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:


Trending right now:

  • Ice Sound Effects Ultrasonic Dry Ice Play Track 635+ sounds included, 71 mins total $48

    Ultrasonic Dry Ice is a library containing over 600 sounds themed metal resonances, scrapes and all sorts of weird.
    All the content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K, a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 and a MKH416.
    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
  • Materials & Texture Sound Effects Glacier Ice Play Track 300+ sounds included $40

    Glacier Ice is a library containing over 300 high quality sounds of ice cracking, breaking, shattering in various sizes of blocks – recorded entirely in the Italian Alps over the course of two winters.

    The library contains sounds of all dimensions, from ice cubes being dropped in a drink to a designed iceberg collapsing.

    The majority of the material was recorded at 192 KHz with a Sanken CO100K and a stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH8040, making this library greatly flexible for pitch shifting and all sorts of heavy processing.

    A small section recorded at 96KHz features sounds recorded exclusively with contact microphones placed directly on the surface of a frozen water stream.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
  • Door Sound Effects Worn Out Wood Door Play Track 60 sounds included, 6 mins total $12

    This is a dying wood door from my sister’s garage. It works great for old cabins, cottages and barns.

    Besides all the opens and closes, there are lots of creaky swinging moves to add detail or subtleties. Hard bangs and slams for drama. Plus grabs and handling to glue it all together.

  • Environments & Ambiences Philippines Play Track 41 sounds included, 77 mins total $50

    The Philippines Faunethic sound library is a unique collection of 41 sounds recorded and produced with high quality equipment.

    Through the whole island of Palawan, the rice field of Luzon and the city of Manilla, this collection includes:

    -Village and rice field from Banaue, rice field in the north of Luzon
    -Forest and jungle of south Palawan
    -Market, small to medium.
    -The city of Manilla

    This collection provides authentic and interesting sounds recorded through 2 islands after the rainy season! All Faunethic tracks include metadata tags filled with Soundminer. All tracks are delivered as 48k/24bit .wav files. This collections come in easily downloadable zip file.


Latest releases:

Huge Summer Sound Effects Sale
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:

  • Ice Sound Effects Ultrasonic Dry Ice Play Track 635+ sounds included, 71 mins total $48

    Ultrasonic Dry Ice is a library containing over 600 sounds themed metal resonances, scrapes and all sorts of weird.
    All the content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K, a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 and a MKH416.
    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
  • Materials & Texture Sound Effects Glacier Ice Play Track 300+ sounds included $40

    Glacier Ice is a library containing over 300 high quality sounds of ice cracking, breaking, shattering in various sizes of blocks – recorded entirely in the Italian Alps over the course of two winters.

    The library contains sounds of all dimensions, from ice cubes being dropped in a drink to a designed iceberg collapsing.

    The majority of the material was recorded at 192 KHz with a Sanken CO100K and a stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH8040, making this library greatly flexible for pitch shifting and all sorts of heavy processing.

    A small section recorded at 96KHz features sounds recorded exclusively with contact microphones placed directly on the surface of a frozen water stream.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
  • The Exotic Birds sound effects library is a unique collection of 24 different species of exotic birds. It features birds like flamingos, parrots, parakeets, crane, crow, ibis, peacock, and many others.

    EXOTIC BIRD SPECIES INCLUDED:

    Bali mynah • Black headed ibis • Canada goose • Chilean Lapwings • Collared parakeet • Crows • Grey parrots • Grey winged trumpeter • Guira Cuckoo • Indian peacock • Kookaburra • Little bustard • Macaw parrot • Moorhen • Palm nut vulture • Paradise crane • Parakeet mouse • Red breasted goose • Red flamingos • Senegal parrots • Southern screamer • Superb starling • White naped crane

Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 

   

Leave a Reply

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

HTML tags are not allowed.