Funcom, developers behind the well known and loved movie based survival game Conan Exiles, released major details on how they approach sound design for their upcoming desert sci-fi game Dune: Awakening. Last time they went into detail about the art of the world of Arrakis, and now we are getting the same treatment for another important part of creating an immersive world, sound design.
Arild Iversen, audio director of the project talks us through the process from how they start, what they hope to achieve, and how they take their own spin on the movie well known tracks and enemy sound effects.
While you would think they can easily take the music and other effects they need straight from the movie, they do not have the right to use them and will have to come up with an idea on how to create something that feels similar while not being the same.
To start their project, no matter if it is a musical piece or a monster screaming, they follow their three pillar plan to make the world feel alive as if you were part of it. They call these pillars, “Evoke, Advise, and Flow”.
Evoke is there to achieve the “Dune vibe” in the game’s soundscape. The sounds must have texture and feel real while evoking a deep sense of history.
Advise guides and informs the player by easing the surrounding chaos through audio. It helps you prioritize and make tactical decisions based on the situation.
The in-game SFX must be unobtrusive and designed to support long-term gameplay, which is the final pillar, “flow”.
To create these sounds the team uses anything from synthesizers, software plugins, real-life recordings, and they will even take from pre-recorded sound libraries which they will take apart or remix, so they won’t use the original sound as is.
Some enemies like the sandworm are extremely iconic, and the team did not want to give it a generic dinosaur roar. Instead, they opted for more of a nature sound as they wanted you to feel when the monster was close, so you would hear the ground shake and the sand hiss as it comes closer.
They had a lot of fun finding the right sound for one of the vehicles in the game, the ground car. The developers have explored a lot of different sounds from offroad bikes, golf carts, lawnmower engines, and even insect buzzing. The end product became multiple audio tracks jammed together to create a gritty running engine sound.
For the ranged weapons in the game, Funcom wanted to stray away from the generic gunpowder explosions, instead looking towards springs and gas-based effects.
The hardest challenge the team had to face to date was the building aspect. Since the player can create their own shelter wherever and however they want, they had to figure out how they were going to change the indoor sounds from the outdoors. Not only can you build using different materials, the team also wants to add the wind blowing sand against the wall which would have a different sound depending on what material you used amongst other things.
This developer’s update was a fresh look into the game, and I can’t wait to see more of Dune: Awakening.
Do you think sounds are important in creating an immersive survival experience? Let me know in the comments.