Havoc Gear Original Soundtrack / SFX
Project type: Sound Design, composing / Program used: Avid Pro Tools, Audacity
Havoc Gear is the final project of the advanced game design course at SFU (IAT410). I was part of a four man group and was responsible for every single sound element plus level theme for the game. The game consisted of 6 levels which included a boss level.
In total, I wrote 10 minutes of original composed music with 38 different sound effects for Havoc Gear. A show reel and a playlist of the OST can be found below as well as my design process.
When it comes to sound design and music composition in particular, I took the design process of Martin O'Donnell, who was the composer for the worldly known video game franchise, "Halo". When O'Donnell was given the task to compose the music for the first game in the franchise, he was only told three words; "Ancient", "Epic" and "Alien". With these three keywords, he combined different instruments and sounds he thought that represented these well.
I took this exact approach with the design of the different level themes. For example, here is the process of how I designed the theme, "Fateful Encounter"
I asked my teammates to provide me with keywords I could base the music off of. While they didn't provide me with much, they were very fixated on the term "Epic". With that in mind, I went to YouTube to research various soundtracks of different video games.
These are some of many soundtracks I browsed through to get inspiration from. The key points I would try to find is how the composer builds up the soundtrack from the beginning to the climax (the chorus) and what instruments they used to achieve this effect. When I find a select few that really grabs my interest, I would listen to it on repeat as much as over 100 times to get familiar with the music's harmony and rhythm.
After finding a soundtrack that I really liked or is similar to the theme of our game's soundtrack, I watch the section of the video game that the music is featured in. I would look out for at one point the chorus starts to play and how the composer loops the specific sections. This is because the music's end is decided by when the player defeats the boss rather than the length of the music piece. This is one of the big hurdles I had to overcome in the design of Havoc Gear's soundtracks.
Once I found a motif I want to go for, I start adding one instrument at a time, starting with the rhythmic beats, and slowly add on different instruments to compose the song. I used a AKAI MPK mini mk2, a mini MIDI keyboard, to easily translate real instrument inputs into digital signals/sound. I work in small segments at a time, laying down the groundwork and work on a gradual build up to the climax of the song. By working in song segments, I can easily export specific sections of the song rather than trimming the complete song to create a more seamless experience.
This was my first take on composing and creating sounds for a video game and it really sparked up my passion for sound design again. I hope for future opportunities where I can write original musical scores for multimedia projects.
When it comes to in-game sounds, the process is the same. I researched many video games of the same genre and see how the sound designers created their sounds and try to create my own take on the sound.