Game Audio Collaboration


Case: Journey

Austin Wintory & Robin Hunicke – Collaboration for Journey (Indievelopment):

Panel Discussion Casual Connect Seattle

The video below, kindly sent to me by Tom, shows a panel discussion featured at Casual Connect Seattle (July 2012) about exactly this topic. I just love the word handshake in this context, as it’s spot on for the ideal collaboration. Might be a video just for you, dear Captivating Sound reader!

Communication between developer and external audio team has never been more important. This discussion will highlight the materials needed to properly execute a project, our process as audio designers, why it’s important for the developer to understand this, and how we can improve the audio experience. The panel features a cross-section of audio designers, all with a unique perspective on interfacing with the developer.

Note from GDC 2014:

At GDC this year, there was more attention on collaboration, especially the early involvement of audio team members was said to be very important.The expertise was explicitly mentioned as being broader than only audio, since audio people know a lot about the feel of a game, the game experience, the gameplay, the game flow etc.Jonathan Lanier mentioned that “All disciplines affect immersive audio” and cross-discipline collaboration is essential to creating good immersive sound. Furthermore, connecting sound design to other disciplines can lead to innovating opportunities.

Rob Bridgett stated that the skill set for game audio design consists of 33% artistic, 33% technical and 33% social skills. Sound is naturally a collaborative and iterative process. The more we can involve others, earlier, the better. One of the main challenge is connectedness, and the solutions are relationship building, staying connected and ‘breaking down the wall’. Considering the latter solution, I’d love to quote this brilliant oneliner: ‘Sound studio design is often antithetical to collaboration.’ Hack your studio space, encourage meetings, visitors, tours and showcases. Get out of the studio for hourly coffee breaks and walks. Garry Tailor mentioned that game development is a team sport. Sound already has a handicap in that it can be (– as in could be, not has to be – SH) considered a service resource rather than a principle collaborator. However, the push is towards early involvement and failing faster in the process so that iteration is possible in order to get to optimal results. Disciplinary segregation doesn’t help and opportunities are being missed. Always make it your responsibility to stay connected. As soon as you drift out of sync with the latest team thinking and developments your connection decreases exponentially. Be at the cross-discipline reviews (and make sure they’re cross-discipline!) and make sure sound is involved. Don’t complain about behaviours, call it out and don’t tolerate toxicity. Do get involved with the game design instead of thinking exclusively about sound, solve problems and look at other disciplines for solutions. Learn to receive and give feedback: ‘listening is a core skill we already have!’

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