Many thanks to Brad Dyck for contributing this interview. You can follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Dyck
It was my pleasure to speak with Rob Blake, Audio Director best known for his work on the Mass Effect trilogy. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is available now for PC and will be available for PS3/PS4 on August 19th.
BD: What originally made you move away from the UK to come over to Canada?
RB: Actually, before I came to Canada I was working at a small start-up in Spain (Tragnarion Studios). It was a really fascinating place to work because they were really passionate gamers who just wanted to make something they wanted to play themselves.
After I’d been with them for nearly a year I got offered the lead position on Mass Effect. I just finished the project I was working on in Spain so the timing worked out well. It was a dream job for me at the time – I’d been an Audio Lead before in the UK but working on something like Mass Effect was very special.
As Designing Sound’s month devoted to Silence comes to an end, what better time to take a look at a remarkable video course that delves into the vast and interesting world of effective sound recording.
The Sound Recording Workshop (video/audio series) comes to us from Sound Librarian and presenter Stephan Schütze.
FMOD Studio, one of the go-to tools for creating audio content in game environments, are making their tools completely free for independent game developers. The previous licensing structure was based largely on whether your use was commercial or not, but now Firelight Technologies – the company that makes FMOD – have announced its next generation audio content creation tools will now be free to all. Though no dollar amount was confirmed in the official press release, it is reported that only those titles with a budget in excess of $100K will have to pay.
FMOD Press Relase
Guest Contribution by Michael Theiler of Kpow Audio
We always knew The Banner Saga was going to be something special. First contact with the guys behind it was so positive and just easy. Our meetings and emails hit all the rights notes creatively so much so we just knew it was going to be an exhilarating ride. We weren’t wrong. Working on a project with such rich creativity and depth behind it, paired with the encouragement and trust the team showed, buoyed us, and heightened our commitment to the project.
There were a few key areas we concentrated on when it came to the sound design of The Banner Saga. We wanted to pay particular attention to the ambiences of the locations in the game – to make them real and evocative and never distract the player from the game. We wanted to make sure the banner, which is always with you but changes in length depending on how the player is progressing, had gravitas and importance without overwhelming the player. Likewise for the scenes where travelling by cart is depicted, the cart sounds were incredibly important as they were the sounds of the population traversing vast distances, fleeing from a dark force. We needed the fighting sounds to be gritty and real, and for their special abilities to have a different sound to them. We wanted the fighters to feel like they were pulling their strength and concentration for their actions from an internal well of ancient power. Finally we wanted the UI to not draw too much attention to itself, to feel solid and real but distinct from the other in-game sounds.
Guest Contribution by Neil Cullen
Raymond Usher started work in the games industry in 1992 as a sound designer at DMA Design, working on a number of titles, most notably the original Grand Theft Auto games. He became the company’s senior audio programmer and through the release of GTA III, was part of the metamorphosis into Rockstar North. Raymond stayed at Rockstar until the end of development on GTA: Vice City before moving to the newly formed Realtime Worlds to act as Audio Director for the title Crackdown. After that company’s collapse, Raymond founded Euphonious, an independent audio production company providing direction, sound design, audio programming and music licensing services for developers. Double BAFTA award winner for Vice City and Crackdown, Raymond has been at the forefront of game audio for over 20 years.
Neil Cullen: Your company Euphonious handles audio outsourcing for the games industry, could you describe your services and how they fit into the development cycle?
Raymond Usher: Euphonious has been going about 2 and a half years officially, after Realtime Worlds collapsed, there was a lot of small studios doing small mobile and Facebook games and we sort of started doing sound for them as a favour. It made me think we can make a go of this, so 2 and a half years later I’ve lost count of the number of projects we’ve done. We tend to do about 20 or 30 a year, ranging from mobile stuff right through to AAA titles such as the Lego Games developed by Travellers Tales who we did a lot of the cut-scene work for. In general a lot of the work comes from people that I know, but a lot of it is also recommendations, going out and meeting people at various events. It can vary from project to project, some of them we come on the project quite early while on others the project’s almost complete. It’s really a case of playing the builds, getting a list of requirements together and going off and getting that done, working with video captures, and just keeping in touch with the companies. A lot of the folk I work with are quite local while others are not so we Skype.