Space for Collaboration

Historically games have provided a means of escape and interaction and during this pandemic many have turned to games to help fight mental fatigue. This has provided a great boost to the sector and helped it to thrive during this economic recession. This has been most evident during the COVID-19 global pandemic with the industry reaching £907 billion in 2019/2020, growing from £747 billion and showing a huge rise in annual investment by studios from £818 billion to £993 billion.


Many employers are now more open to offering work from home options and many are realising the need and value for team contact and to provide spaces for industry level testing and working. Many teams have adapted by using online software such as Zoom, Miro, Microsoft Teams, but there still needs to be that level of interaction between people and teams that is essential during game development. A key factor that has become very apparent is that space for collaboration is very important.


Effects and sound has gained importance for many aspects of game audio development; whether it’s dedicated recording spaces, audio mix stages for multi speaker setup or collaboration spaces. Mixing on headphones remains integral with the mix process, as few have sound studios for all the mixing in stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 that growth is demanding. The lack of a good sound facility drives many games studios to continue using headphones to mix sound but there are few things more satisfying than pushing a big system to its limit with explosions, crowd roars and gun fights!


With increasing emphasis on virtual surround sound, there is another step rapidly growing in the mix process, creating a surround mix over speakers, and then testing that through virtualisation, so the mix stage of video games just keeps getting more exciting and complex. Once audio was the poor relation but not any more, with the rapid advance of audio technology the ultimate immersive experience is gathering pace and so much information is communicated with audio and the ability for critical placement of it...we are one step closer to reality.


Studio build has become more about adapting the space to be more universal for usage by many team members and potentially setup as multipurpose facilities. Good quality facilities afford the opportunity to produce more in-house working intrinsically with the team across disciplines at all times at any time and develops a name within the audio realms of the games sector.


For those who have dedicated professional audio facilities enable the audio team to be more efficient as they are in one location, respond quicker and this encourages team interaction. A key studio can also double up as an amazing acoustically treated presentation space that not only looks awesome but also sounds out of this world - a real bonus to show off your studio’s capability and awe clients and supporters.


Game development has evolved immensely since the first games of pong and space invaders and as VR continues to develop, video games are now able to play files at film sound standards.


As the games industry carries on growing, more and more universities and educational facilities see the opportunities for game audio, developing dedicated courses to inspire new and fresh talent to drive ideas and technology further and further.


Of course, there are many horror stories about how studio build has gone wrong but it can be a smooth and enjoyable time if done properly.


A studio is not just about the sound, the aesthetic is very important too because this creates the first impression and what is then heard has to excel. To ensure the studio is delivered and meets expectation, the most important step is to spend as much time as possible directly with the designer working on the detail. A frequent question is then answered - ‘what am I really trying to accomplish’.


The studio needs to be a comfortable space conducive to collaboration and fully supports creativity. The equipment placement needs to fit around this, to support workflows and not get in the way of “the creative process”. Although, those making do with converted, untreated rooms in the current climate are producing pretty amazing results given the circumstances, just think what could be achieved with the added tool of a professional studio to take audio to the next level. Having internal recording and mix facilities allows your team to mix with true accuracy and experience, and means that you are no longer dependent on time consuming outsourcing and have the ability to respond rapidly to very fast changing game requirements.


It’s important to really understand what you need and we discuss with you and your team their experience, work flows and future ideas. Learning about their likes and dislikes, the difficulties they perceive and how change that provides facilities and studios can help your sound designers refine ideas and make the project even better. This should give your sound designers a bit more time to think about their workloads and needs to aid the design process to advance and make the business more viable and grow as leaders of their sector.