Sound ambience in your games

How important is sound to your games?

  • It's necessary

    Votes: 13 36.1%
  • Pretty important

    Votes: 19 52.8%
  • It's useful but not the most important

    Votes: 4 11.1%
  • Not a priority

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Not important at all

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    36

seryphi

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As a Deaf gamemaker and game player I tend to forget about the effect of sound on the game atmosphere. Horror games are never as scary somehow, and in many other games I find myself getting bored when friends swear it is all very interesting. So I think sound has to have a pretty big effect.

So how do you all use music and sound in your projects? Is it one of the first things you put in, or last? Would a game without sound be good, or is it necessary to the game experience for you?
 

Milennin

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I spend long times thinking for the right music for areas and scenes in my games, and always had positive feedback about my song picks. Sound effects and ambience, on the other hand, not so much. For sound effects, I go with defaults, maybe only with pitch changes. I guess I really just like the default sound effects; they sound the way I like them to sound for my games.
 

Kes

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I too put a lot of time into selecting the music so that they fit the location. I also use BGMs a lot as well e.g. bird song in a rural setting, people chattering in a pub, chickens clucking in a village as I think it helps to establish the atmosphere of the place and helps immersion.

I tend not to use the default SEs, nor the default MEs as I have heard them so often they now really get under my skin. I also think that changing these quickly tells the player that you have given your attention to the details as well as the major elements of the game, and this helps to give a good impression in those vital first few minutes.

All told, I have received a lot of positive feedback on my music choices, though it is worth noting that a proportion of players play with the sound muted for a wide variety of reasons. Because of that, while I think that music and SEs can enhance a game, the game should not depend on them for its effect, otherwise many of your players will miss out.
 

seryphi

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Thank you both for answering! :kaothx:

@Milennin What is it that you like or other people dislike about the defaults? Or is it mostly like what Kes said, that they've just been used too much?

@Kes About that games shouldn't depend on only sound for their effects- yes!! That's why I like RPG Maker games best, because they tend to be better about that. A horror RPG Maker game is still probably scary without sound, even if not as much, but games like Five Nights at Freddys or even Amnesia are completely unplayable without it.

I wonder what makes "good" sound effects different from "bad" ones...?
 

Milennin

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@Milennin What is it that you like or other people dislike about the defaults? Or is it mostly like what Kes said, that they've just been used too much?

I wonder what makes "good" sound effects different from "bad" ones...?
It's hard to say why exactly I like the RTP sounds. Not just from MV, but also those from the previous Makers. If I had to name one of my favourites, it's the Item sound (Item2 in MV), that's been around for ages in RPG Maker, but it's so good, haha. :D
That default sounds get used a lot in RPG Maker games doesn't bother me, because each game has a different developer behind it. To most of them, it's the first game they're making and using defaults for, and that's how I view it. The same goes for graphics. But that's talking for freeware projects. Now, if you're making a commercial game, then I'd expect custom sounds and resources.
 

Marquise*

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On my side I know a music gets me in the right mood when my goosebumps gets really apparent. ^^

I cannot really understand the conundrum you are in while doing somehow silent horror games. But from the very few information I have, apparently some peoples hat have the same afflictions can dance at weddings just swayed by the vibrations music provides. So, let say that if one day I lost my hearing, I might probably take from memory each scary or bad vibe ambient soundtracks I collected over the years and get my hands around the ear parts of a headset and play and compare with the one I can use. Also, fortunately, this community is very active and you can pool a few folks to lend you their ears and compare what should be there.

I dunno if this even helps because I do not live that reality, but... I do hope it does.
 

seryphi

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@Milennin That makes sense, thank you!

@Marquise* thank you! Yes, Deaf people can enjoy music- we play it very loud at parties, lol. But the neighbors don't usually like it very much. :kaoswt2: If it's loud enough for me to feel it, it's probably loud enough to be heard through the walls...

I can hook my implant up to the computer and go through sound files, but it's a hassle and most of the time one soundtrack doesn't really give me any particular mood over another. It's just noise to me, if that makes sense? I don't know the effect that those noises have on other people just by listening.
So I ask other people if sounds fit a certain theme or if they sound okay in general. It's not important for the game experience for me, but I understand that it helps the experience for others, so I try to put sounds in to make it accessible for hearing players.

I don't really understand what makes one SE better than another, or what makes X music fit better than Y. Hence the thread questions :kaohi:
 

TheoAllen

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Depends on the atmosphere you want to bring I guess. For mystery type of atmosphere, probably I prefer the silent one. But it might be one of the reasons I don't quite much like horror / mystery theme because it "lacks of color". So, music is important for me.

In my game which was heavily focused on battle with minimum to no story at all, one of many things I focused was picking the right battle bgm. I got lot of positive feedback on it. One of my players said that he never get bored of doing battle because he enjoyed the music I picked. To avoid boredom of listening the music though, I rolled 10 battle bgm before the battle, so when you enter the next battle you will be listening to different bgm which it will be refreshing everytime you enter the battle.

My take, for any aspect of the game you constantly visit, or will be staying for so long in there (in my case, I focused on battle), sickness of a BGM can happen, which usually when I do, I mute the game. To pick bgm for this aspect of your game, you have to have a lot of variation of the song. Either you can use a song with long length, or simply just have a lot of song variation to pick.

For sound effect though, it determines the "signature" of your game. Some people tend to refuse to use default SE because their game will be associate to many of RM games, which they don't feel unique. Me though, I use default one because I don't have time picking the right sound effect, I'm already satisfied with default SE, and I don't mind people associate my game as other RM games, because my game is indeed an RM game and I won't deny it.
 

gstv87

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I believe there are treaties on sound design and how specific notes affect a listeners' mood or character.

THIS analysis, is one I can recommend (for a movie, but you'll see how it can be applied to games)
turn on subtitles.

 

peq42_

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Music/Sound is one of the most important parts of the art that is a game. It is the thing that helps producing the ambient, making it alive and gives you the sense that there's more in it than you can see.

In horror games, for example, things such as music, ambient sounds, sound effects,etc are part of the very core of what makes it horror and not just a jumpscare mix: it helps you build the tension slowly, makes you wonder and imagine things, in other to release all that "stress" it in a jumpscare(which also requires sound) later. You need all of them to make the player feel the right emotion at the right time.

I know its bad to read what i'm about to write, but it's the truth at least in my opinion: Without sound/music, the games loses at least 1/4 of what makes it the best kind of art there is(which is the fact that you mix other 3 types of art[music, visual art and story telling] with greater imersion than any other)

You may be able to make a good game without sound/music, but probably only if the game focus is that: to make a game which brings a different experience, such as having the main character being deaf and having to overcome it. I can't imagine a horror, adventure, action or other common genres without sound, but if you manage to do so and make it still be good, then that would be really innovative
 
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seryphi

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Thank you all very much! I'm learning a lot from this thread.

@TheoAllen your explanation really helped!! That makes a lot more sense now, especially about sound effects being a "signature."

@gstv87 that is an incredibly cool analysis. The analogy he makes to words and sentences really helped!!

@elpeleq42 That's definitely a fair take on it, I know sound is very important to the way hearing people experience things. I want to make a game centered around Deaf folklore and experience one day, but it'd be a very ambitious project so it's just staying in the idea bin for now.

I think because I'm deaf and I don't automatically think about including sound, I work harder at the visual portions and storytelling, and it can help me make better games. But I don't want to just leave out something that improves the experience for players either, so I need to improve and include sound effects and music more naturally :kaopride:it's a work in progress!
 

gstv87

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do check out his other videos, because that guy is legit :D
 

Marquise*

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@seryphi I doubted that much. Gah! They should do adapted waves/sound rooms for that. In fact living in a city, everyone should have a sealed ventilated living room to really use their sound system without disrupting everyone with the bass! (Cannot imagine everyone paying for a cinema surround system without realizing that mini earthquakes are felt in the floor below!) Well if it is of consolation, plants don't have ears and music stimulate their growth. I bet, somehow if you start to see a plant starting to looks sad in the house while doing your researches, it might be a hint you are in a good -bad- path! ^^ Just... Don't submit your cats and dogs to that; they are prone to be really receptive. DC positively sends me to sleep or gets meows of anxiety when I get those ambiances on. -Also, her and her mom loved the movie Aliens when Ripley gets Newt from the Queens nest!; I did BOOO at that shot and never saw cats jump so high with their heart throbbing trough their fur and they gave me THE LOOK all night. LOL my that was evil thing to do!-)

@gstv87 I really HAVE to learn that language (not only the Spanish; I was refering to music... And it is international! ;) )
 
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BreakerZero

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I am using at least two pre-built cutscenes that I used to make a WebM file. With subtitles of course. So I would say the same.

And on a separate note I forgot to mention that I have a scene involving a coronary incident in my project where once the crewmate's in recovery the heartbeat effect goes up or down in volume based on player distance from post-op.
 
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Finnuval

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Sometimes I listen to (game)music Just to get inspired. For me it really sets the mood and thus is essential. Even in an almost silent game the soundeffects are what makes it feel alive for me. I think that it's possible though to make A fully silent game that's great and can really pull you in but it takes A lot more writing skills IMO. (more then mine anyway lol)
 

Silversmith

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It's been a while since I played it, but didn't Myst have music in only a few places? Most of the time, it got by with ambient sound effects (wind, waves, creaking wood, etc). Those might be easier to work with than music. They do evoke moods, but they're also a straightforward representation of what you'd hear if you were there. If you're in a tavern, you hear background conversation. If you're standing by a lonely lighthouse, you hear wind and waves. The fact that the background conversation makes you feel more warm and welcome than the wind, well, that's just because taverns are generally more welcoming than windswept sea-cliffs.

For me, sound design is extremely important, but it doesn't necessarily have to be musical. A horror game without music might be extremely effective. But it would need an amount of care taken with the sound effects. The place where you're at a disadvantage, doing this sort of thing, is identifying the correct sound effects based on what will probably be limited descriptions by people who assume you can just play the sound file. Footsteps on wood sound different from footsteps on gravel sound different from footsteps on metal, and so forth; there are a huge number of distinctions that could potentially trip you up if the sound file is simply labeled something like "footsteps" or "water" or "door." So after you get your effects put in, you might want to get someone to be a sound consultant—basically, to playtest and make sure than nothing sounds jarring to them.

Unless you're doing that game on Deaf folklore, which absolutely should be silent. (And sounds fascinating, too; I'd absolutely be interested in playing it.)
 

Marquise*

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The silent death... o_O There was one game that was totally the opposite about a lil' girl that was blind and tried to find her cat friend. But all the map was white except where the sound or close to her proximity. It kinda turned hazardous by bits.
 

SoftCloud

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Depending on the game this can be incredibly important. It can set mood, clue the player through foreshadowing, and when mixed with a sudden absence of music can dramatically change player perception. I use sound to establish environment, and enemies, and UI. I especially like foley and I think it's underappreciated. Using unique sounds for different chests, and doors are nice touches. Even the quiet crackle of a candle, or creaks in the floor. Horror or otherwise is nice.
I add sounds later usually unless I'm on a mission. As I render out maps I'll discover sounds to use and can be creative by adding variant sounds here and there.
 

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