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Game Sound Design Strategies

GSD Strategies

Check out the strategies when you are feeling creatively uninspired. Each random strategy will present you with a new avenue to pursue. Give them a try!

Game Sound Design Glossary

GSD Glossary

Our game audio glossary has all the sound terms you have been wondering about. Game audio can be confusing enough without having to deal with a new technical language. We are constantly updating the database with new terms that relate to not only game audio but game developer terms as well.

Defining Game Characters

Article by George Spanos

We as game sound designers can learn a lot from film. Quite often we are asked to design sounds based around very specific characters.This task often carries a lot of importance, and if done right will help to immerse the player in the world we are trying to create.

We might be quick to answer this problem with simple footstep Foley and a few lines of dialog shouted out during moments of intense action. But to really help define your character you must develop a voice for him/her. A good place to start is to ask yourself a few basic questions: What type of environment does the game take place in? Is it a dark, brooding type of atmosphere or a bright, and care free world?

There are many examples of worlds that are polar opposites. The dark undersea world of Rapture in Bioshock and the user-created worlds of Little Big Planet. The deserted world of Gears of War and the populated world of Assassin's Creed.

Footsteps And Foley

All of the above examples have a very specific feel and mood that needs to be reflected in their characters. It's helpful to think in terms of size and weight of your character. Is the character a heavy, armor-suited beast that requires the user to feel every step and evoke fear whenever it's nearby? Is the character a small, light happy-go-lucky type that needs to communicate playfullness? Once you have answered that question then you must think about specifics - what would this character sound like if it existed in the real world? What type of clothing or material is the character made out of? Does the character move clumsily (lots of foley movements) or is he super-stealthy (soft, clean foley)? Thinking about the specifics while designing the footsteps and foley will help to convey the intent of the character. Experiment with different footstep sounds for the various surfaces in the world. This adds a whole other dimension of believability that may not be immediately obvious to the player but will definitely assist in providing the necessary immersion into the game world.


This is probably the area that will impact the feel and intent of your characters the most. Providing the player with the proper voice cues will not only inform them when danger is present but will also help to move the story along. Character voice selection/implementation is a very lengthy subject but I will outline some of the basic concepts to keep in mind when designing voices for your characters.

First determine which characters will need to actually speak. By this I mean that if there are characters in the game that communicate to the player through gutteral or other non-traditional speaking means then you must come up with their own language. For example, if you've got a big threatening beast-like character that the player must battle you will have to develop a way for the monster to communicate to the player. But just because the creature doesn't actually "speak" it doesn't mean you can't develop a language for it. Think in terms of mood... how would the creature sound when angry and attacking, how would it sound if it was hurt? People are very sensitive to frequency ranges that the human voice falls into, so keep this in mind when designing your sounds.

If your character does actually speak a language then you need to determine what sort of voice he/she will be using. Is the character the strong, stoic type that says few words but when he does speak he is to the point? Or is the character the type that jokes around and always has a lot to say? It does help to think in stereotypes sometimes, don't be afraid to go over board and then pull the voice actor back to get the desired performance.


Don't be afraid to experiment with vocoders, pitching shifting the voices, and even morphing sounds. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Starting from scratch should also be in your vocabulary, don't get too attached to "your sounds". You want to serve the message that is coming across in the medium you are working in, always keep that in the back of your mind. Sometimes you'll "fall in love" with a voice you've created, but always be sure that it works in the context of the story.

Another extremely important thing when designing sounds is experimentation. That goes for ambiences, monsters, people, and everything in between. Mess around with objects that you wouldn't normally use to get a sound. You'll be surprised at how many times I've just picked up a random object and found a use for the noise that it produces. Don't be afraid to bend and mould your raw sounds either. If the character calls for some otherworldy sound that no one has heard before, then by all means, throw as much paint on the proverbial canvas as you can. Discovering new sounds is what keeps your eyes and creative mind fresh.

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