Rob Bridgett is an audio director at Eidos-Montréal.
Leonard Paul is the president of the School of Video Game Audio.
Images courtesy of Rob Bridgett & Leonard Paul
Nine years ago, we collaborated on an article on the idea of limitations for Gamasutra and wanted to see where our thoughts would take us. This time around, rather than produce another article, this submission is a set of our musings meant to be used as starting points or inspiration when working with the limitations of game audio.
Allowing a view of the long-term in our art gives a certain freedom but it can also be paralyzing unless we set limits on ourselves.
An exciting, creative challenge is one with well defined limits: a well defined brief; a box to play in.
Not only do technical limits advance but also creative limits as well.
Working within a genre is a form of self-limitation (style and structure, for instance, “we’re going to write a 3 minute pop song”). A platform/format is a limitation: 12 inch, an LP (two sides), a CD (long running playlist). We need to consider the equivalent boxes and structures in games (menu, mission, genre, format, art style).
Earlier this month on a rare rainy Bay-Area day, I sat down with composer and musician Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace) to discuss last month’s theme of “Restriction”. Rich is best known for his work in video games having composed music for “Fez”, “Bit.Trip Presents: Runner2”, “Gunhouse” and the forthcoming “Mini Metro” and “Hyper Light Drifter”. Most recently his score to the critically acclaimed motion picture “It Follows” received unanimous praise.
Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace) – photo credit Nika States
There’s a common joke among game audio artists and designers: if you ask any number of sound designers what genre they’d most like to work on, the odds are good they’ll all say “horror”, twice. It’s no surprise it’s such a common answer, either; horror games offer designers some of the most interesting and diverse sound design opportunities one can come across. There’s no doubt that Frictional Games’s upcoming title SOMA fits this mold as well, evidenced by a fantastic blog post on Frictional’s website by the game’s audio director, Samuel Justice.
In the post, Sam discusses the approach he and the rest of the team took towards defining the distinct above- and underwater worlds of this eagerly-anticipated horror title. Sam goes into extensive detail on the techniques they used, both in the game’s engine and in content creation, to achieve a unique sonic identity for the game. Check out the post here, and also take a look at Sam’s other online home over at Sweet Justice, which features another great blog chock full of good info.
In a recent blog post, A Sound Effect spoke to sound designers Ruslan Nesteruk and Glen Bondarenko on the techniques and tools they utilize in creating sci-fi weaponry SFX. The post delves into layering, synthesis techniques, breaking down each weapon into its constituent components, and a great deal more. If you want some insights on creating better sci-go weaponry, you owe it to yourself to head over to the post now.
Photo: Heike Liss
Snippets of Dren McDonald’s score for his seven-piece ensemble.
Dren McDonald shares his third and final entry on the audio production of Gathering Sky. Written during the game’s development, the first two entries focus on keeping an open mind when joining a team late in the game’s development and maintaining this flexible mindset while composing and recording a live studio session. In the final entry, a post mortem, McDonald further emphasizes flexibility by sharing his incremental process of designing “reverse” dynamics in FMOD before the studio session recording.