Why Is Audio So Often Overlooked?

aegisninja

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One thing I've noticed about a lot of rpg maker games and indie games in general is that games will have these amazing custom graphics and animations but, still use the same old stock sound effects or use common stock library music (note, there is absolutely nothing wrong with stock assets, it just seems to be a trend where games will use custom everything EXCEPT audio). I would think that especially in a genre such as the JRPG where music is commonly the absolute most memorable thing about the games, that people would pay just as much attention to the way their games sound as they look, but that just does not seem to be the case. Why don't people put more stock (pun fully intended) into custom audio and music?
 

HexMozart88

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This is what I've been wondering for the longest time. Though it seems to be more company games that do this from my experience. A lot of times, it's either really boring music that adds nothing to the game, or none at all. My only guess is that it's due to lack of money to pay a composer, being unable to find one, etc.
 

Ms Littlefish

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My guess would be that a lot of the budget gets used on visuals and gameplay; then by the time people are thinking about audio, everything has already gotten bloated. Audio can be implemented quite late in development so if the bucks get used earlier? Oops. Luckily, I make audio so this won't ever be an issue for me personally. :kaoluv:
 

sura_tc

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Because I've seen people mute game's music/BGM.

I found this out when I was debugging people's saves when they got stuck. All of them had audio completely muted.

I asked. They said they play their own music.
 

aegisninja

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Because I've seen people mute game's music/BGM.

I found this out when I was debugging people's saves when they got stuck. All of them had audio completely muted.

I asked. They said they play their own music.
Valid, but I think a common reason for this is the fact that so many games are using the exact same music/sounds. I don't know anyone that would mute a final fantasy game for example.
 

sura_tc

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Valid, but I think a common reason for this is the fact that so many games are using the exact same music/sounds. I don't know anyone that would mute a final fantasy game for example.
FF demands respect. People's expectations are higher.

Indie games though? To be blunt, they don't give crap. The first thing people seem to ask nowadays is a complete walkthrough more than anything else.
 

HexMozart88

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@sura_tc I've talked to some people who do that. They say it's because they don't like instrumental music.
 

Archeia

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FF demands respect. People's expectations are higher.

Indie games though? To be blunt, they don't give crap. The first thing people seem to ask nowadays is a complete walkthrough more than anything else.
Oh man, I remember hating this one game because the gameplay is just really, really bad. But people loved it because aesthetic ride and let's players are basically playing it. And then we made some walkthroughs to help some people and they had a much, much more pleasant experience than we did. I remember getting stuck in a chase scene for 3 hours and I was ready to kill a man.
 

bgillisp

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I muted the music in FFXIII as it wasn't that good. So there are some FF games that get muted too.

As for why most don't spend as much on audio, there's only so many good sword SE's out there, or door shutting SE's, so even if everyone recorded their own it would sound the same after a while just by luck. After all, how much can you vary a door slamming?

For music, most go on if it works, use it. Even songs on the radio repeat themselves. For example the song Locomotion was redone 3 times and became hits all three times. That popular song you like now? It might be a reboot of a 50's song. Or even 90's. Or maybe it's a remake of a song that was popular in Japan but translated and given their own twist.
 

aegisninja

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FF demands respect. People's expectations are higher.

Indie games though? To be blunt, they don't give crap. The first thing people seem to ask nowadays is a complete walkthrough more than anything else.
If that's the case though, why bother with custom anything? Thinking about it more, I think part of the problem is that most people are able to tell when they can't draw, and so they just hire people thereby increasing the quality of the custom art in most games. On the other hand, I think a lot of people think they can just throw some random notes or loops together and it just be "fine", which lowers the quality of the little custom music there is and that lowers those expectations even further.

I muted the music in FFXIII as it wasn't that good. So there are some FF games that get muted too.

As for why most don't spend as much on audio, there's only so many good sword SE's out there, or door shutting SE's, so even if everyone recorded their own it would sound the same after a while just by luck. After all, how much can you vary a door slamming?

For music, most go on if it works, use it. Even songs on the radio repeat themselves. For example the song Locomotion was redone 3 times and became hits all three times. That popular song you like now? It might be a reboot of a 50's song. Or even 90's. Or maybe it's a remake of a song that was popular in Japan but translated and given their own twist.
Having gone to school for audio, I can tell you there can be a lot of variation for a door slam SE, like a LOT. Actually, I remember them showing us a video for how they got the sound effect for Storm Troopers just walking in the grass in Rogue One, and it was pretty astounding. You're definitely right about the radio though, they just play the same crap over and over.
 
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sura_tc

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If that's the case though, why bother with custom anything? Thinking about it more, I think part of the problem is that most people are able to tell when they can't draw, and so they just hire people thereby increasing the quality of the custom art in most games. On the other hand, I think a lot of people think they can just throw some random notes or loops together and it just be "fine", which lowers the quality of the little custom music there is and that lowers those expectations even further.
Because, whether it's wanted or not, it's our (human) motivation to push to do better.

I used MV specific tilesets for my first game. And then began to use my own custom tilesets I made for other games. Except for ground/cave tilesets, everything is custom, sprites, trees, houses, etc. I picked BGM one by one after browsing/listening to tens of music.

In the end though, all I get asked is "I got stuck, help?"
 

aegisninja

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All solid answers I suppose. I'm just having such a hard time wrapping my around the idea of a game like Final Fantasy, without it's OST. Then again though, there is Dragon Quest XI and that game sounds like hot trash yet is still selling well to my knowledge.
 

sura_tc

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@sura_tc I've talked to some people who do that. They say it's because they don't like instrumental music.
Well, the thing is that it's nigh impossible to carter to everyone's taste which is vastly different from one to another. All indie dev can do is choose right BGM for the game and situation. If they don't happen to like that, well what can we do?
 

aegisninja

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Well, the thing is that it's nigh impossible to carter to everyone's taste which is vastly different from one to another. All indie dev can do is choose right BGM for the game and situation. If they don't happen to like that, well what can we do?
That's true for graphics, gameplay, and story too though.
 

lianderson

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Made about 6 songs for my own game, and let me tell you, it's a lot of work. So much so, I did a personal cost benefit analysis with myself, and decided not to spend any more time doing that. So, props to those who do.

But yeah, I've noticed that too with the whole audio thing. But it's understandable, and as some have already said, a lot of people who play RM games don't even play with the music on. (found that out with a game tester of mine)

My one real complaint though, is the menu sounds. I'm not saying everyone needs custom stuff, but people need to at least turn down its volume. Especially for VX Ace.
 

MushroomCake28

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In order to have custom music you either have to buy music packs (less costly option), hire a composer (costs more), or be a composer yourself (very time consuming). Plus, like many said, audio is often overlooked by players, so the developer thinks "why should I spend so much on audio when graphics are far more important to my gameplay". Indie games have limited budget, that is the sad reality.

Personally I compose all the tracks in my projects, and composing the whole soundtrack of my current game (which isn't finished, but toward the end) took me about 500 hours, and it's not even done. And I have a professional background as a classical musician, so it's not an issue of competence. My current project currently has an original soundtrack of over 2 hours though, so a regular game might not require as much work (between 30 mins and 1 hour of soundtrack I think).
 

Elissiaro

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I think it's because audio is harder to find/pick. For ever 2 minute background audio, you have to spend 2 minutes to listen to it, to see if it fits, or if something else fits better. For graphics, you glance for a second or two and know if you like it or not.
And if you find say 20 different door slamming sounds, you need to listen to those over and over to pick out the one/s you need/want.

Plus I haven't found a lot of sites that have a ton of different short audio stuff I might need myself, though I do tend to look for stuff that's free for commercial use cause I'm cheap.

But also like, there's no sound effect resource packs for rpgmaker or anything right?
And you don't get to listen to the entire BG packs before you buy. (Iirc I haven't checked on the store in a while.) And they're pretty expensive when they're not on sale.

Also it's more expensive to make on your own. For art all you need is a computer (which you already have if you're creating games with rpgmaker) and an art program, easilly found for free.
For audio, you need a good mic, probably some kind of sound card, maybe those filter things to stop air from blowing into the mic, maybe other stuff??? Especially if you're thinking about going outside for nature audio or whatever. And instruments for music. Or instrument programs, but those are complicated.
Honestly I've looked in to recording and it seems super complicated from my noob perspective.
 

aegisninja

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In order to have custom music you either have to buy music packs (less costly option), hire a composer (costs more), or be a composer yourself (very time consuming). Plus, like many said, audio is often overlooked by players, so the developer thinks "why should I spend so much on audio when graphics are far more important to my gameplay". Indie games have limited budget, that is the sad reality.

Personally I compose all the tracks in my projects, and composing the whole soundtrack of my current game (which isn't finished, but toward the end) took me about 500 hours, and it's not even done. And I have a professional background as a classical musician, so it's not an issue of competence. My current project currently has an original soundtrack of over 2 hours though, so a regular game might not require as much work (between 30 mins and 1 hour of soundtrack I think).
It IS extremely time consuming, but I don't think it's necessarily true that graphics are far more important to your gameplay. Again, think about a game like Final Fantasy X. I would argue that To Zanarkand, just that one song alone, was every bit as important to that game as the graphics.
 

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