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Light This Up Case Study

Q'd Up Work

Sound Effects – Sound Design, Sound Recording, Foley Recording

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Problem

Kooapps needed a set of sound effects for their game “Light This Up”:  Q’d Up was asked to design sound effects that match the simplicity of the UI and the animations.  Also, the sounds should be clear what they represent and not just random buzzing rising or falling tones.  There needs to be an electric touch to it.

The game needed sound effects for:

Solution

Video game sound design is the art of creating and adding audio elements to a video game.  Creating libraries of custom sound effects give the game a sense of realism and uniqueness.  Unlike sound for movies, which is always played back in the same order, sound for games is played back in a different way every time. Sound for games must be broken down into separate sections, which can be looped, crossfaded, layered or branched seamlessly in real time. The outcome is a sound track that is immersive, responsive, and continuous.

Sounds tell the player:

Our process includes a spotting session, creating the music and sound effects, bouncing and compression of the finished files, then implementing them into the game’s audio engine and finally playing the game.

The goal for us as sound designers is to work together with the design and animation team to create rich audio that fits the virtual experience being developed.  Because games are interactive and do not have fixed sound and music, we must create several layers of audio that matches the player’s choices and movement. This way each sound effect and music track is appropriate to what is taking place on-screen.

“Light This Up is an addictive puzzle game where players should find an electric path from the source to light the bulb. There is a required amount of voltage required for some puzzles so users need to strategize and make sure that the path won’t overload or won’t have enough power.”

KOOAPPS is a mobile gaming company with millions of downloads. Founded in 2008, Kooapps has released more than 30 games with several top selling titles.

Spotting Session 

The first step is to make a list of every audio element that is needed for the game. In film scoring, this is called a spotting session.

Sound Effects:

Create the Music & Sound Effects 

Now that we have a list of all the sounds we need, it’s time to start creating.  To make a sophisticated effect, we combined multiple SFX into a new single sound. By combining sounds from different frequencies, we can create SFX that have a larger sound.

Sound Effects: 

Button Tap SFX

A sound effect that is like a heavier-type switch being flipped in a large open hall so there is a bit of an echo. We created 5 variants of switches with and without echoes. Once the switch was chosen, we created 6 more variations to find the correct echo needed for the game ranging between 1 and 2 seconds long.

Level Complete SFX

We created electrical-sounding variations evoking feelings of a machine powering up or turning on, with a magical feeling of bliss added to it. From the variations, the spin-up machine in the background was kept and a subtle click-like sound was added in the beginning.  A blissful sound effect was layered to enforce both the electricity working and powering on the light, as well as a successful feeling for the player.

Overload SFX

This sound was to emulate the length and timing of the overloaded visual effect.  We included an electrical buzz long intro followed by a glass popping sound.

Not Enough Power SFX

This sound was to emulate the feeling of a shutdown because not enough power was produced to light up the light bulb.

Button Release SFX

The lack of feeling on some devices calls for an increase in feedback to the user, which is often the job of the audio.  In most cases this comes in the form of a nice tick or pop, re-affirming the user’s action. This sound effect was created as a nice short transient that easily reaches the user’s ear.

Bounce & Compress Files 

We created mono files and we used 48k sample rate and 24 bit depth for highest quality.

Every sound you put in must be of the highest quality and each sound must be an integral piece to the canvas.  Creating your sound design in the most memory saving way is imperative. You must also consider compression ratios and what they will mean to your sound.

Also, in the case of one-off files, attention must be paid to ensure that the file is trimmed at the absolute start and end of the file so that the file is no larger in size than need be.   This is one of the biggest concerns of producing audio for the iPhone.

Implement Audio Into the Game’s Audio Engine 

Now that the audio is composed, it is ready for implementation in the game’s audio engine. In this step, we can configure each sound file to play back based on the game parameters. Sound effects will be linked to specific actions in the game.

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Finally, Play the Game!

When playing and testing the game, we are concerned with environmental and device issues.

These concerns are part of any game audio, but even bigger in mobile devices because how the player listens to a game is extremely diverse. This is due to the unique environments in which the user can be found, as well as forms of playback available to the player.  We test sounds in-game on several different devices, in different settings with and without earphones, with headphones, and more.

Sound has a unique ability to communicate directly to the player in a way that is impossible to represent.   It is the easiest way to connect to your player emotionally and gives the game one more advantage to help keep the player enthralled in every moment.

PGF 2014 AWARDS FOR BEST EDUCATIONAL GAME AND MOST INNOVATIVE GAME

Project Location: Seattle, WA
Work TypeSound Design

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