Project Portal: Update 3

Who wants to see a test run for some Project Portal sounds? You do? We’ll I’m glad I asked! In this update I bring you an in-game sample of what I call the “portal shoot sequence”. There are three core SFX triggered each time a player shoots a portal: shoot, portal open, and portal close. These have a multiple versions that are randomly triggered. Most of the other sounds were unchanged for this test.

A few lessons this project has taught me so far…

1. Be organized–>Be efficient.
I have to admit my first Project Portal sessions were a mess. I’d like to think all of my sessions are organized, but in this case I didn’t yet understand how I was going to go about designing and replacing sounds. However, after a bit of trial and error, I routed up with a great desk to both design new sounds and reference the old ones.

Just as important, is file organization. I’m working with the contents of .gcf files. These often  have large folder hierarchies that are really going to matter when it comes to replacing sounds. I learned that you don’t create new .gcf files, but instead replicate their hierarchy in your own directory. At first thought it seems simple, but it’s easy to get mixed up when you’re dealing with hundreds of audio files. Each have an exact filename, directory, sampling rate, etc, and the game engine isn’t going to be forgiving with any errors.

Both of these ideas have helped me to be a lot more efficient with the time I get to spend on this project.  I don’t take any more time than I need to fiddling with the session or finding files.

2. Redundancy
Most audio folks already understand this, but Project Portal has really hammered it down for me. Autosave is your friend. Backup everything. Backup those backups as well. Don’t trust your harddrives; they’re out to get you.

3. Test, Test, Test
Almost nothing is as useful and rewarding as testing out sounds through gameplay. For me, you can’t beat the feeling of your own sounds being triggered in-game. No matter how many test runs I do, I’m jumping up and down on the inside (and sometimes the outside) every time. Not only is the experience gratifying, but it’s the best way to tell if your sounds work from the player’s perspective. Maybe your sound is great alone, but only through gameplay can you tell if it jives well with other noise in the game or even if it get’s annoying after a while. Sound quality directly affects the amount of time you can play without getting fatigued.

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