4 Tips to Keep Players from Tapping the Mute Button on Your Casual Game
Do your players enjoy listening to the audio in your casual game? Could they even be muting the game to have a better experience? If so, that’s a huge missed opportunity for your brand (and possibly, a poor gaming experience!). Discover four tips from a talk given by Nick Thomas, CEO of SomaTone Interactive, Inc. from his talk at Casual Connect Europe.
Audio and its Pivotal Role in Your Casual Game
What kind of false assumptions do you have about game audio?
After watching a lecture given by Nick Thomas of SomaTone Interactive, Inc. (embedded below), I thought it would be helpful to share these insights with you. In his lecture, Nick dispels many false commonly held beliefs around game audio and how changing your perception of audio’s role in gaming can make an enormous difference to your players and your bottom line.
Given in 2013, the presentation is full of wonderful information with every tip and observation still ringing true today. In the spirit of transparency, watching this video resulted in 20 pages of notes for me!
Making Your Mark With Audio
There are so many wonderful things to consider regarding how audio is used in a game, particularly how you can make your mark in the casual gaming space, even on the bus or subway. Signature sounds for key actions or results in a game is just one aspect that can make or break your game and impact how it resonates with people.
Think of the brand sound real estate the Angry Birds franchise has! That audio work was custom, and thanks to its catchy theme song and distinctive signature sounds at strategic junctures, everyone knows when somebody has taken a break to launch these fictitious birdies into the air.
Each game needs to have key sounds. Original sounds (that are well designed and produced), help your game differ from similar games in your space. This use of sound also makes for a better player experience.
Knowing the Value of Good Audio
Some producers know the value of having a great sound experience for their players but many do not. On average, companies who care about sound are investing anywhere between 5% and 7% of their overall production budget into creating a fresh, cohesive soundscape for their characters (and gamers) to inhabit.
If you’re not spending at least $500 on your game audio, this video will inspire you to allocate a bit more of your budget to this worthy end. According to Nick, you’d be amazed by what even spending $500 on your game audio can do.
Super huge tip: Poor game audio communicates a poor message. The game could be amazing on all kinds of levels, but if you skimp out in audioland, you will reap the rewards of doing so (and by rewards, I mean consequences).
A Quick “What Not to Do”
Don’t leave your audio until you’re near the end of your development cycle, inspiration and budget. This isn’t something to go about haphazardly! For such a small part of a game, audio plays an enormous role so far as a player’s enjoyment and connection to your brand.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump ahead to how you can make your audio awesome!
Preparing for Success
Having a creative brief of some kind for your audio makes a huge difference, too. The earlier you can start planning this out, the better as your sound crew, whoever they may be, will appreciate being able to work in tandem with you and collaborate along the way in alignment with your vision.
Want to succeed? You’ll need to get thinking about your game’s audio treatment as early on in the creative process as possible. Ideating on this part of your game early on will help you set realistic expectations for what your allocated funds to sound will buy you and how long the audio will take to compose, refine, produce and integrate into your game.
Casual Games and the Audio that Makes them Successful
I’ve embedded the video here (and linked to it) to give you a better appreciation of how producers and designers can best navigate the world of audio in your casual games.
This talk was given by Nick Thomas, CEO of SomaTone Interactive, Inc. at Casual Connect Europe, 2013. The duration of this video is roughly 20 minutes.
I’ve taken some time to transcribe/paraphrase what Nick said in his final takeaways for you.
1) Have a vision you can clearly communicate.
Spend some time to define the audio so that you can communicate what you want through reference, through YouTube links, through popular music you like — whatever works for you.
2) Invite the feedback of audio professionals.
Allow your audio designer to make suggestions to the creative scope, the tech, creative implementation and so on. It’s really important to have this partnership and collaboration.
3) Proper tech and integration is 50% of great audio.
Great audio is not “plug and play.” You can’t just expect to drop stuff in and for it to work. You have to tinker with it, make sure it is working and leave room in the schedule for your audio people to polish. Many times, it plays back differently than you might think when you are conceptualizing it but the actual experience is different when you are integrating it.
4) The mix of the audio is key.
This may be the one single most important part of very high quality audio experience. If one sound is too loud or a music sting is too loud, it will throw off the whole experience and that’s the moment when your player hits mute.
How Much Value Do You Place on Game Audio?
Looking forward to hearing from you!