Game Audio 101: The Key Roles
Game audio is the marrying of nearly all passions of sound into one fun package. It encapsulates the great things about recording, music production, coding and more.
Like many of sounds more technical areas, there isn’t really a clear roadmap on how to get started. While there are plenty of tutorials in “How to Add Sound in Unity Engine”, that’s not clear for someone trying to get the whole picture. The goal of this article is to offer a dedicated “starting point” to learning what is involved in game sound.
To be frank, this article isn’t about recommending any specific tool but rather points different categories of tools.
Each sound role could be tasked to several people however, one person could wear many hats to perform these tasks. Regardless of which role most relates to you, this article offers a broad overview into game sound that you can go from starting at “Point A” then directed to “Point B”.
As new experiential technologies become available, such as AR/VR, concepts from game sound will carry over even if an experience is not considered a game rather story-telling. Anything including immersion of one’s self and interacting with a virtual world will likely involve principles of game audio.
The Roles of Sound & Music
“A convincing world needs convincing sound”Some Audio Person
Game Sound is one of the most sonically rich of all multi-media. The considerations that go into creating a convincing audible landscape that is constantly adapting to the interactive input of the user or virtual camera. From the ground up the audible environment must be carefully crafted to tell compliment the storytelling. Polished with a musical score that could also be integrated into the interactive playground.
The more technology advances the more convincing sound needs to be.
- Dialog – Voice Recording , Voice Acting
- Sound Design – Recording, Foley, Editing, Mixing
- Music – Production, Composition, Recording, Music Supervisor (licensing)
- Audio Programming – Scripting the logic how sound/music with behave in the rest of the environment.
The visuals of a virtual world are extremely compelling. However, the virtual world will lack without high quality environmental sounds that resemble that world and how they respond to user interactions.
A sound designer for games will create various audio assets made from field recordings, synthesis and DAW editing. It’s common to work with the music composer to create elements in-tune with the music score.
Learn more about Sound Design For Games
Dialog / Voice Recording
Any sort of conversations that will occur will require recording of voice actors. This process can be in-person or remotely. If you want a believable performance in a game, it will need a believable acting. The recordings are edited when necessary via a DAW.
Learn about dialog recording in the video below
Learn more about voice acting – here
The music pipeline will be similar to the music creation process for film; songwriting, composition, production and mastering. There is the unique additional feature relating to the music. The arrangements can be dissolved into short stems layered, triggered and manipulated interactively in the environment. This sort of immersion requires collaboration with the programmer responsible for integrating audio into the virtual world.
Learn more about game music
Putting all the sound and musical assets into a game is done by a programmer. They will code the logic that triggers and manipulates the audio playback based on the interactions of the user. Scripting can be can be as simple as basic playback logic to complex DSP (digital signal processing) algorithms or to entire 3D-Audio Engines.
Learn more about audio programming
For a more advanced explanation of audio programmers watch the following made by the same presenter
The next article will discuss the technologies relating to game audio.