9: Structural and Kinetic Functions

It could be argued that a games sonic structural functionality provides the building blocks for audio assisted gameplay reinforcing essential game elements. In her book “An Introduction to the Participatory and Non-Linear Aspects of Video Games Audio.”  [5] Collins divides dynamic audio into two distinct catagories, adaptive audio and interactive audio. Adaptive audio generaly refers to the funtionality of the game environment that is beyond the control of the player but “responds to a particular event”  [5]. Don Veca, Audio Director on EA’s deep space horror/survival game ‘Dead Space’ illustrated his rational behind addaptive  game audio mechanics “You have to have a really seamless system – an adaptive system,” he explains,”…one that causes the music to react naturally to what’s going on in the game – gradually build the tension and gradually subside the    tension    as well as   having automated triggers for stingers – when things jump out and scare you.” [11] Essentialy these elements of the sound world are beyond the control of the player, as in they are not  necessarily caused by something that they are interacting with in the game. while still being tied to progression through, for example, a level in ‘Dead Space’ and need to be constantly remixing in order to reflect game state through systems not unlike that demonstrated eartlier. This is challenging to a lesser or greater extent dependent on the predictability of progression in the format. Open world mechanics are probably going to need a lot more variables than linear guided arcade style games.

‘Dead Space‘ is an excellent example of the use of an approach to sound mixing that esques the physical reality of the diegesis in favor of what Ben Burt would call “Dramatic Emotional Effect”. [8] What he means by this is that the sound content does not necessarily have to be actually realistic in the physical sense but instead can be emotionally realistic like, on a basic level,  the sound of engines/rockets/lasers in space or the screaming of the long dead and not supernaturally possessed bodies that are apparently as they fall on ‘Marion’ in this scene from George Lucas’s ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ [clip 34]

or the sound of a ‘Star Destroyer’ in the opening of ‘A New Hope’.

[35 clip]  There is no sound in space and those skeletons are not screaming. They have been dead for a long time. The propensity of emotional effect in horror and sci-fi films is reflected in the sound mix generated by Veca’s ‘Fear Emitters’ featuring, partuicuarly when the more musical aspects  are absent, abstract ambiences that move around the 3D world (obviously more effective when experienced in surround) enabled by what Veca refers to as the ‘ambi patch‘ These ‘Orange‘ sounds can sit comfterably next to ‘Red‘ music in the mix without occluding the inteligability of the ‘Encoded‘ half of the spectrum sitting in the mix most of the time but becoming more noticable when the game dynamic is quiet. This is done with with the intention of maintaing a sense of creepiness between the big dramatic moments of the levels dynamic curve.


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