Sound is often overlooked when developing games. In some cases, sound isn’t even considered until the game is well into development. Developers often don't begin sound design until the game is "ready" or have simply forgotten about sound while they focused on more tangible and visible things, such as the code or art assets.
The other issue is that teams without a sound designer are apprehensive when hiring outside help for sound work for their game. It is often seen as a service provided by sound designer and they are brought on only once the team has deemed the game 'ready' as only then, can a sound designer contribute to the game. Indie developers are often strapped for cash and feel they can't afford to hire someone solely to do the sound for their game. However, there are alternatives to bringing one someone else to come work on your game.
If you currently don’t have a sound designer on the team, the logical first option for sound effects is to find pre-existing effects or effects libraries on the internet. There are plenty of resources around that you can find by simply making quick searches on the internet. However, this may not be the best course of action as more of than not, you won’t find useful sounds. The desired effects may be from different studios and not recorded on the same equipment or even made for the same project. You might also run into the issue where the sound effect isn’t exactly the sound you desire, perhaps the timbre is off, or the sound is too short. These are all problems that can occur when you choose to use pre-packaged libraries.
However, there are still some good effects libraries out there, and for little to no cost as well. The kind folks over at Sonniss (http://www.sonniss.com/gameaudiogdc2017/) have a great bundle that they have put together each of the past 3 years for GDC that contains a sampler from their vendors. This is a large collection of all sorts of sounds and is a great way to get you started.
Creating your own sounds
An alternative to using already made sound effects is to delve into the world of foley and to try your hand at making your own sound effects. This can be a cost-effective and fun alternative to using pre-packaged sound effects and libraries. Foley is the art of creating sound effects using various common items, or more simply, hitting things together until you make cool noises. You’ll be surprised at what you can find around your house that you can use to make a cool sound effect. This is where you can unleash your creative side to come up with all sorts of sounds. Snapping celery can make for bone breaks, swinging thin sticks can make for great whoosh noises or rubbing a pot with a metal spoon can create armor creaks.
The investment to record your own sounds isn’t a lot either. Given that our mobile phones nowadays are essentially tiny computers, purchasing an external microphone and finding an audio recording app is all you need to turn your phone into a portable field recorder. You can also purchase a digital field recorder if you prefer a more specialized piece of hardware or if you’re finding the audio recorded on your phone isn’t good enough quality.
When creating your sound effects be sure to take several takes of everything you do, varying the timing and duration of the sounds between takes. Changing things slightly will allow for many, slightly varied sound effects from which you can listen to afterwards and choose the most fitting.
Combining different sounds is another way to create new or different sound effects. Hitting a phonebook can make for a wonderful noise that you can use to add a bass-y thump to any sound. Also, don’t be afraid to combine sounds that you have created with those from an effects library or that you have found online, if that gives you a better sound for your purposes.
Creating your own sounds for your game can be a very daunting task, but it can be both fun and rewarding. Though this will take more time, this can provide a nice break from the other aspects of development and take you away from the desk every now and then. There are all sorts of possibilities to explore to create some fun sounds for your game!