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Using sound design to give Slime Rancher charm without getting too gooey

August 16, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

August 16, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: Audio, Design, Video

"Give your sound effects time to breathe and rest, build that into the sound effect file itself, and then cap those instances. Know that it's always fewer than you think."

- Slime Rancher lead dev Nick Popovich shares a key sound design tip.

A chorus of plorps, ploops, and cheers could easily become overwhelming for players in a game like Slime Rancher if not for its carefully constructed sound design. 

In a recent livestream with Gamasutra, Slime Rancher lead developer Nick Popovich walked us through some of the considerations kept in mind when bringing auditory life to the game's slime-filled world and detailed some common indie missteps in the process.

“A game like Slime Rancher could easily feel gross in the sound scape, and we were looking to avoid that. So early on, when it came to the sound of slimes hitting other things, we avoided anything that sounded like it was bodily functions and things like that.”

Beyond just keeping things from sounding too gooey, Popovich says that the team had to pay special attention to how frequently certain sound effects triggered, for fear of bombarding the player with sound.

“This is something that I think indies miss the mark on all the time, so please pay attention to this: Cap the number of instances of a single sound effect that could be playing at any given time,” advises Popovich.

“Because when multiple ones are playing at the same time, it amplifies the volume of that sound effect. So if your machine gun noise is going rat-tat-tat-tat, and every one of those 'tats' is layering on top of the other one it's going to kill someone’s ears or at least just be super annoying to them.”

The full clip above contains a wealth of advice on how Slime Rancher uses sound to give positive reinforcement while still keeping a physics-based world from getting too out of control. For more on the development of Slime Rancher, take a look at the full, hour long interview over on the Gamasutra Twitch channel

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