Sound Design for Video Games

Does anyone have experience in doing custom sound design work for video games? :slight_smile:

I have realized more and more how much I love sound design. I do love music composition too, but it would be nice to follow both paths! :smiley:

Is it possible to work with sound design for games but still be a freelancer working from my home studio? Any other advice you can give in the field of “Video Game Sound Design”, especially the business aspects.

1 Like

Don’t really have much to say about business aspects and whatnot, but obviously, I design the sounds for my own projects. To make things more interesting and dynamic, I like to do it using real time synthesis - so the sound effects are quite literally virtual instruments that can respond to events while playing. That’s a concept I’d like to take much further.

Recording from Kobo II, running on an ancient version of Audiality 2:

More recent, but more retro arcade style; note how the base reactors respond when damaged:

In the normal case, though, one would typically work with plain samples, and/or with whatever sound engine the developer is using; FMOD, Wwise, Unreal Engine’s integrated audio… Technically, sound effects are much like music, but on a lower level; they need to fit the style, environment, context etc, must work together, must work together with the music etc etc. All I know about the freelancing aspect there is that some composers also do sound effects to go with the soundtracks, and I don’t see why sound effects need to differ much from music from a business and workflow point of view.

4 Likes

You do have the creative entreprenour side of your personality David…perhaps next year something will come to bring you out of the technical programming career. :slight_smile:

The thing that draws me away from game work is the middleware…I started with programming back in the days and realized I hate it lol :stuck_out_tongue:

I know middleware software is not really programming, but it is still extra technical work, when I want to focus 100% on creative/artistic work with music composition and sound design.

2 Likes

You never know… I’m looking into gamedev career options right now, actually - but once a programmer, always a programmer, I’m afraid. But if I have no other options, I’d rather hack game engines than network device drivers. :smiley:

Well, I’m afraid Audiality 2 might not be for you, then, as the only user interface at this point is the scripting engine. :wink: That said, my long term plan is to implement a visual IDE for it, and the ability to provide custom GUIs with the “programs.” A bit like NI Reaktor, but Free/Open Source (at least the engine run-time part), usable in third-party applications, and not strictly aimed at music.

More generally, I don’t think you can completely avoid the “programming” aspect of sound design and scoring in games these days, as it all needs to be more or less interactive. One can probably focus on only creating actual sound effects, music stems etc, and leaving it to others to implement them in the game, but given the quality expectations on AAA games these days, I believe it’s a huge advantage if you can work the whole tool chain, and make things work correctly and sound great in the game as well, at least to the point of demonstrating that your assets will work as intended in the game.

1 Like

Hey guys,

recently I was reading a conversation about this topic in a FB group. One guy, who had several projects as well in music for games said that it depends totally on the developer if they want you to program the sounds yourself into the game or not. He said most likely with independent games it wouldn’t be the case, as they „don’t want you to touch their baby“. I mean, it sounds obvious as you can destroy the whole project. Games can take several years as films. However, it’s good to know how the middleware works. I worked with FMOD, but unfortunately, it’s hard to get excepted somewhere. I’m not sure how many applications I send out. The companies want to have triple A guys everywhere, which is „unreal“ to get any almost, the best ones are just booked out and don’t care about any applications. They already have all the contracts they need to work for the next years. (I will tell you a story later about one major company which actually replied!). All other guys (me included), had just no opportunity to work on a game, but it doesn’t mean I couldn’t do it. But the people behind the “application” process think that way. Every business is that way! (Actually I will tell you two stories about this “application” process.) :slight_smile:

Back to the topic: Sometimes sound design is more important than the music. Sometimes it’s the other way around. By “important” I mean, how much frequency ranges each one gets in the project. I saw a cool chart, which shows how different genres of game sound work. (Need to find it somehow…) That said, we as composers need to play “LEGO” with the sound design, so we cover the right spaces with the music and arrangements.

I believe if you work on an independent project with a small team, it’s possible to make all the sound yourself. As the game grows, time won’t allow you to do both. I just give you an example: I get connected with a team, we want music, sound design, mix, whatever…I know the deadlines, etc. I can be pretty sure, “I can make it myself…”, however, if the deadline is so strict, that I see I will just killing myself and probably will make mistakes due to time stress, I rather give one part to you guys, do my part as well as I can (more time to focus on only my task), than delivering “just something…”, I think you know what I mean.
People often forget to delegate a job to make something better, although it can ruin a relationship as well. (But that’s another story…haha :)) “You see I like stories!” :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Not your father’s PacMan to be sure.:grinning: I really enjoyed this.

2 Likes

Hey Everyone,
I been read about sound design and games abit when I have time
What about just making seamless backgrounds ambient sounds for games is that in Demand at all?