8: Functionality of Interactivity and Adaptivity
As mentioned previously the complex nature of interactive and adaptive sound in computer games has attempted to be addressed by an array of classifications and categories by a range of academics, most notable among them being Karen Collins author of ‘Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design.’ and Sander Huiberts and Richard van Tol of the IEZA. The question is how do these theoretical frameworks apply to the implementation of mixing solutions in interactive sound design.
The IEZA assessment attempts to address the shifts in sound world properties evident in interactive game audio design partly through the use of the framework illustrated in the diagram below left.
The ‘Zone’ category essentially represents the non-reactive diegetic ambience of an in game location, so probably can be allocated to the ‘Orange’, referring back to the ‘Encoded – Embodied’ spectrum, portion of the mix, while “In the first category, named Effect, audio is found that is cognitively linked to specific sound sources belonging to the diegetic part of the game. This part of game audio is perceived as being produced by or is attributed to sources, either on-screen or off-screen, that exist within the game world. Common examples of the Effect category in current games are the sounds of the avatar (i.e. footsteps, breathing), characters (dialog), weapons (gunshots, swords), vehicles (engines, car horns, skidding tires) and colliding objects.” . This being the case it is evident that the ‘Effect’ quarter of the framework relates strongly to the ‘Blue-Green’ area of Murch’s spectrum being sounds that communicate the language of the game. “The ‘Affect’ area can be seen to be the area of the sound world that “expresses the setting of the non-diegetic part of the game environment”  in an emotional capacity. as experienced in both ‘FallOut 3’ and ‘Farcry 2’ games(www.psmedia.com 2009) so this would constitute sounds that occupy both “Orange” and “Red” aspects of the mix. So perhaps if we were to apply these systems to a mix, say of a scene in ‘Dead Space’, we might have one non diegetic creepy sounding‘Affect’ one diegetic ‘Effect’ that we can perhaps identify the sound source of and maybe some room tone for the ‘point five’.
This framework also serves to address an area of the sound world that crosses between the diegetic and non-diegetic in a way unique to the interactive game. This is represented by the alternative ontological reality as present in such devices as health bars, power ups and other unique structural sounds that constitute the interface. As with many games ‘FallOut 3’s interface conspires to blur the functional controls with the sounds compliant of the games diegesis, in this case, nineteen forties style analogue valve technology. [clip 33]
Now there is an issue here as to how interface sounds fit into the mix dependent on their content. Quite often an interface sound such as to accompany a ‘power up’ is a small segment of music or at least a musical effect though it could also be, and often is linguistic. Therefore if interface sounds are incorporated into live play the engine may need to limit output from ‘Red’, ‘Blue Green’ or ‘Violet’ sound emitters depending on the nature of the interface source.