As I’ve mentioned recently, we’re swapping out the game’s initial sounds and music for much more polished versions. So the topic of what the game should sound like is something the team’s been discussing a lot recently.
It’s easy to say ‘obviously the game must have sounds and music’ but the details of how those things are chosen makes a huge difference to how the game feels. There are several factors that we have to consider when adding sounds and music to any game we work on, but these are the biggest influences on Combat Cards:
Naturally the first place we start is ensuring our sound design ‘feels like Warhammer 40,000’. There have been many cool 40K games and videos, so most fans – even if they’re not consciously aware of it – have an innate understanding of what the grim darkness of the forty-first millennium sounds like (compared to other futuristic universes).
We want to tap into that, but also sound unique and interesting, something we’ve particularly tried to do through our in-game music. Speaking of which, here’s a short sample of one of our new tracks, which we think ‘feels’ very 40K…
Something we’re very aware of is that 40K is defined by its battles, and therefore tends to have fast paced or grand music. But Combat Cards is a slower paced game, where you can spend time considering the best attack to make, or which cards to include in your deck.
So we’ve chosen slower, less bombastic music in the hope that it won’t get wearing over time. This is one of the big differences between videogame and film music – in games you tend to hear the same track tens or hundreds of times, compared to just once in most movies.
Finally – and this is particularly important to me – our audio has a ‘language’ which players need to be able to learn and understand. Some game audio cues are obvious, like a warning sound if you’re low on health, but most games teach you far more subtle rules to give you as much information about the current game state as possible.
For example – with our new audio, all bodyguard sounds are ‘stone’ based, giving the game a feeling of weight appropriate to 40K (compared to if the cards sounded ‘papery’). But the Warlord sounds have a metallic ring to them, which separates the two and makes Warlords more ‘precious’, but also gives subtle cues that a Warlord is attacking / being damaged / etc. which is critical information.
One final area I want to mention is that we’re careful to ensure no feedback is conveyed solely through sound effects – that everything can be seen as well as heard. This is because data (and personal experience) shows that many players don’t have the volume turned up when playing a mobile game. After all, maybe they’re playing in bed, while watching TV, or lying in silent ambush for a heretical target who must be eliminated lest they plunge an entire sector into open rebellion.*
But we also want the sounds and music to be high quality enough that players who do have the sound turned up can really feel immersed in the 40K ‘feel’ of the game, and not get sick of repetitive or annoying audio.
We also have plans for future improvements to the audio, adding more music and sounds, and possibly even voices. These will depend on what our data shows us – whether the audio is being listened to / turned off – so feel free to let us know your thoughts on this area. You can get in touch through [email protected] or our Facebook page.
* Though I’m pretty sure that a pair of headphones and a good audiobook are standard kit for Vindicare Assassins lying in ambush.