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2022 | Book

Sound and Music for Games

The Basics of Digital Audio for Video Games


About this book

Grasp the fundamentals of digital audio work in the context of video games, including the basics of middleware such as Fmod and Wwise. We will review software such as Apple's Logic and Garageband, Paul Davis's Ardour, and many other popular digital audio workstations.

We will start with an introduction to the basic terminology of digital audio work while also getting acquainted with current generation audio hardware. We will then discuss the basics of the venerable Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and how it relates to music composition as well as the tools and techniques for writing tracker music/chiptunes. The book also covers plug-in software, soundproofing at home, and voice work.

The book takes a practical approach while tackling both hardware and software components used in cutting edge audio engineering, composition, and audio monitoring.

What You Will Learn

• Understand the fundamentals of digital audio production in the context of video games

• Learn about audio integration with popular middleware solutions and APIs

• Leverage plugin effects software to sculpt your audio to professional levels

• Identify modern audio file formats and how and when to use them

• Learn best practices when mixing sound effects and music for video games

Who Is This Book For

The intended readership includes beginners in digital audio engineering who use Windows, macOS, or Linux.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Bits, Sample Rates, and Other Fundamentals of Digital Audio
We'll start off by exploring the very fundamentals of digital audio. This chapter covers topics like bit rates, pulse-code modulation, and common digital audio formats. Having a good grasp of said topics is essential when getting serious about your video game audio work. We won't be going into detail as to how to implement this know-how just yet. That is saved for later chapters.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 2. Current Generation Audio Hardware
Having tackled the fundamentals of digital audio in the previous chapter, we'll move on to another core topic: audio hardware. The market is flooded with components like sound cards, monitor speakers, and headphones—all of which make a difference in your workflow. This chapter will help you make the best decisions when investing in this technology. We'll start off with the delectable topic of cables.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 3. Manipulating the Spectrum
You might remember how all audio sources generate acoustic waves between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, in the range of human hearing. This chapter will tackle the most fundamental approaches for manipulating the frequency spectrum, including equalization, compression, and virtual tape machines. Other effects will be explored later in the book; we'll stick to the essentials in this chapter. You'll be introduced to a few specific audio-processing effects (i.e., plugins) meant to run inside your favorite digital audio workstation as well.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 4. More Effects and Digital Audio Workstations
This chapter will feature six of the best digital audio workstations (DAWs) for video game audio design. We will look at their capabilities and basic features, covering software for modern Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. Specifics for voice acting will be introduced in Chapter 5 and for composition in Chapter 6. But first, we will explore plugins and some time-based effects, many of which have been recording studio staples (and curses) since the beginning.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 5. Voice Acting: Hardware and Techniques
This chapter will focus solely on the art of voice acting, a crucial presentational component in many video games since the mid-1990s. We will expand on some related topics previously featured in the book, including microphones, while tackling new topics such as acoustic treatments.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 6. MIDI and Composing in the Digital Age
This chapter is all about the ubiquitous and well-liked Musical Instruments Digital Interface, or MIDI, which is extensively used for writing in every genre of music in a variety of contexts, including video games. Having been briefly mentioned previously in this book, we'll now go in depth with this wonderful standard. You'll also learn essential terms used in the art of video game soundtrack composition. We'll also touch on some fundamentals of music theory.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 7. Introducing MIDI 2.0
Having explored the well-established MIDI 1.0 specification in the previous chapter, we'll now find out about its exciting follow-up. In development since 2005, MIDI 2.0 was finally unveiled in 2020. The new specification is impressive, but it will not be replacing MIDI 1.0—mostly because it's designed not to do that.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 8. Chiptunes
Having only briefly mentioned the concept of chiptunes previously in the book, it's time we fully explore this rather timeless genre of music. We'll be using numerous concepts familiar from previous chapters while introducing many more. Let's begin with the definitions of the three eras of video game music. The rest of the chapter will deal with some of the best software for creating chiptunes with.
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 9. Audio Solutions for Video Games
The purpose of this chapter is to give you an understanding of what modern video game audio solutions can offer and what it means to you as a musician/audio designer. You'll understand parts of the bigger picture of video game audio design without getting too technical. We will begin by examining a number of relevant terms (in no specific order).
Robert Ciesla
Chapter 10. Selling and Licensing
This chapter deals with music licensing in the context of video game music. If your audio work is high enough quality and you manage to network in the industry, there's a fair amount of money to be made. We'll start with a review of some related terminology and proceed to take a gander at some of the most popular licensing services available today.
Robert Ciesla
Sound and Music for Games
Robert Ciesla
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