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.
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.