An interesting extension of the PVS is what John calls the potentially hearable set (PHS)—all the leaves visible from a given leaf, plus all the leaves visible from those leaves—in other words, both the directly visible leaves and the one-bounce visible leaves. Of course, this is not exactly the hearable space, because sounds could echo or carry further than that, but it does serve quite nicely as a potentially relevant space—the set of leaves that have any interest to the player. In Quake, all sounds that happen anywhere in the world are sent to the client, and are heard, even through walls, if they’re close enough; an explosion around the corner could be well within hearing and very important to hear, so the PVS can’t be used to reject that sound, but unfortunately an explosion on the other side of a solid wall will sound exactly the same. Not only is it confusing hearing sounds through walls, but in a modem game, the bandwidth required to send all the sounds in a level can slow things down considerably. In a recent version of QuakeWorld, a specifically multiplayer variant of Quake I’ll discuss later, John uses the PHS to determine which sounds to bother sending, and the resulting bandwidth improvement has made it possible to bump the maximum number of players from 16 to 32. Better yet, a sound on the other side of a solid wall won’t be heard unless there’s an opening that permits the sound to come through. (In the future, John will use the PVS to determine fully audible sounds, and the PHS to determine muted sounds.) Also, the PHS can be used for events like explosions that might not have their center in the PVS, but have portions that reach into the PVS. In general, the PHS is useful as an approximation of the space in which the client might need to be notified of events.
should be easy to implement in hardware in GPU.
BTW I seem to remember vaguely Carmack wanted to implement fully software 3D sound engine for Doom3, but some patent dispute forced ID to support Creative EAX.