Online Undergraduate-Level Course
Introduction to Game Audio
Authored by Jeanine M Cowen, Gina Zdanowicz
Course Code: OMPRD-295
An audio professional working in the gaming industry is required to possess not only musical and audio talent, but also knowledge and experience with typical game audio workflow. Introduction to Game Audio prepares you for a career in the industry by covering the many facets of sound production and engineering that are particular to games.
You'll begin by gaining an overview of game sound development, and the basics of sound effects libraries and recording Foley while working with animation. The course will cover typical studio effects, sound manipulation, and addresses technical hurdles you might encounter. You'll learn more advanced concepts and techniques such as recording custom effects, proper integration of audio into game engines like Unity and middleware such as FMOD, and mixing techniques particular to the gaming industry. You'll also take a look at the business side of the industry—who's involved and what their role is, scheduling, contracts, networking, building a demo reel, and finalizing a workflow. At the end of the course, you will have completed full audio (including sound design, dialogue, and music) for several short games for your portfolio, and a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that will prepare you to work at a game development company or as a freelance game audio professional.
By the end of this course, you will be able to:
- Record Foley and work with sound libraries to create original sound design
- Develop sound design and music for interactive environments
- Compose and edit music interactively with layering, branching and transitions
- Create video game soundscapes incorporating dialogue, sound design, and music
- Work with a variety of tools like FMOD and Unity to complete game audio implementation
- Work collaboratively and under the direction of a team leader
- Complete and implement an Audio Design Document
- Know how to create a portfolio and use it for networking
Lesson 1: Game Audio Overview
- Meet and Greet
- Video Game Sound Types
- Video Game Genres
- Assess the Audio in a Game Clip
- Game Company Personnel and Game Development Overview
- Hierarchical Map of a Typical Game Company
- Video Game History and Playback Systems
- Test your knowledge of Video Game History
- Game Sound Development Overview
- Audio Assessment of a Game
Lesson 2: Working with SFX Libraries
- The Basics of Sound Effects Libraries
- Storage Space
- Starting Your Sound Effect Library
- Preparing Your Sound Effects Library
- Organizing Your Sound Effects
- Trim, Edit, and Level Footstep Sounds
- Animation Systems
- Working with Animations
- Performance Considerations and Tracking Strategies
- Footstep Project
Lesson 3: Recording Custom SFX
- Field Recorders
- Assess Your Microphone Cabinet
- Signal Flow
- Record Footsteps Part 1
- Microphone Techniques
- Record Footsteps Part 2
- Recording on Location
- Custom Sounds for Animation
Lesson 4: Unity & Real-World Sound Design for Games
- Applied Effects
- Manipulation and “Sound_Design-y” Effects
- Identifying Applied Effects
- Working with an Audio Engine (Unity)
- Game Engines
- Bringing All the Sounds Together
- Implementing Audio in Unity
Lesson 5: Interactive Music
- Game Music Types
- Game Music History
- Technical Hurdles
- Horizontal Music Scoring
- Implementation of Looped Music in Unity
- Style and Genre Considerations
- Final Music Edits and Discussion
Lesson 6: FMOD: Interactive Scoring and Implementation
- Interactive Music History
- Vertical Music Scoring
- Create Three Simple Motifs
- Introduction to Middleware
- Scripting Systems for Interactive Sound
- Knowing Your Limits
- Complete the Interactive Music Project
- Interactive Music Approaches Discussion
Lesson 7: Recording and Editing Dialogue
- Dialogue Supervision
- Preproduction and Casting
- Casting Call Exercise
- Recording Preparation
- Recording Setup
- Preparing Your Recording Space
- Recording and Processing
- Editing Dialogue
- File Management and Delivery
- Add Dialogue to an Existing Game
- Game Dialogue Analysis
Lesson 8: Sound Design for User Interface Experiences
- Menu Interface Sound Design
- Unified Soundscapes
- User Interface Sound Design Discussion
- Synthesized Interface Sounds
- Record and Edit Mechanical Interface Sounds
- UI sound Design for Mobile Games
- Complete a Set of User Interface Sounds for a Game
Lesson 9: Interactive Sound Design in FMOD
- FMOD: Parameters and Game Data
- FMOD: Event Reference Modules
- FMOD: Logic Track
- Sound Design and Implementation
- Complete an FMOD Sound Design Project
Lesson 10: Unity & FMOD Final Project Part 1
- Diegetic vs Non-Diegetic sounds
- FMOD Studio and Unity Integration
- FMOD: Scatter Module
- FMOD: Transition Regions
- Unity and FMOD Final Project
Lesson 11: Final Project Part 2, Budgeting and Schedules
- The Audio Director, Sound Designer, and Composer Roles
- Start an Audio Design Document
- The Team
- Create a Content List
- Milestones, Tradeshows, and other Deadlines
- Complete a New Schedule
- Time vs. Money vs. Quality
- FMOD: Live Update
- Complete The Unity and FMOD Project
Lesson 12: Demo Reels and Working in the Industry
- Performance Issues and Space Limitations
- Calculate Down sampling/Bit Reduction and Compression
- Quality Assurance/Testing
- Verify Functionality of Your Unity/FMOD Project
- Final Delivery and Archive
- Post Mortem
- Demo Reels and Networking
- Presenting Your Portfolio
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Completion of one of the following courses Pro Tools 101, Pro Tools 110, Producing Music with Logic, Producing Music with Reason, Producing Music with Cubase, Ableton Live Fundamentals, or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.
Students must be proficient with a professional-level digital audio workstation (DAW) and sequencer of their choice, including the ability to record individual tracks, trace signal flow, complete a basic mix, route to and from effects and software instruments, and integrate any relevant MIDI gear as required. Students must have an advanced knowledge of MIDI sequencing, with the ability to edit pre-existing information. Students must also have an understanding of music theory and harmony, and be prepared to compose music and sound design elements in an appropriate genre for their game project. Knowledge of dramatic scoring techniques is suggested. Students should also be active as a casual gamer in some part of the industry whether it be console, computer, cell phone, or Web/Flash-based games.
- The Game Audio Strategy Guide: A Practical Course by Gina Zdanowicz and Spencer Bambrick, Focal Press
- Principles of Game Audio and Sound Design: Sound Design and Audio Implementation for Interactive and Immersive media by Jean-Luc Sinclair, Focal Press
- Writing Interactive Music for Games by Michael Sweet, Addison-Wesley Professional
- Game Audio Development with Unity 5.x by Michael Lanham, Packt
- Music for New Media by Paul Hoffert, Berklee Press
- Audio for Games: Planning, Process, and Production by Alexander Brandon, New Riders Games
- A Composer's Guide to Game Music by Winifred Phillips, MIT Press
- The Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers, Michael Wiese Productions;
- A full-featured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as Pro Tools, Reaper, Cubase, Nuendo, or Logic Pro X.
- Virtual Instruments (VIs), such as those included with most full-featured DAWs (note: Reaper is an exception), or third-party sample library plug-ins.
- Audio converter, such as MediaHuman Audio Converter (free).
- FMOD Studio*
*Please check the Getting Started section of your course after enrolling for the exact Unity and FMOD versions required, and how to download them.
It would be helpful to become familiar with the software and their user manuals ahead of time.
- MIDI keyboard controller.
- A means of recording high-quality audio in various locations for custom sound effects, such as:
- A portable field recorder (e.g. Zoom H4N Pro), OR
- A microphone connected to a laptop, either as an XLR mic connected via an audio interface (e.g. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2), or a USB mic. Suitable mics include shotgun, condenser (e.g. Audio-Technica AT2020), or dynamic mics (e.g. Shure SM57/58), OR
- A microphone attachment connected to a smartphone
- At least 400GB available storage space.
- For Mac users, we typically recommend avoiding updating to the latest MacOS available, as this often affects overall compatibility with the software.
- For Windows users, we typically recommend against using a Microsoft Surface tablet/laptop for this course, due to known performance issues.
- Please ensure that your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements to run all of the required software for the course.
After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Jeanine Cowen, Professor of Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music, is a frequent lecturer on the topic of music technology and new media industries. She is an active composer, music producer, and technologist, working primarily with sound and music for visual media. Jeanine studied at Northwestern University as a classical percussionist and graduated with a degree from Berklee College of Music, completing a dual degree in film scoring and music production and engineering. Her graduate coursework focused on interactive design and game development at Savannah College of Art and Design.
Jeanine has worked on development teams at the Education Development Center, Inc., Turning Point Software, and Turbine Entertainment. Her compositions can be heard in a wide variety of art and media, in works that include the documentary The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, the critically acclaimed off-Broadway play Rapt, and Midway Games’ MMORPG Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. Her work as a percussionist can be heard on fellow Berklee composer and music technologist Stephen Webber's Stylus Symphony. Jeanine is an active advisor to the Alliance for Women Film Composers. Read Less
Author & Instructor
Gina Zdanowicz is an Emmy-Nominated sound designer and music composer for games, film, and TV. Her love for video games, sound, and technology began at a very early age and grew into a decade-long career in the games industry.
After graduating from Berklee College of Music with a degree in music synthesis, Gina focused on a career in game audio, working in-house for game developers as well as operating her own independent sound studio, Serial Lab Studios. Her work can be heard on more than 100 game titles from award-winning AAA games to casual games such as Just Cause 3, Bioshock2, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, CrimeCraft, and Runeward, to name a few.
In addition to her work in games, Gina continues to score feature films and TV projects, which have won awards around the world and have premiered on networks such as Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. She currently resides in New Jersey, just outside of NYC, where she creates game audio for clients worldwide. Read Less
When taken for credit, Introduction to Game Audio can be applied towards these associated programs:
Associated Certificate Programs
Associated Degree Majors
Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at email@example.com.