“Need for Speed” Game Audio and Sound research

Music and sound effects accompany the video game and it is used to create the atmosphere and help people to dive into the game. Audio is a critical part of a racing game. It has to play in harmony with the feel of the video. To prove these things, this is a research on car racing game “Need for Speed”. This game is not only made of one sound layer. There are a lot of layers of audio which contain music, car sounds, audio effects and etc. The mix of these layers creates a cinematic and emotional feeling and makes you feel the adrenaline while driving the car.

The audio designer for “Need for Speed” is Charles Deenen. He is a is a Dutch computer/video game audio director, music composer, sound designer, and mixer.

Audio effects:
Just like every racing game, this game has a lot of car sound effects (such as car engines, turbos, drifting, etc.) These sounds create a feeling that you are actually driving a car.
To capture the true sound of a car people used microphones and put them nearby different parts of it. When you are playing the game there is a sound of every part of the car working (sound of the car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxkQ1tDN45c). To capture the sound of a moving car and whooshing people stood 2 feet away from the drifting cars and recorded it with microphones.
The another effect of audio is that the sound can play on different ears depending on how you are driving. For example, if you are driving to the left, the sound of nitro will transform to the left  ear too for more realistic effect.
There have been many sounds methods tried out to enhance the player experience to provide emotion with sound. The audio has to work together with the experience and the person playing it shouldn’t notice the sound separately. If the consumer notices audio, it starts to work against the game experience.

This game also has a lot of explosions and crashes. For Need For Speed they’ve recorded 150+ cars, anything from regular to high end 1 million dollar race-cars. To get that sound of crashing, cars have been dropped from the 100foot down and have been recorded. That creates a realistic effect, tension, makes the person excited and lets him to get involved in the game.
Instead of someone driving an empty car they created a new game version in 2011 in which they involved a main character. They recorded his voice which expressed emotions and scenes with fighting sounds. This way you could feel as you were him and could get involved in a game better and feel more drama.

Music:
This kind of game needs to have an edgy music to feel the vibe and get the feeling of this game. For example, the game version “Need for Speed The Run (2011)” takes action in America. For this game people wanted to create a soundtrack which could capture the feeling of American culture and the feeling of driving across the country. They have listened to a lot of American kind of music to get inspiration and to create their own soundtrack, which would be more edgy and cinematic.
They’ve got one layer of the orchestra playing in the background. That wasn’t enough, so they added guitars and drums which give more harshness so the music would fit the story. That shows that the music is created not of one, but many music sounds and instruments layers.
The music also depends on the story that is happening. There are some moments where they cut the music absolutely off (for example, in crashes). This way you feel the emotion of the action and makes you kind off “freeze” for that moment. In some places they make it in slow motion or faster. Then, while playing the game you naturally feel the music flowing with the game.
Other game versions have different kind of music. The soundtracks in those games have an uplifting  music ( for example electronic, dubstep, techno, drum and bass, etc. music genres). It makes you feel energised, excited and gets you into the racing mood. There are a lot of artists for the “Need for Speed” game songs. The most popular and known ones are AVICII, Major Lazer, Aero Chord, Photek, Battle Tapes.

Websites I have used to write the research:
Interview with Charles Deenen:
http://designingsound.org/2010/02/charles-deenen-special-need-for-speed-exclusive-interview/
About the audio and sound effects:

Soundtracks:

Car Audio:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxkQ1tDN45c

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