Usually I’d add some nice screenshots to show off progress on “Phase 2“, but this time it’s an area of game development that’s pretty hard to show off in screenshots : Sound design.
I find this is one of the hardest parts as far as game design goes, at least for me. I do all the parts of game development on my own (design, code, content, etc.) but when it comes down to sound design, the result is usually so bad or bland that (I guess) most people just turn it off. I remember searching for and creating sounds for a shmup some years ago that took weeks, and when I heard the combined result of that effort running in-game I knew that I just had wasted a lot of time. It was just horrible. Though I don’t have any problems imagining how certain aspects of the game should look and feel, I usually don’t have a clue about “how” a game is actually supposed to sound.
As for the sound design for Projekt “W” – it’s pretty much non-existant. All the sounds in the current build are the same as on the first release of “Phase 1″, and these few sounds don’t add anything to the atmosphere and some of them (like the menu swoosh) are downright annoying. So during the last few weeks I played through some smaller indie games (mostly from IndieDB) and payed close attention to the sound design of these titles. I then quickly noticed that even a few simple GUI sounds can add a lot to the atmosphere of a game, and if you combine them with a fitting soundtrack (I’m still searching for new background tracks, more in the ambient vein) they quickly become a real bonus to the game’s atmosphere.
And since people think that the graphics are pretty good for a one-man hobby project I’d like to get the sound design to a similar level. So for the last few days I’ve been collecting and creating new samples for the user interface (with samples for actions, units, projects, etc. to follow) and even though I only changed and added half a dozen basic UI sounds (button clicks, menu transitions, confirmations, etc.) the sound design has already become a much closer fit for the game’s visuals.
So hopefully the new sound design (that’ll at least partially come with the next release) will add even more atmosphere to the game!
And since I’m sure that a few (hobby) game deves read this : How do you handle sound design? Do you have the same troubles, or is there any easy way to get this part of game design right?