Creating SFX for In-Game Environments

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25th July 2018 – Chris

My choice of hardware would compel many industry techies’ nose hairs to curl, but I am determined to prove that you don’t need expensive gear and software to create quality effects.

Hi! I’m Chris and I work with music and sound on the Dwarves of Glistenveld.

As this is my first blog I should probably explain a bit about my role at Nysko and where I’ve been hiding the last year and a half!

I was first introduced to the Nysko team in late 2016 by a graduate friend, Chris, who was working on in-game audio at the time. He asked if I would be willing to provide some character dialogue. When I learned I would be playing Dwarves and Goblins, I couldn’t say no!

Chris has since sadly left to pursue other projects but in his legacy has left a wonderfully evocative and colourful soundtrack for the game. I have always believed that sound is an integral component of any video game experience. We use it to entertain, inform, immerse and evoke emotion. All of these elements combine to create atmosphere.

Creating audio can be fun, experimental, often instructive, sometimes frustrating but ultimately rewarding! It’s a problem solving domain, for sure, especially when you are working with nature. That brings us to this week’s topic – recording environmental SFX.

The Dwarves of Glistenveld takes place underground in ominous, leaky caverns and caves. In my neck of the woods it’s hard to find such places! A local woodland, my garden, and a bathroom sink provided all that I needed, however. To record effects I use a £10 condenser microphone connected by 3.5mm jack to a £20 8GB digital audio dictaphone. To edit them, I use the free program Audacity.

My choice of hardware would compel many industry techies’ nose hairs to curl, but I am determined to prove that you don’t need expensive gear and software to create quality effects.

Let’s take a look at a rockfall effect which I sourced from the garden. In the raw recording below we can hear a drone of background noise.

Audio 1

By recording a few seconds of background noise before smashing the garden up, we can use it as a ‘noise profile’, like so:

Audio 2

We can now apply noise removal to the whole track, or a section of our choosing. This removes the frequencies of noise isolated in our noise profile and removes them from the track. The amount of noise we remove affects the quality of the final output, so we need to be careful not to overdo it.

The result we can hear below:

Audio 3

Now, lets isolate a few more sounds from the raw file and layer them into the effect.

Audio 4

By adding some bass, we can increase the lower frequencies for dramatic effect. With a touch of reverb, to create the illusion that we are in a wide, underground open space, the effect is complete.

Also, couscous poured into a bowl sounds like a tree being felled with a little tinkering.

There you have it! You don’t need expensive gear and a studio to create quality sound effects, just a willingness to experiment and a lot of time!

Audio manipulation really is as complex as you make it. For those wanting to get into the nuts and bolts of Audacity, there are likely countless tutorials online. The main thing is to have fun with it!

That’s all for this week. Next I will be recording dialogue for a brand new cutscene before polishing off the Dwarves of Glistenveld soundtrack ahead of release. Stay tuned for more updates coming your way!

All the best,

Chris

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