Kenneth Young (Media Molecule), Chance Thomas (HUGEsound.com), Scott Selfon (Microsoft), Brian Schmidt (Brian Schmidt Studios), and Tommy Tallarico (Game Audio Network Guild founder) chat with Gamasutra about the current state of game audio and how they want to push the envelope going forward. They also discuss some of their favorite moments from last years releases and developing for mobile platforms.
What would you say are some of the greatest recent accomplishments in video game audio, focusing on games in the last 12 months that have used audio particularly well?
Kenneth Young: One of the talks with the highest attendance from last year’s audio track was Martin Stig Andersen’s session on the soundscape composition in Limbo. This is significant not only because it’s an indie game (the audio track doesn’t get many submissions from that scene, good or bad, so please shake a leg indie devs!), but also because there were a lot of non-audio people in attendance, which I’d love to encourage.
The real strength of the audio in Limbo is that it consistently reflects and supports every other aspect of the game and contributes towards a player experience which adds up to more than the sum of its parts. That’s something I aspire to in my own work, and it’s a real joy to see such a brilliantly pure example of it. I don’t think the game is for everyone, but you can’t really criticize the audio direction because it’s just so beautifully integrated in to the whole.
Chance Thomas: I’m not one for uber-violent video games, but I couldn’t resist tracking down and listening to the music score from last year’s Dante’s Inferno. The harmonic richness, tonal palettes, rhythmic interest and sheer ingenuity of that score set new standards for dramatic music in games. It’s clearly among our greatest accomplishments in recent memory.
Scott Selfon: As Kenny mentioned, I continue to be impressed with the boldness and uniqueness of indie titles and their ideas of how to make sound a key gameplay component. We see great and ever-increasing sophistication of the epic scores for AAA titles, but I love to see games push into new musical and sonic territories.
In addition to Limbo, Papa Sangre was a great mobile title that told its story nearly exclusively through sound. And the Independent Games Festival saw numerous unique and innovative uses of audio; that continues to be one of my favorite areas to visit at the Game Developer Conference.
Tommy Tallarico: The interactive audio experience in Red Dead Redemption has got to be one of my favorites. Rockstar seems to always take the time, make the resources available and spend the money to ensure the highest possible audio outcome. L.A. Noire is another great example. But the interactive music, sound design, voice-over acting and overall audio integration and mix was absolutely phenomenal in Red Dead.
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