Hello everyone,

It’s time for yet another Dev. Blog and this time, coinciding with the SGA Nomination for “Best Execution in Audio”, we will be talking about the production of sound design and the many moods of the music for Magnetic. But first, let us introduce ourself. Todays Dev Blog will be written by two people: Sebastian Mårtensson who is one of the two composers and Samuel Lidström who is one of two sound designers for the game.

First off we’d like to say that it was really exciting for us (and the two others involved in the sound and music production) to be nominated for a prize at SGA this year. Actually we think it’s nice that audio has finally gotten its own, well-deserved category at SGA this year.

Sebastian will start off by talking a bit about the music and Samuel will finish off with a few words about the sound design.

The Music of Magnetic

So, hi, Sebastian here. I think a short presentation is in order. I’m a composer that has worked with several of the team members of guru games at several occasions. I usually enjoy composing acoustic, orchestral and/or happy music so when I got the chance to work on Magnetic I was very excited to get a chance to widen my skills as a musician and create something I had never done before.

In Magnetic the music plays a wide variety of different roles. First of there’s the mood-setting background music. When we started working on the sound for this background music we thought for a long time what kind of feeling that would be best suited to be represented. And somewhere along the line it was decided that the background music, most of the time, would represent the danger of the cube you’re currently in. In other words will the music turn darker and darker the further into the game you progress. In the tutorial the walls are white and padded so the music is composed to feel clean and sterilised. Compared to other music in the game a lower amount of low frequencies were used.

Tier 1 Song 1: https://soundcloud.com/rec-12/tier-1-song-1/s-2Oy1r

Screenshot from the game where the music is used

Another kind of music we’ve composed are various songs that are to be played from radios or speakers in the game. These songs were meant to sound like the music did back in the 60s but with a slightly humorous approach at times. The idea with this music was both to create a connection to the time period that the game is set in and making the world feel more alive. This part of the music was heavily inspired by some of the music from Fallout where similar music was used. But since we don’t have any budget to use already existing tracks as in Fallout we got a nice opportunity to test our skills and create some parody-ish songs in the vein of the 60s.

Swing Of Lil’ Young Bobby King: https://soundcloud.com/crystalday/swing-of-lil-young-bobby-king/s-cMuKC

We’ve also wanted to let the music be a part of the gameplay and we’re hoping to add several tracks to some of the more advanced cubes where solving a piece of the puzzle adds new parts of music. Hopefully this will make the player feel more motivated to continue by adding these elements. Some music that impacts the pshysical action will be added in as well.

It’s an exciting project to work on and is a much larger scale of a project than I’ve ever worked on before so it’s all just really cool!

The Sound Design of Magnetic

Hi, there! I’m just going to follow Sebastian’s good example and start off with a small ego-presentation! My name is Samuel and I’m a sound designer and music producer that loves getting surprised, in terms and sound and music. The music of Magnetic is however Sebastian’s and Philip’s territory. I’m one of Magnetics’ two sound designers, so that’s what I’ll focus on here. When I say that I love getting surprised, this doesn’t mean I just injudiciously like anything just because it’s unpredictable. But adding this element (with style) to a sound design brings it to life.

Humans instinctively searches for patterns in everything. We try and connect events into patterns to get an understanding of how things work. Understanding makes us feel more comfortable and secure. The goal with Magnetic however is the opposite of comfortable and secure!

The sound design of Magnetic is crafted with this in mind to try and create as a diverse and unpredictable sound environment as possible. To make this happen, the sounds are built up from a great variety of randomized core-sounds. To make it even more diverse there’s also lots of layering involved.

Picture from one of the levels in Magnetic

Picture from one of the levels in Magnetic

Let’s take the sounds of the footsteps as an example. All and all we have 22 different core-sounds. These are divided into two groups; high-frequency and low-frequency. The high-frequency sounds are (as you may have figured out) in the higher spectrum of the frequency span with lots of treble and no bass at all. The low-frequency sounds are the opposite. These sounds are “the bounce” of the steps. Whenever a footstep sounds one random high-frequency sound is played at the same time as a random low-frequency sound. With 11 sounds in each layer this makes a total of 121 variations that can be played. And this is not all. The low-frequency sounds also randomly change in volume. This virtually endless variety to the sound environment really brings life to the whole gaming experience, if I may say so myself. It’s mostly on frequently repeating sounds this is applied, however. The sound of the door, for example, have four variations which is just enough to take away that “Hey! I just hear that sound!”-feeling.

Until just recently we’ve worked with the sound design internally within Unity. This has required a vast cooperation between the programmers and us sound-guys. The sound of the Magnet Gun is a good example of this. I sat down with one of the programmers and discussed different approaches of how to best build up a diverse sound that’s also responsive to the player’s interaction with the mouse. After some testing and more discussing, awesome code was made that gave us the perfect tools for building up this sound within Unity.
Just recently we took the decision to start using FMod for the sound implementation. This is however in a very early stage, but I’m certain it was the right decision to make. It will give us sound designers more freedom+control and we also won’t have to annoy our dear programmers as much any longer, which I’m sure they’re really ecstatic about.

At last, here are two examples of how the sounds were built up within the DAW. Now, with FMod in the picture, changes most certainly will be made to most of the sounds, including these. The graphic material is very old in this video but the sound design remains the same in the game .

The Door Sound

The Lever Sound

Each week we will continue to update you with another entry in the development blog, with a focus on different aspects of developing games each week. This one has been about developing tools, but who knows what we will talking about next? Maybe we’ll dive into animation or graphics? Maybe we’ll talk about the office, or the story arch for Magnetic. If you have any suggestions feel free to lets u know in the comments section below, or on facebook, twitter or Google+.