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Using Untapped Resources For Game Audio: How Testers, Producers Can Help
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Using Untapped Resources For Game Audio: How Testers, Producers Can Help

September 28, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3


A key component of this plan is remembering that QA usually kicks into high gear in Alpha and top gear in Beta, so planning ahead with the QA supervisor well in advance of both the training sessions and when you will need them is important. Earmark an audio specialist and ensure that the QA department is aware of their role.

Audio Testing

How often can an audio team sit down and play through the game it is creating the audio for, to make sure that all VO, physics and UI sounds are triggering in every possible instance that they are supposed to? Supply the script and approximately four hours for every five hundred lines (or substitute sound effects) to test, and you’ve got yourself a solid VO testing plan.

A/B comparison demonstrations to the QA team in general also yield significant results. For example, demonstrating a good mix in a cinematic and then a bad mix (one audio part is too loud, etc.) helps train these young ears not only for potential help with audio tasks on a project, but also for when the time comes to test the game itself. Generate a checklist for QA to run through to ensure the audio quality is where you and the team (and the publisher!) want it to be so there is no doubt.

After all the training and documentation is established, when the time comes and you find yourself shorthanded, ask whoever manages QA at your company if there are any spare bodies to assist. If you have prepped them you should have a much better chance of getting that help. As a bulk of development typically comes before the QA process begins in earnest, managers typically smile on the use of a less expensive resource already in the company.

Another great resource to use is associate and assistant producers. I find that these guys and gals are very underutilized and often are only assisting with documentation work, driving the game at internal reviews and trade shows, helping with the build process, etc. In reality their best asset is the likelihood that they have authority to enlist multiple staff resources if a problem arises.

For example, suppose an associate producer is tasked with helping implement audio. If you train the producer with the skills mentioned above in a day session, they should already have the ear to test the audio they need to implement, but if there is a blocking problem that is code related they (usually) have authority to enlist the help of a programmer -- whereas a member of the QA department probably does not.

There really are plenty of alternatives to hiring and firing, and potentially saving money doing it by using required skills as a temporary resource only when necessary. I hope this methodology finds its way into your workflow, so you stop pulling out your hair trying to get the audio sounding slick while trying to take care of the supporting tasks as well.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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