A story can never be complete without knowing who the characters are. This week in our Live Story, we are going to introduce you to one of our leading ladies, Bethany Borden. We had the opportunity to sit down with Bethany this week to learn more about her and her job here at Outhouse Games.
Outhouse Games: Can you tell us about your setup when designing and composing the sounds and music for our games?
Bethany Borden: I typically have my laptop, an additional monitor, good studio headphones, and the internet in my office. My keyboard serves as my midi controller when I’m there. When working from home, I have a more elaborate setup, with a large monitor, two speakers, a microphone, a 25 key midi controller, and my instruments. However, we are moving to a new, bigger office this month, so I’m excited to have everything consolidated in one place.
OG: What about your process of actually creating your music and sounds, do you have a routine or different programs you utilize to help you get your work done?
BB: Everyday, I write a to do list with things from biggest priority to least priority. I jump back and forth from social media, writing music, and researching 3D audio most days. When I write music, I use Noteflight and Logic Pro. I utilize audioblocks.com and Pond5.com to find most sound effects.
OG: In order to create you must have some kind of inspiration to do so. For you, where does your inspiration come from?
BB: I love to use words to inspire the music I write. The words help me decide things like the tempo (how fast or slow the music is), what instruments to use, and the style to write it in. For instance, our game experience is starting in an ancient pyramid. It’s huge, I’m alone, it’s poorly lit. I’m exploring at first. While I’m exploring, I’m overwhelmed with how big and old the place is. What would i hear? Maybe some leftover whisperings in the air from long ago. Maybe a very small bit of wind getting in. I’d hear my own footsteps and breathing. I may hear drips. Also, I want a very low hum or drone all the time to give it the dark slightly creepy feel and to create some grounding.
OG: Thinking about all the different kinds of sounds in a game environment seems like a difficult task in itself, how is it different now that you are working in a VR environment?
BB: When you are playing games on a console or PC, you’re hearing the sound from outside of the game. Some games, like Amnesia, have done a really good job using sound to scare you psychologically, because the breathing and sound effects trick you into thinking you’re there in the game. This is essential in VR games to make the immersion feel believable. You will have headphones on while playing, so now we can manipulate the sound spatially, meaning we can make you believe you are hearing it from different places. This convinces you that you are there and you become fully immersed. Sound is 50% of the experience in VR.
OG: That is a big undertaking to feel responsible for so much of the experience the player will go through. I’m sure you have had to change and learn new things in order to transfer your skills over to a VR game.
BB: I’m lucky to be musically trained, where Chris our co-founder is a programmer who understands audio. We are working together to implement sound into this game in the most believable way possible. We need to consider the sizes of room in order to place the right amount of reverb on the sound, so it sounds like you are there. We need to consider that sounds will be happening in other rooms, and we need the player to believe they are hearing it through the walls, floor, and ceilings. We need the player’s own sounds to sound like they are coming from him/her, such as breathing, heartbeat, gasps, etc. We are designing it so all the sound effects, ambience, and character sounds will be placed in spatial audio, but the music is going to be coming in “outside of the game” to create the soundtrack. We’d like it to be noticeable when it needs to be, but otherwise blends into the experience to make it seem almost like you’re in a movie. We want people to feel, see, and hear this game.
OG: Sounds like the game is going to have some pretty amazing music and sounds that really transport our players into the game. You must be excited to have your work out there for so many people to experience and enjoy.
BB: Yes, and this game has led to some amazing collaborations. I will be collaborating with another musician and composer for the music. Thad Anderson, the Assistant Professor of Music at UCF, coordinates the percussion studies program and teaches Music Composition and Technology courses. We both started attending UCF in 1999 and were in the Marching Knights and studied Music Education together. I will be composing music for the game and Thad with his percussionists will play and record it at UCF. In addition to that, we will be having the music performed live at a Salon concert in September, which is an annual event where local composers have pieces performed.
OG: This all sounds so exciting! Thank you, Bethany, for talking with us and can’t wait to see and hear your work on our upcoming game!
Connect with Bethany