What You Didn’t Know You Wanted In Game Sound: Going Beyond “Good Enough”

  • May 9, 2015
  • By Somatone Interactive

So, you want your game to just sound awesome. Easy, right? There’s a simple list of audio needs, the sound designer just slaps them in place, and it’s done. NOT so in today’s world! For an increasing number of situations in modern gaming of all kinds, creating a game soundscape that really clicks and brings the whole experience to the next level begs for a stronger audio system. Drawing from what has long been exclusive to AAA titles, we have been involved in many projects that give us exciting opportunities to expand upon how audio is imagined and integrated.

It may be easy to think of the big picture creatively, and imagine the finished product of what you expect to hear in your game. For example, if you have a hero in combat, you may think having a sound for an attack and when the attack makes contact with an enemy would be all that’s necessary; that should sound good. Perhaps a few variations will really sell it. Par for the course, standard, boring.

But we’ve been getting more and more opportunities lately to bring so much more to clients, adding dynamic audio that so few games are taking advantage of. For example, a hero in combat having every weapon play variety of attacks, every weapon a material type of damage being dealt (sword, cannon, magic, rifle), and an impact sound for every type of material (flesh, stone, wood, dirt). Having only 1 or 2 sounds with every attack not only fails to deliver on rich and cool sounding action that often the developer had envisioned. It also quickly runs out of variety, getting repetitive and predictable. If instead every play action had a swoosh, crunchy impact, impact material, ringing metal of your sword, and voice effort, you can imagine how much more interesting and evolving every individual action could be. (and if you can’t imagine it, check out our video!)

In another game, the player may be a soldier firing an AK47, and you’re hearing each bullet hitting metal truck doors, breaking out windows, or ricochet in the dirt. Buildings getting demolished having layers of debris adding detail to the explosions. Adding that extra texture and attention to detail everywhere we can is what makes a game sound and feel awesome. We also love going beyond typical expectations with footsteps, voice effects, interactive music systems, environments, etc. When you take these extra steps, it without a doubt sets your game ahead of so many others. The list truly is endless, and unique to every type of game. The old way of thinking about audio for your game shouldn’t limit you to “good enough.”

What many developers don’t realize is that there are many moving parts, and endless creative possibilities to build a full and dynamic audio experience.

Audio is still overlooked all the time as being what connects the player to the game, and gives a subconscious “wait, this is really cool” feeling. There is a stark contrast between hearing a sound effect playing in game where you would expect, fulfilling only the effect of sensory feedback, and when you hear variety and complexity that fits every action, sounding natural and believable. What a difference this makes! As this industry continues to expand, we’re trying to change that, one meticulously crafted soundscape at a time.