[Sound Challenge] Competition #5 - Suspense: Toward the light --Voting now open to all on the forum!

Hello again!

Sorry this is late! I got distracted with work and organising the UCT game dev day.
Anyway, I believe its time for another sound challenge!

The theme...
For this challenge we are going to add sound to a 1min video of a horror game (download links in the video section). The video and game provide a great challenge for you to provide the mood and scare factor!

If you don't know Toward the light by @TheFuntastic then I strongly encourage you to play the game first! Seriously, stop reading now and go play it.

Once again the clip is from a lets-play video:

The rules:
1. EVERYONE can join, you don't need to be a musician or have a sound engineering degree. Lets face it, we all need sound effects for our games and most of us are pretty terrible at it (I know I am). So lets practice using any software out there! (See below for some suggestions)
2. Once you have made your entry, post it here.
3. Stick to the theme. Or don't. We don't really care either way, just join in!
4. Finish the project by Tuesday the 10th of June
5. Did I mention EVERYONE can join in? We like silly gimmicks and I-made-this-with-a-water-bottle-and-my-laptop type entries so there are plenty of excuses to take part!
6. Feel free to collaborate, we love it when people work together ;)
7. Have fun and try to give feedback to other entries!

The Video
You are not forced to use the video but feel free to use it in your entry by adding any audio you want. We are looking for all types of audio entries including: sound effects, music, voice overs or all of the above.

The old audio has already been stripped off the video for you and is available in downloadable form:
640x360 in .mp4 format, 13.1mb download
1280x720 in .mp4 format, 34.8mb download

Advice and popular software thread:
Check out this thread for advice on software/tutorials etc.

So who will be joining me? Feel free to ask any questions!

The voting page is now available! Please vote by Friday the 13th (dum dum duuuuuum) of June.
I would like to make the voting period longer but im going overseas on the 14th :)

Click here to be directed to the form.

Voting has closed! Thanks to everyone who voted and thanks to all who participated!

Best Music Category:
image 1st - @Gibbo
image 2nd - @UncleBob
image 3rd - @ShadowBlade

Best Sound Effects Category:
image 1st - @UncleBob
image 2nd - @MexicanOpiumDog and @Shadowblade tied!

Best Overall Category:
image 1st - @UncleBob
image 2nd - @Mexicanopiumdog
image 3rd - @ShadowBlade and @karl182 tied!

Congratulations to everyone for completing something awesome!

Note: If you submit a little late I will add you to the form unless voting has finished!
Thanked by 2EvanGreenwood Merrik


  • Oooh nice! I just played it and i think this is going to be a whole lot of fun! :) Thanks @creative630!!
    Thanked by 1creative630
  • edited
    Oh wow, quite honoured to see Toward the Light as sound competition entry. The game was originally conceived as something of an exploration into the relationship between sound and horror. In particular if it was possible to use sound to create dread and suspense. That's why the "danger" in the cave is entirely sound based and there is no actual monster (also, I didn't have the skills to build a real monster, but shh, don't tell anyone).

    There's a lot of sound stuff I didn't get round in the original jam entry, which I was hoping to expand in the sequel that's now languishing somewhere on my hard drive. I won't say exactly what they were so you have more room for interpretation, but here is some food for thought on horror sound:

    • The horror genre has many established conventions, particularly in hollywood fair B grade movies. This is especially true when it comes to Sound Design and Music. Lot's of ambient horror effects and drones, the wilhelm scream etc etc. All of which is a ton of fun to make. Also whenever the danger element is near the music is almost certainly going to be slow brooding strings which crescendo as the killer gets near.
    • The thing is, none of this is particularly scary (At least in my not so humble opinion). The tropes are so well established by now that instead of building suspense these audio cues tend to be dead giveaway as to what's coming next. (If you want to go this route please feel free, you will have a ton of fun!)
    • All the times I can think of that I've been really scared in real life (generally when I thought intruders might be in my Joburg home) the silence was deafening. You strain your hearing to it's maximum and almost like the blooms you get when you rub your eyes, you start to hear illusory sounds that you aren't sure are real or not. Toward the Light was an attempt to use this auditory "Negative Space" to engender that feeling.
    • Good horror game studies can be found in Amnesia or Slender Man (the 8 pages version). The both take an approach that breaks with hollywood convention but in contrast to Toward the light is wall to wall ambient sound. In particular there is a heartbeat bass drum sound in SlenderMan that feels incredibly oppressive. The thing I remember most from Amnesia is the constant sound of insects crawling everywhere. Both games are crap scary!
    • I believe effective horror is created when your brain has to fill in the blanks. Horrors of the imagination are the most terrifying!
    Good luck everybody, have lots of fun. I'm very keen to see what you come up with!

    Edit: Added spoiler tags
  • edited
    I actually really want to try one of these challenges out..

    So, all I need do is audio/music/VO the video provided, by June 10?
    How would you like it delivered after that; append to video or upload audio separately?
  • @Shadowblade Hello there! Awesome! The more the better! You are welcome to do what ever you want, so be it sound fx, music, VO or what ever else you can think of! :) You can also do only sound or only music or only what ever else, so do what ever you have time for!:)
    The best would probably be to add your sound to the video and upload it to youtube. Then post the video link in this forum as your entry. You could also upload the music to soundcloud and post the link if you are only doing music.
    Looking forward to hearing what you come up with!
    I think it's time to get to get my sound-hat on!(figuratively speaking of course).(I don't really have a sound hat)( that would be awesome though...)

  • @ShadowBlade - Cool! Yeah like karl points out you can choose what you'd like to do for the topic, though in terms of submitting the final product it does work best if you've put your music or sound etc. into the video so that people can see how the two work together. For examples of this check out some of the past challenges: Challenge #4

    I think I've got an idea of what to do for this one, so will certainly make an effort to take part!
  • Excellent then! Will give it a shot if I can ]:)
  • Sorry, I'm out on this one. Busy working through Unity tutorials to learn the basics, then try incorporate FMOD Studio or Wwise into Unity, so maybe one of these days a challenge competition will be to create SFX and music for a working game!

    I look forward to seeing what everyone produces. Looks like a fun challenge.
  • Alrighty, done!

    For this one I decided to take a minimalist approach but add in both SFX and instruments on top of what @TheFuntastic had already put into the game (footsteps, flares, monster sounds, rockfalls)

    Aside from adding in some subtle ambiances that hopefully added to the atmosphere rather than distracting from it, I decided to use the flares as sound cues (bringing in instruments and impacts to coincide, with the hope of making the light as scary as the quieter dark bits)

    Only two instruments were used for this, a violin and bazantar (kinda like a cello), both hooked up to an amp with some heavy overdrive to dirty the sound.

    On a side note, the reactions in this playthrough of Towards the Light are fantastic: KSIOlajidebt Plays Towards The Light
  • @gibbo wow seriously well done man!! I loved how you used the flares as cues! goosebumps! Well Done! :) (Two thumbs up)(would have given it more than 2, but that's all I got.)
  • Hehe thanks man, two thumbs is more than enough - looking forward to hearing what you come up with! :)
  • edited
    Here's my stab at it:

  • edited
    Ok, my attempt. I wasn't really feeling this though; couldn't quite get into it like I wanted :\
    But I spent an hour on it (and another two trying to process the fucking video afterwards...) and so here we are. Harsh critique welcome ;)
  • @unclebob just made me poop my pants!(I won't spoil it for anyone..):)
    Well done!
    @shadowblade Your's was also really well done! I loved how there are elements that I'm not sure whether they are part of the music or actually of something in the cave. It's the not knowing that get's you!
    Well done guys!
    It's awesome to see how many different ways there are that could work! :)
  • edited
    Wow this is all so good. My synopsis...

    @Gibbo The music is really really freaky. Got me in the spooky mood real quick and carried through to the end...

    @ShadowBlade that bell tolling and its increased intensity really upped the tension for me. Very nice effect psychologically.

    @UncleBob, you managed to make me feel like someone else was in there with me. Slight sounds like breathing, water dripping and other footsteps apart from my own... brrrrr, I got goosebumps.

    I really like these compos, keep it up guys.
    Thanked by 1Gibbo
  • Hey Everyone!

    I am sorry that this is late but I really felt like I had to give this video a shot as well!
    Here is my version and it has a very Slenderesque feel to it. I focused 90% on ambience and I hope that I managed to sustain the tension throughout the video but Im keen to hear what you guys think.
    I really enjoyed all the other entries too, they were fanastically scary!

    Here is my entry:

  • Hey peeps! Would love to work on this challange but things are mad with master's and a bunch of composition projects! Gonna have to give this one a skip, but hopefully be around for the next!
  • edited
    Wow, the entries so far are really awesome! Great job everyone :)

    Here is my entry:
  • Not quite suited to the horror genre, but it's a pretty ambient piece of music that sort of fits with the theme of approaching "the light".

  • Wow super well done everyone!! the variety of the different entries still amazes me! I got mine done just in time!
    I decided to try and eliminate any "jump-scares", and tried to rather create an eery ambiance. The idea is that you were in a cave-in and now you need to "Find the light", but as you progress I wanted the the player to start wondering whether he/she actually survived the cave-in, and whether they are possibly somewhere between worlds now...

    Have an awesome day all!
  • Lots of great entries here, really cool to see how many different interpretations folks have been able to get out of the theme!
  • The voting page is now available! Please vote by Friday the 13th (dum dum duuuuuum) of June.
    I would like to make the voting period longer but im going overseas on the 14th :)

    Click here to be directed to the form.

    Note: If you submit a little late I will add you to the form unless voting has finished!
  • @knibu Did you write that piece?
    @Karl182 Very ambient! good job! Id like to know what you used for the a panned whispers...did u load an fx patch or create it manually from scratch? I also like the atonal chaos towards the end...very cool.

    I must say one thing though: I would have liked to see a lot more "own" sound effects. I think most people here just took the pre-existing fx and added ontop of it...Or it sounds like that...Maybe im talking through my butt here :D
  • edited
    Yeah, I think that was mostly because one of my download links for the soundless videos still had the sounds on it.
    I think its pretty easy to tell where the old sound effects are though, so its not all bad. Bonus points in the SFX category to those that didn't!

    I used the old sound effects and added to it because I didn't feel like making footsteps :P
  • @creative630 Yeah the footsteps part is the nitty gritty but probably most important!
    @Gibbo I forgot to ask: Did you record the bazantar and violin yourself or is it a patch? Im still very keen on meeting up dude, you are really musically talented!
  • @Mexicanopiumdog Very true, and I normally would have if I had more time :) Can you make it to the Cape Town community meetups? @Gibbo and I attend them pretty regularly.
  • Heh yeah like @creative630 said I wanted to put some sfx into this but also couldn't get the enthusiasm up to do footsteps so rather built on top of the original vid

    @Mexicanopiumdog - thanks and yeah definitely sample libraries, I do have my old violin lying around but wouldn't know how to digitize that (and it's also falling apart). Try and come through to the meetups if you're within driving distance, it's a great way to get to know the community (I'm in Jozi this month though so next CT meetup I'll be able to make will be July)
    Thanked by 1Mexicanopiumdog
  • edited
    @Mexicanopiumdog Hey man! thanks for the feedback! Yeah panned them all over the place haha. All those sounds were created from scratch, you may be able to hear me reading from the NAG in a whisper voice. It was then reversed and processed. :) The chaos towards the end is a mix of guitar feedback, pick scrapes and a girl's voice that recorded at my studio that i detuned and reversed. The strings, synths and piano was from a patch though. :) Thanks for the feedback and well done on your entry as well! I think we both went for the more ambient moody feel and I enjoyed yours very much!
    O wait I get what you mean!! You mean like the footsteps and stuff! Yeah I didn't have more time to remake those! would be really cool though! Have an awesome evening!
    Thanked by 1Mexicanopiumdog
  • @Karl182 Thats cool dude, what mic are you using for sound design btw? I have a Ntg5 from RODE and a blue spark for vocal stuff..
    @creative630 do you know when the next community night will be happening?
  • @Mexicanopiumdog Cool man I've read some good things about the blue spark and looks super awesome! I've got the Shure KSM44 that I use for most of my sound design stuff and vocals, and then a shure PG drum mic kit and SM57's that I mostly use for drums and instruments, although the kick drum mic works wonders big boomy sounds! the other day I recorded a Clothing Iron, steam blast for a layer in a weapon sound, and the kick mic captured the punch of it really well! :) I also have a Telefunken M80. It's really cool and works perfectly for anything except very low bass.
    Have an awesome day man!
  • @Mexicanopiumdog They happen on the last Wednesday every month, so the next one will be on the 25th of June. Like @Gibbo I'm probably missing the next one too, going overseas :)
  • @Mexicanopiumdog Yeah I wrote it awhile ago, I didn't really have time to write anything new for this challenge so I just went through a few of my unfinished song ideas to find something that sort of fit.
  • edited
    Thought it only fair I give everyone as detailed feedback as possible:

    Good use of atmospherics and subtle touches. In particular I like the way the pad ties in as a wind noise. Very subtle, but I imagine this being a nod to hallucinatory effect I was talking about, hearing music in the wind. The beats happening on the flares being fired was lovely – emphasizes the fact this could work as dynamic game system where you can’t predict your cue points. The music at the end gives a very nice melancholy feeling. Under this guise I almost prefer to imagine the game as a tale of attrition and isolation, being abandoned by yourself - simply trying to survive as human without resources or hope.

    Breathing! Yes! Also the heartbeat towards the end. These are great tension builders that help immerse me in the cave. I am human and I am venerable. Also I am scared. Breathing in particular was the thing I was most disappointed about not having the original. I quite enjoyed the narrative you imparted on the sequence – there’s something huge on its way, and I’m the fuck out of here. In my mind I’m totally sharing this cave with a T-Rex, and I have zero desire to say hi.
    If’s there one thing I didn’t care for at all it was the scream at the very beginning. I think such things are more effective once you’ve had a chance to invest yourself in the scene.

    Nice foreboding sound track. Feels properly oppressive. Also nice ideas behind some of the sound effects. I think if I were to suggest improvements, the sound track is nice and moody, but perhaps lacks in “surprise” and interest. I think you could afford to play with negative space, taking away parts in places. At 1:22 for instance you bring in a thunder rumble. That might be a good place to kill the chimes for a bar to give the rumble a chance to be more meaningful. By playing with the arrangement in this way you could perhaps get more mileage out of what’s already there.

    Well done for making your own sound effects! It may be the youtube compression, but I might say they sound a bit harsh, as in too many highs not enough lows. That can be difficult to remedy (especially if you’re recording yourself with a mic), but it’s worth paying attention to your eq and make sure you’re not slamming compressors too hard. I like the suspense factor towards the end. Feels like a competent horror game soundtrack.

    This entry feels quite sparse – and two options for tightening it up occur to me. Option A: you pay careful attention to dynamics and push everything way further back in the mix. Because right now when a sfx plays it’s quite loud relative to everything else, it leaves a vacuum when it’s done that sounds like something is missing. But if it’s subtle and on the edge of hearing, then it leaves you room to get away with not having constant sound. Option B: You fill up the spaces. Using lots of different sfx is great but very time consuming. So as an alternative you could have the Hitchcock strings playing the same bar over and over, gradually getting louder and louder, and then stop them out of nowhere with a sudden stab of strings. You’re setting up an expectation and then breaking it, so creating the sense of unease and dread with your music.

    Nice monster scream! That actually gave me a bit of a start ;)

    That’s nice piece of music actually, with a decent building arrangement. The one thing I might say is that it feels a bit divorced from the setting. If I try to think of ways of solving that, I think of using the light as metaphor. When there is light you can see far and it’s open. Without light it’s closed and claustrophobic. Maybe the music arrangement could match that in some way. E.g. you maintain a very “small” backbone of guitars and rhythm, and every time the light appears the arrangement swells with all of your pads and gets huge for a little bit and then fades out again.

    Nice use of a lot of different textures. I especially like the discordance toward the end – plays on the theme of insanity nicely. Also to be honest the jump scare was a cop out on my part in the original when I started running out of time. There were one or two mix things that could perhaps be smoothed over, e.g. - the first time the flute/wind instrument comes in it’s a bit jarring.

    Well done everybody! I really enjoyed seeing something I did reinterpreted in new ways. I’m convinced that a Remix jam were we remake other peoples games would be a good idea. Not that it’s about winners, but I would say my favourite would be @UncleBob entry – purely for the “I’m there in the cave and I want out” factor!

    Though it’s still interesting to consider the particular requirements of video games. For example enticing the users to go through the small and narrow cave is the game’s main (and only) set piece. If you bring in danger music just before the player enters the cave (as in the case of @UncleBob’s entry) a player’s likely reaction is going to be something along the lines of “Nope. Nope. Nope. Like hell I’m going in there”. Interesting thought to consider about music influencing player choice.
    Thanked by 1Mexicanopiumdog
  • Really cool to see such an in-depth comment on each entry, thanks @TheFuntastic (and for making the game!) :)
  • edited
    I'll second that! Thank you for taking the time to give us all such detailed feedback :)
  • @TheFuntastic Thanks for the feedback! Yeah like @Gibbo said it's really cool to have someone go through the effort to give proper feedback! Well done everyone! I will try and post some feedback later as well. do my part.:) Have an awesome day!
    Thanked by 1creative630
  • Good comments makes me think more about thinking about the "why" behind putting sounds in and not just slapping any old stuff together.
  • Voting has closed! Thanks to everyone who voted and thanks to all who participated!

    Best Music Category:
    image 1st - @Gibbo
    image 2nd - @UncleBob
    image 3rd - @ShadowBlade

    Best Sound Effects Category:
    image 1st - @UncleBob
    image 2nd - @MexicanOpiumDog and @Shadowblade tied!

    Best Overall Category:
    image 1st - @UncleBob
    image 2nd - @Mexicanopiumdog
    image 3rd - @ShadowBlade and @karl182 tied!

    Congratulations to everyone for completing something awesome!
    Thanked by 1Mexicanopiumdog
Sign In or Register to comment.