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).
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.
The Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle created by Epic Games
What is your favorite sound effect from a video game? Reminiscent sounds from arcade, Atari and Nintendo games often come to mind, but effects from a few modern games have also become classics. Yet it is not from their nostalgic qualities that they join Mario’s square waves but rather from their versatility and ability to evoke sensations of skin-raising, visceral empathy. I am, of course, referring to a sound on my own list, the Mk2 Lancer with its chainsaw bayonet from Gears of War.
This summer the franchise gets an upgrade, and in this short video, development team The Coalition shares how they not only translated the game to Dolby 7.1 Surround, but also how they remastered the orchestral score and overhauled the sound design with new Foley while maintaining the distinctly crunchy character of the original game.
Broken Age launched Act I in January 2014. Funded through Kickstarter with it’s development the subject of an epic (and ongoing) documentary courtesy of 2 Player Productions, the game was noteworthy for a number of reasons. I personally really enjoyed the games sound and music so in August 2014 I caught up with Camden Stoddard, the lead sound designer on the game for a chat. I was lucky enough to catch up with him again in March 2015 and also meet the other members of the audio team, Ashley Coull and Paul O’Rourke, as they closed in on the end of Act II
Designing Sound: Hi Camden. Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today. How are things going?
Camden Stoddard: Well, we’re in a weird place right now. I’m in Broken Age Act II land now. There’s a lot of layouts being done and there’s a whole bunch of work coming my way and I can’t really touch it until it’s locked. So now I’m kinda sketching and guessing what they’re going to do. So right now, I’m actually helping out on a couple of other projects, working on Costume Quest 2 and Massive Chalice.
Registration details have been announced for the third annual Games Music Connect, which will take place on Tuesday 14 September, at the Purcell Rooms in London. 2014’s edition featured composer Olivier Deriviere (Assassin’s Creed IV: Cry Freedom) and Audiokinetic’s Simon Ashby, among many others. Whilst speakers have not yet been announced, this year’s event looks set to focus heavily on the emerging creative and technical practices surrounding Virtual Reality (VR).
Tickets cost £130.00. Early bird price £90.00 (until 31 May 2015).