7 Sound Design Elements to Include in Your Game Design Document (GDD)

Sound design is a crucial aspect of game development and can greatly enhance the player’s experience. A well-designed soundscape can help to immerse the player in the game world, provide feedback for game events, and create an emotional connection with the player. Here are seven things to include in a game design document (GDD) for the game’s sound design:

1. Sound Vision Statement

Not unlike your game’s vision statement, this section should describe the overall vision for the game’s sound design. In it include the desired tone, atmosphere, tempo and mood. Referencing well-known examples can really help, as music can be very abstract. The sound vision statement should also describe how the sound design will complement the game’s visual style and contribute to the player’s overall experience. The emotions you hope to enlist from the player will be key to the styles you’ll use.

2. Sound Effects

This section should provide a comprehensive list of all the sound effects that will be used in the game, including effects for in-game events, UI sounds, and various character actions and dynamic sound effects. It should also describe the desired sound quality and amplitude levels for each effect where relevant.

Sounds should directly tie to the list of actions and activities. Keep this updated as the related elements are added or adjusted.

3. Music

This section should describe the music that will be used in the game, including the desired style, tempo, and mood. Also provide a reference, including a list of tracks and musical themes that will be used in the game.

Another important consideration is rhythms that compliment a scene. Take care not to pull a player out of immersion. Smooth transitions, with enough time between changes in music, that often will be tied to the gameplay mechanics.

4. Ambient Sounds

This section should describe the ambient sounds that will be used in the game, including sounds for different environments and locations. It should also describe how these sounds will be used to create a sense of atmosphere and immersion for the player.

5. Voice Acting

This section should describe the voice acting that will be used in the game, including the desired style and tone for character dialogue. It should also provide a reference for the team, including a list of characters and lines of dialogue that will need to be recorded. Often referencing well-known characters can help communicate the desired effect.

6. Audio Implementation

This section should describe how the audio assets will be implemented in the game, including the audio engine and middleware that will be used. It should also describe how the audio assets will be integrated with the game code and how they will respond to player actions and events.

The game engine being used will have various constraints and formats you’ll need to apply, so take this into consideration.

7. Audio Budget and Schedule

This section should provide an estimate of the budget and schedule for the game’s audio design, including the resources and expenses required for recording, mixing, and mastering the audio assets. It should also describe any dependencies or constraints that need to be taken into account during development.

Add these seven sections to your GDD for the game’s sound design, and ensure that the sound design for the game goes smooth. A well-planned and well-executed sound design can also help minimize the chances of unexpected issues during development and ensure that the sound design is consistent with the vision for the game. Measure twice, cut once. That’s a “rap”!

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