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  • Anastasios Brakis

Cinematic sound

The industry has experienced a major turnaround with cinematic music now playing a fundamental role in many single-player games so we are seeing more cinematic aspects incorporated into game sound design. The shift towards hyper-realism gameplay requires cinematic experiences with emotional substance to achieve a more immersive sound environment. Video game soundtracks are designed to invoke a general feeling and create an ambiance rather than add impact to a specific moment as movie soundtracks do. Sound design plays an important role in the experience of a game, creating tension, emotion and immersion in the game world.

Video games are rarely so scripted, unlike film; instead, much of the soundtrack plays on a loop. Every environment has its own unique backing track so there will be shifts to different types of music, such as battle music or a darker soundtrack for a horror moment.

Many aspects of gaming from music to the gameplay itself are taken more seriously nowadays thanks to its rise in popularity over the years. There is never a clear or systematic answer on how to approach each game, but there are a few questions to ask at the beginning to discuss with the developers. What experience do we want to give the player? What themes do we want them to explore emotionally? How do we want the score to react to their actions? How will we create a distinguishable and unique sonic world that gives them something they haven’t experienced before?

When creating cinematic audio for games, there are certainly some challenges. The biggest challenge is always in delivering the best player experience and preventing a cluttered mix. Game audio works by attaching sound to objects in the game world so the mix is achieved by filtering from a large pool of available game objects. In order to achieve the best results in game, a lot of time is spent developing the tech and pipelines to enable fast processing and integration of sound. Consistency within game play audio is paramount and providing a seamless transition in terms of mix, assets and aesthetics are at the forefront of player experience.

Video games give sound designers the freedom to create more immersive audio and make it possible for the gamer to experience stories in a way that is completely unique. In film everything that the music should be saying or can say is already laid out for you on screen whereas in games, this is never certain due to the non-linear process of the player. Now, in a video game, the sensations of the player are increased tenfold thanks to the sound.

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