Interview with About Sound Effects and Music For Video Games

Part 1 of 2

INTERVIEWER: I’m here at Casual Connect, and with me today is a special guest. How about you introduce yourself?

Barry:  Hi, I’m Barry from Sound Rangers.

INTERVIEWER: And what’s Sound Rangers about?

Barry:  Sound Rangers is two things. We’re a custom sound and music development company, and we’re also a library of sound effects built for games and game developers.

INTERVIEWER: And for most small game developers, what part of the service are they using?

Barry:  We see a lot of people, small game developers using our library because it’s really easy and an inexpensive way to source sound effects and music for your game. We’ve built the library in a way that allows developers to find sounds quickly, find the right kind of sounds built specifically for games and then download them straight to their machine.

INTERVIEWER: So, this is something where developers can just go in, listen to all the sounds and within five or ten minutes just be able to download the necessary sounds.

Barry:  Yeah. Say, you were looking for the sound of a cannon or something, you would search for a cannon and then you would audition the sound. And it’s about $1.85 and then you download it straight to your machine. So, it’s a really great way for people who have very tight turnarounds and are, maybe, on a limited budget. We’ve got sounds that are actually built for games.

One of the things that makes our library a lot different from others is that we have built the sounds to fit the requirements of a game developer. And what that means is that we have sharp looping files, so, for instance, if you’re building a racing game and you need the sound of a race car engine looping, we have gone out and recorded a race car.

We recorded the engine in a manner that would allow us to loop it correctly so that all you need to do is drop it into your build and it’ll loop seamlessly and you’ve got the car engine looped.
With other libraries you have to find the source material. Oftentimes, it was never recorded with a looping format in mind. So, it’s nearly impossible to find the right content. Even if you do, it’s impossible to loop it correctly.

So, what we’ve done is done years of field recording that will allow game developers to find what they’re looking for really quickly and find the sounds that they can plug and play into their game.
INTERVIEWER: So then, your stuff is optimized for digital games, versus the other ones.

Barry:  Yes, exactly. So, in addition to the loop, we have background ambient loops because especially in casual games you have to pay attention to memory requirements and bandwidth requirements. So, you can’t put a 30 second looping in magical forests on your game. It has to be four or five seconds in the loop so you don’t hear the loop wind. We built these sounds to do that for you.

Then, we have multiple variations of sounds. So, if you need the sound of a creature roaring, you know, in games you need three variations of that roar, three variations of the monster attacking, three variations of it being hit. So, we included multiple variations. Because the sounds were all built from the same source, those variations will all work together. And that’s impossible to find in other libraries.

INTERVIEWER: And other libraries, usually you have to wait to get the CD or something else. Can you talk about what inspired you to be able to quickly download things, which is awesome. I think that’s a huge step. I don’t think I’ve seen that many other companies do that for short tracks. I’ve seen them do it for, like, longer music but not for the short sound effects.

Barry:  OK. Well, we originally started out – in 1998 is when we first launched the library, and there was only one other company doing it at the time. And we decided that putting the sound effects on the CD was really going to limit our ability to distribute our stuff. So, we decided and we found the technology. We got all our credit card processing and stuff in place. We had the library, and we figured out a way to distribute it online so that anybody at any time at anywhere in the world could instantly download something.

And then, also it allowed us not to have to build. You know, a lot of time with CDs and DVD-based terrestrial stuff you have to have a certain amount of sounds, and then whoever’s buying it may not want all those sound.

So, we thought it would be a great idea to just sell sounds one at a time. So, if you needed one dog bark, all you bought was one dog bark not a CD full of a thousand other sounds that you didn’t use.

And so, the other thing is that we’re sitting here in Seattle at 11 a.m. and you could be clear across the world in the middle of the night and you need a quick sound. You can download it because the store is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

INTERVIEWER: And then, you also talked about the custom sound in music. Is that where you just work directly with the game developer to do their music? Can you talk about that some more?

Barry: Yeah. We do a lot of custom developments. For instance, we’re heavily working on a 360 Wii title. And what we generally do is we will work directly with the developer working out a solution for them, but because we’re in Seattle and there’s a big hotbed of developers up here, there’s a lot of people in town we work with directly.

So, we will do all of the game production in our studios away from the developer, but part of our package is we’ll go on site, meet with the producer, the art leads, and the animation leads, the level designers, and all of the moving parts that allow us to get the sound implemented correctly which also is a big thing because you have to sit with these people and make sure that they know that there is sound that’s going to come in and they can’t finish their stuff up right before the game ships.

We need some time to get that stuff all implemented, and it’s just a better way for us to integrate what we’re doing because you have direct contact with the people that are taking the sound of music and putting them into the game.

Read part 2 >