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Audio isn't Drag-and-Drop: Game Sound Aesthetics 101

A lot of game devs (myself included) will just drag and drop sound into their game during a time and/or budget crunch. We don't do this with anything else - visuals, movement schemes, mechanics, narrative - if we can help it; each one of these is carefully considered and often customised if we didn't make it ourselves. 

Why don't we do that with sound? Going back to the theme of my first blog post, Why Your Game Failed, we as consumers, gamers and audience members don't think about sound on a conscious level. Therefore, when we're implementing it, we quickly assume it requires just as little thought and appreciation. 

Wrong, of course. There are some amazing free sounds out there, but in indie games or game jams I will often see really terrible pairings; a full, high quality mace smashing into something will be dropped into a retro pixel art smashup, or a futuristic vehicle will sound like one of those adventurous 50's sci fi movie sounds. It's jarring and heavily dissatisfying.

Sound implementation has aesthetics, just like your visuals and music do. You need to start thinking about what kind of personality your sound effects have beyond the genre they appear in. Light, happy, airy, warbly, jangly, angsty, furious, weighty, heft, whimsical. These are all words you should either be crossing off your list or making note of. When you just drag some sound effects you downloaded into your game, you may as well be doing a paint-by-numbers painting. Some of those are beautiful, but they're an homage and showcasing of other people's work, other people's stories. 

Your story needs more of you in it, and your audience deserves a bit more than copy and paste. 

 

Unless you're out to make the 900th Flappy Bird clone, in which case we don't even want to know you.

 

We offer consultation and custom sound for any project, as do these other fine organisations. You need a specialist if you want your project to be extraordinary.

Email us at: saltydogsounds@gmail.com

 

Other recommended organisations/sound designers: 

www.daisyalesoundworks.com

https://www.headaudiodesign.com/