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:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Cars Car Foley II Play Track 130+ sounds included, 30 mins total $50 $40

    Car Foley 2 sound effects library features foley recordings of different actions performed inside 10 different cars. It’s 130 files with a total length of 30 minutes covering actions like closing and opening regular doors, slide doors, hoods, trunks, interior buttons and switches, windows, seatbelts, brakes, gear levers, handbrakes and more.

    Inside you’ll find foley recorded in cars like:

    • Audi A3 8L 1.9 TDI
    • Mazda 6 III 2.0 Skyactive G
    • Nissan Qashqai 1.6
    • Nissan Terrano II 2.7 TDi
    • Porsche Cayenne I 4.8 V8
    • Renault Master IV dci 165
    • Subaru Impreza WRX GD
    • Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6
    • Toyota Rav 4 II 2.0 Diesel
    • Volkswagen Caravelle T5 2.0
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580252399
    Add to cart
  • Environments Hot Tub SFX (Jacuzzi / Spa) Play Track 10 sounds included, 2+ mins total $10 $5

    There’s nothing better than a nice long soak in a Jacuzzi hot tub… This library will instantly place you right in the middle of a beautiful oasis of warm bubbling water and massaging bubble jets. All sounds are cut into perfectly seamless loops and provided in both .wav and .mp3 to make your use of this library as easy as a trip to the spa!

    These loops make it easy to drop the files into any game development software or to easily support props in a film/tv project.

    Music is only heard in the demo, not in the actual footage.

    Other libraries that pair well:
    1000 Winds Project (Farts.) [The Original]
    Everyone farts… and some people do it in the hot tub!  CAUTION: This library contains the HIGHEST resolution fart winds that exist on this side of the internet… Well, let’s be real, all sides of the internet!

    Chicago – Environmental & Transportation Ambiences
    Depending on the needs of your project, you might just find that you need additional environmental ambiences, which are covered in this library! Recorded in high resolution, this library will put you right in the virtual seat of the city of neighborhoods!

    PWC – Jet Ski – Sea Doo | Volume 1 & 2
    More sounds in the world of water!  Ultra-high resolution Sea Doo recordings utilizing on-board microphone techniques, from multiple perspectives (driver perspective (mid-side, exhaust perspective & engine perspective).

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580165999
    Add to cart
  • User Interface (UI) Computer Sounds: Sci-Fi Minipack Play Track 180 sounds included $10 $7

    This is a small collection of 180 easy-to-use futuristic interface sound effects.

    All sounds categorized by the most popular cases in production, such as Alarm, Beep, Button, Confirm, Deny, Telemetry, Text, Noise, and others.

    Also, it contains two main sub category: Simple (could be used as a layer in complex sound design) and Complex (which already consists of several layers).

    This library is a fast, easy, effective and extremely affordable way to complete your production tasks.

    Main features:

    • 180 ready-to-use sound effects with alterations

    • Futuristic computer interface sounds

    • Categorized as Simple and Complex

    • Most popular types of effects: Alarm, Beep, Button, Confirm, Deny and others

    • Contains metadata for search engines

    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1583017199
    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Medieval Battle Play Track 100 sounds included $26

    Medieval Battle contains a wide variety of sounds taken straight from the battlefield. Unleash the full force of your army with effects from a diverse range of medieval weaponry, crowds, horses and battle charges. There are also battle cries, screams and shouts to make the audience feel like they are right there on the frontlines. To bring you the most organic and natural battle sounds, we recorded actors performing in a quiet exterior location. All sounds were recorded in 24Bit 96kHz, allowing for further sonic manipulation.

    If you think your sound collection is in need of some reinforcements then this is the library for you! Medieval Battle is ideal for use in Film, TV and Game projects, and will make a perfect addition to your sound design arsenal.

    Here are the included folders:

    Crowds: Crowd rushes and static battle cries in a natural exterior location make these effects perfect for building the bed of a huge Medieval warzone.

    Female Voices: 4 individual female actors perform multiple vocalisations including screams, grunts and efforts.

    Sword & Shield Hits: A variety of sword and shield hits performed by weapons and combat experts.

    Male Voices: 4 individual male actors perform multiple vocalisations including screams, grunts and efforts.

     

    Add to cart
  • City Life Countrysides and capitals Play Track 40 sounds included, 57 mins total $89.99

    These group of sounds will help you colour your footage with sounds from the city and the countryside. Packed with 40 sounds to enhance your design

    Recorded with:

    • Sound Devices 633
    • Rode NTG3
    • Rode NT4
    • Seymour Duncan SCR-1
    Add to cart


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 
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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:
 
 
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Vintage Anime SFX Play Track 350+ sounds included $69

    The Vintage Anime Sound Effects Library brings all of the excitement of your favorite Japanese animated series to your fingertips. Inspired by classic cartoons from the 80's and 90's, these recognizable and versatile sounds will instantly enhance any FX collection. Vintage synths were used to create the auras, beams, mecha blasters, atmospheres, magic spells, guns, sonic blasts and explosives that makeup this pack of over 350+ custom 24bit/96khz .WAV files. Perfect for film, video games, podcasts and any project that could benefit from a power up!

    Both designed sounds and source recordings:

    • Classic anime sfx from the 80’s and 90’s

    • Auras, mecha, beams, blasters, spells, explosives and more! 350+ sounds!

    • Tons of source material for experimentation

    • Expert crafted metadata

    • Vintage Anime PDF

    Add to cart
  • Funny / Comedy / Cartoon Fun Character Voices Play Track 205 sounds included $10

    Fun Character Voices contains over 200 specially designed vocalization sound effects! Prefect for all types of fun games and other media.

    All sounds from Fun Character Voices are included in our full sound library Pro Sound Collection, so if you need more sounds be sure to check it out first.

    Add to cart
  • Foley Just Chains Play Track 973 sounds included $35

    As you've probably guessed from the title, this SFX library is all about metal chain sound effects. Various sizes of chains were pulled, dropped, shaken, rattled, whipped, hung, dangled and jingled.

    These sounds could come in handy for a wide range of purposes like morning star swings / whips, coin ringing, chain metal armor movements, hoists, addons for footstep movements and many more.

    So if you're after any kind of metal chain sounds, this SFX library is one to get!

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Cars Car Foley II Play Track 130+ sounds included, 30 mins total $50 $40

    Car Foley 2 sound effects library features foley recordings of different actions performed inside 10 different cars. It’s 130 files with a total length of 30 minutes covering actions like closing and opening regular doors, slide doors, hoods, trunks, interior buttons and switches, windows, seatbelts, brakes, gear levers, handbrakes and more.

    Inside you’ll find foley recorded in cars like:

    • Audi A3 8L 1.9 TDI
    • Mazda 6 III 2.0 Skyactive G
    • Nissan Qashqai 1.6
    • Nissan Terrano II 2.7 TDi
    • Porsche Cayenne I 4.8 V8
    • Renault Master IV dci 165
    • Subaru Impreza WRX GD
    • Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6
    • Toyota Rav 4 II 2.0 Diesel
    • Volkswagen Caravelle T5 2.0
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580252399
  • Environments Hot Tub SFX (Jacuzzi / Spa) Play Track 10 sounds included, 2+ mins total $10 $5

    There’s nothing better than a nice long soak in a Jacuzzi hot tub… This library will instantly place you right in the middle of a beautiful oasis of warm bubbling water and massaging bubble jets. All sounds are cut into perfectly seamless loops and provided in both .wav and .mp3 to make your use of this library as easy as a trip to the spa!

    These loops make it easy to drop the files into any game development software or to easily support props in a film/tv project.

    Music is only heard in the demo, not in the actual footage.

    Other libraries that pair well:
    1000 Winds Project (Farts.) [The Original]
    Everyone farts… and some people do it in the hot tub!  CAUTION: This library contains the HIGHEST resolution fart winds that exist on this side of the internet… Well, let’s be real, all sides of the internet!

    Chicago – Environmental & Transportation Ambiences
    Depending on the needs of your project, you might just find that you need additional environmental ambiences, which are covered in this library! Recorded in high resolution, this library will put you right in the virtual seat of the city of neighborhoods!

    PWC – Jet Ski – Sea Doo | Volume 1 & 2
    More sounds in the world of water!  Ultra-high resolution Sea Doo recordings utilizing on-board microphone techniques, from multiple perspectives (driver perspective (mid-side, exhaust perspective & engine perspective).

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580165999
  • User Interface (UI) Computer Sounds: Sci-Fi Minipack Play Track 180 sounds included $10 $7

    This is a small collection of 180 easy-to-use futuristic interface sound effects.

    All sounds categorized by the most popular cases in production, such as Alarm, Beep, Button, Confirm, Deny, Telemetry, Text, Noise, and others.

    Also, it contains two main sub category: Simple (could be used as a layer in complex sound design) and Complex (which already consists of several layers).

    This library is a fast, easy, effective and extremely affordable way to complete your production tasks.

    Main features:

    • 180 ready-to-use sound effects with alterations

    • Futuristic computer interface sounds

    • Categorized as Simple and Complex

    • Most popular types of effects: Alarm, Beep, Button, Confirm, Deny and others

    • Contains metadata for search engines

    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1583017199
  • Destruction & Impact Medieval Battle Play Track 100 sounds included $26

    Medieval Battle contains a wide variety of sounds taken straight from the battlefield. Unleash the full force of your army with effects from a diverse range of medieval weaponry, crowds, horses and battle charges. There are also battle cries, screams and shouts to make the audience feel like they are right there on the frontlines. To bring you the most organic and natural battle sounds, we recorded actors performing in a quiet exterior location. All sounds were recorded in 24Bit 96kHz, allowing for further sonic manipulation.

    If you think your sound collection is in need of some reinforcements then this is the library for you! Medieval Battle is ideal for use in Film, TV and Game projects, and will make a perfect addition to your sound design arsenal.

    Here are the included folders:

    Crowds: Crowd rushes and static battle cries in a natural exterior location make these effects perfect for building the bed of a huge Medieval warzone.

    Female Voices: 4 individual female actors perform multiple vocalisations including screams, grunts and efforts.

    Sword & Shield Hits: A variety of sword and shield hits performed by weapons and combat experts.

    Male Voices: 4 individual male actors perform multiple vocalisations including screams, grunts and efforts.

     

  • City Life Countrysides and capitals Play Track 40 sounds included, 57 mins total $89.99

    These group of sounds will help you colour your footage with sounds from the city and the countryside. Packed with 40 sounds to enhance your design

    Recorded with:

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