Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
[ Game ]
Creating a Natural World During a Pandemic
I was brought into UsTwo Games to help with the audio for Alba back in October 2019. My task was to bring the idyllic island to life through the sound design as well as overseeing and mixing the music for the game. At the time I was a little apprehensive about taking on such a big game project entirely by myself when I had a lot of film and advert work coming through but it turned out to be an absolute gem and the perfect project to be working on during a global pandemic!
A lot of time was spent fine-tuning the ambiences and sounds of nature in Alba as I wanted the island to feel alive, natural and peaceful. Since the game's all about the wildlife I was keen from the start to ensure that there were no additional animals buried in the ambiences - most recordings had some birds dotted around them so I spent some time scrubbing them out from any source material I wanted to use with iZotope RX. To try and keep things simple from a development standpoint we used a system of audio 'biomes' spread around the map - forests, beaches, town, mountain, terraces, etc.
We used a system of two splines for the ocean - one for the shoreline for little nice splashy waves that you hear when you're right next to the shoreline and another for big ocean waves further out to sea so that you get that lovely low roar. I really wanted to make sure that the sea was really 'present' in the game and having two sets of splines meant that we could have individually set attenuations and panning settings for both. The shoreline has quite a low attenuation and very obvious panning so that you can really hear it directionally to the side of you if you're running along the beach. At the same time, the Ocean Wave spline is audible from quite a long way away and is panned so that when you're by the shoreline the ocean sounds are all around you but when you're further away it's more directional.
Back at the start of 2020 I'd been working on Alba for a couple of months getting set up & familiar with the project. I had big dreams about buying a lovely new recording rig and a parabolic mic (essential for recording birds & wildlife) and jetting over to Spain in April for a few weeks to record authentic ambiences, birds, wildlife and anything else I could find... but all of that was brought to an abrupt halt in March when the pandemic hit.
Obviously none of that was possible, so I had to rely on samples. I spent a lot of time scouring audio libraries and sample websites for clean recordings of the 60-70 animals featured within Alba which proved a challenge.
Working on Games
Iterative process - game only felt 'finished' in the last week or two before we shipped
Used Unity and Wwise
Lots of meetings, staying in the loop during a pandemic
Excellent code and moral support