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Being that I am in the composing business, I'm wondering all the time what are developers looking for, and better yet "what do they hear in their head while they are making the game"?? Does each character have it's own voice? Does each laser shot have it's own sizzle? Is there any thought to what their game will sound like once it's complete? Most importantly at what point does the need for a sound track and sound effects become crucial? Let hear it!
I do my own fx and music so I can't speak for devs that outsource audio, but I find actually vocalizing effects prior to designing them helps a lot. Just try to do it when no one's around to avoid strange stares Wink

As for when to add audio, it all depends on the game. Most of the time it'll be one of the last things, but if you're making a rhythm game you'll obviously need content available from the get-go.
Sound is an afterthought to me when writing games. I don't hear any music or sounds in my head while writing the game and only when I finish and take a step back do I start thinking about what sounds need to be put in place.

My sfx/music guy however is typically given a heads up when I start a project and is kept in the loop so that he can get a feel for what will be needed.

Sounds have always been more or less of an afterthought for me. I include them because users expect them not because I feel they are crucial to my project.
My games end up being a series of scenes that build up over many hours of sleep.
Often the sound comes alongside, a particular distinct Russian accent of a mecenary that earns forgiveness from a polititian's husband, and often I can't simulate it with anything. But I'm generally fine for obtaining my own sound effects. Accents are difficult as the human creature is the creator.
I hear the screams of those whom I slaughtered.


...


Um, I mean yeah, the usual videogame sounds, Pacman eating pills, you know. Sneaky
This is the stuff I'm talking about..good to know. Its interesting to hear the different ways developers come about adding music to and sfx to their games as opposed to Composers who are constantly running around with music and noises in their head all the time!! LoL
I'm all over the place. I will work on a little bit of everything in no particular order. Depending on where the passion on whatever given day, visuals, audio, or design.
Magnetron Wrote:This is the stuff I'm talking about..good to know. Its interesting to hear the different ways developers come about adding music to and sfx to their games as opposed to Composers who are constantly running around with music and noises in their head all the time!! LoL

I also make my own music, Studio Ghibli influenced me more than half to start doing games originally.
I personally outsource audio, but I know from the getgo how everything will/should sound (of course the end result will always be different than what you thought it would be). I assign specific sound characteristics to every character and pretty much everything that makes sound in the app. This helps me insert more app-character to my app.
Does each character have it's own voice?
Yes, when creating games or anything with unique characters, I always have an idea in my head of how they should sound.

Does each laser shot have it's own sizzle?
Yes. Frequently I've had a hard time finding the exact sound I want and have to do some mixing or foley to get what I want.

Is there any thought to what the game will sound like once it's complete?
Definitely. All the way from planning to production, I've been ironing that out and adding to it. It's very similar to how it actually turned out.

Most importantly at what point does the need for a sound track and sound effects become crucial?
I didn't bother with getting all the sounds together until the game was mostly programmed.
As a composer whos worked with various developers and film directors, Ive often found that whatever music a developer has been listening to while working has had some affect on what they want to hear in the game.... which can be both helpful and annoying, because they come to associate certain style of music with the game they are creating, as if one is influencing the other.

Of course this isnt always the case... Smile
Here's an article we wrote about how we did the sound for Twilight Golf:

http://howlingmoonsoftware.com/wordpress/?p=181

The tl;dr version is that it tightly interacts with our physics system in the game to make an immersive experience.
I've seen it both ways. There are some projects where the designers know exactly what they want - the emotions behind them, the mood, what the players should be feeling, and they even go so far as provide some source material.

The other side is developers that trust the audio designer to fill in the sound and music as they see fit; after all, they are the paid experts! During projects like this, it's important to be in touch with the designers and to know the target audience of the game. Just knowing the basics isn't enough, make sure to really dig into their design documents and figure out where they are coming from and where they are going with the game, so that you can give them the perfect audio they didn't even know they wanted.
HMaudio Wrote:I've seen it both ways. [...]

Yeah, I think we've been in both situations. For our latest project, we don't really know what sort of music we want. It's a space adventure game, (actually right over here: http://www.idevgames.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19007 )and we've not sure what sort of music goes with that.

If I were to say "Western/Cowboy style music", you immediately know the instrumentation and syncopation that I'm talking about.

So it seems like a lot of space games seem to pick a genre and associate themselves with that. Firefly has the wild-west feel, and that's strongly reflected in their music. A lot of other space games go with the techno/electronic music, because that's obviously the music everyone in the future listens to Wink

Ultimately, I think whatever you choose has to be reflected by the cultural setting of the game. In real life, music and culture are tightly bound- so if you are creating a world that can really envelop you, creating those ties are vital.
What speaks to me, Andy, are ideas (be it games, their art/audio, what have you) that express a careful consideration to their craft. Yes, techno/electronica comes to mind when one speaks of spaceship games, but why? Star trek is very orchestral. Firefly as you mentioned, really shines because it wasn't just another battlestar galactica/stargate. They took time and thought and wanted to jump out and say, not only are we creative, but we carefully planned an intricate medium. We're not generic, we are defining. We are creative, and will be remembered because of it.

I hope all developers take a moment to consider how their art and audio can help reinforce a sense of original creativity, instead of having their assets slapped in to meet a perceived audience's expectations -- and ultimately fade away into anonymity.
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