In Gamasutra's latest feature
, console veteran audio director Brad Meyer picks apart how tiny teams with limited resources can create amazing audio on smartphone and browser platforms.
"The past couple of years have seen an explosion in small, free-to-play games, primarily on the web and mobile platforms," Meyer writes. However, "the audio in this burgeoning new sub-industry is not quite keeping up with the innovation" that these titles are making in other areas.
Meyer's background is with Shaba Games, an Activision console studio which the publisher shuttered in 2009
. He is now audio director at Free Range Games, a 20-person Bay Area studio which focuses on free-to-play online titles.
Team size is one of the biggest challenges to superior audio quality in these sorts of mobile and browser titles. "100+ size teams are being replaced with a couple dozen, or fewer, dedicated developers," he writes. "With smaller teams, we see simpler games, but also less specialization and greater generalization in tasks. As an audio developer, you must therefore become the Swiss Army Knife of all things audio."
Here, he offers some advice for audio directors to help the teams effectively: "One of the first tips I have for a sound designer in a small company is to learn scripting
. The most important part of a great sounding-game is creating great sound effects. The other big piece of that puzzle is how the sounds are handled within the game engine, and control over this is most often through scripting."
He continues, "It takes dedication and time to wrap your head around the concepts of basic scripting and then the unique functions, syntax, and idiosyncrasies of whatever scripting language your game engine may use. However, the time and energy invested in learning how to control your sounds' behavior will pay back dividends throughout the rest of your career."
The full feature dives deeper into the knowledge an audio director working in a smaller team should have -- and also into practical solutions to likely problems that come up during development. AAA-Lite Audio: Design Challenges And Methodologies To Bring Console-Quality Audio To Browser And Mobile Games is live now on Gamasutra