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5 tips for how to provide feedback to audio specialists

Most people in the industry agree that healthy communication between a game developer and an audio specialist is the key to creating a unique sound.

Having good communication skills, being able to express ideas clearly, and maintaining mutual respect are the pillars of a healthy working relationship. However, there may be some challenges during the process, in particular, giving feedback to a composer or sound designer.

This article offers practical tips to help you achieve understanding with audio professionals and create the best sound for your game.

Vlad Plotnikov

August 4, 2023

4 Min Read

Most people in the industry agree that healthy communication between a game developer and an audio specialist is the key to creating a unique sound.

Having good communication skills, being able to express ideas clearly, and maintaining mutual respect are the pillars of a healthy working relationship. However, there may be some challenges during the process, in particular, giving feedback to a composer or sound designer.

This article offers practical tips to help you achieve understanding with audio professionals and create the best sound for your game.

Giving feedback to an audio specialist: a practical guide

So, you've received several audio files for your game, what's next? Let's discuss the best way to organize an effective feedback process to evaluate the work of the audio specialist, build a good relationship with them, and avoid unnecessary edits.

1. Free up your time and attention for listening

To ensure the best feedback, it's essential to dedicate time and listen to the files you've received.

While multitasking is often tempting, it's not recommended in this case, as it can compromise the quality of your feedback and lead to a never-ending cycle of edits. So, focus solely on this task during your designated time slot.

2. Take your time

If, after the first listen, you think something sounds off, it might not necessarily be the case. Our brains are very opposed to new things, sometimes making it difficult to develop creative solutions.

Instead of immediately contacting your audio specialist and expressing your concerns, better schedule multiple sessions of assets listening. It's also recommended that you space these sessions out in time so that your brain can adjust to the sound and assess the assets more accurately.

By the way, this also works the other way around. If you immediately like something without any doubt, there is a high chance that you have listened to something secondary. If the uniqueness of the sound is not a priority for you, that's absolutely fine, but if you're looking for new creative ways, you should be careful with it.


3. Analyze audio in context

When you listen to game audio assets, you should have at hand the game build, visuals (key art, gameplay videos, animations, etc.), or at least textual explanations.

Game audio has specific tasks and always works in context; thus, it should be also analyzed in context.

For instance, if you're evaluating the music for a specific game location, the best approach is to incorporate the audio file into your game build or include it in the corresponding gameplay video. The same applies to sound effects — add them to the build or directly to the animation videos.

By doing so, you'll be able to evaluate the assets more thoroughly as you can see how they interact with other game elements.

4. Start by answering basic questions

Providing structured feedback can significantly increase the likelihood of your message being understood and avoid unnecessary rounds of clarification.

Here are three questions to consider to form impressions about the audio assets you've heard:

1. Does the audio fit the context?

2. Does it effectively convey the intended meaning/emotion?

3. Does it accomplish its intended purpose?

Keep in mind that each audio file has its own unique tasks and meanings, which should be outlined in the technical task beforehand. It will simplify the evaluation process and ensure you follow the defined creative vector.

While you are free to add any other thoughts you may have, it's essential to avoid making subjective judgments based solely on personal preference. Instead, focus on the needs of the end users (your players).


5. Remember that you are one team

It’s okay if you cannot form an unambiguous comment or have doubts after completing all the previous steps. In this case, it is a good idea to have an open discussion with your composer or sound designer.

Tell your audio professional about your difficulties during the evaluation, and ask for their opinions and explanations regarding certain assets. This communication format will demonstrate your trust and interest in their creative process and improve the overall atmosphere within the team. It will also help you find solutions without unnecessary stress.

I hope this little guide will help you be objective in difficult moments. And always remember that together with audio specialists, you are working towards accomplishing the same goal — creating an incredible game product for your audience.

A shoutout for the Unsplash creator: you can choose whether or not to add it below the picture.

A shoutout for the Unsplash creator: you can choose whether or not to add it below the picture.


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