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Sound concepts also help sell a project via increased dramatic impact when presenting early concepts to a publisher, company executives, marketing departments, etc. Whether an independent developer or a studio owned by a publisher, nearly every team has to pitch their ideas to a publisher. Audio is the "magic," forgotten element often neglected in pre-production planning and development.
Sound concepts can open up a whole new realm of ways to show off a project's progress, especially in the early stages of development. It shows these other entities that the team is fleshing out every aspect of the game design-- from art to animation to gameplay to sound, and adds polish to pre-existing assets. Sound concept work can assist a team's long term goals by helping set a direction for game components, generating work which will extend into the final product, and selling these ideas to the folks with the money.
In our early milestone deliveries, the sound concept work played an important role in explaining to the executives at Activision where our game was heading. The sound concept provided a new layer of cohesion to the overall design of our ideas, and made that understanding a more complete sensory experience.
In summary, sound concepting ensures that the audio team is more involved with the project, while at the same time involving the project more with the audio team. Employing early conceptual work on the audio front is an invaluable means to help all team members understand the importance of audio in the final product.
Sound concepts help foster communication, experimentation, and a greater assurance for unique, quality audio by taking the time to invest in a teams' vision in more than just the visual sense. The benefits are immeasurable. The importance of engaging the audio team early in pre-production to give them the time to experiment and conceive of the best possible audio design for the game is essential.
Sound concepts are often a luxury, in which designers participate only when they have a little time between projects or just as they get pulled on to a new project. This practice must change. I implore all audio directors, producers, and project leads to begin budgeting time in your pre- and early production schedules for sound concepting. Sound concept work helps fuel greater creative development across disciplines in any game and helps to ensure overall success.