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Fun foley sounds are like a video game version of 'bang!', 'pow!' and 'thwip!'

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

February 28, 2024

2 Min Read
A screenshot from Marvel's Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man flies over New York
Image via Insomniac Games/Sony.

At a Glance

  • Insomniac Games' audio team used a variety of unexpected foley techniques to create the sounds of Marvel's Spider-Man 2.
  • Those techniques included repurposing string instruments and recording the sounds of flapping uninflated balloons.

Video game audio engineers face a litany of unique challenges when creating the soundscape of games like Insomniac Games' Marvel's Spider-Man 2. With so many detailed objects onscreen, sound can help signal what action players should be paying attention to.

Plenty of sounds can be assembled from digital libraries, but foley artists and sound engineers often have one of the most creative tasks in the video game pipeline: building sound effects using the most ridiculous recordings possible.

In Marvel's Spider-Man 2, the sounds of Peter Parker and Miles Morales's stringy webs, slurping symbiote juices, and high-voltage powers all came from a wide variety of places. But after accepting the award for Outstanding Achievement in Audio Design: Marvel's Spider-Man 2 at the DICE Awards, director of audio management Karen Read and senior audio director Jerry Berlongieri were excited ready to share their favorite foley effect from the game—the original sounds for Peter and Miles' wingsuits.

The wingsuit, a major new feature in Marvel's Spider-Man 2, lets the Spider-Men speed through the skies of New York City—not exactly flying, more like falling with style. Berlongieri explained that the sound effects for the wingsuit were assembled early in the game's development, and one early foley piece made it all the way to ship: the sound of balloons flapping on a producer's fingers.

Related:Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and Alan Wake II lead 2024 DICE Awards nominations

According to him, senior advanced sound designer Herschell Bailey tasked one producer with sticking the balloons on his fingers and shaking them in front of a microphone. "It was a great texture that stayed all the way to the end," he said, smiling as he noted he still has a picture of the producer wigging the balloons in the studio. "It's just ridiculous, but it sounded great to get the flapping of the air."

He also credited Johannes Hammers with experimenting with tension fabric, and turning a material commonly used for trade show displays into a playable instrument that could add "a lot of energy" to finisher attacks. "Miles' finishers are always a little bit 'caffeinated,' right? He's just a master of shaping that texture. We started it on Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and expanded it now to both heroes."

The sensational sounds of Marvel's Spider-Man 2 are just one of the many reasons why Insomniac Games' web-swinging sequel was such a huge hit. It's all the more tragic then that Insomniac Games parent company Sony Interactive Entertainment chose to lay off employees from the studio in a series of blistering cuts that have more to do with finance than talent.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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