Mixing Square Waves

Traditionally, loud music is made loud mostly in the final stage of production: mastering. Recording engineers capture recordings with wide dynamic range, mix engineers use compression strategically to make the various tracks work together, and a mastering engineer reduces the dynamic range of the mixed track as a whole to prepare it for duplication and broadcast.

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The Mix Starts Before the Game Does

One of my biggest pet peeves in video games is how loud they’ve become. The Loudness War has ravaged music, television, and advertising, but I think it’s done more damage to games than to any other medium. I’ll go deeper into the effects it’s had on game development in future posts, but today I want to talk about how loudly we choose to begin our games.

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Coming Soon!

Learning to create audio for games has often felt like exploring uncharted territory. While it’s relatively easy to find tutorials covering all the technical aspects of creating and implementing sounds, the aesthetics of game audio have largely gone unexamined. Great musical scores get praised and powerful vocal performances are lauded, but sound design and mixing are only ever discussed in professional circles, and there’s really no consensus on what constitutes good overall sound in games. As a result, the quality of modern game audio is exasperatingly hit or miss.

Several recent successes in game audio can serve as beacons lighting the way towards better sounding games, but only if they’re properly analyzed and understood. That’s my goal with this blog. I’m going to look at the best and the worst of game audio in an attempt to figure out how to make games that overcome the challenges of development and sound great from beginning to end.

I’ll have my first real post up within the week, discussing loudness, The Darkness II, and the importance of sounds that occur before the player pushes any buttons.