Sounds in my Semester Project
At last, in my semester project I am beginning to make the sounds for our experience. Our team is making an escape-the-room style puzzle game, and after weeks of pre-production and testing from brown boxes, we are fabricating the final experience. I am responsible for all of the sounds in the experience.
What the sounds need to do during the 45-minute experience:
Motivate Players: background music, or some developing ambience
I’m unsure about using background music at this point. The setting of our experience is a laboratory in the basement of a museum, which is the fantasy and also where the players actually are. Their task is to solve puzzles by manipulating and testing fossils in various machines. I would like to try some very cinematic Hans Zimmer style soundtrack in some playtests to see if this type of music (or any type of music) is appropriate for the experience. I wouldn’t want it to feel out of place, but it is worth trying. If cinematic tracks add to the player’s experience, I’ll compose my own version. All good escape rooms have some kind of developing sound track that attempts to match up with the interest curve of the experience. I can’t make any assumptions about what will or won’t work for our experience. It’s not quite an escape room, but we do have a time limit and we want their to be a tempo to the experience. Music is a tried and true way to do that.
Alternatively or in combination with music, I will make an evolving soundscape inside the room. There are three big machines turned on, but also any smaller props I can make part of the soundscape, as long as it’s not distracting. Using the different scientific instruments in the room I could imagine an interest curve in the sounds around the room. This should feel somehow science-y, and I’ll have to make sounds to know what that will mean… The tone should be serious, in the background, and match up with the moment to moment tasks of the players. Most importantly, all of the background soundtrack should be very subtle and low volume.
Direct Players: Indirect control to aid their focus and task completion; feedback: “what you are doing is correct”
There are clues and objects that players have to find. One of the first ones is to uncover a broken robot inside of a crate. I would like to have some kind of sound emanating from where the robot is hiding. As we continue to playtest, I will look for chances to cue people with sounds.
For the 3 science machines in the room, I will also need sounds for button presses indicating correct (initiate analysis) and incorrect (try again, what you have put in here is incomplete).
Delight Players: Juicy, satisfying sounds should feel good and sound satisfying, and match with the visual setting
One of the sound elements I’m most looking forward to creating is the sound of each machine when it is analyzing a specimen. An electron microscope takes pictures, an accelerator mass spectrometer pulls apart atoms for analysis, and a bone analysis machine searches for similar specimens from it’s database of bones. I imagine whirring, charging up, cooling down for these machines.
I’ll record (on my ZOOM H6) objects like a washing machine, a car engine, a microwave, a vacuum, and basically mix and match sounds like this together to create sound for the machines. I will have fun doing post-processing to turn these everyday sounds into what I need. There will also be hissing and crackling, the snapping of a photo, and other details like this to bring the machines to life. Each machine will be distinctly different in it’s sound. For the biggest machine I have a ButtKicker to vibrate the machine as it analyzes.
Help Players: Our experience has a robot who provides direction and hints in the experience. The intelligibility and character of the robot is critical.
I have the robot voice set-up nearly complete. I’m using a Virtualizer 3D to pitch shift the actor’s voice to make him the robot. I need to find a way to add compression onto the voice as well, but the effects processor I have only allows for one effect at a time. I’m thinking of buying a compressor rig to add to the robot voice.
The robot intelligibility has gone up with each iteration. I’m using a MOVO lavaliere system to transmit and receive audio for the robot. This setup allows the actor to communicate with the audience. He will provide hints when required, and motivate and fun to the players in their experience.
That’s it for now, I’ll post sounds to update this blog post when they are made.