Red Wasp are pleased to announce that the sound design for Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land will be created by experimental electronic music duo Dan Pope and Sean Perkins (who sometimes also go by the moniker of Gusset). They provided us with a quick summary of where they are coming from with the sound design:
The sound design of a horror game poses some unique challenges that we were very keen to explore. The audio is something you have to get right in order to set the tone. John Carpenter’s Halloween wouldn’t have been so creepy with the Benny Hill music over it. Furthermore, horror games tend to be visually dark so the sound has a very important job to do.
In order for game music to work the first challenge is to get players to choose to listen to it! Many games titles include music that quickly becomes annoying or is not the sort of thing the player would normally choose to listen to. Much as a quirky 8-bit chip tune can sound amazing, it’s unlikely to ever sound scary.
To overcome this problem we are focusing our design on soundscape and atmosphere. In a First World War setting keeping many of the sounds contemporary to the period is key to scene setting and for the more other worldly sounds of the Cthulhu mythos it is important to keep away from sounds that are identifiable in other times or places. We don’t have the resources of Call of Duty: MW3 to go out and record the sound of all of the weapons being used, and likewise we don’t have access to any wizards who can perform magic for us.
Futuristic synthetic sounds may seem new and amazing when you pick up new hardware or software, but you only have to listen to the vision of the future presented in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange to see how badly audio can date. Yet Kubrick got it right in both 2001 and The Shining where György Ligeti’s atonal compositions create a feeling of unease and tension. Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Alien achieves the same effect and electronic music pioneers, such as Xenakis and Stockhausen and the early French Musique Concrète school all played with similar ideas. It is these works that we are looking to for our inspiration, that and Rastamouse of course…
Another common problem with game music is listener fatigue. Hearing the same short loop over and over again may be amusingly addictive when you are watching nyan cat but it doesn’t lend itself to horror. It is important to allow space for tension to build and to avoid repetition. Here we come up against hardware constraints, as there is a limited amount of memory available for audio in mobile gaming. In order to maximise playing time of audio we are looking at new and innovative ways to achieve this and we’ll give you more details closer to release. Irie.
Here at the hive, we’re excited about this collaboration!