Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Game Developer - Sound Design: The Forgotten Team

This bit hit too close to home when I read it the first time. I though "In a few short paragraphs someone at a production level has boiled down the plight of game audio across the industry." I say that because it has been my experience that most of the time what he describes is not the exception but the rule in today's development cycle. I can say no more, but feel inclined to excerpt "What Went Wrong #5" from the recent Game Developer postmortem for Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions.

"Along the chain of production, many design choices occur, and just as many changes are made, if not more. When delays happen at any stage in the process, the last team in the line of production is the one trapped against the deadline wall. This was the audio team on Shattered Dimensions.

As the entire development team iterated on every aspect of the game simultaneously throughout development, nothing was ever really final until the very end. Hence it was impossible for the audio team to start working on anything with final quality in mind, and it was very hard to determine what portions of the game could be worked on at what time, with minimum risk. Eventually, when everything in the game reached final quality simultaneously, the amount of accumulated audio work was just too much for the team to handle."

You can read a preview of the article page which includes the full exceprt here:

Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions Postmortem: Sound Design - The Forgotten Team

It's great to see honest and clear insight into the production process as it relates to the sound team.As someone who has personally seen the ripple effect of other disciplines missed deadlines with little understanding of how that effects other stakeholders standing down stream, it's refreshing (if not a little disheartening) to see it in black and white. It's clear that there are many ways to approach a solution to this problem, not all involve jockeying the schedule, but many involve increasing the the awareness of where audio falls in the pipeline and how each discipline affects the eventual workflow.

I'll be looking forward to seeing some of these practices pave the way for a tighter integration of game audio scheduling in the future!

Until next time true believers!

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