Friday, 13 April 2012

Elements of Game Technology, part two: sound for games

As far as my opinion is concerned, I believe sound technology has reached its prime from the simple blips and polyphonic chirpy tones we all used to have. Technology in general nowadays has the ability to record and play crisp realistic sounds and music from small phones to consoles. It of course depends on the quality of tech you are listening to. I, only last year, bought a simple cheap 2.1 logitech speaker system to play my ps3 and xbox games and boy does it make a difference with the bass adjusted right. Logitech are good for their quality but I was blown away at how much these little pods could improve my gaming experience to a higher level, no joke.

Sound nowaways in game engines can be used so specifically for effects, assets, certain radiuses of the level you enter, having the ability to combine and transition without sounding blocky or cutting each other off. One day I would love to upgrade to 5.1 surround speakers for the whole of my room to get an even more immersive feel like I am slap bang in the middle of it all. Combine it with the improvements of picture quality and bigger TV sizes and 3D integration, sound is an important factor for games as much as movies.

I don’t believe sound could get any better than sounding real. Developers for top shooting games such as the battlefield series actually go out into the fields to experience the atmosphere of war and record as much sounds as they can from each and every specific gun. I found a video of an interview with the sound guy for the battlefield games, once I find a way to embed the YouTube video onto the blog I will do it but I have the link down below anyway. I like how he explains sound as an art, using words like “portrait” and “brighter” and the fact that in games they like to exaggerate goings on but he also mentioned how sounds are cleaner and you can locate stuff easier. Getting that balance makes for a brilliant outcome. I have been going to cinemas a lot recently and I notice how even they exaggerate sounds. Transformers for example have loud destructive dangerous sounds and build ups that get louder increasing tension and heart rates then you get otherworldly sounds that are of course made up but made to sound realistic in that world which, for me, makes it such an amazing experience.

Fantasy games like final fantasy that take reference from real life living situations and environments but escalate them also give realism to magical sounds of certain spells cast like healing and bursts of darkness or light. To give actions that do not have sound in real life their very own sound is certainly exaggerated but you know it sounds right. Healing sounds like angels rising from the sky and give a warm happy glow to offer hope that you will survive longer in the fight and that is what I love about fictional made up sounds. Final Fantasy’s musical score is also incredible, the fact that they have their own orchestra and choir to play music for certain locations of the game shown on large screens means they have worked hard to fit the right music for the right situation. Their most famous score is One Winged Angel made for Sephiroth in Final Fantasy 7 which defined him as a character, evil and twisted.

Ok so the deal with this ‘Good Times’ by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. Yes it was in fact a pivotal song for the development of hip hop and dance at the time and became no. 1 and triple platinum selling despite the backlash of disco in 1979. What interested me is Nile Rodgers future productions such as the soundtrack album for Halo 2 and 3 (such meaningful and emotional songs) as well as a couple other games and movies I know. No wonder he was mentioned in the brief hah.

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