Creating the Sound Effects of Shatter
Jeramiah Ross sent me nice info about the sound effects creation for the amaizng brick-breaking game Shatter (PS3). Jeramiah was the lead sound designer for the game and he explain the process and techniques used to create the sound effects for the game, let’s read:
When I think back on it, It was a really fun job to take on. I had spent over a year creating the music for the game and already knew what things should sound like. And as I was using the worlds and story as reference to make the music, I already knew what things should be like for the Sound-Effects. I didnt have much time, But I am pretty happy with how it turned out. The Music and the game have a Retro feel, So I set about making the sound-effects sound like they belong to the world of Shatter under the guidence of Sidhe. I also had a crash course in FMOD and learning all about events, sound definitions and how much FMOD drives sound-designers and game programmers crazy ! :)
THE BAT SOUNDS
While putting together the sound effects and how the Bat would re-act if he got hit by bricks or attacked by the bosses it became clear that he needed to have some sort of vocal reaction to it. In the music we are already hinting that the Bat has some sort of Charcter. Since he is kinda of a robot I needed something that would sound kinda like a robot but still have some sort of emotion to it. I found the sounds I was looking for by using a freeware program called AnalogX SayIt. Basically you type words into it and it plays it back to you in a computer voice. Instead of words I typed things in like…”Phhhwwwwooo”, and “Owwwhhhhwww”, along with “UddddeeerUddddeeer” because this program uses phonetics (plays things how they sound, eg Computer = Com pew terr) It was alot of fun building up a libary of random sounds that the bat made. Once I had over 50 Bat sounds, I Put a bit of pitch shift over it all, compressed and mixed it and added a slight touch of reverb. Then loaded them into ableton live and edited around 10 different types of Bat sounds.
Here is the audio template I made for all the Bat Sounds. which I called Pure Robotics Test version 1.
The Sound of ball lost was made with a kick drum, a bit of echo and me slamming the refrigator door in my kitchen.
Here is the program I used to make the Bat sounds which is freeware, So you can download it and make Bat Sounds too!
Oh, By the way, as a secret hidden feature that no-one knows about, well, you do if your reading this, At the time, Battle Star Galactica was on its final few episodes, if you listen really closely when the ball is dropped in shatter, you might hear a famous battle-star Galactica curse word in one of the ball-lost events in-game :)
SHARD-STORM & PICKUPS
The Shard-storm is the sound of the Bat, releasing his full wrath on the brick and bosses, Basically, after sucking up lots of fragments left from destroying the bricks, it all adds up as a massive big energy release which you can use to almost destroy a entire wave or Boss. So it had to be Big, not just oh yeah, thats cool, It had to be OH MY GOD THATS AWESOME !!!! in a sound way. So it has about 3-4 different elements that make up the whole event. Ready, Power up, Active, Power Down.Its like a massive ray of sunshine and glass which is what I thought while making that sound. The sound itself is made from Wind chimes, Synths, A vacuum cleaner, and all sorts of audio processing.
The Pick up sounds are very classic, like energy orbs, I referenced lots of old skool sound effects for these. The First sound is the pick up coming out of a brick, like a sonar echo that the bat detects, Then you have the sound of the bat eating it..so to speak…
THE BRICK BLOCKS
I built up some of the brick sounds, Most of the sounds had roughly been made at that point but they were just not sitting right. The main thing was to keep them sounding like they belonged in the world that Sidhe had created. Taking the ideas that Sidhe gave me in that they are like Glass Orbs or objects that the machines had made and using the word Shatter as the main point of reference in creating the brick sounds I set about making all kinds of Sounds for different types of Bricks, The Gusters have Air Compressor sounds, The Indestrucable brick sounds have a more solid sound like metal, The static bricks are more like glass, The fun ones to make were the Rocket and Explosion bricks, I made these louder than everything else in the game, but not so loud that they kill everything else audio wise, but more lower end and bass than any of the other sound effects including the music. I recorded lots of different sounds from around the house to build up a libary of sounds. FMOD Designer which is a program for video game sound design chooses from lots of different sounds for each event (something that happens) , and randomly plays them along with a bit of pitch variation so it all dosent sound the same.
- Anchor – This is the static brick or the brick that holds the others in place. It’s mostly a glass sound.
- Black Hole – This sound dies and takes Shards with it.
- Bomb – It goes bang, Made with slamming a door and layering various other sounds.
- Guster – Air escapes this brick when it’s destroyed.
- Motor – This is a more metallic version of black hole. Just like killing your lawnmower !
- Planetoid crack – Just like a egg full of Air !
- Rocket Hit – When the rocket hits the wall, not the rocket itself.
- Spawner Death – When the machine that makes those red things dies
Getting the Sound of the Bat flying into the levels, or Moving between waves was really tricky, I didn’t want him to sound too much like a f-16 fighter jet, but I still needed to have that punch, so it was exciting. I think I recorded the vacum cleaner, and mixed it with some sounds of a jet taking off from Wellington Airport. Also as the game field Shatters and you end up flying fast past lots of glass. I made around 3 or 4 of these transition type events. Other transition sounds are mostly Wooshes and simple effects so I wont go into those.
Another important set of sounds was when the bat attached itself to the game field, which is in essence, A electric field of some sort. I found a recording of a Tesla coil (Jacobs Ladder) those freaky things that they have in science class or Frankenstein’s lab and mixed it together with some synth noises. I also used that same idea for the Bat’s movement back and forwards across the electric bar that holds him in place. That got me thinking about the sound of auto-launch, As if the Bat draws energy from the electric field and it builds up and causes the same malfunction that got him out of Kentic Harvest in the first place. Here is the Auto launch sound.
THE BOSS SOUNDS
These where all recorded by the guys at Sidhe, To make them sound more robotic rather than people, I used the matrix effect (when neo wakes up from the matrix in his fish tank), Pitched everything up 12 cents and added some light distortion.
VARIOUS OTHER SOUNDS
- Game Over Completely – When the timer runs out and you die completly
- Press Start Assemble – at the very start of it all
- Press Start Shatter – Pressing the button on your PS3 will cause a earth Shattering explosion. :)
- Restart Game – This was a bit of a personal joke, like when you restart a pin-ball game :)
- Ambience – This is mixed so so low in game, its subliminal, its there but not, turn the music off and listen to all the little sounds in the back-ground.
- Zoom Into Wave – This is also a transition sound that happens at the start of each wave.
GAME MENU SOUNDS
These sounds are 100 percent a throw back to classic arcade games, I remember playing that Simon say’s game when I was a kid, It made rather cool tones, So I used Speakerphone, Which is a VST software plugin for Music programs which lets you chuck whatever sound you like through virtual speakers, or spaces. Which is alot of fun when it comes to sound design. I made them all in the same musical key of the Menu Music so it fitted in and sounded cool, I also put a little bit of reverb on them, so they sounded like they are in the space. With the music, which is called ‘Glass Halls‘ It’s like a waiting room, Atmospheric and tranquil. Reverb goes a long way to help sell ambience :)