about that being map-wide. So if you play Oasis and someone takes a jump pad, you could be halfway across the map, and you can tell.”

But recent years have also led to an influx of retro-styled shooters specifically meant to harken back to the sensibilities of the mid- to late ’90s, often made by small teams or individual creators. “In Dusk, hup was an intentional callback to Quake,” developer Dave Szymanski told me over Discord. In his estimation, the hup creates the sense of “immediacy” present in games with “combat focused around skillful movement and speed” and “level design that was interesting as a 3D space rather than just a series of decorated hallways or arenas [that take] the player on an interesting journey.” In his answer you can read a certain disappointment that shooters have gone from being inspired by film to trying to become films unto themselves.

The developers of Prodeus, who also included the hup as a nostalgic nod to a “semi-comical time period” in gaming, seemed similarly disillusioned with the state of modern shooters. “Games evolved and required different needs, things got too ‘serious,’” Jason Mojica and Mike Voeller wrote in an email, “but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine Counter-Strike if your character made a jumping noise each time you tried to get through a window.”

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