Audio Lead on LifeSpark Arena – Benjamin Young
The making of LifeSpark is meant to highlight the team working hard to make this game every day, and get to know about their back story, development practices, interests, and hobbies.
Hey Ben! So, as Audio Lead on LifeSpark Arena, what do your responsibilities consist of?
I’m responsible for anything you hear out of the speakers when you’re playing LifeSpark Arena. Music, sound effects, voice overs- I’m responsible for making them all work together to improve the game experience.
You have a pretty extensive background in audio for television and other platforms, what makes games a different experience to manage audio for?
Films and TV shows are the same every time you watch them. They are linear art forms; the take the same amount of time and the emotional arc stays exactly the same. Games are non-linear and the game experience changes at least a little each time you play the game. With that in mind, I have to create an aural atmosphere that changes in response to the player in real time. I basically have to compose music that can rewrite itself according to what is happening in-game and make audio that is programmed to respond to the players’ actions.
What are some inspirations you have for this changing style of audio design, in games or in other media?
I suppose most of my inspiration comes from the more cohesive games and films I’ve come across. Dragon Age usually sounds like Dragon Age every time you turn it on, and you immediately get transported to that world. I have a ton of film examples. How to Train Your Dragon comes to mind as well as Tron: Legacy, any score and sound palette that transports you to another world and keeps you there for the duration of the experience is great inspiration for me.
Have there been any particular challenges working on such a large video game team, and getting your audio vision accomplished?
It’s always a bit of a challenge to align my vision of the game with the rest of the teams’, and we all have things in mind that we feel would help the game that we don’t agree on. That said, it is part of the process, and as soon as we were all on the same page it has been smooth sailing! I haven’t had to do as much management as most of the other leads have though, I have been doing most of the audio myself, to be fair, so there isn’t much bureaucracy to handle on my end.
So finally Ben, has getting your audio into the game been a challenge for you while on LifeSpark?
Not at all! I have sort of an audio-programmer liaison, Alex Cordova, who is a badass. Half the time when I’m worried about getting something into the game he’s already done it, and the other half of the time he knows how to do it. I’m glad I don’t actually have to do any programming. That would be a problem, but that hasn’t come up as a result of his help.
Thanks Ben, great talking to you!
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