Game Audio Curriculum - I really need your feedback!

Hey people!

I really wanted to get your feedback on this project I am working on but I was too sick to get out of bed, which is good because now I can include the Joburg/other communities into the feedback too!

Here is the background:

So I was asked to draft up a 32 hour program for City Varsity Cape Town and create a course structure from week to week on what would be taught. This course would be a part of the 3rd year Diploma degree in the faculty of Sound Engineering.

I really want to bounce this off you - the community of game makers - and get your opinion and suggestions on the topic.

If you have a free moment to complete this 5 question survey, I would be very grateful. The questions are fairly broad so I left some space at the end for you to make a suggestion. If you would rather post the suggestion here on the thread - that would allow for some discussion which in this case would be a lot more useful!

To the survey:

Thanks everyone!
Thanked by 1francoisvn


  • My very un-learned opinion draws pretty heavily from my understanding of art, and my assumption that art and audio are fairly similar, but I figured I'd get the discussion going.

    I have no idea how much of a demand there is for a course like this.

    I've mostly seen game art as having ~70% in common with art from other industries, so that you can be a better game artist by practising drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, graphic design, etc. The rest I think can be described as making it relevant to the real-time, interactive, mostly-non-linear medium, and learning some of the technology related to that.

    I think the "perfect" course would have a core that addresses the larger (I assume?) problem of creating audio/art that's aesthetically pleasing, that tries to develop a good understanding of what good or bad audio are, and how to play with human emotions and create the desired emotional responses. And it'd have a shorter supplement that addresses the things that make it relevant to video games.

    So assuming the rest of the Sound Engineering course deals with the core, having this shorter supplemental course that focuses on applications to video games sounds really great! I think that there are many applications of audio that are quite unique to video games, like how you often have relatively little control over when players might do things and when audio is triggered, building audio up using a bunch of smaller clips that are dynamically arranged or filtered, having to write audio that is conscious about giving good feedback for player actions, having to loads and loads of little foley and sfx, maybe being familiar enough with game engines that one could dive in and implement some of the audio oneself, and probably so much more that I'm unaware of. And I think that that stuff's pretty great for teaching in a relatively short programme, because it's mostly just learning software, and things you'd probably run into when adding audio to a game anyway, so it's worth going through that process (whether it's formally, or in game jams).

    So in that sense, I think it'd be pretty cool as an elective (which is what it looks like you're doing).

    The one thing that's frustrated me about many "game" courses (both locally and internationally) is that they often focus intensely on the supplementary bit, and sell themselves as "do this course and you'll be able to work in the game industry" which is... not very true. I think there's nothing wrong with someone with an interest in game audio, or a hobbyist, from taking the shorter course and immediately being able to create audio, but I think it's unlikely that the course on its own would prepare one for actually being good enough to be paid without learning the core skills elsewhere. I think as long as it's being honest about what it's teaching, and managing expectations like that, and it's being taught by someone who's got some experience making audio for games, I think it sounds pretty good!
    Thanked by 1Mexicanopiumdog
  • Thanks @Elyaradine for your input!

    I hear you on the part that art as well as sound can be derived from the other industries - I think that cross-pollination is also essential in understanding different mediums and being able to combine all aspects of Sound Engineering to be able to craft cool game audio.

    I already got feedback from Danny on the same problem that you see which is that too little emphasis is made on refining one's art/audio to become "aesthetic" ie. making something that fits well together with the visuals and also moves people's emotion at the same time - something that is very hard to do when you are only starting out.

    My structure for the course so far is trying to cover too much - perhaps material that could be spread over a course double the length - and I think that we need to suss a healthy balance between how much theory is being taught and how much practical exercises are being given without overloading the degree as it already stands with too many additional tasks.
    maybe being familiar enough with game engines that one could dive in and implement some of the audio oneself
    What engine/software would you recommend for the purpose of being to implement quickly and without much setting up? I thought it would be great if the course started off quite early with the chance of implementing audio into an existing game project (maybe a little platformer or 2d-shooter) I eventually want to dive into better understanding of Unity and audio middleware that is more complex like Wwise and Fmod but that would come in a bit later, once the fundamentals have been taught.
    "do this course and you'll be able to work in the game industry"
    Yes, this is a very important point that needs an extra mention:

    Due to the fact that this course is only a branch off in the 3rd year diploma it is hard to prepare students for the "real life" industry and what obstacles lie between them and being a lead audio designer at a AAA gaming studio.
    I also found that although I specialised in Music & Composition in my 3rd year, I also didn't necessarily feel that I was "ready" to compete with the established crowd of composers in the industry - although is varies from person to person.

    I think important here is trying to make a course that offers plenty of obstacles to make the students fail really fast - realising certain key problematics, getting up and trying again..and again...and teaching them about some game theory stuff in between.

  • It's hard to offer a good opinion on what would make a desirable "module" in sound engineering. It sounds highly dependent on what knowledge students can expect to carry over from the other parts of their degree (ie I'd love to see basic foley included, but maybe they've received instruction to that effect already?).

    I think a few ideas are strong teaches:

    - Practical experience with simple tools (mentioned above -- and I'm always a fan of Game Maker, btw)
    - Teamwork / technical considerations (getting into the heads of game designers -- what do they need from sound engineers specifically? What sort of language will they speak? Common problems?)
    - Designing for dynamic sound playback (also mentioned above, and I'd like to give my +1 to that)
    Thanked by 1Mexicanopiumdog
  • Thanks to those who filled out the survey <3
  • I don't know if it's a good idea, but the thing I stressed as possibly useful is to (in compliment to other sound engineering skills) to teach sound engineers to implement there work in games...

    My thinking is that sound engineers often just hand sounds off to programmers, and so the sound design of the game is limited by what the programmers can achieve and to some extent limited by the aptitude for audio that the programmer has...

    And on top of this, the work that the programmer is doing is work that the sound engineer could be paid for, which limits the amount of billable hours the sound engineer can do AS WELL as potentially limiting the quality of the audio design.

    I don't think audio programming in games (particularly Unity) is all that complex, no more complex than the tools audio engineers use anyway to make their audio, and especially if the sound engineers want full time employment in games it's a skill that would make them more valuable (and possibly better paid).
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