Sound Design and Interactive Music Studies with Unity and Wwise – Part 2: The Concept

In Part 1, I introduced the project and the three main tasks (Sound Design, Music Composition, Audio Integration) as well as some deadlines. This blog post will shed some light on the concept and the process of creating such.


Where did I start? Instead of going straight into designing sounds, I ended up brainstorming first. I used Cold Turkey Writer to block all distractions for 2 x 25 minutes.

In the first of these 25-minute-blocks, I went through the scene and gameplay in my head and wrote down all relevant actors and game objects, as well as their states and player feedback notes. For example, an enemy could have an idle state, then an alert and attacking state – and of course, you can damage the enemy and destroy it in the end. I ended up with a list of sounds sorted by actors. After I finished with the SFX, I quickly noted what music the game would need and how many track there will be in the end. After this initial block, everything was consolidated into a spreadsheet. Also, I created a visual representation of the interactive music system. Last but not least, I decided upon some keywords describing the aesthetics.

The second 25-minute-block was dedicated to sketching this blog post. I wrote down how I’d structure the prose. Which leads to…

The Concept

These are the keywords for the aesthetics I chose for this challenge:

cartoon, comic, Synthwave, lo-fi, cheesy

These are not set in stone, but will help to guide me if I feel lost when taking aesthetic decision into account. It’s a very rough design document.

Sound Design

As mentioned previously, I created a sound design spreadsheet. This sheet contains information such as a name for the sound, the food group, the actor (or game object), channels, spatialization (a rough description), a possible file name (for easy copy-pasting when setting up the rendering) as well as some implementation notes. The result is: 50 sounds, 127 variations in total. You can click on the button to see the initial PDF.

This is the initial state of the sheet, and it’s a subject to change. The final version will be shared here as well, so comparisons and learnings can take place! 🙂

Music Composition

The game will contain two music tracks. The first one is the “Level Music” – it’s a smooth, low-key, mysterious groove which emphasizes on exploration (think Metroid). A suitable tempo would be around 80 BPM. This track can have an additional “machine” layer, which is added when the player has been spotted by an enemy. This “machine” layer introduces some robot sounds and glitches as rhythmic elements to disrupt the smooth feeling of the base layer.

The second track is the “Boss Music”, which will introduce some electric guitars, synths, a heavy 16th note groove at around 120 BPM. The boss fight has two phases. In phase one, you’re fighting the turret. Then, in phase two, four additional robots will spawn and attack you. To establish this contract musically, the music in phase two will be modulated to a higher key (e.g. minor 3rd above) and there will be a change in harmony, melody or rhythm (or a change in all the three – I don’t know yet 🙂 ) Also, some “machine” elements will be introduced to imply the spawning of the robots.

To make things easier for the readers, here’s a draft describing the interactive music system for this game.

Chart roughly describing the interactive music system.

Next Steps

My first and next step into implementing the project is Sound Design. For now, my plan is to go through the spreadsheet and design the sounds as well as the variations. I will integrate the sounds in Wwise on the fly so that I can see how things work out and change things that just don’t click. I will share intermediate results on Twitter as YouTube videos. The next blog post will summarize the process, my workflow, useful things I discovered, the roadblocks I encountered and much more!

DEADLINES (Quick Reminder)

  • 24th April 2022 – Game Design (Level, Interactables, Enemies) + Setup (done)
  • 1st May 2022 – Concept, scope and plan for the project (done on 26th April 2022)
  • 15th May 2022 – Sound Design and Implementation
  • 29th May 2022 – Music Composition and Implementation

PS: After reading Deep Work by Cal Newport I decided to track the “deep work hours” I spent on this project. I won’t go into detail about deep work, but might write a post about it in the future.

Deep Work Hours spent for this concept: 3

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