For Cat Sorter VR we wanted to get a bit silly. We decided to use an instrument palette that included Toy Piano, Accordion, Kazoo, and of course cat meows. We wrote fast paced, upbeat music to go with the wacky nature of the gameplay. The sound design was similarly cartoon-y and animated. The sounds are also all spatialized to give you a greater sense of presence in the game. Pawmigo, the game's developer, hired Pyramind Studios for all of the project's audio needs.
We sat down with Brennan Anderson, Senior Audio Producer at Pyramind to chat about Cat Sorter VR.
Q: What were the most challenging parts of the project and how did you overcome them?
A: The most challenging part of this project was getting the music right, and finding a voice for this zany world. Pawmigo had temp-ed in the Nyan Cat music, which scared me a bit at first. I was wondering “How in the world can I follow that?”. I can certainly make something just as kooky and fast paced, but Nyan Cat is so well know there is a fear that anything original won’t sound as good to the producer of the game. Even so, I brainstormed some ideas with the producer on ways to come up with an original score that captures that feeling. We came up with ideas like “swing band style” and “all toy instruments” to name a few. That ultimately culminated in an early version with some trombones playing the lead melody, and a harmochord and celeste backing it up. The producer wasn’t fond of the trombone, so we had another brainstorming session where I threw out the idea “what if all of the trombones were kazoos?”, and so the kazoo became the defining instrument of the score.
Q: What did you contribute to the project?
A: Everything you hear, we worked on. We did original music, sound design, dialogue, and implementation.
Q: What area did you dig into most for this? What audio aspect did you decide was most important through the process and was it a surprise?
A: The music, definitely. It was a back and forth process to really get the creative direction down. But once it was established, we were able to produce the rest of the tracks fairly easily.
Q: What made this project unique?
A: Probably the cats. I was determined from the get go to make sure there were versions of the music where cats were singing it. We had a bunch of people come into the studio and record cat meows, and had them singing cat meows to the music. It sounded awful at first! Nobody was really in key, or in time, but that created somewhat of a charm. I decided to fix up some of the timing, but I wanted to keep that messy charm, so I kept it loose and did not change the pitches they sung.
Q: What tools were used?
A: We used Fabric and Unity.
Q: How much leeway were you given and creative liberties could you take musically?
A: A lot! The music for this world didn’t exist until we created it, so the producer gave me a lot of free reign to make music that works. We had a lot of creative back and forth, but he always listened to my ideas and let me flesh them out to see if they worked. Some did and some didn’t, but that’s always how it goes. Some ideas that I thought were amazing and would make the game sound way better ended up not working at all, but we didn’t know until we fully formed the idea.
Q: Did you get a playable version of the game to write music? What did they give you to work with?
A: Yes, they provided us both with the working game build, and videos of various aspects of the game.
Contact Pyramind Studios for VR Audio Services