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Exploring Mobile Games as an Engagement Platform

March 20, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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By Nick Thomas, Head of Gaming at Immersion

Over the coming months, I’ll be posting a blog series exploring untapped opportunities to increase engagement in mobile games, along with a few predictions on the future of the mobile gaming industry. We’ve been buzzing about this concept since the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) in San Francisco, where Immersion was given the opportunity to host the panel “Left Brain + Right Brain = Engagement.” This session featured industry leaders from both the creative and analytic side of mobile gaming spectrum, and I was delighted to philosophize with industry experts Jeff Drobick of Tapjoy, Jeffrey Cooper of Samsung, and David Zemke of DeNA. Our wide ranging discussion uncovered a rich tapestry of ideas that illuminate some of the core mechanics in both designing and analyzing mobile games, which in turn provided insights for game developers on how to improve engagement in their games. This series will touch on some of the key takeaways from the panel and our work since, and will offer game developers some actionable ideas to implement in creating the more creative and engaging games.

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5 Reasons Why all Game Makers Should Get a Creative Audit for their Games

July 17, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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resized In this month’s Game Audio Artistry column, video game industry veteran Nick Thomas, CEO and co-founder of SomaTone, Inc., discusses the importance of a creative audit and what it can do for a game. 


Our Creative Audit process was spawned through our involvement with Chartboost University, which brings in eight of the most talented Indie developers from across the globe, with the philanthropic goal of helping these devs learn and grown in a mentorship environment.

SomaTone’s role was to serve as the creative auditor of the audio in these games, and to provide an expert perspective on the tech, creative, and overall experience of the audio within these games—and to do so with zero bias. The response from the indie community at CBU was a combination of gratitude, excitement, and relief that there were creative experts, with hundreds of games to their credit, who could evaluate and constructively critique the quality of this aspect of their games. Questions were answered and the end result was a clear understanding of the “temperatures” of their current audio, with a clear road map on what could and should be done to bring their game from passable to excellent.

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Michael Bross discussing games in a format similar to what is done during a Creative Audit at Chartboost University.

Not Only For Indies

It turns out that it is not just the indie community who finds this service useful. In fact, indies arguably have a more advanced sense of how to approach audio in games and what sounds good, what tech to use, and how to make their game sound like an excellent product. Established mobile game developers and publishers have also found that the Creative Audit provides them with an invaluable opportunity to gain a critical, objective perspective on the relatively subjective world of game creativity (including design, art, and audio).

While it’s always helpful to get feedback and fresh eyes and ears on any project at various stages of development, gathering input, insights, and ideas from experts and specialists can make a big difference toward enhancing a game. So here are five key reasons why all game makers should seek out a Creative Audit for their games at some point along the way:

5 Reasons for a Creative Audit

We’re in an age when specialists, not generalists, are key players in the fine-tuning process.

1.  The Creative Audit leverages the experience of experts. No single game designer or producer can be an expert an all aspects of game production. While some experience may lean more towards visual design, others have an audio background, and some specialize in analytics. We’re in an age when specialists, not generalists, are key players in the fine-tuning process. Experts often have a highly focused set of expertise, so there is wisdom and benefit derived from seeking creative assessments from a range of seasoned and skilled industry pros representing different disciplines.

2.  It’s all in the polish, and a Creative Audit takes you there. Candy Crush is one of the most polished games I have ever seen in the mobile games space. All aspects of the art, programming, design, and even audio have been scrutinized with granular precision. In today’s crowded and highly competitive gaming ecosystem, there is no room for a marginal or even just good product. It must be excellent. The Creative Audit offers an opportunity to bring a product to the next level by offering qualitative assessments that spring from solid experience and expertise, coupled with actionable recommendations for improving and further polishing a game.

Different minds see things differently, and these kinds of divergent viewpoints can really enhance the creative levels of a game, often in unexpected ways.

3.  Even experts need an outside perspective. Even if you have hired the most talented art director, composer, artists, level designer, (whatever), there is simply a human limitation to what comes with an inside-only perspective. After 6-12 months of looking at only one product, and doing so intensively, it is practically impossible to avoid tunnel vision. By giving fresh perspective, a creative audit can do a lot to re-inspire and re-invigorate a game and identify key opportunities that may have been missed by those so intimately (and exhaustively) familiar with the game. Different minds see things differently, and these kinds of divergent viewpoints can really enhance the creative levels of a game, often in unexpected ways.

4.  Asking the right questions leads to interesting answers. It takes a level of humility to admit that we cannot know what we don’t know. It can be vexing to attempt to evaluate a game’s creativity level without knowing the essential questions to pose in this analytical process. When the right questions are asked, some interesting answers and realizations can be unearthed that will amp up the degree of originality and excellence in a game.

5.  No harm, no foul. A Creative Audit is a free, or at most, a very inexpensive way to benefit from an outside perspective from a team of experts. This process can serve as the catalyst for key tweaks, improvements, and embellishments to correct aspects of a game that need some work and catapult good games to a higher level of creative excellence.

Asking questions is widely considered to be the single most important habit of innovative thinkers, so naturally the Creative Audit process is bound to lead to higher levels of creativity and innovation within a game. What do you think?

Check back next month for the next Game Audio Artistry article!

 

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How to Lead a Creative Kick-Off Meeting to Land Top-Notch Outcomes

June 6, 2014 — by Mariia Lototska

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resizedVideo game industry veteran, Nick Thomas, and CEO/Co-Founder of SomaTone, Inc., has been through 10 years of creative kick-off meetings, both productive and unproductive. In this month’s Game Audio Artistry column, Nick highlights 10 tips to make the most out of your creative meetings.


One of the most daunting stages in the collaborative process relates to how and where to start with the creative and logistical partnership with a game developer or publisher.

Approaching a new game or, even more so, jumping in on a live product, can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. We have participated in more than a few meetings with game developers, producers, game designers, programmers, and creative directors wherein time was spent in discussions, but at the end of the call, we are no closer to understanding what is needed, or what the vision for the game is. This phenomenon birthed an approach for us that works well for all stakeholders in the project.

Developing a Process

Over the years, we have developed a tried-and-true process in which we lead these creative meetings and drive the conversation forward to a successful launching point for the collaboration— rather then squandering that key opportunity to drill down and get to the core of what is needed. We seize the moment at the outset to ask the key questions, explore the possibilities, and develop ideas that will help us realize the vision.

To this end, here is the SomaTone process for leading a creative kick-off meeting, along with key questions and discussion points that are often forgotten, but should be standard in nearly any creative partnership. These suggestions are outside of the obvious discussions on the scope, technical requirements, and timeline for the partnership, which are (of course) necessary details, but they do little to define the goals for the game or the vision of the game designers and producers.

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To this end,  SomaTone created a process for leading a creative kick-off meeting, along with key questions and discussion points that are often forgotten, but should be standard in nearly any creative partnership.

Creative Kick-Off Playbook

1. No Surprises: It is amazing how rarely meeting agendas or creative summaries are provided from our clients prior to a meeting. So our standard practice is to take the time internally before the kick-off and create a list of all the key questions that need to be addressed in the meeting (many of which I will share with you below). Simply laying these key discussion points out in a format that is easy to edit or notate is a very helpful exercise, and provides structure and clarity to a meeting which can otherwise often feel loose and sloppy. Better yet, send these questions to the meeting partners in advance so they can prepare answers prior to meeting, and not be caught off guard and left thinking on their feet.

Getting inside the developer’s head and establishing the baseline for a collaboration are key to a successful outcome.

2. Creative Mind-Meld: The kick-off meeting is the best opportunity for a creative mind-meld. Getting inside the developer’s head and establishing the baseline for a collaboration are key to a successful outcome. Having access to and reviewing the GDD, concept art, or, best yet, prototype of the game build itself are highly important to clearly understand the vision of a game. Ask for these materials before the meeting, not after, so all questions can be understood inside a clear picture of where the project is heading, not on guess work and assumptions.

3. Use Existing Samples in Your Discussions and Don’t Forget the Love-Child: Looking to existing games, mechanics, art, animations, and musical scores is a great way to help frame a creative discussion. This is often confused as a process of cloning, which is quite different. It is amazing how often Candy Crush is referenced in a creative meeting (or Hay Day or other hit mobile games). However, 9 times out of 10, these titles are not referenced in an attempt to replicate the creative style, but rather to point to other aspects of the game, such as the mechanics or production values. To say I like ___ aspect of Candy Crush really helps communicate the vision without asking for the aspect of said game to be copied. Another tried-and-true method is the love-child analogy. “I’m looking for Clash of Clans meets World of Tanks” is a very helpful way to communicate the game style, mechanics, and production values, and gives us a very clear idea of where the project is headed.

4. Get the Vision: Who is the visionary of the project, or do they have a “vision” for the gestalt of the game?  Often times, we find this is a role that developers are looking to outsource, while their primary concern is on the mechanics and technical execution of the game design. The exact look, feel, or sound of the game is generally a 50/50 split between the internal game producers and designers knowing what they want, or asking for outside assistance and leadership in helping to define the vision. Either way can lead to a successful outcome, but it is best to specifically address this early in the process so if a vision is not being provided, we can create one.

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Defining the demographic you are appealing to is key to the approach taken.

5. Know your Audience: Who is the audience? Sooner or later, all game developers learn that making music/SFX/art for an ultra-wide demographic means you make no one very happy. While it is tempting to say I want 5-80 year-olds to like my game, the reality is that this strategy is rarely successful, and if so, it’s often by mistake rather then by design. So, defining the demographic you are appealing to is key to the approach taken. A Pokémon-style card game is quite different from a slot machine in its demographics, and the creative conversation should leverage that key point, not hide from it.

6. Identify the Game’s “Wow” Moments: What are the key moments of the game? Game design and audio/visual supporting elements often have wow moments, or payoffs for the player at key times within the game play. These can be moments such as level up or quest complete, or are used to support other Free-to-Play elements to encourage the player to pay for features. These key moments are great to identify, so they can be given special attention and help brand the game. Internally, we call these “signature sounds”, which are the key branded SFX in a game that help brand the experience.

7. Factor in Time Expectations: What is the time play-length expectation? Is the game designed to support long play sessions, such as an RTS, or are they usually short and dynamic play sessions, such as Casino? Again, understanding the tempo of the game helps define how to support the game play sessions with impactful or more subtle audio. Long sessions, for example, call for more ambient, less thematic music that is not intrusive, with subtle sound design. Short game play sessions, such as in casino games, tend to really pop.

Assuming this is the case, creating a plan for ongoing support is a good idea to discuss so all parties know how best to support the game post-launch.

8. Think Ahead: What is the plan for new content support? Setting up a pipeline for new content is helpful to discuss up front, while still in the pre-launch production mode. Many game designers have not thought much beyond just hitting a code lock version of their games and successfully launching on the app store. An important comment I have heard many times is: “releasing a game is the easy part, growing your audience and supporting the live product is the real challenge.” Assuming this is the case, creating a plan for ongoing support is a good idea to discuss so all parties know how best to support the game post-launch.

9. Identify the Lead: Who is the ____  Lead, (in our case audio lead)? In AAA/Console gaming, there is almost always an internal lead who is tasked with managing the creative pipeline for whatever is required, such as audio. However, in many small studios, and even in larger mobile publishers, there is often no dedicated person assigned to the audio, or even the art. Many mobile producers wear many hats and as such, they are responsible for overseeing a variety of the creative aspects of the game.

10. Find the Fun: What makes this game fun? That is a tough question to ask flat out— it’s almost like asking on a first date why you should spend your time with someone— but ultimately, that’s what we are all trying to figure out. If you can navigate that key question, and help the game developer identify what is inherently “fun” about their game, that can often be the building block for the vision of the entire collaboration.

Admittedly, this is not such an easy task. As a self-professed Candy Crusher, I have a very hard time communicating exactly why that game is, in fact, so much fun.

However, when I stop and think about it, I realize that the fun is not just the matching of items (after all, there are hundreds of games that do that); the fun has to do with the overall creative experience of the game, with its delightful glossy candies, trippy dreamlike music, and the saga aspect of the game, which compels my curiosity to need to know what is behind curtain #348.

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If you can help the game developer identify what is inherently “fun” about their game, that can often be the building block for the vision of the entire collaboration.

Exploring these fundamental questions and ideas at the beginning of the collaborative journey assures that the process will lead to the best possible outcomes and rewards for all.

Look forward to next month’s installment, when Game Audio Artistry will share lessons learned from an indie collaboration.

 

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Moving with the Latest Pendulum Swing: Right Before Our Eyes, Another Gaming Industry Transformation

April 4, 2014 — by Mariia Lototska

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Nick ThomasNick Thomas, CEO and Co-Founder of SomaTone, Inc., is a video games industry veteran and thought leader with 10+ years of proven executive leadership results with a focus on developing strategic industry partnerships, innovating creative outsourcing solutions and managing talented teams that contribute to more than 100 games annually from nearly all major publishers and developers, as well as independent developers. He discusses the transformation occurring in the industry in this article.


It’s happening again, right before our eyes; we’re in the midst of yet another era of redefinition and reinvention in the ever-evolving gaming industry. While the landscape is changing dramatically, history shows us that something new and good will invariably emerge. After all, (and despite many attempts), you cannot own or control creativity, or predict the future of gaming.

We at SomaTone are ten years deep as a leading provider of creative content for mobile, social, and casual games, working at the forefront of gaming over the last decade’s explosive growth. Having produced audio content on hundreds of games for many of the top publishers as well as for the indies, our vantage point gives us a sweeping perspective across the landscape of the games industry– from AAA console games, to MMO’s, to Social/Mobile, to Casual, and beyond.

We’re seeing the cyclical pendulum swing of innovation, homogenization, and reinvention continuing to keep the publishers of gaming content guessing as the smaller, faster, and more creative start-ups are yet again redefining the gaming industry.

Creative comrades in the face of an ever-changing industry
Creative comrades in the face of an ever-changing industry, SomaTone’s Nick Thomas with Tap4Fun CEO Kevin Yang at GDC 2014

The Ripple Effects of Converting Players into Users in Mobile Gaming

Casual games continue to go through a familiar pattern, and we are currently emerging from a decline of the smaller “Mom and Pop” game developers, who have been squeezed out by the realities of mobile publishing and the dominance of Free-to-Play (F2P) games. This economic model has sought to systematically convert game “users” into a currency that has been hoarded, sold, and traded in an effort to control access to “game players.”

As a consequence, the industry was stratified into large game publishers–who controlled the access to “users” and thus the majority of the market–and new start-ups and Indies, who were either being gobbled up by these same publishers, or self-publishing and hoping for a Flappy Bird-style anomalous hit.

The middle-class of game development–studios of 20-50 working on games that were sold via standard pay-to-play standards with supportive publishing partners–has suffered. With limited access to users, who are carefully controlled by game publishers, it was nearly impossible for mid-sized independent game developers to make and sell their own games and support their teams. The result was a polarized and stratified industry in which a small fraction of game publishers own the vast majority of market, making it extremely difficult for small game developers to independently make and sell their games without yielding to the requirements of the publishers, who will own the IP, take the lion’s share of the revenue, with no clear obligation to bring “users” to their game.

“Every time the industry has homogenized itself by the few having control of the many, a new era of gaming has invented itself.”

Now while all publisher models attempt to control access and distribution to customers (this is in fact what publishers are supposed to do), there is a dramatic new variable at play, with the F2P economy. This “race to the bottom” business model, which has led to disruptive game-play mechanics designed to extract fees from “users”, in their efforts to enjoy a fully featured game-play experience and be “players”, is highly dependent on publishers’ access to users, and their ability to monetize these users. Those “old school” game designers, who sought to develop great games, that offered fully featured immersive game-play experiences at the outrageously expensive price of $.99, never stood a chance against “free” games, which are developed by game publishers and promoted to their “users”, requiring players to pay for the features included in a 1-dollar competing title.

This Latest Cycle Will Induce a Painful Rebirth

This cycle of innovation, homogenization and reinvention is not a new trend. We have seen this same cycle in gaming in the past, with Big Fish Games‘ consolidation of the PC Downloadable market and subsequently, Zynga‘s dominance of browser-based Facebook, and in both cases, there was a painful rebirth of the industry. Those fastest to adapt to the new ecosystems survived, and those who could not evolve, died away.

However, it is also true that every time the industry has homogenized itself by the few having control of the many, a new era of gaming has invented itself. Just after Big Fish unequivocally took control of PC downloadable, Facebook came along and completely disrupted their reign. A few short years later, the kings of Facebook (Zynga, Playdom, Wooga) have been dethroned, only to be replaced by the current leaders of the mobile industry. With each successive attempt to control and “own” the industry, new life has begun.

“You cannot control game players or ‘own’ creativity. A new era is currently percolating under the thin crust of the mobile/casual games ecosystem, and by my observations, we are onto a new dawn of gaming.”

This reminds me of Jurassic Park. Life finds a way. In this case, creativity finds a way, and despite the attempts of the current reign of publishers to own and control this inherently creative marketplace, they are discovering, just as all others before them have, that you cannot control game players or “own” creativity.

A new era is currently percolating under the thin crust of the mobile/casual games ecosystem, and by my observations, we are onto a new dawn of gaming. One in which King.com, and Kabam, or perhaps even the Apple Store and Google Play store, will soon find themselves trying to catch up, and wondering what happened as the world they felt so sure of has shifted beneath their feet.

“Mom and Pop” developers, take heart. The pendulum swings both ways. And from our vantage point, which reaches from the largest publishers to the smallest indies, the playing field is leveling.

2014 will be a year of reorganization and consolidation, as the bubble of Mobile/Social games refocuses its efforts, and quality will retake its place as the leading factor in a company’s success, rather than simply a publisher’s control of access to users. And developing innovative and high-quality games has always been what the “Mom and Pop” game studios have done best and are continuing to do.

Look forward to the next installment of this series next month, a case study on Zynga’s Puzzle Charms!

 

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Nick Thomas on the Importance of Audio | Casual Connect Video

March 20, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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“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.”

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Nick Thomas
Nick Thomas, Co-founder and CEO, SomaTone Interactive

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.”

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“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's Orchestral Session
SomaTone’s Orchestral Session

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.

 

Video Coverage

Nick Thomas: You Must Invest in Audio to Remain Competitive | Casual Connect Video

February 21, 2013 — by Catherine Quinton

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At Casual Connect Europe, Nick shared his “winning formula” for making audio work on today’s platforms, helping developers understand how much they need to invest to remain competitive. He points out, “We know what it takes to be successful with audio and how to work with designers and producers. We have to consider both the business and creative sides to succeed.”

Nick Thomas is CEO of SomaTone Interactive, a company he founded with Kane Minkus in 2003. As 3rd party creative collaborators with many clients across a variety of platforms, SomaTone works on over 100 games per year. Nick has spent the last 8 years producing quality audio and art content for gaming, interactive media, film and advertising. He manages all operations for the network of studios in Los Angeles CA, Emeryville CA, and Vancouver Canada.

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Combining Passions for Music and Games

Nick loved video games from the time he was 6 years old.

Nick Thomas
Nick Thomas

The games which have inspired his interests are the Ultima series and Sundog (a less well known space-trading game). His career began in pop music, where he worked as Lead Engineer/Mixer for Sony Music, working with artists such as Destiny’s Child, Celine Dion, Ricky Martin and many others. With SomaTone he was able to fuse his love for games with his fascination with audio.

Nick describes his proudest accomplishment as the first batch of productions for Karaoke Revolution (Konami). This involved the reproduction of 40 pop songs, including Bohemian Rhapsody, in a 3 month period, “The normal time for producing a 12-song album is 6 months, and we produced 40 songs in 3. This project required enormous effort, and we pulled it off with glowing accolades!”

The Evolution of Audio

“The next year will be all about engaging the male demographic in casual games, with more complex themes and mechanics to attract the mid-core gamer.”

Nick is equally happy with SomaTone’s unique position in the games industry. Because they see a cross-section of the entire games industry across varied markets and platforms, they can see trends others miss. These trends have allowed Nick to follow the evolution of audio in games. This evolution is cyclical in nature. He tells us, “Right now the cycle is active in casual games, but less in core games. Audio for casual games emerged in 2004-2005 with companies like Playfirst, Big Fish, Sandlot, RealArcade and Oberon. It lost its steam when social games first came on the scene, starting small in this market and then growing. The same cycle is now repeating with mobile games. As production values go up visually, sound follows.”

As Nick considers the future for the games industry, he says, “The next year will be all about engaging the male demographic in casual games, with more complex themes and mechanics to attract the mid-core gamer.” Within 5 years he believes the emphasis will be on intra-platform play and bringing MMO to the casual audience. He also expects to see Smart TV’s with gesture technology incorporating casual games.

Video Coverage

SomaTone Interactive’s Nick Thomas on the Breaking into the Game Industry as an Audio Professional, the Sound of Casual Gaming and How to Optimally use Audio in Your Game

November 20, 2012 — by Clelia Rivera

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Nick Thomas is talented enough to have not one, but two careers in two different and incredibly competitive industries.  Starting off as an Engineer/Mixer for some of Sony Music’s top acts (Destiny’s Child and  Michael Jackson to name a few), he is now the founder and CEO of SomaTone Interactive, a top provider of audio services in the Casual Gaming Industry.  We recently spoke to Thomas about his interests in casual gaming and what he thinks creators should do to the audio elements of their games.


What made you interested in video game audio?

I have been a bona fide video game nerd for as long as I can remember.  Some of my earliest memories are of playing Pitfall, and Combat on my old Atari.  This love of games has stayed with me most of my life, with my children being the only life event that has successfully distracted me from playing games.

My second love has always been music.  I attended Berklee College of Music, and studied Music Production with the intention of being a record producer/engineer.  I did in fact spend a few years making records, and worked with some amazing artists, such as Carlos Santana, Destiny’s Child, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and others.  However, the music industry leaves little room in life for other competing interests (such as family) and so I made a decision to fuse my two great passions, music and games, and SomaTone Interactive Inc. is the love child of this marriage.

Can you tell us more about the creation of SomaTone Interactive, Inc.? What is its mission?

Well, we actually have our mission defined.  Here it is:

“SomaTone serves to bridge the gap between interactive media producers and audio professionals by providing high quality creative content, as well as leadership and management from a team of highly trained industry veterans.   By including a layer of creative leadership into the production pipeline, SomaTone serves to leverage the vision of our clients and enhance that vision with through our experienced perspective”

What casual game do you feel uses audio successfully? How?

Of our portfolio of over 1000 games titles (nearly all casual), I continue to think Peggle is one of the best examples of how audio successfully enhances the game play experience.

No one plays Peggle with the sound off, which unfortunately is not true of many social/mobile games which, (often due to poor audio) have effectively conditioned these players to turn the sound off.

There is a casino aspect to Peggle, and the SFX and music provide the player with not only a more fun and satisfying experience, but also help convey information about how the player is performing, and to reward the player for doing well.  No one plays Peggle with the sound off, which unfortunately is not true of many social/mobile games which, (often due to poor audio) have effectively conditioned these players to turn the sound off.

What is a common mistake developers make with game audio? How can it be avoided?

The most common mistake that drives us crazy is not leaving time on the back end for the audio polish stage.  Nearly 50 percent of the audio experience comes in the integration and final mix/polish, in which all the subtle details are messaged into place, and a truly cohesive game with amazing sound results.

Backyard Monsters is just one of the many games in SomaTone Interactive’s audio portfolio.

What advice can you offer developers when considering their game’s audio?

Don’t wait until the end to address your audio needs, and leave room in your schedule for a final mix/polish of the audio delivered.

Don’t wait until the end to address your audio needs, and leave room in your schedule for a final mix/polish of the audio delivered.  No matter how experienced the team, and regardless of the quality of the individual assets, if they are not properly integrated, balanced, and tweaked for timing, pitch, and creative accuracy, the end result will not achieve the results you are hoping for.

 

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