The Art of Tuning and Tweaking
The biggest attraction in video games is art. Since the dawn of gaming, graphics have reigned supreme with most of the focus going towards pixel count and animation. For a long time, audio has taken the back seat due to being invisible and supportive of the gameplay experience.
Simply looking at art can spawn ideas on soundscapes and even entire musical passages. For this reason, it is imperative that you get as much from the developer as possible in the way of art, animation and gameplay footage. In many cases though, this content doesn't even exist. Early concept art is often hand drawn or scrawled on a napkin but can be greatly useful to the sound composer and music designer. The following images are ideas for the new Game Audio 101 banner but I couldn't help but think of them being animated.
Concept art is the best! Someone needs to develop a game in this raw style. Paper background but with well drawn concept art. This has been done on the casual level with doodle jump, etc, but imagine a full blown game drawn with pencil. The soundscape could be rough, with field recordings and interesting audio bits and nothing but organic instruments. Heck, it could also be high-end. This imaginary game falls in the minimalist category and simplifies the entertainment process.
Here's the takeaway: Get your hands on concept art! Sure, video footage of gameplay is supreme for nailing the timing of audio assets, but concept art is not to be overlooked. Tweaking and tuning can absolutely ruin (or make) a great idea and we all know this in the sound realm, but the trick is *knowing* what you are going after. The art realm is no different and now we see a deluge of over-polished graphics and metronomic precision. This by no means suggests that one should under-polish! Find the middle road, use the force and rock onward/upward to maximum potential, even if that means breaking all rules. Make an entire game with nothing but one instrument, like acoustic guitar or heck, even a Kaossilator. Pick one thing. Forcing limitations upon yourself brings amazing results in #gameaudio and life in general.
Why is the one on the right so bad? Well, lets see...his arms became lobster claws! It looks *nothing* like the original. The artist was obviously going after a angry henchman-type, slob guy in the beginning. Why should technology dictate what ideas end up looking/sounding like? The end result looks like he went on a diet, starting cleaning his face and maybe started working out. Too symmetrical and too homogenized. This is exactly what I'm talking about. Don't let technology dilute the original idea.