Podcast: Uncharted 4 Designers Explain Building Game Sound

If you want to know the difference between designing sound for a movie and designing sound for a game, consider the jeep that features prominently in the upcoming cinematic third-person adventure game Uncharted 4.

As movie sound designers would, Rob Krekel and Phillip Kovats, two of the top sound designers of Naughty Dog Studios, went out to the desert to record the sound of a jeep. If they were making a movie, they’d match the sounds they recorded to the action in the film and be done with it.

In a game, it’s a little more complicated. Once they were happy with the sound they’d recorded, Krekel and Kovats had to ensure that those sounds would change when a player gunned the jeep or slammed on the brakes. Working with the game’s developers, they found out what dimensions of the sound they could alter based on what’s happening in the game play.

“We work collaboratively with the programmers, the designers who are trying to figure out how the jeep could be fun, how it should play, the physics programmer on how to create the physics model and how audio would hook in to the physics model, we talk to the artist to figure out how it’s going to be moving,” Kovats says. “We work really collaboratively with everyone.”

Krekel and Kovats talk about the challenges of game sound design in the second podcast in the Dolby Institute’s Conversations with Sound Artists series.

Located in sunny Santa Monica, Naughty Dog has always been a leader in the gaming world. Their most recent venture, Uncharted 4, has been in the works for almost three years and is scheduled for release in 2016.

Optimal Playing Experience

Gamers hear video games in many different ways, but Kovats and Krekel think of surround sound as the “core experience.” “5.1 is the target, and we do support 7.1” Kovats says. For Kovats and Krekel, the end goal is always providing an optimal listening experience for the user. “We’re proud of what we do, we scour the forums, and we make sure were doing ok”, says Kovats.

Not only are they excited about Uncharted 4 coming out, Krekel states, “We are very excited about Dolby Atmos for virtual reality in terms of gaming. A whole other world opens up and I can direct sound to the attention of the player who is in this experience.”

Upcoming interviews in the podcast series from the Dolby Institute and the Soundworks Collection will cover soundtracks for documentaries, dialogue editing and the art of television sound. You can subscribe to the series on iTunes.