Amazing What a Difference Sound Effects Make (Cue Crying Loop)

War Game is basically done now and the last iteration I sent to testers included sound effects. In the case of a hand-held style game that means those pleasingly sharp beeps and bloops as things shoot or move or explode, including the funny warbling sound they make at times, almost as an attract-mode thing. One of the testers noted what a difference sound effects make to the game. And they are right. And that makes me feel so sad.

Because I’m just not a particularly talented fellow when it comes to the audio portion of games. I’ve done my share of hard labour with it – time coding the “Zorba song” was particularly grueling – but I don’t have the actual chops to make interesting sound effects or suitable music on my own. It’s more of a “found object” thing, where I either use procedurally generated music (Wolfram Tones) or endlessly click through generated sounds in bfxr until I hear something I think of as appropriate.

Now, this has yielded perfectly adequate sounds for the games I’ve made, but it kind of haunts me to think that future games might need music I can’t provide. Or, worse, that my lack of connection with the audio/musical side of games unconsciously forbids me from coming up with games that would need something more than I can put together on my own.

And of course there’s a bit of a blatantly obvious solution: team up with someone else who knows this stuff. Well, yes, that’s true. It’s just that it goes rather strongly against the grain for me. For one thing, it requires, you know, working with someone else. I don’t think it makes sense to just hand someone a brief and say “make music for this thing” – these things should be more thoroughly integrated. But then it seems like you have to pursue some kind of Ed Key – David Kanaga relationship where the game (Proteus, which you should play) is about the collaboration of game and music.

Or this could all be over-idealistic claptrap. More likely.

14 June 2012
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