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:  
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Effective Trailer Pulses Play Track 67 sounds included, 63 mins total $24.99

    A strong set of pulsating elements and complex cinematic sequences featuring dynamic synth textures, evolving futuristic soundscapes, hybrid trailer pulses, and percussive sound design.

    This original library is from the personal collection of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernández (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

    Add to cart
  • Human Quirboilly Play Track 538+ sounds included, 35 mins total $38

    Quirboilly (cuir bouilli) is in reference to the traditional state of leather before it was commonly worked to produce various components in armor.  When you need that extra close, intimate boost to your leather and metal clothing/material Foley, reach for this library. Excellent at grabbing the listener’s attention and really lighting up the brain, these sounds were designed to capture the nuance and detail of various leather textures and items, decorated with metallic accessories and fallalery.

    Each item was worked and re-worked in all manners of handling to pull out the crepitation and squeaks, course and fine grains, flops and rigids hits, and plenty of clanks and clacks of rivets, buckles, clasps, and other metal components knocking together. Beyond the many handling sounds, there are specific drops and light impact sounds of two different proximities. As impacts are quite commonly needed for Foley and creative designs, we were sure to capture them for these rich textured leather and metal items.

    Chock full of frequency content, take your drama, historic, medieval, armor, 80’s, rockumentary, and all other leather-and-metal-bound projects to the next level.

    Add to cart
  • TH Studio Production presents VANDRIA, an epic cinematic vocal library, featuring the voice of the singer Megi Angelova.

    Born in Bulgaria, Megi Angelova is a singer/songwriter based in London, UK. Coming from a background of musicians and artists she always has been fascinated by art and music which inspires her to look beyond the frames and to experiment with different styles of music, vocals, lyrics, musical instruments and sound effects .

    The library includes a version for the full Kontakt 5.8.1+, and a .wav version:

    17 Kontakt 5 instruments:
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato Portamento
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato Sustain 
    • Vocal Music Phrases : Cm , C#m, G#m, Hm .
    • Vocal Whispers Phrases
    • Vandria Pad

    + WAV version

    Add to cart
  • City Life RAIN Play Track 54 sounds included $46 $35.70

    RAIN features various kind of RAIN AMBIENCES and EFFECTS from different parts of CITIES and FORESTS.
    In the forests, you’ll find sounds of RAIN FALLING ON DIRT, LEAVES and more.
    In addition to the sounds of CARS PASSING BY and RAINY TRAFFIC in cities, you’ll also find RAIN COMING OUT FROM PIPES, HITTING THE ASPHALT and various kinds of RAIN POURING ON ROOFS such as PORCHES and LARGE PARKING LOTS and more.
    And THUNDER!!

    Recorded @ 24bit 96kHz with ortf, spaced omni, XY and carefully edited.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569535199
    Add to cart
  • Mechanical Electric Lawn Mower Play Track 17 sounds included, 11 Minutes 23 Seconds mins total $10

    No gas? No problem! This little 192 kHz library of raw electric power gives you everything you need for basic electric lawn mower sounds from moving the mower, mowing grass and debris, different angles of isolated motor sounds without mowing, mowing from close perspective and from a distance, and bagging up freshly mowed grass.

    Get creative by using these sounds for other things besides mowing: The 192 kHz sample rate lets you play with octaves so you can turn this little mower into so much more – enjoy Electric Lawn Mower!

    Add to cart

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:
 
 
  • Whooshes Airy Whooshes Play Track 409 sounds included $29

    Over 400 focused sound design accents of airy swooshes, subtle swipes, thin whooshes, and breathy fly-ins.

    This collection features:

    • Each clip is trimmed into its own file.
    • Available in multiple pitches and speeds.
    • Meticulously named and organized in both metadata and folder classification.
    • Includes 18+ fields of professional Soundminer, BWAV, and MacOS Finder metadata.
    Add to cart
  • Fabric Rustle Tones Play Track 400+ sounds included, 181 mins total $59

    Articulated presents the result of several months investigation in the realm of rustling matters:

    Fragile and delicate elements in motion producing soft crackling and rubbing sounds.

    A toolkit to create presence, reality but also interesting textures and silences.

    Outdoor and in studio

    Light breeze and heavy wind gusts were recorded on many locations: in forests, near shrubs, tall grass, corn fields, and in streets. Leaves were captured fluttering on branches but also whirling and dancing on the ground.

    Variety of foliage and other textures

    Great amount of variations: Leaves of all shapes (needles, compound, single, broadleaf, dry, twigs, branches,…), and various materials such as plastic, paper, fabric, dirt were recorded.
    All of which through various interactions such as shuffle, shake, rub, brush, hit, fiddle, whip, and whoosh.


    What’s inside:

    • Windy foliage in trees
    • leaves dancing on the ground
    • plants interactions & movements
    • shuffling, shaking, brushing, rubbing, hitting, swooshing
    • all kinds of leaves shape and many types of vegetation such as grass, broadleaf branch, reeds, maple twigs, bamboos, needles, dry leaves, twigs, straws
    • additional texture that can help extend the sonic palette of rustling noises such as plastics, papers, metals, glass, pebbles, dirt, fabric, leather

    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Bullet Impacts Play Track 320 sounds included $35

    Prepare for impact! This EFX Bullet Impact collection features a huge number of impacts into cars, metal, walls, water, body impacts, as well as passbys, ricochets and underwater passbys.

    A must-have for for actual bullet and combat sounds – and for adding oomph to many other types of impact sounds too!

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Effective Trailer Pulses Play Track 67 sounds included, 63 mins total $24.99

    A strong set of pulsating elements and complex cinematic sequences featuring dynamic synth textures, evolving futuristic soundscapes, hybrid trailer pulses, and percussive sound design.

    This original library is from the personal collection of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernández (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

  • Human Quirboilly Play Track 538+ sounds included, 35 mins total $38

    Quirboilly (cuir bouilli) is in reference to the traditional state of leather before it was commonly worked to produce various components in armor.  When you need that extra close, intimate boost to your leather and metal clothing/material Foley, reach for this library. Excellent at grabbing the listener’s attention and really lighting up the brain, these sounds were designed to capture the nuance and detail of various leather textures and items, decorated with metallic accessories and fallalery.

    Each item was worked and re-worked in all manners of handling to pull out the crepitation and squeaks, course and fine grains, flops and rigids hits, and plenty of clanks and clacks of rivets, buckles, clasps, and other metal components knocking together. Beyond the many handling sounds, there are specific drops and light impact sounds of two different proximities. As impacts are quite commonly needed for Foley and creative designs, we were sure to capture them for these rich textured leather and metal items.

    Chock full of frequency content, take your drama, historic, medieval, armor, 80’s, rockumentary, and all other leather-and-metal-bound projects to the next level.

  • TH Studio Production presents VANDRIA, an epic cinematic vocal library, featuring the voice of the singer Megi Angelova.

    Born in Bulgaria, Megi Angelova is a singer/songwriter based in London, UK. Coming from a background of musicians and artists she always has been fascinated by art and music which inspires her to look beyond the frames and to experiment with different styles of music, vocals, lyrics, musical instruments and sound effects .

    The library includes a version for the full Kontakt 5.8.1+, and a .wav version:

    17 Kontakt 5 instruments:
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato Portamento
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato Sustain 
    • Vocal Music Phrases : Cm , C#m, G#m, Hm .
    • Vocal Whispers Phrases
    • Vandria Pad

    + WAV version

  • City Life RAIN Play Track 54 sounds included $46 $35.70

    RAIN features various kind of RAIN AMBIENCES and EFFECTS from different parts of CITIES and FORESTS.
    In the forests, you’ll find sounds of RAIN FALLING ON DIRT, LEAVES and more.
    In addition to the sounds of CARS PASSING BY and RAINY TRAFFIC in cities, you’ll also find RAIN COMING OUT FROM PIPES, HITTING THE ASPHALT and various kinds of RAIN POURING ON ROOFS such as PORCHES and LARGE PARKING LOTS and more.
    And THUNDER!!

    Recorded @ 24bit 96kHz with ortf, spaced omni, XY and carefully edited.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1569535199
  • Mechanical Electric Lawn Mower Play Track 17 sounds included, 11 Minutes 23 Seconds mins total $10

    No gas? No problem! This little 192 kHz library of raw electric power gives you everything you need for basic electric lawn mower sounds from moving the mower, mowing grass and debris, different angles of isolated motor sounds without mowing, mowing from close perspective and from a distance, and bagging up freshly mowed grass.

    Get creative by using these sounds for other things besides mowing: The 192 kHz sample rate lets you play with octaves so you can turn this little mower into so much more – enjoy Electric Lawn Mower!

 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

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

HTML tags are not allowed.