Various people that I’ve been discussing Jazzpunk with , in particular the audio side of JP, keep saying that I should write about my unique approach to sound design in games. Deal. So I guess I’ll start by saying that in addition to doing all of the art and visual design for the game, I’m also in charge of all the sound design and music. Little known fact about me is that I make my own electronic music instruments and effects, and its these tools that I use to create the particular JP audio ‘flavour’.
While I use a computer for all final mixdown, cleanup, or formatting, I try to stay on the analog side of things for everything else I do. Obviously, everything I record needs to become digital at some point (still haven’t mastered how to make an all-analog videogame :)
I use this approach in an attempt to capture the feeling of old sci-fi, experimental horror, and spy movies, which used a lot of analog synthesizers, spring reverb, and tape echo for their monsters, computers, gadgets, and sound effects. Jazzpunk takes place in an alternate reality 1950s, so I wanted to mimic the production style from that era. Also, by using tape and analog filters, eq, compression, you get a much different dynamic range and noise floor than you’d get with more contemporary “in the box” (ie: digital) production.
Most game soundtracks these days are done with programs like Logic, Ableton, Protools, etc. Personally, I find this approach very sterile and counter-intuitive to how I think about music production, its just too damn perfect. For Jazzpunk, I’ve settled on a much weirder approach; I use analog step sequencers to control a bank of 1980s Japanese 12-bit sampling delays. This equipment arrangement is decidedly baroque, but I chose it because I believe it fits the style of Jazzpunk; a overly complex network of machines working in concert, attempting to create something for human consumption.
I want players to envision the hum and pulse of a Univac, the rhythmic clicking behaviour of an old telecom routing system.