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21st September 2009 Ė Scrumptious Sounds

Itís a great feeling to read through a brief, meet the gameís developer, and see their enthusiasm bubbling over. As the audio developer for Bachelor Fridge, I discussed what the developer had in mind for their game and what style of music would be suitable. I really enjoy initial planning meetings, as they are great for generating ideas from a content and graphics perspective, as well as audio. It became apparent early on that this game was going to be a challenge and I was going to need some willing volunteers (I'll get to that part later). Writing pieces of concept music for the FunOrb games is interesting, as there is always a constant state of development, causing ideas to change frequently. The developer was looking for an underlying feeling of cute, yet gruesome; this was an intriguing direction and proved to be one that pushed my compositional techniques to a new level.

To begin with I took a look at some of the concept art that had been created, and I decided what kind of sounds I would need for my music concepts and gathered samples to recreate various instruments. When making instruments to be used in the music, files sizes play a big part. As a result, the instruments have to be the best quality we can make them, but within the file size limit that is allocated for both music and the sound effects. With this in mind I began to play with some synths to get some good squelchy bass sounds, some nice little squeaks for percussion, some thumping drums and a couple of atmospheric pads. This formed the basis of the instrument sound bank for my concept work and I began composing short themes for the different in-game situations.

Early concept art for Bachelor Fridge
Early concept art for Bachelor Fridge.
Click here to see a larger version of this image.

I wanted an atmospheric, yet unobtrusive, theme for the fridge view, to make it work well with background sound effects such as the fridge humming (and I'm not just talking about a piece of cheese at the back of the top shelf!). We had already decided that the combat music would need a higher pace compared to the fridge-view music. As a result I ended up with a piece (or three) that showed the darker side of these cute little creations. There are some fast-paced drums, some heavy riffs and little incidental breaks to keep you occupied while planning your next moves. After the concepts were completed, I had another meeting with the developer about how the music was going to be used in the game. Ideally, the music should add to the quality of the game itself without taking anything away, and Iím constantly aware of this while working on any game.

After the initial music work had been completed, I began working on the sound effects for the game. Three main areas of sounds effects for FunOrb games include background, interface, and action sounds for specific interactions. For example, these included background sounds for the fridge and sounds for when you move your creatures. We also needed sounds for the creatures themselves and that was one of the best parts. My volunteers gave me funny looks when I told them "I need you to pretend to be creatures grown from mouldy food in a fridge" - I admit that I would have reacted the same way if someone had said that to me!

Early drawings of the creatures
Early drawings of the creatures.
Click here to see a larger version of this image.

To get a better idea of what was needed, I identified that there should be positive and negative reaction sounds, as well as shy and aggressive versions. These would be used both in the fridge view and in combat. I allocated different food types to my sound effect volunteers and created the recordings. The sounds that were being made were great, although it did take slightly longer to record than usual because of all the laughter. When the recordings were complete I cut them down to size and processed them with EQ, compression and other effects to create a suitable sound set for each food type.

With the creature sound effects in development, I received a list of the combat attack and defence moves. The developer and I decided that we would combine the individual creature sound effects with combat sounds, meaning that a set of combat sounds needed to be made for the specific moves. By combining the combat sound effects with the creature sounds, we were able to make sure that even if two creatures had the same move, they would still sound individual, depending on the food type.

Well, thatís about it from me, as I've got more gruesome sounds to make. It has been great to work on this project and I hope that you will really enjoy it too.

Mod Grace
Audio Developer
(Trying to create a flying poo sound)


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