Game Sound Analysis

FPS

Title: Metro: Last Light

Genre: First Person Shooter (FPS)

Developers: 4A Games

Year: 2013

My Opinion: The sound overall contributes positively to the game experience by immersing players in realistic audio such as gun shots, footsteps, explosions, and voice timed perfectly to match up to the visuals and panned specifically to emphasise the positioning/location.

Breaking the soundtrack down:

Voice – The voice/narrative in this game isn’t key in this soundtrack, but instead used sparingly throughout. The majority of voice is at the start when giving the background of the game’s story and also in the background but not vital to the actual game and its story path.

Music – There’s very little backing tracks/music in this game because it’d distract the players and reduce the game immersion they might have wanted to achieve. There’s dark soundtrack in the beginning, but during gameplay there appears to be very little.

SFX – SFX throughout this game includes vital gunshots and explosion audio that provides complete immersion and perfects the gameplay experience. Other less vital SFX that doesn’t benefit the player but enhances gameplay includes footsteps, doors, and water.

Quality: The quality of audio in games like this have to be of a higher level to allow the player to fully immerse themselves. If the audio wasn’t realistic, it’d take away from every positive factor and probably ruin the game. With high quality, realistic audio almost identical to what we hear with our own ears, players enjoy the game a lot more. I feel the audio quality in this game is great and a good example of high quality audio.

Production: Due to the audio content in this game, you’d imagine they’d have to source/record real-life sounds and background noises rather than using other materials and noises and playing it off as those sounds – this is because even the minute of differences between the sound we know to the sound we hear won’t match up to expectations. I assume the audio is in .wav format in another file.

Playback: Audio in FPS is often reflective of a set timeline in the game and certain noises (often pairing with events triggered) are played back when you reach a certain point in the game as FPS isn’t an open world game and follows a story. These audio and events triggered by activating a certain part of the story timeline forces players to move on and carry with the story which when in an open world game would be completely up to the player.

Refer to for examples-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_OvaDA7W6

http://wlv.openrepository.com/wlv/bitstream/2436/35995/2/Grimshaw_CGAMES07.pdf

Sandbox RPG

Title: Minecraft

Genre: Sandbox RPG

Developers: Mojang

Year: 2011

My Opinion: The sounds in this game are limited and carefully selected in keeping with an almost retro theme – noises such as breaking of blocks and repetitive character noises. It lacks complexity which works hand in hand with the seemingly simplistic graphics and actions enhancing the user immersion and comparing to older games a nostalgic sense when looking at old retro arcade games like Pac Man, Mortal Kombat, and Mario – their older original version all consisting of repatative, minimal, simplistic noises working hand in hand with the unintentional – now outdated – square pixelated graphics.

Breaking the soundtrack down:

Voice – In Minecraft there’s no narrative or voice from the character on any occasion. This is keeping with the simplistic and uncomplicated aim of the game and matches up visually with what the player sees on screen which consists of literally no character that talks/mouth moves

Music – There’s limited music in Minecraft, and what there is to choose from is again reflective of retro styled arcade soundtracks and plays repetitively. There’s little to no variation each time you play and seems consistent throughout. Players can interact with music using certain features in their characters world as well as toggling the background music on or off depending of player preference and is no vital in any way to the game.

SFX – The SPX of this game are the key audio element. The SFX are a little more complex than the retro arcade styled games they are inspired by and vary to a certain degree but still appear limited in comparison to more sophisticated modern video games. SFX in Minecraft includes block breaking noises, footsteps that vary depending on the block surface the player walks on, repetitive animal noises, and

Quality: The limited amount of audio is of a high quality but still reflecting retro and arcade.

Production: In the article below it goes into detail quoting the sound manager of the Minecraft game, mentioning that an iconic sound in the game of a ‘creeper’ hissing is actually just a match burning. “We just put in a placeholder sound of burning a matchstick. It seemed to work hilariously well, so we kept it.” They’ve also been quoting saying that the in-game character, ‘Enderman’s’ voice is just human speech but reversed. You’d imagine that most other pieces of audio/sound effect are similar. The file format of the audio within the game is .mp3 and .wav in .ogg files**

Playback: The audio played back in the game is quite ‘open’ and mostly controlled by the player. All audio apart from ambience (if any) is controlled by the user by interacting with objects such as the breaking of a block, running, digging, placing objects, etc.

Refer to for examples –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6S6mpBGMwQ

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/07/how-daniel-rosenfeld-wrote-minecraft-music *

http://mentalblockgaming.com/blog/sound/importing-custom-sounds-into-minecraft/ **

Life Simulation

Title: The Sims 1

Genre: Life Simulation

Developers: Maxis

Year: 2000

My Opinion: The sounds in the game are reflective of the technology available at the time and to us don’t seems as sophisticated as perhaps later editions of The Sims such as The Sims 2, 3, 4, and other spin offs under The Sims’ name. These sounds however are effective and do their job in portraying the full picture through the graphics and audio especially in relation to other games available at the time.

Breaking the soundtrack down:

Voice – The narrative/voice in this game is limited to the gibberish communicated between Sim characters in their own language, ‘Simish’. Being a Life Simulation game, this both works for and against this feature by making the user realise that this is not reality but also connect the relations between real life and the game and showing that characters in this game also communicate much like how people would in real life social situations immersing players in what becomes a Life Simulation.

Music – The music in The Sims is quite limited mostly appearing in the menus and in parts of the game that are not contributing to the actual Life Simulation. During Life Simulation in which the players become the characters interacting in their daily lives, there is no music unless the players chooses to turn on an interactive items such as a Radio – this enhances Life Simulation because it gives the player decision making and several routes to follow rather than being stuck on a set path in typical video games. The music itself is repetitive and limited in choice not providing much of a variety. The music is consistent in the menus/titles area of the game.

SFX – SFX in The Sims is important because it has to replicate as realistically as possible typical day-to-day noises as well as character-item interaction. Noises such as a toilet flush, a door bell, cars, and food preparation are included and replicated successfully to immerse players in familiar noises associated with items they’re likely to encounter in their reality; however they may not be exact replicas and only give a loose sense and sign of these sounds. The similarities between the in-game noises and reality are so similar that I feel this is the biggest part of The Sims soundtrack and also what contributes to the games success.

Quality: The quality of the audio is reflective of the technology of the time but in comparison to other games (not necessarily Life Simulation) such as Rollercoaster Tycoon (1999) and Theme Hospital (1997) puts it on level and if not above the standard audio quality/production of that  time period just before and in the early 2000’s.

Production: The production of the audio will be of a combination of real life noises to reflect the in-game equivalent (eg. Recording a car to reflect in-game car sounds) and random noises edited and played back to sound like something they’re not (eg. Musical instruments arranged in a certain way to reflect the noises of falling over, washing dishes, footsteps). Due to the wide array of noises needed to be produced for an open game such as Sims, this is a good approach because while it is a Life Simulation game, it isn’t a game that aims to fool the player that they’re in the game so it’s allowed to sound ‘off’ or unrealistic. This forum seems to say the format of the audio in The Sims is WAV’s.

Playback: The audio in this game is played back when the player triggers it by interacting with certain objects and simply playing the game. Some music/audio plays automatically to give an ambience while others are made through objects that the player has to turn off via the character they’re using. Cars goings past and audio made by other uncontrollable Sims isn’t controllable and triggered by the game itself. Audio such as your Sims footsteps, turning on of a radio, is all audio you get to control.

Refer to for examples-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e20QY7Hx88s

http://forums.thesimsresource.com/index.php?/topic/3318-audio-files-not-working/ *

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