Fact: among other things, games are just what they are and have reached the level where they are due to the soundtracks. The music, the sound design, the audio mix and all the artistic tricks behind this engineering allow the audiovisual experience to be remarkable.
Another fact: the chosen songs and the use of synthesizers, sound effects and other techniques dictate the pace of an adventure, making it remarkable, making us love a character, hate a villain or react with indifference.
There are so many variables that, given the facts exposed, no one better than a composer to talk about the subject. Fortunately, Voxel had the opportunity to chat with Kenneth Young – nicknamed Kenny in the industry – talent behind the sound of Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, LittleBigPlanet and Astro’s Playroom, which comes pre-installed on PS5, among other jobs.
“GPUuuu”: the jingle that sticks from Astro’s Playroom
If you played Astro’s Playroom, which basically takes a trip through the PS5 hardware and crosses the PlayStation brand history with countless references, you know that the song “GPU”, set in the circuit of the same name on the console, is a memory stick. The creativity behind it doesn’t come overnight.
“It’s a mix of sound design with the music itself. When we can create from scratch, without concern for copyright, there are many possibilities. With licensed music, there is a whole process, the money involved, the bureaucracy,” said Kenny.
“In creation, we can do many things. In the case of Astro, we mix robotic voices, audible words and songs. They stick to the head. You can work on creativity”, praised the artist.
Freedom and risks
Composing a soundtrack sometimes means taking risks, especially when the basis is 100% defined by the author, without involving licensed songs or ready-made things. From scratch.
“The freedom we feel when taking risks is gratifying. […] The old platform games have captivating melodies, simple and functional structures. In Astro’s Playroom, we had DualSense, the new features, the unprecedented structure; a lot of fan service, yes, a genuine love that we, as game creators, wanted to bring, “explained Kenny.
“That kind of thing brings back memories of when we were young. I was happy to see the reception [at Astro’s Playroom]. Today, the possibilities for immersion are immense,” he endorsed.
Iconic sounds: is there a formula to create them?
In addition to the soundtrack itself, the “little ones” you hear in games – like navigation through the menu, jumps, shots, punches and other onomatopoeias – are the result of sound design. How iconic can they be?
“It’s up to the creator,” says Kenny. “There are gaps between these moments, separate things in the player’s head. Creating iconic sounds involves the personal inspirations of each one, the experience, the use of tools and the love for the project”, he concluded.
“Do you want to be John Williams [American composer and conductor who created tracks for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and other films]? Do you want to adopt an electronic tone? Be more complex? Find a way to express it your way and abuse the synthesizers, “he said.
A tip for those who want to compose game tracks
Kenny’s fundamental advice to anyone who wants to work with it was a message of passion for the project: “You need to find your own voice. Study the material of what you like, internalize it and find a way to express that sound in your own way. Be creative, be yourself. Love your business. That’s the way. ”
What do you think about soundtracks? What are your favorites? Did Astro’s songs “stick” to your head too? Tell us below in the comments.