The Unreal Tournament 3 Developers Group is for teams that have chosen Epic's new Unreal game to base their mod on.
Our lead Sound Designer Steve Whetman recently moved from freelance Modder to full time industry pro...
Posted by WarmGun on Oct 26th, 2009
Hey Mod DB,
We are always stoked when one of our team members moves on to the professional level, snatched up by the big boys, never to be seen or heard from again :) Thankfully for us our faithful Sound Designer is still pounding out the work for Warm Gun... so before he fades off into the pro realm forever, we have decided to bring you guys an interview and a tutorial on UT3 audio. We figure it would be a helpful tool for young aspiring audio designers to check out...
So first things first, tell us a little about yourself and your role on the Warm Gun team?
I started out writing music, electronic stuff like drum & bass, electro & dubstep kinda stuff. But i was always into games and really wanted to make sound for them so i started work on a few mods. Warm Gun is the only one still alive and strong, the team has been a bit up and down but there have been some core members who have kept it alive and we are strong. I've spent about a year off and on doing sound effects for Warm Gun and I'm preparing characters speech at the moment.
You recently found a full time position in the industry...
How has the transition from freelance been, whats different, whats the same?
It was the work on Warm Gun that allowed me to get the experience I needed to get an industry position, so it still holds true that working on mods is a valid way of breaking in to the industry. Basically it shows developers that you have the stamina to see a project through to completion, work as part of a team, take instruction and show motivation to work in your spare time. Not to mention being able to see the quality of what you can do running in-game. Its different in many ways but in some its the same, on Warm Gun I was the only Sound Designer and we had a team of about 20, the studio I work for now has several Sound Designers and a massive team doing all kinds of stuff. We use our own engine tools that are built in house but I still make sound the same way using stuff from Sony like Sound Forge etc. And the engine tools are kind of similar in principle so learning on an engine like Unreal has allowed me to gain a basic grasp of how engines in general handle audio.
What are some of the tools you use?
Sound Forge, Vegas, Logic, loads of plugins, a portable recorder and anything that i can think of to record that sounds good.
What are some of the challenges you faced with Warm Gun?
Making stuff sound like it belongs in the Warm Gun universe, just taking a normal rifle or pistol sound and tweaking it wasn't enough, i really wanted our sounds to have character and sound like they've been crafted out of parts that weren't designed to go together, with parts that were added on to give the weapons more power. So you can hear the mechanical elements of the guns ratcheting and clanking or the steam/gas powered elements firing up a machine gun.
What is the hardest part about working in a virtual team environment?
Everyone being in different countries and time zones can make things difficult, skype goes some way to helping bring the team together, but sometimes you just want to walk over to someone's desk and just ask them to show you a model or an animation so you can get on with making that reload sound etc. Things can take a bit longer when everyone works remotely but we do ok, its a solid team of helpful people.
Any words of wisdom to those aspiring Sound Designers who are working on Mods?
Just keep doing it, and have as much fun while you're at it. Listen to as much reference material as you can from films and games to compare your work with, don't copy others but try and get your mixes fat and clear by comparing how others are doing it etc. Go for the best quality, most suitable and most interesting audio you can to help your team's work stand out. As for the mod teams who still don't think audio is that important, don't just grab a generic sound pack and stuff them unchanged into your game, or record stuff from youtube videos and use them, its obvious and it sounds awful. Get someone who's really up for doing some cool sounds for you, there are loads of them about on game audio forums looking for experience. And if their show reel is a bit basic then still give them a chance to learn on the job, perhaps give them a little audio test by asking them to create 1 or 2 simple sounds to see if they can meet your specifications.
But above all FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED, too many promising mods end up on the scrap heap, its no use to anyone if it can't be played.
Here is a link to download Warm Gun Audio 101 - A feature written by Steve Whetman
"Its an extended version of the document that I sent along with my showreel to the studio I now work for, apparently the document was what clinched it, so I thought I’d share." SM