Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Sound for games – Part 2

Linking once again to what I learned during the group project, my knowledge of just what is capable with the implementation of sound within games has actually improved since I last wrote about it. (Sound as a Pound)

I took it upon myself to include sound in the project and although I relied a lot on free to use sound samples, I also recorded some of my own. I was surprised at how well I’d guessed how some sounds are used in game. In that they work much like lights, for simple ambient or resonant sounds they are place in a level and given a radius in which the player can hear them, growing louder the nearer you are to the sound emitter. However it did surprise me how you can apply several effects to the sounds within the UDK game engine, such as pitch changes and tone alterations.

Whilst I only really used the simple ‘place in scene’ method, there are also scripts and the possibilities of adding interactive sounds via the kismet function.
My understanding of how game music and ambient sound is still pretty much the same as it was, music is used to create drama, tension and generally to add that extra stimuli to the experience, and ambient sounds to create tension and atmosphere. I have started to notice the advanced effects for sound in latest games, such as call of duty. For example when you are injured or subject to a flashbang, the sound alters pitch and tone and adds the effect of a muffled, half deaf resonance. I thought that was brilliant when I first experienced it, it really made the game that much more realistic.

In-between the last blog on the subject and now I also stumbled across ‘the barber shop’ audio sample from Qsound labs (The Barber Shop - Binaural), a great example of the Binaural audio technology that is really impressive in creating a fully emmersive experience with sound. I did a little research on whether this can be used in games and found quite an interesting debate about it here: Theif - Binaural Forum they essentially covered the pros and cons, such as the impact it would have on the interactivity and immersive experience for the user, but pointed out limitations on memory and how the technology could be taxing on performance. Surely, however, with the rapid way in which gaming technology is evolving, it is only a matter of time.

I’ve found myself becoming more and more interested in the musical scores for games, one of which you may have guessed from my Masters time-lapse video, is the soundtrack for Red Dead Redemption. The entire soundtrack comprises of everything a game should have in terms of musical score, from high-octane, action filled chase music to beautifully composed wild west ambient scores. The surprise for me was the inclusion of the ‘Far away’ Track written and sung by Jose Gondalez. I really wasn’t expecting that, and when it kicked it in it went amazingly well with riding the horse at high speed through the beautiful landscapes. I thought the entire score really captured that Wild West feel, and much credit goes to Rockstar games, Bill Elm and Woody Jackson for hitting the nail on the head.


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