Today we've got a treat for you! Another one of our 'team spotlights', this time with the sound designer on Kitty Powers' Matchmaker, Todd Baker. We asked him some questions about how he got where he is, his work on the game, and what other fabulous strings he has to his bow!
How did you get into the games industry, was it through education, or another way?
I did a degree in Creative Music Technology, which was relevant - but it was really a case of taking an active interest in the game audio side of things. E.g. for my final project I chose to build a level with UnrealEd and create custom sound design and music for it. I also worked on some great independent projects, which gave me great showreel material for getting my first in-house job.
Do you have any advice for budding games audio designers/musicians?
I would say that my main advice would be to remember that great content creation and mixing is at the heart of a good sounding game. This may sound obvious, but there are so many creative and amazing ways that you can implement audio / music and create clever procedural systems - it can almost distract from the 'core' skills of creating the right sounds and composing great music. Of course it depends on the needs of a project, but most of my favourite sounding games have quite simple implementation.
What is your favourite style and why? Do you have a favourite piece that you've created?
I just love any audio that succeeds in emotionally connecting the player to the experience. In terms of my own creations, one of my favourites is this piece of music that I wrote for LittleBigPlanet Vita. I was just so excited to be working on that franchise, and the spec they gave me for this particular track was like a 'dream brief'. The emotion that came out in the music was just a refection of my enthusiasm and excitement, which in turn was just what the music needed for those specific LBP levels. That's a nice feeling of positive creative energy :)
What inspired you when you were designing Kitty Powers' Matchmaker's sound?
To be honest, mainly Richard, the creative director! Just watching him play and test the game - his enthusiasm and cheeky sense of fun is very much the spirit of Matchmaker, and you cant help but get caught up in this. The game also has a very polished and well-defined art style, which makes it so much easier to see where the audio is going to 'slot in'.
What challenges did you overcome when creating the audio for Kitty Powers' Matchmaker, and how did you do it?
It was hard to try and capture the 'fabulous' game show vibe. You can look at classic shows such as Family Fortunes and Catchphrase - but it's a very specific association that makes those sounds 'iconic'. Not least because we've just heard them so many times! I think the licensed music does the best job of creating the gameshow vibe in the final game. There was also lots of very similar positive / negative feedback type sounds that were needed, but they all had to be distinct - so it was just a case of digging deep to think up different ways and levels to communicate 'good' and 'bad' clearly, and with different levels of importance.
Are you working on anything exciting you'd like to tell us about?
Well I'm doing lots of different things at the moment! I've been playing some great gigs in London with my instrumental band: the Lydian Collective, as well as working on various freelance music projects - most recently helping a friend with music for an ITV nature documentary. I'm also very happy to be continuing my great relationship with the lovely people at Media Molecule, helping with audio support for Tearaway Unfolded as the project takes shape.
Thanks to Todd for taking the time to talk to us! We hope you enjoyed this feature, we'll bring you another one soon!