Continuing our round-ups of this year's finalists, here are the developers up for our main audio award
The audio of each Battlefield game is conceived by developer DICE as a snapshot of the time, evolving from Bad Company’s ‘war recorded through a Handy Cam mic’, to Bad Company 2’s ‘mobile phone YouTube upload’ and Battlefield 3’s ‘contemporary Iraq and Afghanistan documentary’.
Battlefield 4 continued this approach. For the latest in the hit series, DICE wanted to capture rawness without losing clarity and readability, while creating a constant sonic connection between the character and world. Part of this is meant extending the game’s systems to deal with events both near and on the player. DICE calls it the ‘Go-Pro helmet-mounted camera’ take.
Bringing players closer to the action than ever before, DICE’s soundscape for Battlefield 4 is truly remarkable.
Swedish indie Simogo had a phenomenal 2013, releasing Year Walk and Device 6 on iOS to great acclaim and commercial success. Both games offered impressive sound design, yet it was Device 6’s surreal, 60s inspired mystery that truly stood out.
An interactive novel in which players navigate a world represented by text and minimal imagery, Device 6 relies on its audio design to build atmosphere, create a sense of place and provide clues for the game’s puzzles. It was a tremendous success.
From echoing footsteps, to creaking doors, fuzzy loudspeaker transmissions and analogue bleeps and bloops, Device 6’s audio ambitions far outstrip Simogo’s relatively meagre resources.
Created by Simogo co-founder Simon Flesser and regular collaborator Daniel Olsén, the game’s audio is utterly distinct, testament to the masterful skill of its creators.
With the latest title in the award-winning Rayman series, Ubisoft Montpellier further outlined its audio expertise.
In Rayman Legends players navigate themed worlds encompassing the Middle Ages, James Bond, Mexican mariachis and 70s TV series, each of which has its own original, distinct and fun musical themes.
To achieve the game’s brilliant synthesis of sound and vision, Ubisoft Montpellier conducted interactive tests with the developers during the composition phase, ensuring that the audio always matched the on-screen action.
The approach paid off. Working closely external artists including the award-winning composer Billy Martin and Guitarist David Soltany (on some of the game’s brilliant musical levels), Ubisoft Montreal’s Rayman Legends is bursting with frenetic energy and madcap humour, in keeping with the game itself.
Composed entirely by veteran gaming musician Ari Pulkkinen, Resogun’s soundtrack mixes retro and orchestral styles to create a unique hybrid sound that perfectly compliments the futuristic visuals of the game.
From the grand opening theme to the individual level and boss tracks, Ari’s score takes cues from classic and modern shoot-‘em-ups and contemporary movie scores such as M83’s Oblivion soundtrack and Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy OST. Matching the pace and style of the gameplay, it’s also a stunning standalone composition in its own right.
Alongside the musical score, the sound effects in Resogun were designed from the ground up to please shoot-em-up fans. Ricochets, laser effects, enemy wave indicators, and of course the famous female AI voice guiding you through the game - all tie together to create the perfect soundtrack to 2013’s best shooter.
After spells working in AAA development on titles as varied as Codemasters’ driving games and Activision’s Guitar Hero and DJ Hero series, Paul Norris and Dan Horbury set up Mad Fellows in 2013.
In seven months the duo designed, produced and launched their debut release, the rhythm-action space racer, Salvage. Designed for touchscreen devices, Salvage challenges players to tap and swipe the screen to avoid obstacles and shoot enemies, as the game’s soundtrack adapting and responding to on the on-screen action.
Norris and Horbury remixed and designed bespoke gameplay to work with each of Salvage’s 14 tracks, licensed from some of the top artists in electronic dance music, including Noisia, SKisM and Far Too Loud. Salvage represents an impressive achievement for the fledgling studio.
With 2013’s PS Vita release Tearaway, MediaMolecule’s Kenny Young and Brian D’Oliveira considered folk music to be the perfect fit for the game’s homemade papercraft aesthetic. So the duo set about creating a unique twist on the genre.
That’s what greets the player in the early stages of the game, but as the protagonist’s adventure progresses, the initially folky sounds deconstruct, becoming increasingly surreal as the player’s goal of reaching the real world grows nearer.
By the climax of Tearaway, the music has passed through folk into break-beat, dubstep, renaissance-hop and ambient mash-ups of earlier tracks, inventively reflecting the journey of the player.
Combined with audio design that plays with the folds, rustles and tears of the game’s world, Tearaway’s score is as clever and characterful as the game itself.
TOTAL WAR: ROME II
Creative Assembly’s Total War: Rome II was a tremendous undertaking in terms of audio.
The soundscape of the game called on the use of over 25,000 sound effects, extensive use of context sensitive Roman, Barbarian and Eastern dialogue and the voice talents of over 60 actors, including a lead performance by Mark Strong.
Meanwhile, the epic soundtrack bridged all of the cultures of ancient Rome, using authentic instruments and delivering high production values. Creative Assembly worked with over 20 ethnic musicians, including talent from the Lord of the Rings and Spider-Man movies.
The score was recorded live with a 70-piece orchestra and 32 member choir, in collaboration with conductor Jeff Atmagian, a movie veteran with experience on the Harry Potter films.
WONDERBOOK: BOOK OF POTIONS
SCE LONDON STUDIO
With sound design by Joanna Orland and music by Joe Thwaites, the audio of Wonderbook: Book of Potions works cohesively to immerse the player into J.K. Rowling’s world.
The main focus of Book of Potions’ audio is the potions themselves, each of which has bespoke music and reaction sounds based on the ingredients that are used to brew them. For example, spells using snake fangs as their primary ingredient incorporate snake hisses and slithers into the brewing and reaction soundscape.
Wonderbook: Book of Potions also boasts a score influenced by Baroque and Renaissance chamber music, which although intricate adapts to the actions of players as they move through the book.
Further confirming SCE’s dedication to ensuring the best possible audio, the string and wind orchestra used in Book of Potions was recorded live at London's world famous AIR Studios.
About The Develop Awards
The 2014 Develop Awards will take place on Wednesday, July 9th at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Brighton, and recognises the best innovators and development talent in the UK and Europe.
If you want to attend, you can book single seats and standard or gold tables by contacting Kathryn.Humphrey@intentmedia.co.uk or calling 01992 535646.
There are multiple new awards this year, with a total of 24 prizes up for grabs, while PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny is 2014's Development Legend.
There is a host of big names backing this year's Develop Awards, including Crytek and Deep Silver as Platinum Partners, a slew of Gold Partners in UKIE, Amiqus, Keywords International, Codemasters, Perforce, Cubic Motion and Unity, Event Partners Wales Interactive, InnoGames and Tandem Events and Table Gift Partner OPM.
For more information on the sponsorship and partnership opportunities still available, contact Alex.Boucher@intentmedia.co.uk or call 01992 535647.
You can find out more about the Develop Awards at the official Develop Awards website.