Where do you start with creating a game soundtrack?

Never having written a soundtrack to a game before, I was a little bit daunted by the idea, not knowing what to do, or how to go about making something that would audibly represent our new game. But I was keen to give it a go.

Using my trusty GarageBand, I set about playing with sound effects, loops and rhythms. Getting a subtle but entertaining tune was easy enough, but I was concerned that it didn’t really say ‘zen’ to me. I also wondered whether it might feel too repetitive if you’re listening to the game for any length of time whilst you’re playing it. So eventually I tried just combining a few audio loops and a couple of etherial / zen like midi instruments, playing them along side each other until I found ones that worked harmoniously and added to the feel of the game. Eventually I settled on one loop (the water droplets sound effect) and an instrument called ’Serena Swirl’. I looped the water droplets clip for a few minutes then played a random tune, sympathetic to the environment created by the droplets. I liked where it was going, so after a few tweaks to the instrument I recorded several versions of the tune until I got one I was happy with.

It was great! The other Salty Dog team members liked it and it seemed to work well with the game. But it also took up quite a few megabytes of data when uncompressed, space that we needed to keep the files sizes as low as possible. So I looked at making the clip shorter, I needed to make sure the repeat point was still clean and that it was long enough to avoid ‘sounding’ like a loop, I eventually got it down to 2 minutes in length. This was better, but given that the actual loops for the track were so small, we felt it could go smaller still. That’s when we realised that if we brought the droplet sound into the game and created a random interval for the droplet sound, and timed with the visual water ripple, it would tie in together better. We were able to shorten the exported loop, saving space, because it would always sound unique when paired with a randomised droplet sequence. This made all the difference.

So that was it, a soundtrack created from experimentation and determination to get something with just the right feel for the game.

Author image
Creative genius who turns ideas into reality! Steve writes music, creates video and graphics and is the resident style guru.