Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Elements of Game Technology, Part 2: Sound for Games

I've always said that my personality has always been affected by games during my upbringing, stemming from The art styles, 8 bit pixel games that provoked my imagination of an in game world (as well as just the love for pixel arts!), characters within the game and environments just to name a few.
Sound effects and music within games are of no exception.

The wacky 8 bit sound effects of the retro age and just early games noises in general have always given me that connection to fantasy worlds and escapism from the real world. The 8 bit sound effects in music today bring back many fond nostalgic memories of my carefree early gaming days.

Sounds and music has come a long way since its 8 bit days and in with sound effects and with it, the ability to create very realistic sounding games such as Call of Duty. With the sound technology we have today, the believability of game worlds can be much more convincing.

Many games today have musical scores that help create the atmosphere and the tension within certain moments of the game. For example, in Call of Duty, there is a section in the game where you are on snow mobiles and in a tense chase; the finale is made by a large jump over the snowy cliffs. The music then builds up towards the jump and then stops as the player is in mid-air.

Through the clever use of sounds a wide range of possibilities open up to drive the player forward in various ways. For example sound can often hint clues to the player and their directives or the music could play a subtle tone to encourage the player to have a stealth approach to certain areas.
Another example is Metal Gear Solid. The music starts off very neutral and very passive and all of a sudden the player would be caught by a soldier and the pace of the game changes dramatically along with the musical cues of the games. As times passes and the player avoids and hides for a set amount of time, eventually the music would change into a kind of cool down tone; after the adrenaline of being chased.

                                                                       6:00 Onwards

As sounds continue to develop along with the gaming industry, I personally find that memorable music becomes less and less. I think nostalgia plays a big deal for me and not to say that there isn’t any music these days in games that I find memorable.
I personally find that with 8 bit like tunes in my childhood days were like my lullabies. They were generally quite simple tunes with a very catchy melody; which was more than enough to make them some of the most loved and memorable tunes in my life.
Though modern music and sound in games do very well with immersing players within the moment and the games, it doesn’t particularly always make it better than the earlier and less advanced sound technologies. Many songs these days are still involve a great deal of 8 bit - like noises greatly inspired by earlier video game noises.

Here's an example of a song made using the sounds of the first Game Boy.:

Games within the gaming industry (new and old) have been a major influence in my life, encouraging the type of personality I hold, hobbies I take up (such as my recent guitar playing) and the styles of other music I take interest in.

Here are a few of my favourite video game composers:

                                     Koji Kondo

                                     Nobuo Uematsu

                                     Michiru Yamane

                                     Martin O’Donnell

                                     Motoi Sakuraba

                                     David Wise

                                     Grant Kirkhope

                                     Daisuke Ishiwatri

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