The Three Key Ways Sound Makes Your Game More Fun
How can sound and music be used most effectively in your game to give your players the best experience possible?
That's what this article is going to answer.
This guy's having fun, am I right?
The Million-Dollar Question
“How do I make a unique and memorable game that is fun, will become popular, and also earn good money?”
This is the million-dollar question on most game developers’ minds.
There are many important tools and techniques that contribute to a game accomplishing these goals. Elements such as gameplay, story, design, and challenge level need to come together in a beautiful and captivating way to achieve such results.
The video game market has perhaps never been more competitive than it has today and developers need to leverage every trick in the book to help their games break through the noise so they can make a profit and continue making more great games in the future.
One of those tricks is the thoughtful use of sound and music.
Let’s take a look at the three key ways sound makes your game more fun.
1 | Player Feedback
The last thing in the world we want to happen is for our players to be confused or not receive enough information to make good decisions that lead them to successful outcomes.
Sound helps solve this problem by giving the player access to crucial information when they need it.
Enemies around the corner?
Let the player hear them talking, grunting, or walking around.
Time to reload that overpowered cyber-shotgun?
A well-timed reload alert can mean life or death in the heat of combat.
Entering a dangerous area of the map?
Slowly fading in the battle music tells the player to keep their guard up.
Gather enough XP for an upgrade?
You better bet you want a flashy sound to cue that level up!
And finally, if you beat the boss, solved the puzzle, or discovered an important clue, did it even happen if there was no satisfying musical stinger or sound effect?
Because of the rich history of sound being used this way in games, sonic feedback is now a standard part of every great game, not a nice-to-have.
This also means that the absence of expected sonic feedback can be equally disruptive for your player’s experience.
Sound can not only enhance the information received by visual cues but also give the player information about things they can not see. This makes it a particularly powerful tool for supporting your players as they make their way through the various challenges offered in your game.
2 | Emotion
Whether you are developing an epic, story-driven masterpiece or a simple mobile puzzler, you likely want your player to feel a certain emotion while playing your game.
If an emotional reaction is needed, what better tool could you use than sound and music?
Matching Emotion to Sound
Some choices are clear when deciding upon the emotional impact of sound and music.
Candy Crush players probably won’t benefit from a dark, ambient soundtrack, and players making their way through the dungeons of Diablo won’t care for sugar-pop loops.
The range of human emotion is broad. How should we decide which elements of our game to craft with special attention to their emotional meaning?
Composers and sound designers are entrusted with translating game design into complimentary soundscapes that players can easily understand and react to appropriately.
A competent sound team will be ready to advise and execute upon an agreed emotional undertone for every aspect of your game.
Whether it's the euphoric, breathless feeling of finally saving the world after 20 hours of difficult gameplay or the nauseous, sweaty-palmed terror of making your way through a haunted crypt, music and sound reach deep into our brains and influence our emotions and state of mind in a powerful, visceral way.
It's hard to overstate the impact a well-designed sonic experience can add to your game.
Choosing the right sound or music at the right time is what defines the character and emotion of that moment, so don’t leave it to chance!
3 | Game Feel
Game feel, also referred to as “juice”, is the “intangible, tactile sensation experienced when interacting with video games.”
Does your game have enough juice?
The “feel” of a game can be influenced by many different factors such as how intuitive the control scheme is, how the game responds to player input, or simply the aesthetic quality, also known as “polish”.
Examples include screen shake, intelligent camera movement, weapon recoil, character controls (loose or tight), and, of course, sound effects.
Game feel elements are vital because they provide instantaneous and satisfying feedback that the player is touching the world.
Game Feel & Sound
Sound contributes to game feel mostly by exaggerating or ignoring reality in order to deliver a better player experience.
An aggressive shoot-em-up simply won’t be enjoyable if you don’t provide your players with huge, over-the-top gunshots and explosions.
In real life, however, guns don't sound that exciting.
It's not the sound of a gun that is exciting, but the experience of firing it. Sound designers have the job of making sounds that deliver that feeling, regardless of the reality of gunfire.
Because weak or quiet sound effects can lead to the game objects feeling weak and less impactful.
I don't think I have to tell you that people don't play video games to feel weak or powerless.
Countless other subtle and not-so-subtle sound and music decisions will have similarly important effects on the juicy-ness of your game.
Entertaining your player means going above and beyond what might pass for decent and acceptable and offering them something valuable that they will enjoy spending their time with.
Adding that extra "polish" or "juice" means more entertainment value and happier players.
Great sound reinforces the presence and credibility of any interaction happening in your game and adds a layer of satisfaction and emotional impact to the player’s experience.
Weak, low-quality, or badly-planned sound can break your game.
We hope this article has given you some helpful ideas about how to use sound and music for the benefit of your game and its players.
If you still have questions or want to brainstorm the specific ways great sound could improve your game, simply contact us. We'd be happy to help.
At Double Shot Audio we know you want to make unique and memorable games.
In order to do that, you need to partner with an audio team that understands your vision and can translate it into great sound.
That's where we come in.
We will work with you; turning your vision into a finished, polished game that you feel proud of and that you and your fans can enjoy for the rest of your lives.
Want to learn more? Schedule a Call. We're happy to answer any and all of your questions.