The Sound Design of Lucidity – Blurring the Boundaries of Game Audio
It was obvious from the very beginning that Lucidity was no ordinary game. Jesse Harlin and I knew that we had the opportunity to do something unusual with the audio. As the game was set in a dream world we wanted the soundtrack to have an ethereal feel to it. So we hit upon the idea of focusing the audio around the music, with sound in the game complementing to and blending with the music.
We tried to blur the lines of where sound design ends and music begins, with Jesse doing a first pass on the majority of the prominent game sounds, from the musical notes of picking up fireflies to the cymbal crash of the exploding bomb. Meanwhile I created some “instruments” for Jesse to use in the music from our sound design library. This included tuned owl calls and frog chirps turned into rhythm sections.
As I was creating the sound effect ambiences I carefully tuned each element in the mix from bird calls to the drone of crickets to match the root note of each level’s music so that they blended to create a single musical soundscape. We also timed all of the sounds related to Sofi in the game to play on a 16th note Grid so they were not only tuned to the music but also in time with the music.
The enemies in the game, such as the hornets, mushrooms and dust bunnies, needed to create a sense of danger to the character, so the sounds we chose were deliberately non musical and not timed to the music to create a sense of dissonance with the Sofi’s dreamlike musical existence.
As you can imagine with our melding of music and sound design the division of labor wasn’t clear cut, as the overall soundtrack of the game ended up as cross over of ideas and work between the two of us.