Sounds and real-time mixing in Dungeonland

Strangers from distant lands,

welcome to this little corner of the internet about all things game audio! My name’s Raphael Müller, I’m a German-born composer and sound designer living and working in the crazy city of Rio de Janeiro. For the last three years I’ve been the all-around-sound guy for the local developers Critical Studio, and earlier this year we were happy to release the kraken on Steam when we published our ludicrous hack’n’slash/RTS-mashup called Dungeonland.

But this post isn’t supposed to be just an introduction, there are some goodies further down the page! 🙂

The video just below presents a bit of my sound design work on Dungeonland. By the way, a good portion of the insane monster screams you’ll hear were done by our multi-talented game designer, Marcos Venturelli.

Working on Dungeonland also demanded from me to delve into the game-specific topic of real-time mixing, and that was something that proved itself to be extremely difficult for me to achieve. Not only because I hadn’t worked with sound effects in a 3D ambient before, but because of the way the game itself is structured. When you play as one of the heroes, you experience the game as an isometric hack’n’slash-type. Since it is possible to play it in both singleplayer and local co-op mode, the camera may or may not center on your character and the audio had to take this into account. To make things much more challenging, Dungeonland also features the “DM-mode”, where you get to play as the evil overlord (kudos to Josh Tomar for brilliant voice acting) that tries to kill the heroes with traps and monsters set out all over his own deadly theme-park. As the DM, you see the events from a different perspective, since this mode works like a real-time strategy game. Ergo, a different camera position and therefore a new sonic center. The mix in itself is also different, since the sounds for the DM don’t have the same priorities as for the heroes.

But what about everday-Dungeonland events like a bomb expoding in your face, or a colossal yellow-purple worm rising from the ground and  trying to eat you alive? For those we had to create special sub mixes, that acted on top of the main mixes I mentioned before, adjusting the volumes for each sound effect category in real-time.

In the end, in some way, all of this had to come together in a blend of different but simultaneous gaming experiences. Well, it was basically a mixing-nightmare! But thankfully it was just a nightmare and we managed to shake it off and somehow get things to work.

Thank you for reading this first post, I hope you enjoyed it, and please feel free to ask anything related to the topic! Cheers!

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