At the end of 2017, our team started to work on Skylore - a new mobile MMORPG with special talent system to make a unique hero and fight with enemies, inimitable story and splendid 2D graphics to dive into the fantasy atmosphere, and vivid vast open world to explore.
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A SOUND DESIGN CONCEPT
Discussing how Skylore would sound, our team concluded that the gameplay should evoke feelings of joy to bring the greatest immersion for the player. We proposed the question to ourselves: How can we make the world’s sounds as appealing as the graphics? More precisely, what does happiness sound like?
Various visions popped into our minds: a piece of a gooey-centered candy, a crack of first ice-slicks, a cat’s purr, etc. Once we gathered ideas, we recorded many raw «samples of happiness» that have become the layers, some kind of pleasant packages we could work with and build on sound tracks. We started adding them to every event of the game as audio sweeteners. For example, we’ve enhanced the flag whipping with a handful of starch scattered from a hammer stroke; and the rustle of an old book cover with a shaggy coconut shell.
The second feature of Skylore graphics is its multi-faceted nature. Each of the numerous animations in Skylore is a small but rich in detail creation. In gaming, sound design is the second language of animation and it must fully correspond with the mood and contents of the scene. The goal of a sound designer is to enrich the event giving it a voice and to reconstruct an animation with the help of sounds complimenting the dimensions and proportions of the design.
Let us illustrate the idea with an example. On the video given below, we see a swamp altar sparkling and producing an almost imperceptible glow followed by the appearance of a new character.
The purpose of this event is to show the creature materializing. That’s why we’ve made mixed sounds of magic that take viewer’s attention. Fireworks mark the fervour of the event as they flash around the altar, so we brought the sounds of flying rockets to the foreground in the mix of the audio layers.
Bringing the swamp to life with a gurgle as the characters move across the stone texture of the altar relates to projecting feelings for the environment. These are crucial aspects of audio engagement that we gave to the middle ground of the audio canvas. Finally, fire and sparks of light are the embellishments of the far-distant view adding volume to the event. We voiced them with a nonintrusive crackle of fizzle candies and boosted high frequencies with a band filter.
The third important trait of Skylore’s animations is its mystique. In the search of this sensation in audible embodiment, we made a revelation. Recording fresh roses on maximum sensitivity for the microphones yielded a prized possession for our sound designer. It was exquisite enough to make silk brushing against itself sound like a cheap, plastic synthetic. We had found a more delicate fabric.
When creating a sound for magic casting, over 100 layers of audio were utilized. We recorded flower petals, garlic husks, dishwashing sponges, water splashing, and black pepper peas for artistic inspiration.
We complemented the layers with harp sounds from a Spitfire library and mixed it with less than 10% of an audio signal from a Sondtoys granular reverb bus (The magic casting scene is a delicate event, so the excess of granular synthesis, which make the sound either unintelligible, or futuristic, doesn’t belong there).
Thus, we have developed a special sounding style for Skylore with an abundance of life for the ear source recordings, layers of unexpected textures, light touches of creative processing and categorizing the layers at the soundstage according to their importance.
MUSICAL CONCEPTION FOR SKYLORE
Before starting to score Skylore, our composers had to consider factors such as the plot and the history behind it as well as the style of animation and cultural context. The world of Skylore is imbued with magic, why the musical arrangements were filled with the sounds of harps, bells, and the xylophone. Our desire was to conjure up associations with the kind of fantasy from Disney animations. As the characters of the game and the environment have been adorned with a bright cartoon style, the music has no explicit dissonant motifs or elements escalating suspense. Even facing distinctly prominent enemies should not cause a sense of exclusion.
The story unravels as a confrontation between two factions. One side consisting of morally uplifting characters, acting in the interest of peace and unity. The other is introduced with prideful independence, keen on liberty races, portraying aggression and hostility. Hence why we externalized the motives of the first faction with woodwind instruments, and the defiance of the second one is emphasized by the timpani and brass section.
The inspiration for the music is influenced by the World Of Warcraft soundtracks and the magical universe of Harry Potter, more specifically from its first parts, where the events haven’t yet turned dramatic.
Our desire from designing the game music is to instill high levels of variation and a responsiveness to characters actions while not overloading the backend game client and program resources. Ideally, the gamer should never listen to the same consequence of musical elements. To achieve this goal we are employing the capacities of a middleware audio engine known as FMOD.
The work on sound design and music for Skylore is still being conducted. In the meantime, we invite you to sign up for the news about testing in English via website skylore.com.