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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ambients vs Background Music

Ambient & Music 

In Dungeon Colony music and sound has been on the side lines for much of development. This is not always a good idea, as sound can not only tremendously increase immersion into the game, but also can have ties to game mechanics.

Nonetheless, as a developer, you may find yourself in the same situation as I have been: little experience in sound design and no budget to buy music when your idea is still young and fresh. Of course, you can always use free samples available on the net or find other means to get free audio and use that as a placeholder until you can figure out what actual sound effects and musical tunes will be in the final version. I don't like using placeholders because they create an atmosphere that isn't what you really want, and if you don't want it, there is no reason to use them in the first place and confuse the player (given that you are programming with early access).


A few months ago, after GDC, I met with a sound design studio which shared a lot of the values that I find important in game audio: Instead of playing distracting music tunes in the background over and over, I believe that ambient sounds are far more outreaching and immerse. I don't think that eliminating all music from a game-play is good either, but it can be used to indicate changes or events rather than being non functional. For example a short set of battle tunes inform the player that a fight is about to break out or happening somewhere on the map; or a soft musical short can indicate a change in time of day, etc.

The studio that has made the first set of audio for Dungeon Colony is dSonic. This studio has actually made audio for larger titles such as Bioshock and Eve Online. However, those guys working at dSonic are very much engaged in the indie community and offer their services for indies with a special licencing deal. Since releasing Dungeon Colony for public early access, I've been able to generate enough dough to hire dSonic and I'm happy to have finished this first set of sound and music.

Pay What You Want

As a result, I am going to offer Dungeon Colony again for a reduced pre-beta cost of "Pay What You Want" =)... my favorite way of paying for games. So please, if you like Dungeon Colony, tell your friends about it, share it on facebook, follow me on twitter and help me get the word out, so that I can bring Dungeon Colony into beta stage.

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