Sound – Adding familiarity and Excitement
Sound Effects (SFX) are the sounds that objects in the game make, including ambient, shots, hits, splashes, menu sounds, etc. Sound effects immerse the game player inside the virtual realm by creating tension, emotion and immersion in the game world. Sound is what adds familiarity and excitement to what is happening on the screen and it only takes a few seconds of playing your favourite game on mute to realize how important sound is.
When creating sfx sounds there are often some challenges. Sometimes just starting can be the most difficult part so start building up a palette of layers you want to use. To get the required sounds a sound library is often useful however it’s great fun doing some recording yourself. There’s always a time and place for pulling something from a library but it is likely to change based on the project, budget, and timeline.
Sound libraries are often used to save time, after all why spend time and money recording, cleaning, editing, labeling basic things like footsteps when you can buy them for very little money and be using them in within minutes of purchase. There are also some sounds difficult to source too including guns as they are not easily available. With many products on the market from manufacturers including the likes of Krotos, Pulse Energy Weapons and Tsugi, it is not always efficient to record from scratch when you can spend less time building complex sounds from a library.
However, Foley does have a lot to offer in terms of games. Foley can be anything as simple as recording footsteps to body movements. It can bring a lot to the game play because it fits and feels right. The creation of ambient sound worlds that use foley and other techniques is crucial to the modern gaming experience as immersion is key. If we do our job right, no one will know we did anything at all.
Once the assets are sourced you can start putting layers together and syncing them up to the video footage. To hear your work in a game you have to render your asset and implement it into your game, whether that’s directly or using middleware like Wwise. Once the game is loaded and you have found the part you need to test and play, you need to keep in your head the thing you are meant to be listening for, maybe an EQ tweak or a change to the reverb tail. Middleware is great because you can make some changes like levels and pitch adjustments whilst the game is running. Whether you’re using side chain compression, mixer snapshot changes, instance limiting, or dynamic systems for the sounds themselves, each of these can help balance the number of concurrent sounds the gamer is hearing. Consistency within game play audio is paramount and providing a seamless transition in terms of mix, assets and aesthetics are at the forefront of the player experience.
Good sound editing supports the storytelling elements; making a location
appear silent is not so much about removing or lowering established sounds but rather amplifying sounds that wouldn’t be audible with the natural sounds present. To modulate sounds you should use DAWs such as Reaper, Fabric or Albeton. They help to combine and layer sounds through volume automation, saturation, and pitch. It may also worth using sound engines such as FMOD and Wwise as they help to adapt sounds to your gameplay.