Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Small Stuff

    I'd like to share a thought about the subliminal importance of sound design in a game. 
Though very feint, there are small little reminders that one can pick up on to show that when audio is designed for a game, it is intentional. 
For this example I will use a pretty recent game's menu screen.

    When you are at this particular screen, you hear this piece of music:

    There is much praise and admiration towards the audio in Mass Effect 3, starting right at the beginning of the game with the song titled "We Face Our Enemy Together" by Sam Hulick...with traces of the original theme echoing through the start menu later in the song in particular, which coincide with the game's important connection to its previous games.

 When you press start, you hear this confirmation sound:

People have also given this particular sound praise as well.

    So you hear the music, and you hear the confirmation sound, but I ask you: Can you hear the connection between the two?  To put it simply, the sound actually is a part of the song. 
You'll notice the pitch matches the song, they are even in the same key:

The song is playing like this:

Confirmation sound is playing this:

Together they sound like this:

   I conclude that this was done intentionally in order not just to make a smooth transition from the start screen to the main menu of the game, but also to leave a lasting impression on the player.  No matter where you press that start button, being the player, you hold the power to press start and contribute playing along with the start screen.  This kind of method is a great way to set the tone of the game and the player feels it.  The player controls everything in this game, including the start screen and its musical tones.

There are many games (from what I've seen, a lot if RPGs or Action/Adventure) that seem to have this connection, and use the menu screen to prove that point.  This is very important to arcades as well, since most arcade machines are all about presentation, from dropping the quarters to pressing the start button.

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