Asbjoern Andersen


Damian Kastbauer has worked with technical game sound design for seven years as a freelancer, on titles such as Uncharted 3, Dead Space 3, Tales of Monkey Island and countless others. About a month ago, he became the Technical Audio Lead at PopCap Games – and in this exclusive post, he shares his golden rules for technical sound design:

 

There’s a gap between the creation of a sound and its playback. From creation to reproduction, from microphone to speaker, there are countless steps that must be taken in order to realize our craft as sound designers.

Whether you’re doing the field recording, pulling from sound libraries and layering in a DAW, or working to play back sounds as part of a game, there is always a process that must be followed to get between the start and final execution of an idea.

As a technical sound designer, my interest lies primarily in the final aspect of bringing a sound recorded in the field or designed in a DAW and getting it to play back in a game appropriately.

And as games have grown in complexity, so has the potential to represent actions and events within the game with increased dynamism and variation, allowing for repetition and believability.

Here are a few things I try to keep in mind when working to bridge the gap:
 

Systems Serve Gameplay

Whatever you’re working on, however you go about achieving the results, always find the core of gameplay and aspire to support it in the best way possible. Understanding the principals of what gameplay is trying to communicate should be your guiding light when designing audio playback systems.

Imagine stealth without obstruction/ occlusion, physics with limp, laggy, or inappropriate impact sounds, ambient without dynamism and randomization;

Get to understand the fundamental aspects and make sure they get the appropriate attention from an audio system-design perspective.

The majority of the time, this will end up being the biggest win and most satisfying!
 

Know What You Want

Understanding the needs of a game is a good first step, how you get there is another question.

While some people choose to feel their way around to a solution through countless hours of experimentation and (possible) head-banging, there is a divine beauty in thinking your way to a solution and executing on it immediately.

You may have heard tales of people solving problems: in their sleep, while jogging, or scrolling a tumblr of cat pics. Once the destination you’re trying to reach is clear, the path often opens itself in front of you like a bob-sled run.

That said, there is a beauty in fumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch. Knowing when to take a step back and shift focus to allow for side-ways inspiration is a skill that can be developed over time.
 


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

 
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Elemental Play Track 654+ sounds included, 78 mins total $149

    Welcome to Elemental, a rich source of magic sound effects, focusing on the 5 elements of magic: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, Ether, plus much more.

    We worked over a year with award winning sound designers to create a magic sound library like no other. If you need both cutting edge designed magic sounds as well as raw source recordings with all the different elements and materials, than Elemental is going to be a perfect fit in your collection. Be sure to also check out the launch trailer video as well, featuring all Elemental sound effects. It's a great way to get an idea just how well the Elemental Soundpack works with magic type visuals!

    Featuring tons of different spells, casts, loops, impacts, healing, breaths, and much more, we went all out to bring you plenty of options. Just look at the list below or view the full sound list further down to get an idea of all that you get. Elemental features more than 650 files, 3GB of 24bit/96khz .WAV files, all meticulously embedded with Soundminer and Basehead metadata.

    Includes magic sounds such as:

    Acid Cast, Earth, Electricity, Evil Breath, Evil Casts, Fire, Fireballs, Good Casts, Ice, Incineration Cast, Neutral Cast, Poison, Sand Cast, Spirit Evil, Spirit Good, Spirit Neutral, Water Cast, Wind Cast, Raw Recordings, Sweetner Layers, Loops, Impacts and Throws

  • ‘Concrete Foot Work’ by Badlands Sound includes 274 high-quality footsteps perfect for your projects.

    The library features five different types of shoes; Boots, Heels or Dress Shoes, Leather Smart Shoes, Old Shoes, and Trainers on three different surfaces – Concrete, Gritty Concrete, and Wet Concrete.

  • Animals & Creatures WINGS Play Track 1444+ sounds included
    5 out of 5
    From: $99

    We are extremely proud to present our first library, WINGS – a one-of-a-kind sound library.

    From tiny insects to small birds, from fairies to dragons, WINGS offers a creative palette with a diverse range of sounds to choose from.

    With over 1400 files (more than 4 GB for the 192 kHz version ) we’re confident you will find the perfect sound.

    When purchasing WINGS you get 2 packs, our Design category that includes 180 files and the Source category that offers more than 1200 sounds. Featuring the very best of our foley sessions.

    All single flaps have been careful edited, allowing for unique speed or rate adjustments.

    Pick your preferred version at the introductory prices below:


Introducing SOUNDLISTER - the place to find audio professionals:
 
Are you an audio professional? Or are you looking for audio pros for you project?
Be sure to check out Soundlister - you'll find 100s of audio professionals there already.
Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Collaborator Co-Conspirators

The old saying “you can get more done with a team than you can by yourself” is truer today than ever in game audio and the game industry at-large.

Whether it’s within the audio department, the game team, or the world-wide community there are people whose greatest gift in life is the ability to collaborate and share knowledge.

Game development in general always feels like it thrives on the creativity of collaboration

While there are great examples of lone-wolf artists working in isolation to create left-field masterpieces, game development in general always feels like it thrives on the creativity of collaboration.

This runs throughout the process where people are relied upon for the speciality and expertise, as well as their experience to help solve problems.

Finding ways to foster communication and creative solutions between people can only lead to a more refined and informed experience for everyone.

Knowledge Share

We’re all solving the same problems, often in very similar ways. One of the greatest developments of my (short) time in game audio is the amount, and accessibility, of information about the dark art of technical sound design.

I spent countless hours on my way into the industry manically scrubbing SDK documentation for OpenAL, Source Engine, and countless others that even mentioned audio in relation to interactivity to even begin formulating a semblance of the way audio was played-back by a game engine.

Fast-forward to today where audio middleware can be downloaded and connected to a game running in real-time and manipulated on-the-fly. Couple that with the wealth of individuals who have been humble enough to share their processes and experiences and you’ve got the potential to begin (or extend) your understanding exponentially.

I hope someday you do the same!

 

Please share this:


 

 

Thanks to Damian Kastbauer for sharing his insights! For more discussion on what Technical Sound Design is, check out the latest Game Audio Podcast #38 – or this interview with Damian at Gamasutra.
 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
  • Environments Backyard Play Track 30+ sounds included, 167 mins total

    ‘Backyard’ by Badlands Sound puts you right in the middle of America's backyard. You will hear in the morning the peaceful sounds of mourning doves, robins, and other song birds along and at night you will hear a distant American School Football Game with crowds cheering and a sports announcer among with crickets and distant dog barks and yelps.

    It includes 30 high-quality 96k / 24-bit ambiences of the backyard, perfect for your projects. All sounds are long – Five and a half minutes each!

    The library features four different times during the day; morning, afternoon, evening, and night.

  • ‘Concrete Foot Work’ by Badlands Sound includes 274 high-quality footsteps perfect for your projects.

    The library features five different types of shoes; Boots, Heels or Dress Shoes, Leather Smart Shoes, Old Shoes, and Trainers on three different surfaces – Concrete, Gritty Concrete, and Wet Concrete.

  • Electricity Energy Play Track 370 sounds included

    Energy is an entirely synthesized library, inspired by classic sound effects heard in a wide variety of action and adventure TV shows. Synthesized source material to create energy beams, lasers, blasts, whooshes, explosions, magical effects and more is bundled in this library and ready to be layered and processed. Energy contains 74 audio files with 5 variations of each sound effect per audio file, totalling 370 sounds.

Explore the full, unique collection here
 
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER + 40 FREE SFX:
Just enter your details below to get the newsletter and free sound effects (soundlist):

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.