George Spanos has created a new Game Sound Design Website. It has several articles, videos, and a forum. Looks great!
There is an interesting article covering the info about the sound of Dark Sector, a third person action shooter that “thrusts you into Hayden Tenno’s mysterious world”. Let’s read:
Sound Design and Music
The sound design of Dark Sector was also really important to the storytelling. We created a number of ambient sound design pieces that combined traditional musical instrumentation with elements of sound design. It was really effective to infuse the pieces with sounds that made the player feel on-edge. Things like prepared piano scrapes, metal creaks and groans, as well as infusing some of the scarier NPC sounds into the music. These sound design cues allowed us to help the player perceive that the infection was spreading throughout their body through the use of audio. Altering the state of the soundscape to not include what you’d traditionally hear brought about a sense of unease. We would create a list of a few different cues which would play randomly and constantly, but at the same time it didn’t feel like the cues were switching at all. It helped with the immersion factor that there were no jarring and noticeable cue changes. It also helped to avoid creating any musical fatigue by not having to play the same tracks over and over again.
The production of Dark Sector wasn’t without its fair share of pitfalls, though. One major obstacle that we ran into with the music implementation was the fact that the timing for our cinematics wasn’t fully locked down before Keith scored them. Quite often we had to edit his score to fit the newly arranged timings. Whole shots would get cut-out and lines of dialogue would be cut. It’s important to have as close to final timings as possible before writing music.
Our dynamic music system is still in its infancy and we have a ton of ideas that we’d like to implement. While we were able to dynamically crossfade music we were not able to mix and match cues together based on gameplay. For example, having the ability to trigger a musical breakdown that plays underscore in response to gameplay changes, then switching to a different melody when the action heats up again etc… would have enabled us to incorporate even more control over the moment to moment feel of Dark Sector.