‘A beautiful thing is never perfect.’
Sound perfection is in the ear of the beholder. Everyone in game audio is striving to create the richest audio experience possible. Sound Design is in many ways about problem solving. Although perfection remains a mystery - sonic success does leave some clues.
The Meaning within the Music
Lets take a look at the best techniques used by the experts to imbue audio with the multi layers of sound and meaning - where implementation and inspiration meet.
1 Build the Score First
‘In many places, we sculpted the sound effects and the dialog around the musical beats.’ (Hans Zimmer)
Set the score in place before adding sound effects. Sound Effects often achieve greater impact when built to work with the music. Use music early in your process.
2. Use Ambience within your Soundscape
‘The effect was rather subtle…I think it works if nothing else on a subliminal level.’ (Brad Meyer)
Oftentimes less is more when creating the idea of spacial reality.
The abstracted parameters and dynamics of gameworlds are best represented within a
subtle framework of sound. Attention to background detail will ground your sound
design in the moment.
3. Filter Texture and Frequency for Dramatic Effect
‘It’s totally subtle, and most people will never notice it, but there’s actually a pretty complicated process going on.’ (Jimi Barker)
Creative use of reverb, ray tracing and reflected sonic surfaces can add depth. An immersive experience for the player is achieved as spatial qualities are fully explored.
4. Be Rigorous in your Critique
‘Sound-effect playbacks were a two-part critique. First, the bare sound effect, and then came the real test: Now let me hear it with the music. (Addison Teague)
Invest time in self review. Consider every aspect of activity and information within the gameplay. Increasing communication with the player is an ongoing process of resolution.
5. It’s all about the Audience
‘All that matters is the sound is enhancing the escape for the audience.’
Ideas live and die in the people’s colosseum. Yet great sound design can make or break a game. The quest for intelligent innovation continues.