Considering the newest Plants vs. Zombies 2 release has the word “mixtape” in the name, there was never any doubt that music would play a big role in the game’s experience. And as anyone who closely follows PopCap Games and their audio obsession, they’re not a company that does something halfway when it comes to sound or music. That’s why its a real treat that PvZ2 Neon Mixtape Tour audio lead Damian Kastbauer sat down with EA to discuss in depth how the team approached the variety of musical styles that appear in the new release. As always, the PopCap audio team has gone to great lengths to make a fun and immersive audio experience within the game, so be sure not to miss how they did it!
In addition, Damian has included some examples on his Vine page of some of the beat-syncing in action, both sounds-to-beat sync and animations on-the-beat.
Brighten the Corners of Game Audio
This article is a guest contribution by Damian Kastbauer and does not reflect the views of DesigningSound.org or its Contributing Editors
I wondered how my life post-freelance would change my experience at GDC. Worried that I might not have the drive to meet and connect with people, without the dependency on hustling for opportunities. Ultimately the opposite proved to be true: this year was even more socially pronounced than ever. I met so many new and caught up with so many old friends. People and conversations continue to be my absolute favorite part of GDC; skimming the cream of inspiration from peoples experiences helps drive my excitement for this industry. Coming out of this year’s #GameAudioGDC there’s an overwhelming swell of emotion which can be felt rippling outward across the community with each passing day. It’s through these proclamations of passion and seeing people right-back to working on initiatives surrounding game audio that has helped me pull out of a post-GDC depression. After riding a week of enthusiastic positivity, its hard coming to grips with the hard work that needs to be done to follow up some of the difficult epiphanies about our culture that have surfaced within our industry through the gracious sharing of perception and experience of people in the community.
Jordan Fehr and Damian Kastbauer have put out a wonderful sound library together of Buttons, Gear, Equipment and Ambiences. You may recognize Jordan from his work on such wonderful games as: Hotline Miami, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac. Damian is no stranger to Designing Sound and to the online audio community. He has worked as a Technical Sound Designer on fantastic titles such as: Uncharted 3, The Force Unleashed II, and Dead Space 3.
DS: Tell us a bit about the libraries and why you decided to record these specific subjects.
Jordan Fehr: I am often times called upon to work on projects with zero extra money for exploratory recording time like field recording or extensive Foley work, and so a lot of my recording is done during downtime to beef up my custom libraries for my own use. The libraries I have released so far under JFFX have been useful ingredients I knew anyone could use, or in the case of the restored industrial engines, a very unique source material that only a few people have access to. This new library began with me recording simply buttons and switches for UI and Foley to use in my video game work, and I will not pretend it had nothing to do with purchasing a Schoeps-MK4 which is able to achieve a detailed high-end for these tiny sounds. As I started thinking more about the usage of the sounds I was recording, I decided to turn the library into a sort of Foley grab-bag of sounds that would accompany a situation with a lot of buttons and switches. Take a spy story for example: lots of gear and equipment with detailed foley to help suck you into the character’s busy work. A lot of the thinking was geared towards video game work once Damian approached me with his part of the library because I knew that the mono machines were perfect for 3D actors in modern game editors, but that is not to say that these sounds aren’t perfect for linear media work as well.
As they did during the Game Audio AES conference in London recently, Anton Woldhek and Damian Kastbauer are producing daily podcasts from GDC. You can find them over at the Game Audio Podcast website.
In the run-up to this month’s reverb theme, former contributor Damian Kastbauer suggested we re-run this article he put together discussing the game Crackdown for XBOX. The article may be two years old, but the content remains undeniably relevant. Never one to ignore good suggestions, here we are…
One area that has been gaining ground since the early days of EAX on the PC platform, and more recently it’s omnipresence in audio middleware toolsets, is Reverb. With the ability to enhance the sounds playing back in the game with reverberant information from the surrounding space, you can effectively communicate to the player a truer approximation of “being there” and help to further immerse them in the game world. While we often take Reverb for granted in our everyday life as something that helps us position ourselves in a space (the cavernous echo of an airport, the openness of a forest), it is something that is continually giving us feedback on our surroundings, and thus a critical part of the way we experience the world.