My Game audio journey..

..began with a passion for playing videogames and making music. So for me it was a natural conclusion to connect these things, and since I started studying in Trossingen I have been able to learn a lot about the technical aspects,
sound design, what game audio is and the possibilities.
In the last couple of years I have regularly been involved in school projects and game jams,
making games, working with skilled creatives from many different fields
and getting to know wonderful people!

PLATFORMER GAME

Unreal Engine 4 + FMOD Studio
Full sound-redesign
Original adaptive soundtrack
Implementation with blueprints

After learning Wwise and Unity in my first game audio project, the next logical step was to also get to know another engine and middleware. The Unreal 4 demo ‘Platformer Game’ seemed perfect for this project, as again it would be a solo project and I had no prior experience in working with the Engine.

I began by looking at the level and making a list of assets I would need to create. For the robot character I went ahead and created a completely new sound design all the way from foley recording to layering, since I did not just want to use library sounds. I also designed new sound effects, environmental sounds and an ambience.

Because the original demo already had a sound design, I could take a couple of shortcuts with the implementation by exchanging the existing audio in the blueprints with the according FMOD events. However there was a good amount of problem solving to do, which resulted in a great learning effect.

For the music I wanted to experiment with the combination of classic arcade 8-bit music in the style of Megaman X and elements of more modern scores. I composed an original 8-bit song with the software FamiTracker and added Elements from Rock and orchestral music to create the energetic main theme for the level. I also implemented a simple adaptive music system, that adds layers of excitement to the music as the player triggers explosions in the environment.

Unity + Audiokinetic Wwise
High-quality sound design
Seamless diegetic and non-diegetic music
Two versions creating different atmospheres

This is the first game audio project I did, and the goal was to learn Wwise and the integration of sound into Unity. Since it was a solo project, I was looking for a Unity scene that allowed me to work freely without having to solve any bigger coding issues. I immediately liked the aesthetics of the ‘Viking Village’ scene, and thought it would be a great playground to experiment with different sounds and also some music.

In the beginning I planned out how I wanted to fill the world with sound and which assets I would need for the character, the ambience and objects in the level. Since the level itself does not have any life in it, I looked for ways I could suggest people living there solely through sound. By triggering sounds coming from some distance or inside the houses it creates the illusion of life, when in reality there is nothing there.

On top of that I wanted to create a music system that is not just a backing track, but enhances the experience of walking through the village. All the music in the level is playing the same theme simultaneously and there is diegetic as well as non-diegetic music. So as the player is walking around, he hears people practicing together to subtle background music that is always playing.

I really liked the atmosphere on the waterfront, so I composed a mellow orchestral version of the main theme that fades in as the player approaches the beach, to make looking out on the water an even more special experience.

After all of that I wanted to set myself a creative challenge and see if through a different sound design I could drastically change the atmosphere of the scene without changing the visuals at all. The result of that can be watched in the second half of the gameplay video.

Viking Village

Isolation

Unity + FMOD Studio
Concept for a game design document
Complex adaptive music system
Aesthetic sound design

‘Isolation’ is the product of a university project, where we worked with a team of nine students on creating a fully developed concept for a video game in the form of a design document, which could be used for pitching our idea to game studios. In the video you can see the basic prototype we developed for play testing, which is based on the first level of the game. I was mostly responsible for the audio and music concepts.

‘Isolation’ is a 2D-puzzlegame with adventure elements, where the player wakes up on a spaceship alone and then has to help himself to survive. The levels of the game also represent the five stages of grief which the character goes through. They deepen the experience through gameplay, sounddesign, music and artstyle.
The core mechanic of the game is a depression timer, which can only be countered by doing certain activities like sport. Once the character gets too depressed he will refuse to follow the players actions and it is basically game over.

The musical background is a constant pad that plays different chords of a scale, based on which room the player is in. This is accompanied by a melody that doesn’t change throughout the level but will be harmonized differently, depending on the path the player takes. The sound and instrumentation of the pads and the melody will change to resemble the atmosphere of the current stage of grief.
As the character gets more depressed, the overall sound will get distorted and less pleasing, to indicate that something is off.

For menu sounds like clicking, hovering and item interactions, I wanted them to become a part of the music. In the main menu the buttons generate tones with random pitches from the scale that is used in the main theme I composed, so the player is able to play a melody to the background music by just pressing them.

Unity + Audiokinetic Wwise
Rocket Science Hackathon 2020
Original sound design and music
Play here (Android APK):
Google Drive

As the result of an online Game Jam called the ‘Rocket Science Hackathon’, part of the 2020 ITFS, ‘Back To Earth’ was the first time I worked on a mobile game. For this project I partnered up with two programmers I had already worked with before on ‘Isolation’, one of them also taking on the 3D art. The topic of the Jam was Rocket Science and everything related to that, there were even some interesting and informative lectures held by researches and experts, which served as a great inspiration. We focused on the landing process of the space shuttle, as we thought it would make for a fun minigame experience.

Since the gameplay we came up with was basically linear, I decided against working on an adaptive music system and instead composed a main theme that evolved in instrumentation and timbre as the space shuttle gets closer to earth. As the music pretty much contrasts the rather stressful experience of landing a shuttle, it adds a really interesting layer to the game.

For the sound design I was really inspired by recordings from an actual space shuttle landing and recorded a friend of mine speaking lines from the original communications, which are being played according to the timer, as well as triggered when the heat reached a certain threshold. The overheating effect is also intensified by a dynamic sound effect, that gets louder as the ship is heating up.

Back To Earth

Stress Test

Unity + Audiokinetic Wwise
Global Game Jam 2021
Original sound design and adaptive music
Play here (Windows):
https://globalgamejam.org/2021/games/stresstest-2

At my second Global Game Jam in 2021, I worked again in a team with two programmers and two artists. The topic of the Jam was ‘Lost and found’ and we came up with a game concept where the player had to commute through a city environment to his workplace, while avoiding stressing out too much. For that he is free to choose his own path, with stressful events happening at different points in the level. For each new day there is also a task pointing to some place in the gameworld, which the player has to fulfill in order to be able to finish the stage.

The central game mechanic is a stress level that rises as the player is running or getting close to stressful events like a market, a barking dog or his ex-girlfriend. There are benches all across the city where the player can sit down to reduce his stress level again. If the character gets too stressed he will faint and the screen will turn black for a couple of seconds.

For the sound, I focused on an adaptive music system that adds layers to the background theme to make the music more stressful as the character gets more stressed. Above a certain threshold there are also separate layers of a rhythmic pattern fading in, to further intensify the experience. A tinnitus sound keeps playing after the game over screen is triggered.

I also created footstep sounds for running and walking on the different surfaces found in the level and ambiences, as well as sounds for the several stress events. I matched the attenuation distance and curve of these sounds to match that of the effect they would have on the characters stress level, to give the player an auditive feedback.

FUDGE Story + VS Code
Writing code in Typescript and CSS
Original story telling and character design
Aesthetic sound design and music
Self-drawn artworks
Play here (Chromium Browser only):
https://maxkrumm.github.io/VISUALNOVEL/Template.html

‘The Curse Of The Black Forest’ is a visual novel I created with FUDGE (https://github.com/JirkaDellOro/FUDGE) as an assignment for a class at university. There were lessons on storytelling, the history of visual novel and other relevant topics. Thus I learned a lot about narrative in games, the mechanics of the genre and things like character design and dialogue writing. With the aid of a template we got introduced to the different functions that we could implement with the engine, using Typescript and Visual Studio Code. Although the overall level was relatively basic, I gained a lot of valuable experience working with code.

For the assignment I came up with a story inspired by the nature around the place I was living in at the time and created characters that inhabit the world. The plot would branch off at certain points and provide choices for the player, eventually leading to three different endings. Every NPC the player comes across has a distinct personality and the interactions stay interesting through engaging dialogue supported by basic animations. For the backgrounds I took pictures and edited them in Photoshop to combine them with the character art I drew, to achieve a manga-like artstyle. Adding onto this, every UI element was styled with CSS.

As for sound, there are background themes I wrote for the four main chapters of the game and some sound design elements for ambience.

THE CURSE OF THE
BLACK FOREST

IDYLL

Unity + Audiokinetic Wwise
Advanced interactive music system
Mainly as programmer and game designer
Scripting in C#, building the game logic
Wwise project and implementation

‘Idyll’ is a school project, where we worked with a team of four sound designers/composers on a game concept for a 2D jump and run with focus on an interactive music system. The goal was to develop the game’s concept as far as possible and build a working prototype. Since I was the only team member who had any experience with code and audio implementation, I took on the role of the programmer. As this was out of my comfort zone, I decided to work in Unity and Wwise, both software I am familiar with.

The interactive music system is the core gameplay element and consists of four layers of music that play simultaneously, with every layer having multiple variations. These variations are being shuffled through as the player is going through the level, collecting the corresponding items for each layer. Through this gameplay loop the soundtrack is ever changing, with interesting and sometimes crazy combinations playing. Therefore we recorded and produced a great amount of loops from all different kinds of genres, mixed instruments and moods.

I started in Unity with the basic functions like movement and item-pickup and went on writing code for other relevant features like moving platforms and pointers. I mostly worked with online resources like tutorials and when I got stuck on a problem, I consulted one of my friends who are actual programmers. In Wwise I there are switches to trigger the different variations for each layer on a switchtrack, with a random switch being triggered every time the player picks up an item.

Unity + Audiokinetic Wwise
Global Game Jam 2021
Original sounddesign and music
Play here (Windows):
https://globalgamejam.org/2020/games/rewind-5

‘Flowl’ is the result of my first Global Game Jam I attended in 2020, at which I worked with a team of two 3D artists and two programmers. The topic of the Jam was ‘Repair’ and our idea was to create a 3D puzzle game where the player could repair certain parts of a level by approaching them and use a limited amount of ‘helpers’ to make these changes permanent. By using this mechanic he would then open up new paths and eventually make his way to the end of the level.

Since it became clear that with two 3D artists the visuals would reach a rather high level of polish, I really wanted to support those with equally high quality music. I composed the main theme with sample libraries, trying to catch the foreign and mystic atmosphere we were going for. I later went on to use that same set of sounds to create sound effects for the main game mechanic. For the ambience and world sounds I went for a realistic approach to make the experience as believable and immersive as possible.

Since I worked in a middleware I was able to take a bunch of integration work away from the programmers, enhancing productivity a lot. However, one of the main things I wanted to add a sound to was the altering of the level as the player approaches, which unfortunately turned out to be an issue that we weren’t able to solve in the limited amount of time.

Flowl

Maestro Al Dente

Defold
ITFS Music Game Jam 2019
Original sounddesign and main menu theme
Play here (Browser):
https://www.chasing-carrots.com/jam/itfs/maestro/index.html

This game is the result of my first game jam, where I had the chance to work together with creatives from the Stuttgart-based developer ‘Chasing Carrots’. The Jam was part of the ITFS and the aim was to create a music game, for which there were recordings of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra made available for use.

Our idea was to create a game slightly reminiscent of Guitar Hero, with bubbles rising from the bottom of the screen, of which the player has to pop the bad ones using the wobbly arm of a conductor.

For the bubble spawns we invented a system where I would create Midi files that resemble the Recordings of the Orchestra in pitch and rhythm, from which we could read the data to have then spawn bubbles based on these two variables. Although the result does not look 100% convincing in the game, it works and was a really interesting concept to work on.

On top of that I was able to record one of the violinists at the location with my Zoom recorder and used those recordings to create sound effects for when bad bubbles would pass through as well as some other events.

Lastly, I composed a short orchestral loop which functions as a main menu theme.

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