Random Sound Design, Too Important To Be Left To Chance!

Welcome back everyone, I hope you have been staying creative are still chasing the dream! Today I would like to talk about my involvement in the progression of Utangard, a turn based strategy game based on feudal Viking tribes. The Alpha is due in less than a month so as you can imagine the whole team is going as fast as we can to deliver by the deadline! My task of course is the Composition and Sound Design, the latter being the focus of this blog. If you would like to catch up on the process so far then CLICK THIS LINK for the full back story, where I have blogged about the game’s early stages.

Utangard_Title

Random Sound Design!

Last Friday, the 16th of October, the crew of Utangard came together to record the bulk of the sound effects that will be used in the game. Before recording, I ran an idea by our fearless leader and tall guy extraordinaire, Jack Kuskoff. The idea was that the sound effects we are going to use are all made up of individual elements, so why not randomise these elements within Unity to make an experience that is not fatiguing on the players ears and avoids the dreaded “machine-gun” effect. To explain this concept further let’s take a look at a battle-sequence.

Fight!

In Utangard, the aim is to defeat your opponent with strategy, this means doing battle with your foe. These battles are between individuals in each army, much like chess. An animation will take place to show the fight, with the possibilities of HIT, MISS or KILL and within this animation sound effects are needed. Instead of using a generic sequence of sounds for each fight, our aim is to break the sounds down into the elements that make them up. By having multiple recordings of each element, we can then program the game-engine to randomly choose the required elements from a library, then assemble them. If you think of the individual elements of the sounds as “ingredients”, then the game-engine, Unity, is the “Chef” which puts them all together and bakes them.

Elements of a Battle

As you can hear from that short battle sequence there are multiple elements that make the end product, eight in total.

  • Movement of Clothes
  • Movement of Chain-Mail
  • Weapon Hits (Metal)
  • Shield Hits (Wood)
  • Male Vocal (Attack)
  • Female Vocal (Attack)
  • Female Successful Finishing Move
  • Male Death

By having a library with at least 10 variations of each element, Unity can now randomly employ them at the right moment making the chance of hearing the same chain of sounds virtually nil. To demonstrate this I have made a mock-up of what is happening in Pro Tools.

Randomised Elements in Pro Tools
Elements in Pro Tools

By giving the programmer, Joshua Hodkinson a “shopping list” of what elements make up the battle sequence (and every other sequence of sounds needed in the game), he can then command Unity to select them at random and assemble them in real-time, giving the player a unique audio-experience every time they play.

So much choice...
So much choice…

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

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