“Sound development is scaaaary!” you think. “I can’t possibly get nice audio for my game unless I trawl the Internet for free sound effects!”
Most developers wouldn’t hesitate to agree with you. But it’s rather strange when you think about it. People are generally willing to code games from the ground up, draw their own graphics, write their own character dialogue and even act as their own PR agent. And 99% of the time they’re absolutely eye-bleedingly awful with at least one of these chores. But despite the incredible array of jobs that the average dev is willing to take on, the task of sound engineer is still considered somewhat … icky.
Sound creation is no more specialised — or difficult — than firing up your favourite drawing app to doodle some random sprites. Yes, it takes a lot of skill and experience to master, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to paddle about in the shallow end of the audio creation pool.
There’s a stunning array of sound effects you can create by simply firing up Audacity, making a noise for the microphone and modifying a few basic traits such as pitch, tempo and echo effects. That’s pretty much it: if you don’t believe me, try this little offering that I helped construct for a 48 hour development competition. Part of my job on this project was to cobble together a few sound effects, and I did everything using only the method above.
“But I’m shyyyyyyy!” you protest. Okay, so maybe you live in a crowded hostel and are somewhat paranoid about your own voice going into a computer. After all, nobody wants to get caught shouting, “PHWEE-OOP-DE-DOOP!” into their desk mic (unless it’s like a fetish or something, in which case you have other concerns). But even then, there’s still a remarkable number of handy sound generation tools wandering around the Internet that don’t cost you a cent.
Take, for example, this wonderful retro sound generator by DrPetter, which offers a wide range of adjustable old-school explosions, jumps, impacts, and pickup noises. Finding similar software on the Internet isn’t that difficult either (with or without the patronising commentary).
Still scared of sound creation? Overcome those fears once and for all! Just take a deep breath and give it a try. At the very worst, you’ll create something hideously corny … but that in itself is just a part of the greater educational process. If you’re brave enough, give it a shot and swing a link to your creation down in the comments section.
And so, to all of those who are about to start a glorious audio engineering career: I salute you! Now go get soundcrafting, already.