The power of sound: what tasks it solves in games

The gaming experience depends on the gameplay, graphics and plot. Sound accompaniment often seems to be something concomitant: well, if it is, great if it is remembered. But in fact, sounds and music in games affect a lot - from the atmosphere to the gameplay.

For example, imagine Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 without the music of Hantz Zimmer - the experience no longer seems so dramatic and exciting, right?

We describe how the sound in games creates a unique experience.

Photo by Kelly Hunter CC

Becomes part of the gameplay

Gameplay World of Warcraft - creating a hero, killing mobs, completing quests.

But remember the invisibility spell - you will not know that there is someone nearby until he comes so close to you that you can detect it. And then a distinctive sound is heard: “You’ve got to know it!” You know that somewhere near the invisible and start thinking how to deal with it. And without this sound, the enemy would remain invisible and the game would lose balance - everyone would play for the robbers.

Interestingly, this useful sound appeared by mistake. Information about the invisible player is transmitted to your computer when it comes too close. The character is generated from scratch: its level, race, name, and everything else. Including the abilities that he activated. And invisibility is applied with a sound - thereby “Vzh-Zh-Zh!”. So it turns out that the ability has just been applied on your computer, and therefore you hear this sound. Over the years, this sound has become synonymous with paranoia for many players.

The Serious Sam series is legendary in itself, but the kamikaze of it is a special story. Increasing shouting, if not stopped with an accurate shot, means that the player will soon explode along with the kamikaze. This is not the most dangerous enemy in the game - but his cry makes the player feel uncomfortable. Immediately you begin to spin and look for where he runs from.

It's funny that kamikaze scream in spite of the fact that they have no head - this adds a panic situation.

Sets the mood

Even if you have played more than a thousand hours in Heroes of Might and Magic III, you can hardly turn off the background music - so good it is. And it blends well, and sometimes supports what is happening in the game. When you build buildings in your city, it is calm and peaceful. And in battles, it accelerates and forces the situation, forcing the player to strain even more.

A genre that depends almost entirely on music and sound is horror. There are games that loosen up the nerves with the help of a combination of music and plot alone: ​​they have no enemies that need to be defeated or from which you need to escape, no one jumps at you from the corner. The main character is literally the one in the game. This does not prevent the player to be afraid of every rustle.

A good example of this use of the soundtrack is the classic game Scratches (“Rustle”), released in 2006. We just study the dark past of the Gothic mansion and solve puzzles in complete solitude - you cannot die in the game. But the mysterious rustling from the basement and fireplaces, which has driven the previous owners of the house crazy, wakes the hero up at night and makes many players move away from the screen to breathe. Ambient music and horrific sounds especially for the game were written by the composer under the pseudonym Cellar of Rats.

In many horror games, the creators skillfully handle the musical accompaniment: it accelerates or slows down, turns on and off, forcing a sense of horror.

“I wanted to play for surprises: in intense scenes I could leave silence, and when nothing happened around, on the contrary, fill the space with sound. Walking along an empty corridor? The background will be the sound of a siren. Did you meet the boss? Fight with him to the sound of a sharpening knife ", - Akira Yamaoka, composer of Silent Hill ( source )

It creates an atmosphere and becomes a calling card.

In 2006, the game director of The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim asked the composer Jeremy Soule to write music for the game. The request was serious: we need a song in the dragon language performed by the barbarian choir, and at the same time it must keep its meaning and rhyme translated into English.

Jeremy did it. True, he did not find the barbarians, replacing them with 30 men with deep voices. They sang a song three times - the mixed track sounded like a choir of 90 people.

The soundtrack is one of the components of the atmosphere of the game, a very important feature of Skyrim, because of which people still play around with it. The title theme is fully consistent with the epic spirit of the game and has become almost nominal.

In the horror quest “Gone Home”, unusual music is played, in which there is both sentimentality, and loneliness, and anxiety. Protracted low notes that add anxiety are mixed in here. The soundtrack is sad, then optimistic - and until the denouement is unclear, what is the fate of an empty house in which the events of the game take place.

In the indie walker Firewatch, Chris Remo did music and design. Therefore, the gameplay "sounds" in unison with the plot, the gameplay is in tune with the mood. The disturbing background music of the main character immediately sets the context for what is happening: the hero is ill, he suffers. He comes to the forest to find peace - therefore moments of absolute silence, which are interrupted only by the rustling of leaves and talking on the radio, so sharply contrast with the plot moments, accompanied by disturbing music.

Composer Akira Yamaoka wrote the soundtrack for the Silent Hill game series and became famous far beyond the gaming field. Music has become part of the unique atmosphere of the series of games, and Yamaoka still gives concerts all over the world, where he performs game soundtracks.

Underlines the main idea

In No Man's Sky, the player explores an infinite number of worlds. Each of the 18 quintillion planets is automatically generated and has a special set of properties. Landscape, life forms or lack thereof, resources - all this varies from planet to planet. And the music too.

The soundtrack was dealt with by the British group 65daysofstatic. At first, they simply recorded 10 tracks that were included in the album “Infinite Universe”. But the most interesting thing started later: the developers from Hello Games created an algorithm that created new compositions from pieces of these songs - procedurally generated music for procedurally generated worlds. The music was extremely simple and simple, but different, for 18 quantillons of planets.

“We are terrible perfectionists: we never release music that we are not happy with. But this is incomprehensible ", - Paul Valinsky, guitarist 65daysofstatic ( source )

For those who are interested in working with music and sound in games, we recommend our article " How to get a job of a sound designer in the game ." And we also talked about how sound was created for Star Wars , one of the most successful franchises in cinema history.

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