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September 26, 2017
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Game Audio Remix - Episode 1

by ALEXANDER BRANDON on 08/16/10 12:40:00 am   Expert Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.
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Let's lead off with the exciting stuff. Just click below and head back here to read more:

Why do this?

Game Audio Remix is an idea I had about two years ago and which has only recently come to fruition. It started with my desire to take my favorite classics and wrap them in modern production values. Since my main area of expertise is audio, I wrote music, penned up some sound design and recorded VO for a portion of a play session with the classic title "Mechwarrior".

Something of a mashup, this serves many purposes. First, it celebrates a game most PC gamers of my generation had hours of fun with. Second, it allows me to deliver a more compelling audio demo that I'm able to produce in a relatively short period of time with little assistance (thanks to Cole Wristen, fresh from graduating from the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences). Third, and perhaps most importantly, it introduces a pre production concept publically that previously I had only seen behind closed doors: video pre-vis. My version of this uses existing assets and footage, but this can be used with concept art, greybox levels, you name it, and can save "I don't know HOW much" time during production and alpha / beta.

Since we're looking at story exposition, you can instantly establish tone in context, rather than listening to music by itself. You can also establish the importance of things like pacing in VO (without any animation or lipsync I might add) to demonstrate how important it is to write each scene as though it was your last, and levels (music takes much more of a backseat until the mech is actually out and walking, a technique usually practiced in reverse, but we thought we'd play around a little).

With this combination of benefits, we're just getting started with Game Audio Remix. The next episode will feature a "before and after" format, showing gameplay with its original sound and new techniques simply applied in post.

What makes the audio compelling, or more compelling than the original at least?

Before we move on, however, I will list the specific techniques added to this particular video:

  • Dramatic lead in (intro flythrough sequence with VO / music)
  • UI sfx
  • Layered interactive music (while navigating the menus the music theme remains the same but different stems are layered to reference each section)
  • Character exposition (the interplay between Hollis and Janseker establishes characterization and plot behind the interface)
  • Sound with no visuals (as the player boards his mech, the buildup without even seeing a mech generates a foreboding sense that something of a badass nature is about to happen)
  • Heavy thematic music during gameplay (as the mech is walking, there is obviously a more cinematic feel and multiple camera angles not conducive to natural game mechanics, but this is intended to be the start of real gameplay, and heavy music is usually not a factor in mech games)

For the next remix I will include a cue sheet that will cite individual times for events and explanations behind them. In addition I will provide methods for implementing these events / techinques using different middleware engines.

I hope you enjoy it! If you'd like any of this sort of audio in your games, feel free to email me. My team and I would be happy to assist.

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