Video Game Sound Design: Developing Characters

Within video game sound design, audio engineers must consider several aspects as they work to immerse the player in the game. From the sounds of actions to background noise and ambience, everything must be taken into consideration. When it comes to games with characters, however (and which there are aplenty), giving those characters life, personality, and sounds unique to each is a process in itself. Of course, certain aspects within video games, such as those mentioned above, are taken into account in defining the characters.

Whether it be the sounds the characters make as they move to more specific characteristics like their voice, developing characters within a game is an integral part of the sound design process. As mentioned, it further immerses the player within the game. Now, let’s take a look at each step to take in bringing video game characters to life with sound design.

Developing Video Game Characters: Sound Effects

While the sound effects added for characters don’t have to be specific to such, the characters and their setting must still be taken into account. Even when you consider something so simple as a character’s footsteps, the sound designer has to think about how each character’s footsteps will sound. This could depend on their size and build, and even demeanor—or the manner in which they walk or move. Not only that, the outfit a character wears could even impact how they’ll sound. For instance, maybe the character is wearing a leather suit that makes noise as they walk, or a bag of arrows clattering with each step. All of this must be considered when providing sound for a character.

Going back to the character’s mannerisms, the way they walk, talk, and move will all need a unique effect, specific to that character. The sounds must also change as the setting does. Are they wearing boots as they walk on a rocky road? Or are they quietly tip-toeing through a field of snow? In short, the sounds a player makes in the game are crucial to their sense of immersion. If the player makes their character run, the audio engineer needs to have a sound for that, also specific to the character—and different from the sound of the same character’s footsteps when walking.

While these sound effects play an integral role in developing a character, giving them life, and using said sounds to immerse the player in the game, the character’s voice is also of utmost importance.

Giving Characters Their Own Voice

As mentioned, the characters’ voices are crucial to the overall feel of a video game. This will heavily affect not only the persona of a character, but the player as well. Just as with the sound effects, the setting and feel of the game will impact each character’s voice, though it will also depend on the size, personality, and type of character at hand. Whether it’s a small-sized villain or a big, muscular hero who’s constantly saving the day, each of those character’s needs a voice to match.

Within supplying characters with a voice, there’s a range of factors to keep in mind—all of which will ultimately affect how the character should sound. Of course, some characters may not even speak a normal language—which is quite common. In this case, the sound designer often has to develop a vocal language or some form of communication for such characters.

Nonsensical voices aside, each character obviously needs a unique and defining voice. The voice will tell players more about the character, their role in the game, and more. Even the tone of the voice has to be considered, as the tone should change in certain moments of the game, whether it needs to be quiet and soft (as if not to get caught) or loud and strong to establish dominance. In short, character voices play a vital role within video games, and they need to be dialed for each character.

Get Started on Your Own Game with CMD

As you can see, there’s plenty to consider in developing characters in video games. And, since characters are often an essential part of video games and sound design for such, nailing the sounds and voices for every character is key. If you’re working on a video game of your own and need help with the sound, including voice over, CMD can help. If interested, give us a call at 212-213-9420 to get started today.