Driving Game Audio Sound Design Tutorial & Interview with Andy Gibson
Andy took some time to talk to us about working with Igniter for driving games, his background, his advice to those starting out in game audio, and his favorite games! Watch his in-depth Igniter tutorial, and find out more in the interview below!
Hi Andy, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. We’re curious to find out bit more about your background! How did you get into sound design and how did working in the games industry come about?
I originally got into sound design from being a musician, I went to Brighton University and studied music and visual art, I learnt sound engineering by working at a recording studio and then I did a Master’s Degree in Sound and Post production at Bournemouth University.
I got a lucky break with Monumental Games in Nottingham who needed a sound designer, video editor and musician and I could do all 3 so it was a good fit and I got my first break into the industry 13 years ago.
Are you much of a gamer yourself, and if so what have been your favourite games?
My all-time favourite game is probably Bayonetta. I’m currently playing Bayonetta 2 on Nintendo Switch mainly because it’s absolutely bonkers in every way and there isn’t anything else quite like it. The music is fantastically weird too.
Inside by Playdead is an amazing example of game audio and a brilliant game as well, I can’t recommend it enough. The Uncharted series, but in particular Lost Legacy – I love the dialogue between the two main female characters.
For my sins, I played World of Warcraft for 4 years. I don’t play it anymore but I still get a bit excited every time they release an update.
I guess because I make games, the end product isn’t always what interests me now. I’m much more interested in the technology related to manipulating audio in games than the actual final results
You’ve been the Audio Lead at Electric Square, what projects have you been working on there recently?
I’m currently working on Hot Wheels ID – a mobile application that works alongside Mattel’s physical toys.
I also work on Forza Street – a free to play play mobile and Windows racer, Electric Square are working on with Turn 10. Prior to that I worked on the Grand Tour, an episodic game based on the successful TV show and before that I worked on For Honor at Studio Gobo.
And what’s a typical day in the life as an Audio Director like for you, is it still very much hands-on?
A typical day in the life of an Audio Director, hmm… there are a lot of meetings, organising and delegating work out to the sound designers, talking with the leads of other departments, spending a lot of time in spreadsheets, Jira and other project management tools but ultimately overseeing and steering the audio vision of the game and keeping your team happy and busy.
At Electric Square im currently in a lead audio role, so it’s much more hands-on, after the stand-up meetings and team meetings and game reviews I will make lots of audio content either from original recordings that we go out and record ourselves, or from libraries and audio tools such as Native Instruments, Whoosh, RX, Krotos tools and Reaper etc. We work in sprints and milestones, so its always busy and deadlines loom.
You seem to keep busy and have many other talents from music to video production, animation and filmmaking. What’s the creative community like in Brighton?
Thank you! I love making music and sound for games but in my spare time I make videos for bands that I love such as The Grey Hairs, Power Solo and God Damn.
Brighton is an amazing hub for creativity, especially now for the games industry. The Indie scene is flourishing, and there are many large studios here now: Unity have an office here and it’s just a really good town.
It’s an attractive place for skilled and talented people to come and live and work there’s plenty to do and see, I’ve been here for many years but enjoy it more now as the games industry is growing here.
What are some of the most challenging gaming projects you’ve worked on so far? And the most rewarding?
The most challenging games have worked on so far would probably be Drakansang Online and Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. With Drakansang Online I had to convert a five-year-old MMO client-based RPG game from Fmod Designer to Fmod Studio whilst it was a live game. It was complicated and many assets needed to be reworked.
The Grand Tour game is probably the most rewarding game I’ve worked for a while on for so many reasons. We had a short development cycle and we had to pre-plan everything: I had to edit a lot of Jeremy Clarkson’s dialogue which was painful in places.
I enjoyed the way in which the episodic delivery worked and the fact that the game was marketed and made for people that enjoy the TV Show and not necessarily gamers, it was an interesting, challenging and rewarding experience.
It’s great to hear that you’ve been using and exploring Igniter for vehicle sound design! What are your impressions so far, and has it improved your workflow?
Totally – Igniter is a great tool for working with sound to picture and manipulating the audio whilst viewing the video. It speeds up my workflow for generating initial ideas, getting stuff in quick, and having a palette of sounds straight away.
Igniter is unconventional and interactive. Instead of editing and manipulating pre-recorded audio, you can can use granular sounds and manipulate them with pitch and modulations etc to get a very believable sound quickly and easily.
Igniter comes with inbuilt synthesisers and loop makers, which are great for experimenting with fictitious or electrical cars. It works well as a way to to prepare assets for Fmod, Rev or Wwise, so it’s definitely worth checking out, and I’ve heard Wwise integration will be available soon. When this happens it will be extremely powerful for game development
What would you say the future of gaming audio technology looks like?
Granular, Wwise and Fmod, and triggering audio with Houdini. What I currently find exciting about game audio is that the restrictions that have always held it back are slowly going away due to faster technology, faster CPUs, more storage or memory, etc, so we can have more sounds, make it more granular, more reactive and smarter!
Dev teams working with Houdini, the art generative tool, are placing audio with art assets simultaneously and reactively based on game data and parameters, is a smart and fast way of working and I think this will become more commonplace in the next year or two
And finally, what advice would you pass on to those thinking of entering the game audio world as a career path?
It’s tough, its hard work and it might take a while. Learn the middleware, get your head around Unity or Unreal, record your own stuff and learn how to manipulate it and make it interesting. It probably won’t come straight away, it might take more than several times to get a lucky break but keep persisting!
Check out the Indie scene, maybe work on some titles on a profit share basis, network, listen and meet as many folk as you can. Get to game industry nights – there are loads, we ( Charlie Pateman and I) run a Game Audio night in Brighton – you’re very welcome to come along!