Game Audio Opportunties Asbjoern Andersen


Game audio guru Damian Kastbauer reflects on the road ahead for the audio community, and the challenges and opportunities it offers:
Written by Damian Kastbauer
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Reality. Nothing brings you closer to the shared dream of life than the change experienced by a group of people. Mass change propels us into the moment, faced with the realization that we are not alone. While personal change can often be an internal experience operating on a level just-under-the-surface of acknowledgement or realization, the mechanism of change among a group of people brings a shared awareness that must be faced together. 

The cancellation of this year’s Game Developers Conference was a strong indication of what has transpired in the wake of the pandemic. The continued isolating measures bring many things into sharp focus, including issues present in our global game development environment. We are a community distributed across all countries and walks of life, united by a passion for creating experiences that connect people with a form of expression.

We are a community distributed across all countries and walks of life, united by a passion for creating experiences that connect people with a form of expression

These experiences can be singular, collaborative, cooperative, educational, and ultimately shared.

This interactive art form extends beyond the walls of our homes, across borders, and subverts an easy understanding of the impact it can have on people’s lives as a form of “entertainment”, especially during crises of one kind or another.

 

The Power of Perspective

As an artistic expression it is inevitable that games will continue to grow and represent the myriad of possibilities channeled through the medium. Over time, this opportunity to engender different perspectives from diverse authorship will expand to encompass connections with people who can appreciate these different points of view. An interesting play on Andy Warhol’s famous quote “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes” recently posited instead that “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 people in the world”, which is to imagine that for the output of any artist, a small and passionate audience will exist.

These games, made as a form of expression, have the ability to help prepare folks for change by surfacing issues and perspectives through the lens of play in a way that can make these ideas uniquely attractive. 

These games, made as a form of expression, have the ability to help prepare folks for change

Whether it’s empathy invoked towards the vanishing titans in Shadow of the Colossus, the recurring moral/ ethical decisions of Bioshock, or reconciling the hardships of That Dragon, Cancer, there is a power in engaging with these stories in a way that is different than passive entertainment. The simple expression of sacred geometry in Engare, the sublime beauty of visual storytelling in Gorogoa, and the boundless joy of Proteus, each have a chance at framing life outside the screen. Their contribution to the format can help us cope, understand, and process the changes around and within us. Additionally, the ability of VR to place oneself in somebody else’s shoes has enabled a horrific reenactment of WW1 in the location-based War Remains, and placed you at the center of a nighttime border crossing in Carne y arena. Both experiences underline the power of the medium. These singular moments can bring both internal and external change in the way we view and experience life.

 

Game Audio Change Agents

As sonic artists, our role in game development is as a piece of the larger whole. We are a collaborator and contributor with equal opportunity to communicate the intentions and creative vision. We help blur the lines of immersion by providing an aural component to the visual. We are everywhere and nowhere in the context of interaction, as our frequencies unfold unseen through time. We speak to parts of the brain in whispers that enmesh sound expressions deeply within the entire experience. We have tools at our disposal to engage, absorb, and reflect the dramas unfolding on-screen and across the globe in an immaterial way when opportunities are presented or leveraged. 

It becomes clear at some point, either as part of an audio team or as the sole audio contributor, that advocacy within the larger game development team is key to the successful execution of sound ideas and implementation. You are always bumping up against other disciplines and their workflows, oftentimes leveraging their hard work in order to add sound. Think of the hours of work from the art team that go into animating a walk cycle and the process of tagging footstep sounds by hand (and the process of re-conforming those sound tags when/ if the timing changes).

Advocacy within the larger game development team is key to the successful execution of sound ideas and implementation

Now imagine you want to create an automated solution that plays a footstep sound when the toe and heel of the skeleton break the physics ground-plane. It’s something that has been achieved by a handful of developers, but requires collaboration across the art, programming, physics, and audio teams. 

The work involved with pulling off a cross-discipline collaboration at this scale requires daily care-and-handling of your interpersonal interactions. How you present our audio craft as something worth the investment, while also respecting the impact it will have on others pipelines, is something that must be illustrated and reinforced over time. While finding these opportunities to improve technology and fidelity help gain ground towards minimizing redundant or less creative workflows, there are other ways to wield this good will and respect.

 

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

 

Latest releases:  
  • Want that sound that’s made between the Optometrist asking if a or b is better? Want to hear what it sounds like when your eyes are being scanned and tested? Hear your glasses being adjusted before you get to wear them? The optometrist equipment library has all of this ready for you to use. This small boutique library covers a range of equipment used everyday to help optometrists figure out how well we see. Weather you’re using the machine noises to cut an optometrist scene or if you want to take the many mechanical sounds and design them into something other worldly it’s all there for you.

    Add to cart
  • This mini -library contains sounds from a reptile shelter. They take in injured, negelcted or abandond reptiles and take care of them. They finance through a small zoo and due to corona had significant loss in income. 50% of the sales of this library will directly be donated to the shelter. For more information check: https://www.reptilien-auffangstation.de/

    The recordings contain sounds from 14 different species. With the focus on reptiles, it also features amphibians, mammals and birds.
    Ever needed a realistic hiss of an Arabian Cobra, the roar of a Nile crocodile, the sweet chirping of a Djungarian hamster, or the whistling sound of a Reticulated Phyton coming out of cold water? Here you go. With two mic positions in 192kHz I followed around the tails of big (Diamondback-) and small (Massasauga-) Rattlesnakes. I even recorded the purr of giant lizards (monitors).

    If you don’t need these specific animals, these growls, sizzling, and calls are a great source sounds for dragons, dinosaurs, monsters and other beasts. Also great to add as a layer in vehicle sound design or as sweeteners to add the noise of a dart frog to your jungle atmo.
    These recordings are hard to come by and my mics were nearly hit by poison, that crystalizes and stays venomous for years to come as well as they got nearly eaten by a crocodile (was very scary indeed with me at the other end of the (way too short) boom pole)

    The best part, the handling with the animals was very thoughtful. No animals were tortured or stressed. They had some great animal voices at the shelter, that didn’t want to speak during the recording session, so we let them sleep and didn’t take any animals away from their hide.

    Full List: Arabian Cobra, Diamondback Rattlesnake, Diamond Dove, Djungarian Hamster, Domestic Chicken, Domestic Goat, Nile Crocodile, Massasauga Rattler, Papua Monitor, Puff Adder, Reticulated Phyton, Ring Tailed Lemur, Yellow-Banded Poison Dart Frog and, well, a fish tank with my hydrophone with some weird electronic sounds from the heating.

    21 %
    OFF
    Ends 1591135199
    Add to cart
  • Horror Giant Pinecones Play Track 500+ sounds included, 44 mins total $79

    • In Giant Pinecones, get a visceral collection of scraped and eviscerated pinecones from the gray pine trees of Northern California. Scrape the razor-sharp hooks of the cone petals and hear guttural scrapes crackling with energy. Hear rolling cones popping and fluttering with rich stuttering tones. Hear fully open cone pedals squeaking with woody vocalizations like supernatural animals and hardy crunches filled with organic grit.
    • This library offers you an extensive collection of sounds from a unique organic sound source. Digger pinecone sounds are incredibly soft and intimate in real life, but when recorded from two inches they morph into a unique wooden sound source brimming with powerful glitchy and stuttering textures.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased to offset my field recording travel for this library.

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Woody vocalizations
    • Rolling, scraping, and stuttering textures
    • Visceral and guttural scrapes
    • Fluttering and popping textures
    • Rich crunches
    • Chalkboard-like squeaks and squeals
    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View larger version or Download CSV
    • A spectrogram is included for each audio file. Double click on the photo to enlarge.
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 40+ testimonials for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files.
    GEAR USED:
    • Sennheiser MKH8040 and MKH30 in MS
    • Sound Devices MixPre-6
    Add to cart
  • Recording of the American 2017 Polaris Ranger EV. Powered by an electric utility vehicle’s 48-volt high-efficiency AC-induction motor.


    The American 2017 Polaris Industries Ranger EV sound collection shares 44 sounds in 3.49 gigabytes of audio. It showcases the sound of an electric utility vehicle’s 48-volt high-efficiency AC-induction motor in 4 channels with 2 custom stereo mixes.

    The sound pack includes 4 synchronized takes of onboard driving. 4 channels of audio capture the engine and onboard perspectives, with 2 custom stereo mixes provided. Performances include driving slow and fast, with steady RPMs and ramps, starting, stopping, and more.

    The package includes Pro Tools and Reaper mixing sessions, full professional metadata, and metadata import files in 7 languages.

    Add to cart
  • A crush on music

    Distortion and saturation play a very important role in music production. From subtle, clean and warm tube or tape saturation to the wildest multiband guitar amp effects: FabFilter Saturn 2 delivers.

    Saturn 2 introduces a host of new features such as a redesigned interface with modulation visualization, new subtle saturation and linear phase processing for mastering, many new distortion styles, and more.


    Warmth, harmonics, color and dynamics

    FabFilter Saturn 2 offers a range of different high quality distortion models, inspired by the vintage sound of tubes, tape, transformers and guitar amps. In addition, you get five creative FX distortion styles to mangle your sounds in weird and unexpected ways.

    With its multiband design and per-band feedback, dynamics, drive, tone and modulation options, Saturn 2 will bring a unique flavor to your music.

    Bring your sounds to life

    Add life and depth to your music using the extensive modulation section. By applying subtle modulation to crossover frequencies, dynamics, band levels or tone controls, great warmth and definition can be achieved.

    With all the XLFOs, EGs, XY controllers/sliders, envelope followers and MIDI sources you will ever need, you get practically unlimited modulation possibilities. Creating new modulation connections could not be easier: just drag and drop. And Saturn 2 visualizes all modulation in real-time to show exactly what’s going on.

    FabFilter goodies

    Finally, FabFilter Saturn 2 contains all the usual FabFilter goodies: perfectly tuned knobs, MIDI Learn, Smart Parameter Interpolation for smooth parameter transitions, interface resizing and full screen mode, support for Avid control surfaces, GPU-powered graphics acceleration, extensive help with interactive help hints, SSE optimization, and much more.

    Add to cart


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Opportunities to Advocate

Imagine challenging the current “default male” player character paradigm by taking the lead on building the ability to change: gender dialog, vocalizations, and Foley materials into the audio system during pre-production. Today’s middleware tools make it easy to establish dynamic and flexible implementation from the start. Arriving first with an audio system in place (game parameters, states & switches, naming standards, asset management) can help drive the conversation early on as decisions are being made on the game engine and design side. 

Other current examples of the influence that audio can have in the way that a game is perceived include: the successful marriage of gameplay driven exertion vocalizations in the most recent Spider Man brings depth to the character and a reminder that, beneath the mask, Peter Parker is still human after all. Also, Bringing Greek voice actors to the game Assassins Creed Odyssey not only succeeds at more accurately portraying the culture and story of ancient Greece but also in representation for some: “Maybe it takes something like a video game, a thing you were just playing for fun, to make you realize unexpectedly that you could relate better than you thought you could all along.” More simply, audio sublimely supporting the underlying message of connection in Death Stranding. Sound and all of its aspects align to play a pivotal role in helping to deliver on these subtle subversions of what could have been far shallower experiences. 

Sound and all of its aspects align to play a pivotal role in helping to deliver on these subtle subversions of what could have been far shallower experiences

By presenting diverse player choices, gaining visibility for the different ways that people play, and challenging assumptions, we have the ability to touch all people. It can help inform the way that people view their reality, understand the changing landscape of terminology, and present alternate perspectives of circumstance. Towards these goals we can create opportunities to advocate for these issues and weave them into the fabric of what we contribute.. As collaborators, as audio specialists, as game developers, we can be agents of change.

 

Linked in a Revolutionary Spiral

Looking forward to the year ahead, there are questions about what shape the world we live in will take. What contribution can we make to support each other during the challenges ahead? How does our effort each day contribute to stability and balance amidst the turmoil of global change? In what way does our creative output help frame peoples’ experiences? Are games simply a pure form of distraction and escapism or can they also allow for these larger questions to be answered? How do we, as a community, aid in the understanding of and help bridge the gap between our differences?

Moving forward from here, it feels vital that we find ways to support each other towards a shared goal of education, advocacy, and compassion: Education about the role of audio in games, advocacy for our craft and its dynamic potential and most of all, compassion for all lives. We are linked in a revolutionary spiral facing the changes of today, together.

This article doesn’t offer any easy answers. It barely speaks to the question of “why” we should even try. But if this sentiment has reached you, look for ways to increase your understanding of the people that surround you and feed this understanding back into your work.

Moving forward from here, it feels vital that we find ways to support each other towards a shared goal of education, advocacy, and compassion

Practice tolerance, empathy, and mindfulness as part of your interactions and use this practice to weave a fabric of frequencies that can somehow embody these ideals. Grow respectful connective tissue that can help bear the weight of shared change among people. Recognize you are not alone in this struggle and be strong enough to both ask for, and give help when needed.

Wherever you are today: Stay good, stay safe, and keep it easy.

“It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.”― Miles Davis

About me:

You may know me from such rambling word plays such as: Opening a Trans-Dimensional Portal Using Time-Based Effects, How to Survive a Game Audio Layoff, or Envisioning Our Interactive Audio Future. Tune-in for the Wwise Wworld Wwide Online Expo April 29th starting at 1:00pm EST on https://www.twitch.tv/audiokinetic 
 

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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:
 
 
  • Genres 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!

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  • Human Swordfighter Play Track 479 sounds included $25 $12.50

    Swordfighter is a robust package with sharp sounding swords, heaps of variations and all the extras you need to make a fight come alive. Build unique sword swings with various hits, swooshes, schings, different fighter vocals and impacts on various surfaces. All up there are 137 sword sounds, 93 surface impact sounds, 15 knife throwing sounds, 48 swooshes and 180 fighter vocals.

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  • Liquidation is a liquid texture library covering everything from water to slime to fizzes and bubbles. Source material in this library includes wet slimy pasta, giant water balloons, large containers being submerged underwater, leather fizzing in a chemical bath, pool water splashes and more. Plus it was all recorded at 192kHz/24bit so you can really stretch and thrash these sounds – and the vast majority of the sound files are in stereo. Whether you're designing an underwater adventure or an alien autopsy, this library is full of complimentary textures to layer together.

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Want that sound that’s made between the Optometrist asking if a or b is better? Want to hear what it sounds like when your eyes are being scanned and tested? Hear your glasses being adjusted before you get to wear them? The optometrist equipment library has all of this ready for you to use. This small boutique library covers a range of equipment used everyday to help optometrists figure out how well we see. Weather you’re using the machine noises to cut an optometrist scene or if you want to take the many mechanical sounds and design them into something other worldly it’s all there for you.

  • This mini -library contains sounds from a reptile shelter. They take in injured, negelcted or abandond reptiles and take care of them. They finance through a small zoo and due to corona had significant loss in income. 50% of the sales of this library will directly be donated to the shelter. For more information check: https://www.reptilien-auffangstation.de/

    The recordings contain sounds from 14 different species. With the focus on reptiles, it also features amphibians, mammals and birds.
    Ever needed a realistic hiss of an Arabian Cobra, the roar of a Nile crocodile, the sweet chirping of a Djungarian hamster, or the whistling sound of a Reticulated Phyton coming out of cold water? Here you go. With two mic positions in 192kHz I followed around the tails of big (Diamondback-) and small (Massasauga-) Rattlesnakes. I even recorded the purr of giant lizards (monitors).

    If you don’t need these specific animals, these growls, sizzling, and calls are a great source sounds for dragons, dinosaurs, monsters and other beasts. Also great to add as a layer in vehicle sound design or as sweeteners to add the noise of a dart frog to your jungle atmo.
    These recordings are hard to come by and my mics were nearly hit by poison, that crystalizes and stays venomous for years to come as well as they got nearly eaten by a crocodile (was very scary indeed with me at the other end of the (way too short) boom pole)

    The best part, the handling with the animals was very thoughtful. No animals were tortured or stressed. They had some great animal voices at the shelter, that didn’t want to speak during the recording session, so we let them sleep and didn’t take any animals away from their hide.

    Full List: Arabian Cobra, Diamondback Rattlesnake, Diamond Dove, Djungarian Hamster, Domestic Chicken, Domestic Goat, Nile Crocodile, Massasauga Rattler, Papua Monitor, Puff Adder, Reticulated Phyton, Ring Tailed Lemur, Yellow-Banded Poison Dart Frog and, well, a fish tank with my hydrophone with some weird electronic sounds from the heating.

    21 %
    OFF
    Ends 1591135199
  • Horror Giant Pinecones Play Track 500+ sounds included, 44 mins total $79

    • In Giant Pinecones, get a visceral collection of scraped and eviscerated pinecones from the gray pine trees of Northern California. Scrape the razor-sharp hooks of the cone petals and hear guttural scrapes crackling with energy. Hear rolling cones popping and fluttering with rich stuttering tones. Hear fully open cone pedals squeaking with woody vocalizations like supernatural animals and hardy crunches filled with organic grit.
    • This library offers you an extensive collection of sounds from a unique organic sound source. Digger pinecone sounds are incredibly soft and intimate in real life, but when recorded from two inches they morph into a unique wooden sound source brimming with powerful glitchy and stuttering textures.

    2% FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & CARBON NEUTRAL:
    • Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause, as an “artist royalty” for the planet!
    • Carbon offset credits were purchased to offset my field recording travel for this library.

    KEY FEATURES:
    • Woody vocalizations
    • Rolling, scraping, and stuttering textures
    • Visceral and guttural scrapes
    • Fluttering and popping textures
    • Rich crunches
    • Chalkboard-like squeaks and squeals
    FILE LIST & METADATA:
    • View larger version or Download CSV
    • A spectrogram is included for each audio file. Double click on the photo to enlarge.
    MORE INFO:
    • Read 40+ testimonials for Thomas Rex Beverly Audio
    • Read my Field Recording Mastering Rules and learn more about how these recordings were mastered.
    • Browse the Library Info Master List to compare specs on all my libraries.
    • Browse the Metadata Master List to search my entire catalog.
    • MD5 and SHA 256 Checksums are included for each zip file in my catalog. Use these hashes to check the integrity of your downloaded files.
    GEAR USED:
    • Sennheiser MKH8040 and MKH30 in MS
    • Sound Devices MixPre-6
  • Recording of the American 2017 Polaris Ranger EV. Powered by an electric utility vehicle’s 48-volt high-efficiency AC-induction motor.


    The American 2017 Polaris Industries Ranger EV sound collection shares 44 sounds in 3.49 gigabytes of audio. It showcases the sound of an electric utility vehicle’s 48-volt high-efficiency AC-induction motor in 4 channels with 2 custom stereo mixes.

    The sound pack includes 4 synchronized takes of onboard driving. 4 channels of audio capture the engine and onboard perspectives, with 2 custom stereo mixes provided. Performances include driving slow and fast, with steady RPMs and ramps, starting, stopping, and more.

    The package includes Pro Tools and Reaper mixing sessions, full professional metadata, and metadata import files in 7 languages.

  • A crush on music

    Distortion and saturation play a very important role in music production. From subtle, clean and warm tube or tape saturation to the wildest multiband guitar amp effects: FabFilter Saturn 2 delivers.

    Saturn 2 introduces a host of new features such as a redesigned interface with modulation visualization, new subtle saturation and linear phase processing for mastering, many new distortion styles, and more.


    Warmth, harmonics, color and dynamics

    FabFilter Saturn 2 offers a range of different high quality distortion models, inspired by the vintage sound of tubes, tape, transformers and guitar amps. In addition, you get five creative FX distortion styles to mangle your sounds in weird and unexpected ways.

    With its multiband design and per-band feedback, dynamics, drive, tone and modulation options, Saturn 2 will bring a unique flavor to your music.

    Bring your sounds to life

    Add life and depth to your music using the extensive modulation section. By applying subtle modulation to crossover frequencies, dynamics, band levels or tone controls, great warmth and definition can be achieved.

    With all the XLFOs, EGs, XY controllers/sliders, envelope followers and MIDI sources you will ever need, you get practically unlimited modulation possibilities. Creating new modulation connections could not be easier: just drag and drop. And Saturn 2 visualizes all modulation in real-time to show exactly what’s going on.

    FabFilter goodies

    Finally, FabFilter Saturn 2 contains all the usual FabFilter goodies: perfectly tuned knobs, MIDI Learn, Smart Parameter Interpolation for smooth parameter transitions, interface resizing and full screen mode, support for Avid control surfaces, GPU-powered graphics acceleration, extensive help with interactive help hints, SSE optimization, and much more.

 
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