Sound Designer - Composer - Music Artist

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#LDJam44 - Making of Tanemaki (Sound designer’s perspective)

 

Tanemaki Gameplay


TL;DR - Play and rate the game here - https://ldjam.com/events/ludum-dare/44/tanemaki

Massive thanks to @Wyattari (twitter) for bringing me on board as the sound designer for the jam.

Unity tutorials were a blessing as it allowed me to understand and communicate to the programmers in the team on how to implement audio.

T - 2 Days - Pre-pre production

They say don’t rush things, time will serve you if you allow it.

That’s what happened with Ludum Jam. I had to chance to meet people at the indie dev meetup. It was a well established meet-up that’s organized every third Monday of a month, hosted by Jessica. It was a nice and cozy meetup that consisted a good ratio of content creators and game developers. That’s where I met Wyatt, who’s developing a space viking VR game. He’s like a doppelgänger of Woody Harrelson.

We connected on the basis that we were developing VR games and apparently, he was also doing the LD game jam. I’ve always had Ludum in my radar but I never thought that I would actually participated in it so, I said yes.

Ludum Game Jam was created by Geoff Howland and Mike Kasprzak in 2002. It was spawned from a dare of making a game in 24 hours. The rest is history. This is the 44th Ludum Game Jam that I’m participating, with a theme of “Your Life is Currency”. The jam is 72 hours long for teams while 48 hours for solo devs.


Day 1 - Pre-production

We met at Alex’s place. The original team consisted of Wyatt, Alex, Carl, Nathan and Dan. Wyatt’s mostly doing art and shader, Alex is the composer, Carl’s programming and Dan’s lead programmer. I’ll be designing sounds for them.

I’m definitely the small fry here. Most of the people here have years under their belt. Carl’s a senior programmer at Singularity 6 but he’s worked for Zygna. Alex’s done composition for films and is a professional pianist while Nathan is a level designer at Call of Duty.

We brainstormed on the theme expecting to have lots of games based on health bars where you trade part of your health to spend on game winning items. The theme also went pretty deep into the morbid side - like slave trade, blood getting spilled and so on. Then, Nathan came in and thought a reverse Katamari would work well - like you plant seeds to get more seeds. Come to think of it, this shows how gambling works. They create this feedback loop that an individual will never be able to get out of it. If they did, they would have to give up their life.

Day 2 - Production Starts

Tanemaki’s placed on an island surrounded by the ocean so I figured why not record some beach ambiance to put it in the game. Carl’s place was walking distance from Santa Monica beach.

When I got to Carl’s place, production was in full swing. Carl had got the Unity session up and running (using BitBucket - as repo) and everyone was working on the controls for the ball movement.

SFX wise it was pretty straightforward. I looked around for cues to which will definitely be in the game. This means, the ball rolling (on two types of terrain - water and land).

Nathan mentioned that we should have 3 different types of seeds personalities: A tree, a flower and a bush. We didn’t manage to the bush in the end but I got the bush sfx made just in case we wanted to expand on the game idea post jam.

“What key are we working in?”, I asked.

“A major, with some modality in between”, Alex said.

I laughed.

Carl picked up on our interaction and thought it was funny to see an exchange so exclusive to audio people. I got to work after. The reason I asked about the key was because I wanted to synchronize tonality with him for the sound effects.

 

The tree spawn sfx was just a layers of wood creaking that I had in my sound effect library. It’s split into three layers - (1) the initial low-end spawn from the ground, (2) the growth of the tree (mid slushy bit), and the (3) post-growth where it “spawns” the leaves - high end crackle if you would.

 
 

I approached the flower spawn sfx in a way that’s more lighthearted. I added a pad sound along with bells to make sound like it’s magical. I also added some organic “growth” layer to make it sound like it’s growing out of the ground.

 
 

The bush spawn sfx is mainly inspired by my daily commute, passing by bushes that consisted of birds in them. So the sfx consisted an initial shrub shaking and then added some birds for life.

 
 

Day 3 - Remote Work and Voiceovers (VO)

This day was pretty much being on call for the team. I knew that they have game balancing to do before the sfx could be ready to be put in. It also had final touches before the game is ready to be submitted on the Ludum Dare page.

Seeds as “Life”.

Alex pinged me and told me that Sara Mears, a voice-over artist had some time to throw in some seed voiceovers and asked me if I was willing to cut her recordings into one-shots for the game. I went ahead and did.

Sara gave us tons of options. I told Dan that we could just have an array for the seeds to play the clip at random, set the spatialization to 3D so that it doesn’t get overwhelming for the player to play.

The seeds VO is triggered when the seeds fall from the flower/tree so that the player know when to collect them. We also had a voiceover for when the seeds run away from you.

 

Once that’s done. It’s pretty much getting a working build and doing some final balancing on the audio. Job well done!

Post #LDJam44 - Learnings, findings and things to improve

I’ll most likely write an extended post for this as this there were many things that I notice that I could improve. I’ll shorten it here to three main things.

  1. Knowing the layout and workflow of Unity helped me communicate how I wanted the audio to be implemented.

    • it would have been possible to even do audio implementation without the need for that but it definitely saved time by taking the guesswork out from interpreting what I am saying.

  2. I wish I did location scouting more (and a better recorder).

    • Santa Monica was a little bit hit and miss as there weren’t much to record in terms of natural ambiances due to the traffic noises, people playing music bleeding into the recording and the lack of animals there.

  3. I’ll definitely have to keep learning C#

    • I can help with audio implementation alongside the game development team. I know I could do so much more if I can be in the Unity session with them.

Other than that, thank you for reading (if you have come so far, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think).

Game link - https://wyattari.itch.io/tanemaki

#LDJam44 (for LD jammers) - https://ldjam.com/events/ludum-dare/44/tanemaki