At the onset of production for Octodad, I was faced with a rather unique problem: what, exactly, does an Octopus sound like when it has not only been removed from its natural habitat underwater to become a landomorph, but also has somehow become father to human children and husband to a human woman? The answer:
The above is a visual representation of what brought Octodad to life. I set out to create a soundscape for the Octopus that was both hilarious and refined in order to compliment the game’s humor, while being unintrusive. Essentially, I sought to reinforce the humor of the gameplay and art without pulling the player’s attention away from the task at hand (which, at any given time, probably involves destroying the house).
My quest to find the perfect materials for Mr. Octopus, however arduous, was quite enjoyable. It began in the bathroom of my apartment during the prototype phase of development. I searched for anything and everything I had on hand that might be used to make hilarious, squishy sounds. The things I found included: Sponges of various size, washcloths, and hand soap. I found none of these to be particularly what I was looking for. However, I recorded a heap of material, in hopes that I’d be able to combine these sounds with something else down the road for the perfect octopus footstep.
Fast forward to the first week of production. The time was nigh to stop experimenting, and start producing quality Octodad sounds. I pulled out all the stops. The nearest store I could locate in downtown Chicago that seemed to suit my cephalopodic needs was about a two-mile trek. I hoofed it to said party store, in hopes that I could find molding dough, party string, and an assortment of other items. Several hours later, I returned, victorious to the Depaul Game Development Lab, with a rather weighty sack of appropriate items.
The following day, armed with a Zoom h4n and ready to make a huge mess in my bathroom sink, I set to work. I began by wetting a rather large selection of “Edu-Dough” and smashing it around. One mess after another followed. The day concluded in my bedroom with a big ole’ pile of whoopee cushions. Possibly my favorite sound that got recorded that day was by accident. I was enjoying a banana while taking a break for lunch, and realized that the sound it made in my mouth was exactly what I was looking for. Wasting no time, I grabbed for my recorder, and the rest is history. The following pictures describe how the day went more clearly than words ever could:
By day’s end, I had somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour and a half of raw audio to sort out.
I spent the better part of two weeks sorting through this mish mash of material. I had created around sixty rough sounds to work with, that would later be polished and would become Octodad. I presented a couple of fraps videos to the team, to give them an idea of what the Octopus would sound like in game.
From this point, the bulk of the work was finished. I picked out a handful of sounds for each of the functions the Octopus could carry out: walking, grabbing, and dropping. Having selected a good number of these, I went through and made a number of revisions, involving filtering out some of the unwanted frequencies, normalizing volumes, and other edits that are far too tedious for discussion here. Finally, I placed these sounds into the sound engine, fmod. In order to keep these sounds from become too repetitive, I made used of some of the built in features of this wonderful engine. Each action carried out by Octodad has a group of sounds assigned to it, that are randomly played by the sound engine. So, when Octodad picks up a bottle of Expired Milk, a sound from the “grabbing” category is randomly selected. Each of these groups also has a pitch randomization assigned to it, so the exact same sound is rarely ever heard, and the player does not not get annoyed.
Thus concludes my talk of Octopus sounds.
Tune in for Part II: Collision sounds system.
– Seth Parker, Audio design lead and music composer
If you have any questions, or want more specific information about any of this, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.orgRead more