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.

 

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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!

 

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Explore the full, unique collection here

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  • Environments Command Center I Play Track 28 sounds included, 28 mins total $24.95

    Orbital Emitter is proud to present Command Center I – a comprehensive sci-fi sound-set providing a rich arsenal of futuristic sounds for you to quickly build believable sci-fi atmospheres for all of your sci-fi projects! Inside you will find nuanced environments, futuristic instrument displays, multiple alerts and imaginative lo-fi system sounds. And like the rest of our growing library, this environment sound-set can be customized to your liking allowing multiple possibilities -all from this one sound-set!

    Our sound-sets are made up of two main folders labeled as Audio-Scenes and Audio-Stems. The Command Center I Audio-Scenes consist of five long playing scenes representing this star-cruiser command center in various modes of operation; -From busy to calm to high alert and more. Think of these audio-scenes like we dropped microphones into a futuristic space cruiser command center and have captured all of its sounds in real-time!

    Our Audio-Stems folder contains the curated sound elements used in creating the audio-scenes. This is where you will find isolated sound elements like tactical scans, lost communications, sweeping sensors, enemy alerts, interface sounds, probe telemetries, stellar mapping, systems under incredible stress and interface sounds and much much more!

    Also included with our audio-stems are less glamorous necessities like room tones and back-wall system sounds to give your futuristic environments the nuance they deserve. This sound-set is delivered industry ready at 24 bit/48kHz WAV and each sound file contains simple meta-data to make our sound files easy to organize & find. All of our sounds are 100% original, created in our sound-labs and designed to boldly explore the universe of sci-fi sound!

    Thank you for reading! Watch for more from Orbital Emitter coming soon!

    20 %
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    Starts 1579820400
  • Say Hello to Particles the new sonic weapon for creative sound designers, video makers, filmmakers and motion designers.

    A must-have sound effect library to give a sense of organic and hyper-realistic to your projects in a fast and creative way.

    • 287 high quality pristine sound effects with an organic and granular taste divided into 6 categories.
    • Stereo 24bit and 96khz for extreme pitch shifting and sound manipulation.
    • BaseHead embedded metadata

    CATEGORIES:

    Hyper- Realistic Textures (104 sounds)

    These are hyper close-up recordings of various kinds of props (food, fabrics, materials).

    Since they are really rough, they’ll inspire you to create something cool using them as sound sources.

    Their proximity allows you to use them for macro-shots, CGI and motion pieces, hyper-detailed images.


    Granular Whooshes (76 sounds)

    From sci-fi granular to totally organic, a large number of whooshes, passbys, dopplers to give a natural sense of motion to your project.


    Minimal One Shots (62 sounds)

    This is the category of short and tiny sounds: small collapsing, fractures, all with a premium high-end sonic detail.

    You can make your organic foley drumkit using them as a sample into your electronic music project.


    Organic Impacts (17 sounds)

    Powerful, organic, natural-sounding with a big low end, these impacts are ready for your earth’s destruction shots.


    Granular Atmospheres (16 sounds)

    Abstract but generated from organic recordings, these atmospheres will help you to get the right “other world” dimension to your project


    Low End Rumbles (12 sounds)

    Last but not least, do you need more power in the low end? You can layer these sounds to enforce subsonic frequencies giving a new taste to other existing sounds.

    29 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580252399
  • Obscure cinematic ping elements perfect to add as top layers while crafting memorable hit sounds and hybrid trailer impacts with mystical undertones and terrifying stingers.

    This file is from the personal library of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernandez (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “The Food That Built America (History Channel)” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

  • The Creepy Contrabass SFXs Instrument: A Big collection of Creepy SFXs live Contrabass, recorded from 3 mic positions with a Neumann U87. This is the best Contrabass collection for your horror trailer tracks, recorded by Vesislava Todorova.

    Features 427MB uncompressed content, 180 sounds in 24 bit / 96 kHz. Includes 2 instruments for the FULL Kontakt version 5.8.1 and the AIFF Version.

    Vesislava Todorova is a performing and recording artist from Bulgaria, with more than 10 Years of experience playing cello for various projects such as movies, video games, commercials and now the brand new Creepy Contrabass SFX Library from TH Studio Production.

    Along with her live performances, she also has a strong online presence with over 7 million views her covers and original music.

    CREEPY CONTRABASS

    2 Instruments for FULL KONTAKT 5.8.1

    AIFF Version

  • The Creepy Violin SFXs Instrument: A Big collection of Creepy SFXs live Violin, recorded from 3 mic positions with a Neumann U87. This is the best Violin collection for your horror trailer tracks, recorded by Vesislava Todorova.

    Features 681 MB uncompressed content, 306 sounds in 24 bit / 96 Khz. Includes 3 instruments for the FULL Kontakt version 5.8.1 and the AIFF Version.

    Vesislava Todorova is a performing and recording artist from Bulgaria, with more than 10 Years of experience playing cello for various projects such as movies, video games, commercials and now the brand new Creepy Violin SFX Library from TH Studio Production.

    CREEPY VIOLIN

    • 3 Instrument for FULL Kontakt 5.8.1
    • 681 MB uncompressed
    • 24 Bit / 96 kHz

 
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