Asbjoern Andersen


What's next for game audio? We got the chance to speak with Becky Allen - head of audio at PopCap/Electronic Arts, and keynote speaker at GameSoundCon - about just that. And here, she shares her insight on the current challenges, advancements, and future opportunities in the game audio industry:
Written by Jennifer Walden
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GameSoundCon is coming up quickly — Nov 7-8th in Los Angeles. The two-day conference explores tools and topics relevant to sound designing and composing for games, VR, and AR. This year’s keynote speaker is Becky Allen, head of audio at PopCap/Electronic Arts in Seattle, WA. She has over 20 years of experience in sound, composing and sound designing for companies like Microsoft, Soundelux Design Music Group, and PopCap Games —where she recently handled audio direction for Plants Vs. Zombies Heroes.

Allen doesn’t just simply work in the game audio industry. She also facilitates the expansion of the craft. Allen is a founding volunteer of the Audio Mentoring Project — a mentoring program in which game audio veterans use their extensive networks of contacts and industry experience to encourage the learning and development of less experienced members of the game audio industry.

Here, Allen shares her thoughts on GameSoundCon, as well as gives insight on current challenges, advancements, and opportunities in the game audio industry. Find out what she sees for the future of game audio.

 

What’s one advancement you’ve seen in game sound in the past year that you’re excited about?

Becky Allen has pink and blonde hair and sits in front of her workstationBecky Allen (BA): There’s a renewed focus on the importance of accurate 3D spatialization of audio through VR/AR and a lot of excitement around that. VR/AR is still the new frontier for audio and our fellow sound designers and creators are tackling new and interesting issues. I look forward to hearing their work as it advances.

Audio in VR/AR is a key and essential part to maintaining the illusion of a virtual world and if audio isn’t working well, the experience breaks. Because of this, we see more emphasis on the sound and its significance for this new platform.

 

What’s the biggest challenge for game audio at the moment? How do you see that resolved in the future? Tech wise, what would you want to see for game sound?

BA: Regardless of the size and scope, systems for delivering dynamic and captivating content are becoming more complex. The complexity of systems requires deeper understanding of scripting and at some points coding. These skills are becoming more important for a sound designer to develop.

Tech-wise, it’s the same that we have been developing for decades — more and better tools in the hands of the sound designers and composers. Our tools have made great advancements and we continue to drive these innovations through new ideas and creative desire.

GameSoundCon in Los Angeles, 7-8 November

Creatively, what would you like to see in the future for game sound?

BA: With the increased amount of data collection that we now see coming from gameplay, we are able to craft individual experiences for each player on a finer level. We can drive unique experiences for each player that is different, believable and compelling each time — much like our real-world experience. Creatively this opens up many possibilities for designers in all areas: sound design, music design, and voice.

 

You’re the first female keynote speaker at GameSoundCon. Can you tell us a little about that conference and why you would recommend it to your peers and newcomers to the industry?

BA: GameSoundCon (Nov 7 – 8, in Los Angeles) is a conference specifically for audio people. It’s a great conference to learn about new tools, share skills and knowledge, and also to network.

This is a smaller conference than GDC, which is wonderful but can be overwhelming. At this conference, you have more quality time with the participants and can really dig into deeper topics and have more substantial connections with individuals.

Also, to acknowledge your statement above, yes, I am delighted to be the first female keynote speaker and I hope the first of many.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • AUTOMATED BIRD NOISE REMOVAL

    DEBIRD automatically recognizes bird noises in your recordings and removes them with surgical precision.

    THE PROBLEM
    Meet the involuntary #1 enemy of recordists and editors alike: Birds.

    While their lively and delightful song is a true asset in nature ambiences, it ruins just about everything else.

    As a result, countless hours are spent on the rather tedious task of cleaning recordings before one can get back to the fun part and focus on the creative process.

    Meet DEBIRD – your simple but powerful tool that utilizes Deep Learning to do all the cleaning work for you.

    Sit back and relax while DEBIRD effortlessly extracts all the unwanted chatter from your audio file within seconds!

    HOW TO USE DEBIRD?

    1. Drag any sound into DEBIRD. It is analyzed automatically.

    2. Hit Play. Enjoy your de-birded recording! You can see the removed bird sounds in the lower spectrum display.

    3. Simply export the cleaned sound.

    THAT’S IT?
    Yes! It is really that simple. You need some more features? You can also do the following:

    Would you like to keep certain sounds that would otherwise be removed? No problem! Grab a boundary box or brush and show DEBIRD what to keep.

    Solo and export the extracted bird sounds if needed. DEBIRD can be used in the exact opposite way it was designed for.

    TIMESAVER
    DEBIRD turns hours of work into seconds.

    FAST PROCESSING
    No matter how fast you remove bird sounds, DEBIRD is faster.

    CUT THE SLACK
    No more need to plan recording sessions at night or use invasive methods such as scaring off birds.

    SMART
    DEBIRD‘s Machine Learning capabilities help the tool to improve over time.

    HELP US TO IMPROVE DEBIRD
    DEBIRD works with a neural network that further improves the more input it gets. We will continuously feed the deep learning algorithm with recordings of birds to improve the results and to better handle edge-cases.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO
    You have a file and DEBIRD struggles to properly remove the bird sounds? Contact us via debird@boomlibrary.com and send us your audio file. We will include it into the machine learning routine and DEBIRD will handle such cases better over time.

    REQUIREMENTS

    SOFTWARE
    DEBIRD works as a standalone application without a host DAW or NLE.

    SYSTEM
    Windows Windows 7 (64-bit), 8 GB RAM, Intel® Core i5
    Mac Mac OS X 10.11, 8 GB RAM, Intel® Core i5

    ILOK
    Available licensing options:
    Machine License activation and USB Dongle

    20 %
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    Ends 1576882799
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    Also included in LT Underwater Bundle 2!

    The library has been recorded on small and medium-sized trip motorboats in Montenegro, Adriatic Sea. Rather than image of a specific boat model, this collection includes a set of universal elements with plenty of variations and perspectives, both realistic sources and stylized designs.

    Boat ride / overwater – engine roar with more or less rushing water hiss, mic onboard

    Boat ride / overwater – without the sounds of engine – universal rushing water around a fast moving object

    Boat ride / underwater – sounds of a fast movement underwater

    Waves splashing on a hull / underwater – boat is not moving, different wave intensities

    Designed underwater – adding more interesting variations and emotions to the previous categories – stylized / multi-layered / spacious / diffused / distant / deep / eerie

    Gear used:
    Ambient Sound Fish 1 MKII hydrophone – includes ultrasonics
    Aquarian H2A hydrophone
    Sound Devices Pre6 recorder
    Sony PCMD100 handheld recorder
    Rode SoundFiled NT-SF1

    Key features:
    • 94 files – 19 source overwater, 20 source underwater, 55 designed underwater
    • 24 Bit / 96 kHz native resolution mono/stereo
    • meta-tagged in Soundly
    • each filename includes the full tag line

    40 %
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    CashMoney is a detailed collection of 105 sounds created by recording stacks of fresh paper banknotes and metal coins.

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    This collection is divided into 3 folders, according to the type of cash:

    • Coins: 68
    • Banknotes: 23
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  • Destruction & Impact Hardwork Play Track 237 sounds included, 26 mins total $28.99 $23.99

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    Rode NTG3
    Rode NT4
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    17 %
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  • Weapons Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds Play Track 800+ sounds included $80

    Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds is a sfx library recorded for police / military related film or video games. Recorded at 24/96,(real guns and soft/air guns) with 3 microphones (omni, cardioid and shotgun), you can use one sound or mix the 3 layers together for more impact!

    Key Features:

    Library ships in 96kHz, 24bit
    408 files, more than 800 sounds
    Effective workflow: well-grounded Soundminer Metadata
    Add to cart


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

How is the game sound industry preparing for/handling the VR format (workflow, tools, staff skills)?

BA: I am not currently working in VR so I do not have first-hand experience with this. However, companies are emerging with new tools, new headphones, and new ways of listening. I find it intriguing that people are finding audio acoustic programs (Masters and PhD level) with an emphasis in psychoacoustics. Some of these students coming out of school with this knowledge now have a place to apply their education where perhaps before that wasn’t quite possible.

 

What opportunities do you hope VR will offer game sound pros?

BA: With the emphasis on the immersive experience being more pronounced, there are many opportunities for sound designers, in particular, to find a footing here.

More insights on the future of game audio:

 
Want to know more about what awaits in game audio? Be sure to check out the interviews with former Rockstar North audio director Matthew Smith here, and senior audio director/sound designer Ben Minto at EA DICE here.

Beyond VR and AR, any other major trends you’re seeing?

BA: Yes, culturally I see that corporations are now discussing and developing programs addressing gender gaps and diversity. I’m really happy to see these changes happening and being addressed.

However, change happens on all levels – individual to individual, within team groups at work, etc. True change of this kind is something that has to be looked at systemically as well as based on individual effort. I hope that we will continue to address the issues through discussion, initiatives, and conference roundtables, etc., until balance is attained (yes… an idealist!).

 

For game audio pros, how do you see the landscape changing in terms of job opportunities, must-have skills, platforms to focus on etc?

BA: The deeper and more complex systems that are being developed on all platforms suggest that sound designers, or any in-house audio person, have skills in scripting and coding as it applies to implementation. Knowledge in Python scripting, XML, and C++ are helpful but not currently considered a requirement. These skills and a person’s ability to “problem solve” through technological solutions and tool building are areas for growth and ways for young designers to focus and find more opportunity.

 

Do you have any advice for the next generation of game sound professionals? What should they be prepared for if they’re entering the industry in the next year?

BA: Immerse yourself in networking with local communities and connecting with other working professionals. You will find it a friendly and encouraging community. No need to be discouraged if you go to just one meet-up and nothing material seems to happen. Keep going and introduce yourself multiple times. The people in the industry remember when an individual continues to show up to networking events. It shows commitment and tenacity. People are prone to help individuals after they have seen you over the course of many networking events.

A big thanks to Becky Allen for all her great advice – and to Jennifer Walden for the interview!

 

Please share this:


 


 
 
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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • AUTOMATED BIRD NOISE REMOVAL

    DEBIRD automatically recognizes bird noises in your recordings and removes them with surgical precision.

    THE PROBLEM
    Meet the involuntary #1 enemy of recordists and editors alike: Birds.

    While their lively and delightful song is a true asset in nature ambiences, it ruins just about everything else.

    As a result, countless hours are spent on the rather tedious task of cleaning recordings before one can get back to the fun part and focus on the creative process.

    Meet DEBIRD – your simple but powerful tool that utilizes Deep Learning to do all the cleaning work for you.

    Sit back and relax while DEBIRD effortlessly extracts all the unwanted chatter from your audio file within seconds!

    HOW TO USE DEBIRD?

    1. Drag any sound into DEBIRD. It is analyzed automatically.

    2. Hit Play. Enjoy your de-birded recording! You can see the removed bird sounds in the lower spectrum display.

    3. Simply export the cleaned sound.

    THAT’S IT?
    Yes! It is really that simple. You need some more features? You can also do the following:

    Would you like to keep certain sounds that would otherwise be removed? No problem! Grab a boundary box or brush and show DEBIRD what to keep.

    Solo and export the extracted bird sounds if needed. DEBIRD can be used in the exact opposite way it was designed for.

    TIMESAVER
    DEBIRD turns hours of work into seconds.

    FAST PROCESSING
    No matter how fast you remove bird sounds, DEBIRD is faster.

    CUT THE SLACK
    No more need to plan recording sessions at night or use invasive methods such as scaring off birds.

    SMART
    DEBIRD‘s Machine Learning capabilities help the tool to improve over time.

    HELP US TO IMPROVE DEBIRD
    DEBIRD works with a neural network that further improves the more input it gets. We will continuously feed the deep learning algorithm with recordings of birds to improve the results and to better handle edge-cases.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO
    You have a file and DEBIRD struggles to properly remove the bird sounds? Contact us via debird@boomlibrary.com and send us your audio file. We will include it into the machine learning routine and DEBIRD will handle such cases better over time.

    REQUIREMENTS

    SOFTWARE
    DEBIRD works as a standalone application without a host DAW or NLE.

    SYSTEM
    Windows Windows 7 (64-bit), 8 GB RAM, Intel® Core i5
    Mac Mac OS X 10.11, 8 GB RAM, Intel® Core i5

    ILOK
    Available licensing options:
    Machine License activation and USB Dongle

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576882799
  • Drones & Moods Boat Ride ">Play Track 100+ sounds included, 225 mins total $50 $30

    Also included in LT Underwater Bundle 2!

    The library has been recorded on small and medium-sized trip motorboats in Montenegro, Adriatic Sea. Rather than image of a specific boat model, this collection includes a set of universal elements with plenty of variations and perspectives, both realistic sources and stylized designs.

    Boat ride / overwater – engine roar with more or less rushing water hiss, mic onboard

    Boat ride / overwater – without the sounds of engine – universal rushing water around a fast moving object

    Boat ride / underwater – sounds of a fast movement underwater

    Waves splashing on a hull / underwater – boat is not moving, different wave intensities

    Designed underwater – adding more interesting variations and emotions to the previous categories – stylized / multi-layered / spacious / diffused / distant / deep / eerie

    Gear used:
    Ambient Sound Fish 1 MKII hydrophone – includes ultrasonics
    Aquarian H2A hydrophone
    Sound Devices Pre6 recorder
    Sony PCMD100 handheld recorder
    Rode SoundFiled NT-SF1

    Key features:
    • 94 files – 19 source overwater, 20 source underwater, 55 designed underwater
    • 24 Bit / 96 kHz native resolution mono/stereo
    • meta-tagged in Soundly
    • each filename includes the full tag line

    40 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576969199
  • Foley CashMoney Play Track 105 sounds included $24 $14.40

    CashMoney is a detailed collection of 105 sounds created by recording stacks of fresh paper banknotes and metal coins.

    CashMoney includes a wide variety of money based activities, from counting and shuffling paper banknotes, to handling, counting and spinning various metal coins, on surfaces, in hands and in boxes. There is also a section of designed sounds, representing a fast bank note counting machine.

    This collection is divided into 3 folders, according to the type of cash:

    • Coins: 68
    • Banknotes: 23
    • Designed Note Counter: 14

    All sounds were recorded or designed, and edited at 24 Bit / 96 kHz, with embedded meta data and accompanying spreadsheets.

    40 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576796399
  • Destruction & Impact Hardwork Play Track 237 sounds included, 26 mins total $28.99 $23.99

    Who doesn’t recognize the sounds of construction work and the toughest duties ever known to humankind. Drilling, hammering, building and constructing. (Swearing not included). Packed with 237 different sounds to immerse you audience in the true hardwork day to day

    Recorded with

    Sound Devices 633
    Rode NTG3
    Rode NT4
    Seymour Duncan SCR-1

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576796399
  • Weapons Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds Play Track 800+ sounds included $80

    Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds is a sfx library recorded for police / military related film or video games. Recorded at 24/96,(real guns and soft/air guns) with 3 microphones (omni, cardioid and shotgun), you can use one sound or mix the 3 layers together for more impact!

    Key Features:

    Library ships in 96kHz, 24bit
    408 files, more than 800 sounds
    Effective workflow: well-grounded Soundminer Metadata
 
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