Making game audio for beginners, Recording sound effects

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In this post we will take a look at making sound effects for your own game, and hopefully by the end of it you might have learned a thing or two from my experiences. The topics in this post is comprised of my own observations and lessons learned when working on the sound effects for Pareidolia.


How to record?

To begin making sound effects there is a couple of things we will need, first and foremost is the actual sounds we will be using. So how do we get the sounds we want? Well, perhaps the simplest way is to make our own recordings. To do this you are gonna need some way of recording audio, the type of recording device you want to use, depends on what quality of audio you want. Better recording devices will result in better sounding audio, but when making just very short sound effects(as the ones we will discuss in this text), any device will do, like a mobile phone.

What to record?

Ok, so now we are able to record sounds, how do we decide what sounds to record? This was perhaps one of the bigger lessons i learnt during this process. What does something in your game sound like? Well, what something sounds like in your game is entirely up to you as the audiodesigner. Just as the graphic design of a game is decided by the artists, so is the audio design decided by you. You decide the nature of the sounds in your game!

Let's look at an example; footsteps. A common sound effect to have in a game is a sound that tells the player that something is happening when moving the main character. What type of sound this is varies a lot from game to game. Some games opt to have a sound effect for footsteps, while others just have a sound effect that plays when the player is moving. So to figure out movement sounds like in your game a choice have to be made. For pareidolia i chose to use sound effects on footsteps, not a constant sound when the main character is moving, but a short sound effect when the main character's foot touches the ground.

With a decision made on what type of soundeffect i needed(a short sound to indicate that the main character's foot has touched the ground), i now had to decide what that sounds like in Pareidolia. How realistic do i want the footsteps to sound? I felt that a super realistic sound wouldn't fit right with the graphical design of the game, but i wanted something semi realistic. With these things in mind, i now had settled somewhat on what i wanted the footstep to sound like. I wanted a sound effect that sounded slightly like stepping in dry grass or sand, since the games is mainly desert themed i imagined that that would be the type of terrain the main character would be stepping on the most.

What does stepping on dry grass sound like? And how do i record it? For me I had a doormat with rather hard bristles, that when stepped on kinda made the sound i wanted. I found that it was difficult for me to record the audio controlled enough when i stepped on the doormat, and to make this easier for me i tried putting a number of things on the doormat to produce the sound i wanted. In the end i settled on using a rolling pin , and this actually made a sound that i felt closely resembled someone stepping on dry grass.



Preparing your recordings for digital manipulation

As you can hear on the recording there is quite a bit of background noise, but his can be removed using audiosoftware(I will go more into depth on this in a later post), but as a precaution when recording audio, always try to record a couple of seconds with just background noise, since most audiosoftware is able to remove background noise, if it has a sample of what background noise was present during the recording.

In this example i made a recording only after deciding what kind of sound i wanted, but it is a good idea to just record a bunch of different things. I tend to record random snippets of audio when i hear something make a distinct sound, like floor creaking, or any kind of sound that i find unusual. More often than not when I'm working on the sound effects i can suddenly remember a recording i made a while ago and think, that sound would fit perfect for this sound effect. So building a library of sound recordings is definitely a good idea. Just be creative, anything can sound like anything you want!


Conclusion

These are just a few lessons and observations i've made when working on the sound effects for Pareidolia, and in a later post i will be getting more into manipulating the recordings to prepare the recordings for implementation. As you might see, and will experience when making your own sound effects, a big big part of the process is using everyday objects in creative ways to create the sounds you need. - Mathias