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How much am I expected to integrate sound into a game?

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Say I get a job in a studio as a composer/sound designer and I have a gun sound. It's a first person shooter and it has a cool feature where you are able to find enemies based on where the sound comes from. Now, obviously, the game has to react differently and mix it on the fly so the gunshot will happen on the right vs. the left. This is also true for a waterfall (I would want it to sound like it was behind me if I'm near it) or a deer walking on my right side.

How much are sound designers expected to integrate this sort of thing? As far as the music, are we expected to input the audio into the game itself and mix all of it? What about cues for when music happens? Where does our job stop and the programmer begins? For anything we're expected to do, what kind of tools are there?

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As far as I know, I've seen proof that a sound designer guy in Bethesda's Studios had a hand on all the music, all the sound effects and even all the trailers of Skyrim lol

The only thing I know is done separately (besides the OST on some cases) are the recording of voice actors.

Now, engines do come with real time sound effects these days (which is the only way to do realistic sounding stuff unless you use heavily scripted scenes), so I think that the sound processing code is made by programmers while sound engineers/designers are there for tweaking the results (and even then you'd be stepping in a level designer role).

But those are my (un)educated guesses only... Edited by TheChubu

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As far as the music, are we expected to input the audio into the game itself and mix all of it?

I see sound designer on the level of artists, so your main task is most likely to create/mix sound and music (you don't need to create the base sound yourself or the music) with your common sound tools and to tweak, even integrate, them into the game using provided tools. The tools and engine implementations are most likely done by engine or tool coders.

Back when I was in the game industry our sound designer although coded the sound engine in our game, though we were only a small studio. Therefore for smaller studios, especially indie teams, it could be useful if the sound designer is although able to code, in this case it is kind of a technical artist (a bridge between coder and artist).

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Hi dakota--
I'm afraid your question is pretty broad for a forum posting reply, and the answers can vary widely from game to game
Take a look at this video-- it's the introductory talk from GameSoundCon, a conference on game audio that I run. Some of what you're asking is touched on at around the 25-30 minute mark

http://vimeo.com/16516382

We actually have two full days where we try to answer your question, which is why it's hard to digest it down into a couple of paragraphs for a forum reply :)..

Brian Schmidt

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Thanks for the responses, guys.

Brian, I don't have time to watch such a large video, but I'll get back to it later tonight when I don't have anything going on. Thank you for that link. I would have loved to go to GameSoundCon, but I live in Florida and game Sound is a very new thing to me.

Nate, what is FMOD? Is it an engine for the audio?

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Nate, what is FMOD? Is it an engine for the audio?
[/quote]

Yes, it's a middleware solution for audio. A fantastic program, too! Another option would be Wwise or Xact if you're working with MS projects. Some companies have their own proprietary engines as well.

Thanks,

Nate

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Just wanted to add to this a bit. I have a few friends that have work as sound designers in the industry, Sony and EA Games among other studios. Every studio operates differently, but one of my friends, for example, is both sound designer and implementer. He learned the in-house tools as well as 3rd party middleware to both create and design sounds, and implement it into the game. In fact, some of the sounds are done out of house and he just receives them as assets and implements them. They frequently work with the music too. So it's probably about 2-3 guys that are all implementers/light programmers and sound designers, and then the lead audio.

On the other hand, I've had friends that worked just as editors. They're JUST creating assets. They hand it over either to an external studio that does implementation or there's another dude (or dude-ette) in house that does that. It can depend on the flow, if they're working in a new/old engine, how many people are available, budgets, etc etc. Personally I've never worked in-house for a game development studio, only external studios that do audio assets.

But on the real, it's very very common for in-house "Sound Designers" to have implementation and light programming skills.

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How much are sound designers expected to integrate this sort of thing?[/quote]

That would depend on how much you want to make yourself more valuable to the industry. :)
If you learn the skills to be able to do that, not only will you be in more demand, but you'll be able to command a higher wage than someone who only creates the sound, expecting that someone else will take care of the integration.

As mentioned, you'll want to make yourself familiar with tools like FMOD, WWise, and more importantly, understand the unique problems and challenges with game audio, so you can see why those tools do what they do.

In general the deeper the skillset you have, the more options you will give yourself going forward.

-Brian

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Such a great thread. I will admit that I would really like to get more into sound design. I'm really not that good, but I definitely want to take the correct steps needed to have a firm foothold on that particular sound aspect.


Quote
How much are sound designers expected to integrate this sort of thing?

That would depend on how much you want to make yourself more valuable to the industry. smile.png
If you learn the skills to be able to do that, not only will you be in more demand, but you'll be able to command a higher wage than someone who only creates the sound, expecting that someone else will take care of the integration.


Great response to a great question. I know that I am one of many who would like to try their hand and imrpove their skill at sound design/implementation. Plus, being in demand ain't half bad either. Are there any things that we can do, as upcoming sound musicians, to gain experience with that kind of thing? I looked up FMOD and had a brain aneurysm when I saw the prices. The closest I have gotten to sound implementation is RPG Maker, which isn't saying much. Edited by M4uesviecr

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looked up FMOD and had a brain aneurysm when I saw the prices.[/quote]

Here's the awesomely cool thing...
The prices for FMOD are paid by a game developer when their game ships not by the sound designer/composer. You can download FMOD and use it all you want... for free. Likewise for WWise.


(we discuss this at GameSoundCon :))

Brian Schmidt
Brian Schmidt Studios

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the answer to this thread is simple.

1. if you work in-house at a game studio, you will be expected to handle a large potion of implementation, and work with audio programmers to solve issues.
2. If you are a freelancer, you can probably score a gig just doing asset creation.

Point is, most game audio jobs are 50/50, between sound design and technical implementation. Only other exception I can think of would be if you got hired at one of the rare studios that have large audio teams, so large each person has specific roles (like technical implementor, sound designer, composer, voice producer, etc etc)

But all that stuff you mention about pan, it's mostly taken care of automatically by middle ware engines like F-Mod and WWISE. Even the source engines like those in Unity and Unreal have this feature built in. Getting your sound to act properly in a 3D space would only require a few clicks for the most part.

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the answer to this thread is simple.

1. if you work in-house at a game studio, you will be expected to handle a large potion of implementation, and work with audio programmers to solve issues.
2. If you are a freelancer, you can probably score a gig just doing asset creation.


Well, I wouldn't paint with such a broad brush. I've had plenty of gigs as a freelancer where I not only took care of asset creation, I also did all of the implementation. In fact, I think that was one of the selling points to why I got the job. What you've stated above is certainly quite common but it isn't 100%.

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[quote name='the_grimace' timestamp='1355649171' post='5011209']
the answer to this thread is simple.

1. if you work in-house at a game studio, you will be expected to handle a large potion of implementation, and work with audio programmers to solve issues.
2. If you are a freelancer, you can probably score a gig just doing asset creation.


Well, I wouldn't paint with such a broad brush. I've had plenty of gigs as a freelancer where I not only took care of asset creation, I also did all of the implementation. In fact, I think that was one of the selling points to why I got the job. What you've stated above is certainly quite common but it isn't 100%.
[/quote]

Well, that's why I included "probably" in that part. I have had freelance and contract jobs where I did only asset creation, and ones where I had to do some implementation, and some where I had to do all of the implementation. I was just saying it would be much easier to find an asset creation only job through freelancing than an in-house audio job, but regardless, implementation and technical skills are going to be good to have. Edited by the_grimace

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