Working with Nomadic VR, we had to approach the sound from the ground up; we needed to ascertain what sounds were necessary and what sounds would be most impactful for the experience. This led us to original, spatialized sound design and implementation using Wwise in UE4
We discussed Pyramind's role in the audio development for Nomadic VR with Brennan Anderson, Senior Audio Producer at Pyramind.
Q: What did you contribute to the project?
A: We were in charge of the sound design and implementation from the ground up. We created new sounds to match the gameplay elements and the environment, and we implemented those sounds, as well as the dialogue using Wwise.
Q: What were the most challenging parts of the project and how did you overcome them?
A: The interesting thing about Nomadic was that we had to figure out what sounds we should recreate, and what sounds the props themselves would make. Since there are physical props in the world that you are interacting with, will those be making enough sound to hear through your headphones? Should we enhance those sounds with in-game sounds, or should we have a sound for everything in-game and use noise cancelling headphones? Answering these questions were, and still are the hardest part. I think we need to do more tests and create the audio for more games like this before we reach an artistically informed consensus.
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: We ended up focusing heavily on the mixing, which wasn’t a huge surprise. Most of the implementation was pretty straightforward, but mixing with HRTFs is always a bit of a different experience. Some conventions that we were used to went out the window, and we really had to experiment and use discerning ears to hear what sounded the best.
Q: What made this project unique?
A: It was definitely unique in that I had never experienced a game like this before. The level is built out in VR in your headset, but there are physical props around you as well. So when you reach out to touch something in VR, you actually feel it with your hands. It immediately struck me that if we didn’t do the audio correctly it would absolutely turn off some players and make the experience worse. That happens with a lot of VR games, but since this one is tricking your senses even more, it was all the more important. There were countless nights we were staying late at the studio just tweaking volumes and roloff curves to make sure the audio experience was as good as it possibly could be.
Q: What tools were used?
A: We used a combination of Wwise and the Oculus Spatializer Plugin, integrated into UE4.
Q: Did you get a playable version of the game to work on the audio? What did they give you to work with?
A: We were given a version of the game that we could run on a PC to play through the level and generate the Wwise sound banks. It was challenging because we couldn’t go through the actual experience of the game unless we went to Nomadic’s offices. In the end though, I think it came out great.
Contact Pyramind Studios for VR Audio