“You want to use time rather than assets to define your scope,” Nick Thomas advised his audience at Casual Connect Europe 2014. “So you can adapt to the game, you can react to the game, and you put the priority on the quality of the product not the asset list.”
Nick Thomas is Co-founder and CEO of SomaTone Interactive, a company which provides music, sound design, voice over, and audio integration services for gaming and interactive entertainment companies. 2013 was the ten-year anniversary for the company. It was also its most successful year, posting its best financial performance and the release of its best work to date.
Mixing it Up
As a founder of SomaTone, Nick has been involved in every role in the company, including music composition, SFX design, voice over production, mixing, and field/foley recording, as well as everything necessary to grow the company, such as business development, accounting and marketing. As the company expanded, they hired content producers to create the audio assets, and his position transitioned into a creative management role. He now manages the network of studios, leads business development efforts, and creates strategic partnerships with publishers to create the best service pipeline possible.
Over the past ten years, SomaTone has produced music for hundreds of games. This fall, with the release of the soundtrack for the latest Ratchet and Clank PS3 title, Into the Nexus, Nick experienced the greatest moment of his career. The soundtrack included over 100 minutes of music composed by SomaTone’s Michael Bross and Senior Composer Mike Raznik. It also includes a live orchestra recorded in Nashville and mixed in their studio in Emeryville. Nick feels, “The results are truly fantastic. Ratchet and Clank represents a significant milestone in the quality of content we are producing and is a real achievement for SomaTone Interactive.”
Advancements in Audio
Nick believes the emerging trend that will have the most impact on the games industry is integration. He tells us, “We are on the cusp of a major advance in the technical capabilities of mobile games when it comes to audio management.” Wwise and fMod have both released mobile versions of their audio middleware technologies; Unity has bundled audio management tools in their dev environment. The result is a huge advance in creative resources for audio designers, game designers, and game programmers in audio integration. Games of all types are beginning to take advantage of more advanced audio tools, making the work of creating and integrating high quality audio experiences much more rewarding. He expects to see much higher investment in these tools as mobile games introduce dynamic music and SFX into casual and mid-core games.
SomaTone is now aggressively advocating these technologies to their partners and working to increase awareness and expectations from game developers and game players. Since implementation has traditionally been lacking in mobile games, Nick finds this trend a refreshing and welcome change.