George Lucas famously said that “sound is ‘half of the film’ experience“. We think that sound is even more important in interactive media and we take great care in building a detailed audio pallet for our players.
When producing the sound for STASIS, we started by watching as many 80s sci-fi and horror films as possible. What we often do is turn off the picture completely and then dissect the background audio atmosphere. Something that you will notice first is that film always has some sort of backtrack playing. Subtle ambient sounds and music is used to prompt the mood of the viewers. They use this to great advantage in horror films where silence replaces the background sound and is as powerful as an orchestral score.
Both STASIS and CAYNE play an ambient ‘back track’ for the entire duration of the game, including over menus and cut scenes. You probably haven’t noticed it, but it is there – subtly piecing everything together. We also include an infrasound layer. This low-frequency sound can apparently cause an emotive response of awe or fear.
We then have scene specific ambience. For instance, a passage in CAYNE may feature mechanical sounds in the far off distance or a garbled PA announcement.
The next layer pertains to scene specific sounds, a whirring fan or a crackling electric fuse.
We’ve found that creating this multi-layer soundscape further immerses and engages the player.
Often with the newer gaming engines, sounds are post processed at runtime. This means that reverb and other special effects are applied while the game is being played. Our games are 2D and we feel that it we would have more control over the sound if we applied the effects prior to adding them into the engine. This is a stylistic choice that we may revisit at a later date.
On top of the soundscape, we then add a musical score that attempts to convey the mood we’re trying to create in this area. This music shouldn’t overpower the events but rather add a rich audio experience to the action unfolding. When we created STASIS we wanted an instantly recognizable melody. Mark Morgan wrote a hauntingly beautiful piece of music which we then based all of our other musical tracks on.
MUSIC OF BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION
This world of DESOLATION gives us the opportunity to create a unique musical score. We plan on creating a fusion of African drum beats, Maasai choirs and the iconic synth sounds of the 80s.
When the game moves into full time production and we start to work with our chosen composer, we’ll bring in the strong melodies and weave them into a beautiful and unique soundtrack.
The trailer music was the first piece we created as an attempt at the rough direction we want to take the musical score. In 2 minutes we travel from the 80s through to the alien sounds of The Penrose, and then end with the wonderfully twisted sounds of a post apocalyptic Africa. While all of these scenes are vastly different in their design, the music brings it all together.
Another music track we did for the making of videos: