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:

 

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  • Sci-Fi Digital Dust Play Track 128+ sounds included $40

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    Digital Dust is not your usual clean and modern computer command sound effects library. All sounds have been designed from real world electrical or organic recorded sounds.

    Granulated, stretched, pitched and mangled in endless chains of plugins and hardware, for very different and almost apocalyptic kinds of rogue computer command sounds. The samples can easily be stretched or processed even more, for even weirder sound fx.

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    26 Drones/atmospheric beds. All are minimum 1 minute long, and are easily loopable.
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  • ‘Alarms & Warnings Designed’ is a collection of 52 alarm sounds suitable for the science fiction genre. This library includes ‘one-shot’ audio files that are ready to be placed in a sampler as well as 30 second loops of those same files. All sounds are ‘dry’ and ready to be processed.

    This library goes well with ‘Fully Charged Vol.1’

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    This library contains a collection of sounds sourced from 22 different elevators found in the following locations:

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    Each elevator has its own unique characteristics featuring creaks, groans, impacts & rattles. All elevators feature roomtones, buttons, doors opening & closing (both interior & exterior perspective) and in motion using the Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6, Sennheiser MKH 416 and Sennheiser MKH 8020 stereo pair at 24bit/96khz for all your sound design needs.

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    The library contains:

    • 6 engine under-the-hood onboard recordings while driving (38 minutes)
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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.
 


 
 
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    All sounds are spread across these 9 categories: selections, buttons, open – close – pause interfaces, holograms, alarm loops, notifications, calculations, screen errors, browse menu and delivered to you in the 3 most commonly used file formats to save you the trouble of having to create them yourself; WAV, MP3, OGG

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • City Life Venice Play Track 27+ sounds included, 53 mins total $31.98 $25.50

    Get a rich collection of Italian ambiences captured in legendary Venice / Venezia. The library features lots of pedestrian ambiences

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1548975600
  • Sci-Fi Digital Dust Play Track 128+ sounds included $40

    Digital Dust delivers 128 tracks of pure digital bit-crushing distortion, deep atmospheric drones, and ear-piercing interface sounds.
    Digital Dust is not your usual clean and modern computer command sound effects library. All sounds have been designed from real world electrical or organic recorded sounds.

    Granulated, stretched, pitched and mangled in endless chains of plugins and hardware, for very different and almost apocalyptic kinds of rogue computer command sounds. The samples can easily be stretched or processed even more, for even weirder sound fx.

    The library contains:

    26 Drones/atmospheric beds. All are minimum 1 minute long, and are easily loopable.
    61 Glitchy, bitcrushing FX.
    41 Otherworldly signal FX.
  • ‘Alarms & Warnings Designed’ is a collection of 52 alarm sounds suitable for the science fiction genre. This library includes ‘one-shot’ audio files that are ready to be placed in a sampler as well as 30 second loops of those same files. All sounds are ‘dry’ and ready to be processed.

    This library goes well with ‘Fully Charged Vol.1’

  • Mechanical Lifts & Elevators Play Track 350+ sounds included, 140 minutes mins total $45 $36

    This library contains a collection of sounds sourced from 22 different elevators found in the following locations:

    • Apartments
    • Car Parks
    • Libraries
    • Offices
    • Theatres
    • Universities
    • Warehouses

    Each elevator has its own unique characteristics featuring creaks, groans, impacts & rattles. All elevators feature roomtones, buttons, doors opening & closing (both interior & exterior perspective) and in motion using the Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6, Sennheiser MKH 416 and Sennheiser MKH 8020 stereo pair at 24bit/96khz for all your sound design needs.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1548457200
  • The Renault Master 2.3 dci diesel van sound library is a go-to pack for many transportation-related scenes. It features 102 96kHz files, more than 130 minutes of audio covering different aspects of using the van. Inside you’ll find engine sounds recorded under the hood, stereo recordings from the cabin during driving, exterior passes and different maneuvers and foley recordings.

    The library contains:

    • 6 engine under-the-hood onboard recordings while driving (38 minutes)
    • 10 interior cabin recordings, 6 in sync with engine (54 minutes)
    • 70 exterior passby / driving files
    • 18 foley sound effects
 
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