When it comes to building immersive virtual worlds and rich gaming experiences, getting the details right is key. One particularly important detail is one that goes unseen.
That detail is sound.
Sound design in gaming is much more than soundtracks and sound effects. Even with a blank screen, players can tell a lot about a situation through sound. Layers of audio depth help give essential context and make the game experiences richer and more enjoyable for players.
If you’re new to sound effects and audio for games, or if you find layering audio experiences into your game challenging, then you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we’ll cover how to enrich gameplay with sound and recommend ready-to-use soundtracks, sound effects, and audio syncing tools that you can find on the Unity Asset Store.
(Psst: All of the packages mentioned in this post are currently on sale for Black Friday through November 28, 2022. Be sure to check them out.)
What kind of game is this? Is there action around the next corner? Why does this level seem different all of a sudden?
Just like the visual style sets tone, so does the sound. You can let players know through calming melodies that their job is to explore and enjoy an environment, or pick up the beat to let them know it’s time to brace themselves for battle.
Soundtracks also help reinforce a game’s genre or theme. For example, you can create an Old West, apocalyptic, or wasteland feeling with soundtracks like those from the Badlands Music Pack by Michael La Manna. Or, for an open-world, exploration-based game, you can implement ambient sounds with Procedural Worlds’ Ambient Sounds – Interactive Soundscapes system.
Whatever the game genre, a complementary soundscape will help immerse players in the world you’ve created.
Sounds help players navigate a game, let them know whether they’re getting closer or farther from where they need to be, and indicate if they’re using mechanisms like weapons, spells, and vehicles correctly.
If you use NPCs to help guide your players, you can bring the NPCs to life using pre-made clips of common sayings and phrases like those in the Game Character Voice Bundle by Epic Sounds and FX. In fantasy and RPG games, you can let the player know if their spell has worked – or if the opponent’s spell has worked and they’ve taken damage – by applying action-specific sounds like those found in RPG Magic Sound Effect Pack 3 by WOW Sound.
Additionally, for driving games or gameplay that involves motor vehicles, you can use Realistic Engine Sounds 2 – Pro Edition by Skril Studio to set up unique engine sounds that adjust based on vehicle RPMs and other physics.
Sound feedback can let a player know if they’ve taken a positive action, like collecting a coin with a cheerful “ching” sound, or if they’ve taken a negative action, like walking on spikes with an “ouch” sound as their health bar depletes.
For player health actions, you can find great sounds, including basics like acquiring coins and jewels, in audio packs such as the Fantasy Sounds Bundle by Cafofo. In addition, for players who have hearing loss, you can pair action sound effects with corresponding text using tools like Text Animator for Unity by Febucci Creations.
Tools like Koreographer by Sonic Bloom can help you seamlessly sync audio clips to game environments and actions, as well as add visual effects based on rhythm.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on how sound experience can drive or complement gameplay, watch this short video from the makers of Koreographer: