simon_winter

Add "Binaural audio". Virtual Reality for the Ears

As Title says, add binaural audio.

 

WHAT THE HECK IS BINAURAL AUDIO?

binaural audio is "Virtual Reality" for your ears and is a HUGE boost for immersion, way better than the best 7.1/5.1 sound system you can find.
And even the cheapest earplugs are enough to get the proper immersion.

 

Basically our ears hear everything "just" in Stereo as we only have 2 of them. Modern 5.1/7.1 Sourround systems try to make things listen real,
by simplifing our perception of where the sound is coming from. If something explodes to your far left, only the left speakers will play that sound. If the explosion is 45° front-left, the right/front speakers will ALSO play the explosion sound, but at lower volume, according to the degrees of the explosions position.

That might sound logical at first glance, but in reality your perception of "where does that come from" works different. Your brain doesn't measure the loudness at both ears, it is measuring the offset between the arrival times of the sound for each ear. So your left ear will register the explosion a fraction earlier than your right.

 

Explanation video with some binaural examples in the middle and the end. (the video does NOT feature binaural audio in the beginning, wait for him to switch to it)

 

(Binaural Audio actually means "2 Ears Audio" and is more related to recording something with a special 2 headed microphone. For Gaming purpose we should refer to HRTF:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-related_transfer_function)

 

WHAT DO I NEED FOR BINAURAL AUDIO?

Basically nothing special. Binaural audio is basically how the real world sounds for you. As you have 2 ears, you only need 2 Speakers or any stereo headphone.
Headphones give the greatest experience and even very cheap smartphone earplugs create an unbelievable illusion of reallity.


IF you are using speakers for whatever reason, you have to make sure that they are directly to your left and right and not infront of you. Also the distance from your head has to be symmetrical. (i advise headphones)

 

examples?

watch complete according to instructions, you can skip to minute 2 or later if your impatient

Spoiler

 

 

IS IT DIFFICULT TO IMPLEMENT IT INTO GAMES? WHAT ABOUT PERFORMANCE?

 

From 1998-2003 it WAS already used in some games (and still is). have a look here.

 

I am not familiar enough with the workflow to give any real good statment about this, BUT i've read over some articles and discussions which looked VERY promising.
Calculating the traveling of soundwaves seems to be very intensive, but i read, that there are already VERY efficent approximations for that. Even some Engines are capable of doing it (e.g. OpenAL sound library ).

Several mobile games do it already in similar ways.
The technology already exists since mid 90's, and should really be an ease to implement with todays techs.

Read here: https://www.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/126fjp/why_isnt_binaural_audio_used_in_gaming/

and here: https://www.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/4jc2c7/gaming_in_stereo_vs_binaural_what_games_can_you/

 

CONCLUSION
The biggest problem is, that nobody is aware of how great that technology is and that you need a Headphone for it to reach its full potential.
As there are already engines out, which are capable of this FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS i think time has come to make developers aware of it.

Yes it is hard to sell this additional effort, because the promotion on youtube etc. only works, if the potential customer is ready to use a headset to watch the video, but to be fair:

A HUGE number of players IS already using headphones all the time!


IF you pump out some promo videos of the new sound with the 2 second explanation, that you shall use an headset to watch, i have no doubt, that this will go viral within weeks.

 

Be the first Ego shooter with binaural sound! It is already Mind blowing in all day situations!


Binaural videos about visiting an barber shop or a simple thunderstorm have MILLIONS of clicks, imagine a MILSIM using this technology!

 

still not convinced? GO WATCH SOME BINAURAL AUDIO ON YOUTUBE AND GET AMAZED.

 

i apologize for spelling and grammar gore.
ain't nobody got time for dat.

// Edit:
a 3 Year old Engine running binaurale audio:
https://forum.unity3d.com/threads/released-binaural-3d-audio-engine-for-games-and-vr.234037/

 

Edited by simon_winter

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I like it....sound and music in games and film are what sells it and keeps people coming back....just look at the sounds and music of Star Wars....the laser blasts, android beeps, synthetic voices, and the music..a long time ago in a galaxy far far away....

 

All for this....

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yes, i forgot to mention the replayability this game will get additonally.
squad CAN be quite boring if you gotta run a longer distance or have to defend an remote location.
Getting an audio immersion here like in no other current Game will drag many players back into the Game.
Not to mention the improvemnts from squad radio to local chattering or the normal game ambience sounds!

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First, if I'm not mistaken, Squad had HRTF in some of it's previous versions. But it was disabled for some reason.

Actually, this thing adds HRTF to Squad: https://github.com/kosumosu/x3daudio1_7_hrtf

The only problem is you can't play multiplayer with it, since Easy Anticheat treats it as potential cheat. But still you can try it on the Firing Range.

Edited by Kosmos

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26 minutes ago, Kosmos said:

First, if I'm not mistaken, Squad had HRTF in some of it's previous versions. But it was disabled for some reason.

Actually, this thing adds HRTF to Squad: https://github.com/kosumosu/x3daudio1_7_hrtf

The only problem is you can't play multiplayer with it, since Easy Anticheat treats it as potential cheat. But still you can try it on the Firing Range.


wow, thats awesome. maybe some DEV will come over and enlighten us why they disabled it

 

//edit: just tested the provided .dll but didn't work.

the installation guide says you have to rename thge dll probably to the dll the game uses, but there is none. i guess its incompatible with current version of squad
 

Edited by simon_winter

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Oh, I had so say, you must unpack the archive into SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\Squad\Squad\Binaries\Win64 folder. That's where the true executable lies. steam_appid.txt must be next to it. That goes for all UE4 games: the executable in the root folder is not the one you need, it's kind of a launcher.

 

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I like it, sound is critical for me and while I think the quality of the sounds in Squad are great, I think positionally, they are muddled and often confusing. 

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23 hours ago, simon_winter said:

As Title says, add binaural audio.

 

WHAT THE HECK IS BINAURAL AUDIO?

binaural audio is "Virtual Reality" for your ears and is a HUGE boost for immersion, way better than the best 7.1/5.1 sound system you can find.
And even the cheapest earplugs are enough to get the proper immersion.

 

Basically our ears hear everything "just" in Stereo as we only have 2 of them. Modern 5.1/7.1 Sourround systems try to make things listen real,
by simplifing our perception of where the sound is coming from. If something explodes to your far left, only the left speakers will play that sound. If the explosion is 45° front-left, the right/front speakers will ALSO play the explosion sound, but at lower volume, according to the degrees of the explosions position.

That might sound logical at first glance, but in reality your perception of "where does that come from" works different. Your brain doesn't measure the loudness at both ears, it is measuring the offset between the arrival times of the sound for each ear. So your left ear will register the explosion a fraction earlier than your right.

 

Explanation video with some binaural examples in the middle and the end. (the video does NOT feature binaural audio in the beginning, wait for him to switch to it)

 

(Binaural Audio actually means "2 Ears Audio" and is more related to recording something with a special 2 headed microphone. For Gaming purpose we should refer to HRTF:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-related_transfer_function)

 

WHAT DO I NEED FOR BINAURAL AUDIO?

Basically nothing special. Binaural audio is basically how the real world sounds for you. As you have 2 ears, you only need 2 Speakers or any stereo headphone.
Headphones give the greatest experience and even very cheap smartphone earplugs create an unbelievable illusion of reallity.


IF you are using speakers for whatever reason, you have to make sure that they are directly to your left and right and not infront of you. Also the distance from your head has to be symmetrical. (i advise headphones)

 

examples?

watch complete according to instructions, you can skip to minute 2 or later if your impatient

  Hide contents

 

 

IS IT DIFFICULT TO IMPLEMENT IT INTO GAMES? WHAT ABOUT PERFORMANCE?

 

From 1998-2003 it WAS already used in some games (and still is). have a look here.

  Hide contents

 

I am not familiar enough with the workflow to give any real good statment about this, BUT i've read over some articles and discussions which looked VERY promising.
Calculating the traveling of soundwaves seems to be very intensive, but i read, that there are already VERY efficent approximations for that. Even some Engines are capable of doing it (e.g. OpenAL sound library ).

Several mobile games do it already in similar ways.
The technology already exists since mid 90's, and should really be an ease to implement with todays techs.

Read here: https://www.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/126fjp/why_isnt_binaural_audio_used_in_gaming/

and here: https://www.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/4jc2c7/gaming_in_stereo_vs_binaural_what_games_can_you/

 

CONCLUSION
The biggest problem is, that nobody is aware of how great that technology is and that you need a Headphone for it to reach its full potential.
As there are already engines out, which are capable of this FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS i think time has come to make developers aware of it.

Yes it is hard to sell this additional effort, because the promotion on youtube etc. only works, if the potential customer is ready to use a headset to watch the video, but to be fair:

A HUGE number of players IS already using headphones all the time!


IF you pump out some promo videos of the new sound with the 2 second explanation, that you shall use an headset to watch, i have no doubt, that this will go viral within weeks.

 

Be the first Ego shooter with binaural sound! It is already Mind blowing in all day situations!


Binaural videos about visiting an barber shop or a simple thunderstorm have MILLIONS of clicks, imagine a MILSIM using this technology!

 

still not convinced? GO WATCH SOME BINAURAL AUDIO ON YOUTUBE AND GET AMAZED.

 

i apologize for spelling and grammar gore.
ain't nobody got time for dat.

// Edit:
a 3 Year old Engine running binaurale audio:
https://forum.unity3d.com/threads/released-binaural-3d-audio-engine-for-games-and-vr.234037/

 

 

As someone who has extensive experience in this field in both doing sound for games and films there are a whole bunch of issues regarding binaural audio in games (and films) currently.

 

Firstly and most glaringly is doing everything in Binaural for Squad would mean that the team would literally have to go out and re-record every single sound in the game in Binaural audio. Having certain things in Binaural and some in standard stereo would just sound weird and would totally break immersion. There is technology out there that can simulate Binaural audio, however to really get the effects that are seen in those example videos, you need to record everything with what is known as a Binaural Head. Which is literally a plastic head with molded human ears and high quality microphones stuck inside said ears. This would be a painstakingly time consuming process considering how many environments there are and how big the game is getting. If the developers did decide to take this on, it would have likely be decided at the start of the development process, or will be done at the very end.

 

This is not to mention the whole deal of getting the sounds in game. It's one thing to just record you walking down a street in Manhatten, It's a whole different ball game implementing all the individual sounds into a sound engine and making it talk to the game engine.

 

Secondly, not everybody uses Headphones. Some people use speakers, hell some people probably use the speakers on their TV. The point being is that Binaural audio would require multiple individually mixed modules for players to select depending on what you are listening on. You can find examples of Binaural audio working for Speakers, but the moment you put on your headphones it sounds like shit. This is because Binaural audio is very much Dependant on the source that you are playing it from as distance plays a large factor in it. Now compound that with the balancing aspect of making each module exactly the same in sound levels as to not give a person on Headphones a distinct advantage or vise versa. It would be a minefield.

 

And finally, and the biggest reason why Binaural wouldn't work is simply that the benefits are totally outweighed by the amount of messing around that would need to be done in order to implement it. On top of that, after about 20 minutes of playing Squad you probably wouldn't even notice it anymore as you will be focusing on the visuals more than the Audio. This is exactly the same thing that happens in films; You can have the most fancy audio techniques possible but what it comes down to is what the player is seeing before what he is hearing.

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Shadow_ said:

Firstly and most glaringly is doing everything in Binaural for Squad would mean that the team would literally have to go out and re-record every single sound in the game in Binaural audio.

Somebody already postet that Squad WAS already using HRTF a while ago.
Also you don't have to record the sounds again with the special micro, as the Engine computes the offset and frequency changes.
It wouldn't work anyhow, because the position of the sound while recording must be the same as later ingame... And as you can look freely thats not possible.

The HRTF function is basically taking the sound and approximates the frequency shift and so on needed, according to player position and orientation of any given soundfile.

Claiming that sound is not important as you will forget about it very fast is nonsense, as you could say "UHD is nonse, as you get used to it,
so keep playing HD.

And balancing is no issue in a game like squad. It's not an competitive shooter or even close to it.
The Advantage of precisly hearing enemys positions is minimal, compared to normal sounds.
And as it runs on every system everybody is free to switch to headphones.

and lastly, it IS quite simple to switch between HRTF audio and normal, as it is already implemented in several games.
somebody posted a link for a github repo. add the files and try it your own. it is the simple version and not quality one, but in terms of coding it should be easy to switch between these sound engines ingame.

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25 minutes ago, simon_winter said:

Somebody already postet that Squad WAS already using HRTF a while ago.
 

HRTF =/= Actual Binaural Audio.

 

HRTF is a process, not a physical recording and is used to Emulate Binaural audio by making complex calculations. Unless it is a piece of very powerful and high quality software then there are going to instances such as volume drops and bugs. It won't be as good as if you were to record it with the real thing and then process that using HRTF. There's also the problem that some of the sounds in Squad may actually be mono sources. In which case would be impossible to process using HRTF.

 

26 minutes ago, simon_winter said:

It wouldn't work anyhow, because the position of the sound while recording must be the same as later ingame... And as you can look freely thats not possible.

 

That's not how game audio works. 

 

The point of using a Binaural head is that you are getting the most literal representation of the sound due to the ear moldings, the torso and the head density. Combined with HRTF and inputted into a Sound engine, you will get the most accurate representation of the sound. If you just slap a load of stereo recordings into HRTF then yes it will work, but will have varying quality and won't act anything more than a more fancy 3D panner. It's like setting your TV to 7.1 Surround when you're only using stereo speakers.

 

47 minutes ago, simon_winter said:

Claiming that sound is not important as you will forget about it very fast is nonsense, as you could say "UHD is nonse, as you get used to it,
so keep playing HD.
 

 

I said you wouldn't notice it after 20 minutes, not that it isn't important. Watch any film or listen to any Gameplay without watching the screen and tell me it's exactly the same as what its like to play the game or watch the movie. Furthermore, the crux of that paragraph was that it would be more hassle than it's worth to get it into the game properly.

 

52 minutes ago, simon_winter said:

The Advantage of precisly hearing enemys positions is minimal, compared to normal sounds.

 

I would say that is a pretty massive advantage.

 

53 minutes ago, simon_winter said:

And as it runs on every system everybody is free to switch to headphones.

Again, that puts folks using standard stereo speakers and a disadvantage. Some people don't like using headphones.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Shadow_ said:

The point of using a Binaural head is that you are getting the most literal representation of the sound due to the ear moldings, the torso and the head density. Combined with HRTF and inputted into a Sound engine, you will get the most accurate representation of the sound. If you just slap a load of stereo recordings into HRTF then yes it will work, but will have varying quality and won't act anything more than a more fancy 3D panner. It's like setting your TV to 7.1 Surround when you're only using stereo speakers.

 

 

you wouldn't record game audi with a binaural head, because it doesnt make sense.
Example: you record an explosion while the head is facing it.
ingame it would be appropiate as long as your facing the explosion, but if you are standing 90 degrees rotated, the sound would be completly off.
A simple HRTF will only adapt for position and distance, but approximations of the reflections inside the ear moldings and stuff like that ARE already written. read the provided links.

I also agree that the sounds may be adapted to fit the HRTF system, but you don't have to rerecord them or anything like that. Probably you have to tweek them, but most work is done by the HRTF Engine.

As of my understanding having Mono sound origins shouldn't be a thing, because the HRTF system locates the direction and distance (and probably reflection surfaces) from your ingame head to the sound origin. Mono or Stereo doesn't play a role there, because the HRTF system will alter the sound as Whole into a new Stereo sound, with adapted frequencies and offsets for both channels.

 

1 hour ago, Shadow_ said:

I said you wouldn't notice it after 20 minutes, not that it isn't important. Watch any film or listen to any Gameplay without watching the screen and tell me it's exactly the same as what its like to play the game or watch the movie. Furthermore, the crux of that paragraph was that it would be more hassle than it's worth to get it into the game properly.

 

What ?! play any game without audio and Tell me its exactly the same... thats BS. Every Game lives from its video AND audio, without great Audio even the best looking games with great Gameplay are feeling bad. Having a great Audio experience in a game is quite crucial for replayability, just like astonishing graphics are.

 

And your point that this is "unfair" for people not using headphones is ridiculous. Locating enemys with the current audio system is also easily possible, as the perception of direction is carried good enough. Your argument is like forbidding 5.1/7.1 audio ingame because it is an advantage for other players, so everybody has to use stereo. People are playing from shitty TV speakers, over high end Sourround systems, to extremly expensive gaming 7.1 Headsets.
so adding Improved sound for all stereo devices can't be unfair.


Also using HRTF won't give you an measurable advantage of locating enemies, but the feeling of immersion will greatly improve, as the sound isn't a flat sluggish mixture of different volume levels on each ear.

in addition to that CS:GO implemented an simple HRTF system too... and they have to be really carefull in terms of balancing, as they are the number 1 competivie game.

Edited by simon_winter

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2 hours ago, simon_winter said:

 

you wouldn't record game audi with a binaural head, because it doesnt make sense.
Example: you record an explosion while the head is facing it.

 

The point is that the Binaural Head gives the most accurate representation of the sound through a human ear for the HRTF system to process and then adjust accordingly. That's not even taking into a account recording mutiple copies of the sound at various angles to further enhance and provide the best audio footprint.

 

If it were as simple as just flicking a switch and turning on HRTF for binaural audio then don't you think developers would have included that as a standard option already? The reason why it doesn't have widespread use is because it is primitive technology.

 

 

Here is an example of why HRTF is not in widespread use: It sounds like shit on recordings not designed for it. It's just a mess of EQ curves desperately trying to emulate real hearing.

 

Now compare that to something recorded with proper Binaural recording techniques:

 

 

 

The difference is clear.

 

 

2 hours ago, simon_winter said:

What ?! play any game without audio and Tell me its exactly the same... thats BS. Every Game lives from its video AND audio, without great Audio even the best looking games with great Gameplay are feeling bad. Having a great Audio experience in a game is quite crucial for replayability, just like astonishing graphics are.

 

3 hours ago, Shadow_ said:

I said you wouldn't notice it after 20 minutes, not that it isn't important

 

The point that I'm trying to get across is that after a while you won't even notice that it is in Binaural once you get over the initial shock. It's exactly the same as going from 30FPS gaming to 60FPS gaming, the initial change is massive, but after a while it just becomes "normal" and you no longer notice the difference. The same can be said when you go from 1080p to 1400p. Again the initial change is massive, but after a while it just becomes the norm. This is exactly the same thing with music and sound will be the same when games eventually start implementing binaural audio as standard.

 

2 hours ago, simon_winter said:

 Your argument is like forbidding 5.1/7.1 audio ingame because it is an advantage for other players, so everybody has to use stereo. 

 

5.1/7.1 does not take distance into account as accurately as true Binaural audio. Surround sound is a simulation using volume changes that is sent to multiple speakers. The point that I'm trying to convey is that Binaural audio is different as it accurately presents distance, placement and depth rather than just sending a sound to a back left speaker.

 

2 hours ago, simon_winter said:

Locating enemys with the current audio system is also easily possible, as the perception of direction is carried good enough.

 

Again that's fine, but if someone with Binaural hearing can hear you pulling the pin on a grenade then that's a pretty bigger advantage than someone playing on a set of $30 headphones who can just about make out the difference between an AK47 and an M4 at a distance.

 

Edited by Shadow_

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You've both made your cases. Binaural audio is obviously superior to HRTF. It is also, obviously, not suitable in a standard FPS game. HRTF is much more suitable for games and if OWI can implement it easily there's little point not to. With the option of using a traditional audio configuration of course.

 

I'll go out on a limb here and say that OWI likely haven't used HRTF thus far because UE4's current solution hasn't been viable. Some searching around the UE-forums will show you that. I've seen efforts to modding it in but with no success as well. However, UE4's new audio system that's recently started rolling out has a supposedly good HRTF-solution. It's currently being used in the VR-game Robo Recall (another UE4 title) if I recall correctly. So hopefully it shouldn't require too much effort for OWI to implement it.

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in my experience, in ALL the games iv'e played since the days of Quake; stereo (virtual/surround/woteva) has always been far and away better for positional audio than any form of cinematic multi-channel sound for FPS and other genres. Using headphones is the only way to go and those who insist on using external speakers or, heaven forbid the VDU speakers, need to take a good hard look at themselves (personal opinion).

 

 

7 hours ago, Shadow_ said:

On top of that, after about 20 minutes of playing Squad you probably wouldn't even notice it anymore as you will be focusing on the visuals more than the Audio.

....

This is exactly the same thing that happens in films; You can have the most fancy audio techniques possible but what it comes down to is what the player (ed: viewer) is seeing before(ed: ?) what he is hearing.

ermm, really?! have you ever played an FPS (rhetorical ?, that - i presume you have ... at least once?).

If you cannot get even halfway decent positional audio for an Immersive FPS game then you might as well not bother making the game. Accurate Positional audio is absolutely essential in these types of games and to fob it off as an non-concern is disingeneous to say the least. To then extend that to Film/Cinema is well, breathtaking, considering that sound and score in cinema drives a large part (some would say it's the glue that holds the visuals together) of the immersive experience.

 

3 hours ago, Shadow_ said:

The difference is clear.

well derr, Fred.

seriously?!! that's ... , you're comparing a Mono track to a Multichannel track - like comparing a Gramaphone to DaB.

Edited by LaughingJack

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@Shadow_ please stop. You have shown, you have no understanding of the subject. Nor you have tried playing with HRTF and without it.

First, developers don't have to do anything other then 'flipping the switch' to enable HRTF. Moreover, with thing like this even the games never designed for it, like Skyrim or Arma 3, start to support HRTF. The only thing is you really start to hear the imperfections of sound source placement. Like in Enderal there are two horses in the very beginning, and with HRTF enabled, one can hear that neigh is coming from the belly instead of the mouth. So artists have to place sound sources more carefully. And that's it. This is the only additional burden. One don't have to change any recording technology or anything.

 

Second, regarding its usefulness. I can't agree with you. I really suffer now, when they removed HRTF from the Squad, since I started to confuse directions frequently. LIke front/back confusion. Happens frequently, and it's really annoying. Incorrectly identifying direction means waiting enemy from the wrong direction. That's bad.

 

And please, read some articles on psychoacoustics, on how human perceives sound direction before arguing on the internet. Because you really say nonsense sometimes.

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On 7/14/2017 at 2:05 PM, Kosmos said:

@Shadow_ please stop. You have shown, you have no understanding of the subject. Nor you have tried playing with HRTF and without it.

 

Haha nice argument.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 7/14/2017 at 7:05 AM, Kosmos said:

@Shadow_ please stop. You have shown, you have no understanding of the subject. Nor you have tried playing with HRTF and without it.

First, developers don't have to do anything other then 'flipping the switch' to enable HRTF. Moreover, with thing like this even the games never designed for it, like Skyrim or Arma 3, start to support HRTF. The only thing is you really start to hear the imperfections of sound source placement. Like in Enderal there are two horses in the very beginning, and with HRTF enabled, one can hear that neigh is coming from the belly instead of the mouth. So artists have to place sound sources more carefully. And that's it. This is the only additional burden. One don't have to change any recording technology or anything.

 

Second, regarding its usefulness. I can't agree with you. I really suffer now, when they removed HRTF from the Squad, since I started to confuse directions frequently. LIke front/back confusion. Happens frequently, and it's really annoying. Incorrectly identifying direction means waiting enemy from the wrong direction. That's bad.

 

And please, read some articles on psychoacoustics, on how human perceives sound direction before arguing on the internet. Because you really say nonsense sometimes.

Well by that logic the e should.be done already 

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I would lose my shit if they put OpenAL or something in Squad. It'd be world class, man. Playing Far Cry or other shooters that have it it's really unparalleled for situational awareness.

Edited by Arduras

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