Composition Series - #2 Sound Design for Lord of Rigel
The Lord of Rigel Soundtrack is split into 7 sections – Ambient, Menus, Tactical Combat, Ground Combat, Species, Diplomacy and Events. For each I have tried to create a unique sound palette whilst still borrowing from each other to keep it tied into the overall feel of the game.
I have blended heavy amounts of synthesis with more traditional orchestral sounds, and a lot of processing and effects chaining has been used to achieve certain elements. This has particularly been the case with the species music, which has required lots of sound design to get the right results (or at least to what I was aiming for).
The Aranid tracks being a good example, whereby I wanted to give the feeling that there is a swarm and the clicking of jaws. The clicking was made using delayed, saturated stick hits with a short modulated reverb to change the tonal quality. I also eq’d out the low mids and compressed the sound to sharpen the attack which helps it cut through the mix. The swarm is pure synthesis, using a lot of the granulator in Native Instruments Absynth to give a fast modulated sound with randomised pitch shifting. A long, thick hall reverb was then added to give the impression that there are thousands of these things coming from the speakers.
The ambient music plays an important role in Lord of Rigel as you navigate the galaxy, providing a backdrop to its vastness. I’m using a lot of breathy synths and pads and have pushed the mix way back to give the impression of depth and distance. In some cases there are strong melodies, and in others they take on the form of an underscore or something less intrusive. The use of reverbs are important for ambient soundscapes so a lot of time was spent adjusting settings to create the right space for the tracks to sit in. The compositions themselves are quite simple but I want there to be an emotional element to these pieces to avoid them sounding too sterile. With the game essentially being a space opera, conveying that sense of scale that the player should experience seems the right way to go but also keeping it somewhat personal.
There have been a couple of times where I have consciously created tracks with influences in mind but in the main I have tried to feel my way through this process. Most of the influences I need are right there in front of me – artwork, lore and game mechanics. So that is where I usually start. In term of the challenges I have encountered, the major one is dealing with the big palette of sounds and producing them in a way that keeps the overall aesthetic together and coherent. I think I have achieved that but you can make up your own minds when the game is released (only let me know if I have though!).