As seen in Gambling News
Sound design within online slots is becoming ever-more sophisticated and immersive, as the battle reigns to keep players engaged. But how is modern-day game music developed, how is it meeting regulatory challenges and what will come next in this fascinating sphere of development?
How important is sound in creating an entertaining, atmospheric online experience?
Very important. Players see the visuals first and hear the sound second. You want to keep your players engaged and entertained at all times and sound design plays a leading role. Slot music is usually short one-minute tracks that are looped and you need to make sure it is balanced nicely with the in-game sound effects and is still enjoyable to listen to after the 100th time of experiencing it.
Have player expectations of sound design for slots changed in recent years and how will this evolve moving forward?
There are certainly players who still prefer the classic slot visuals and sounds. However, over the years, many providers have upped their games by producing higher quality art and animation and with that comes higher audio expectations from the player.
In the case of Wizard Games, we plan to take our audio quality one step further. Music within our upcoming games will have improved orchestrations, tailor-made unique melodies, live recordings of various instruments, brilliant vocals recorded live, and custom voiceovers from professional actors and actresses. We’ve been improving many different elements in our game production to elevate the brand, and evolving our sound design is an important part of that. Mixing and mastering is being worked on by a professional audio engineer using analogue equipment , sound effects tailored using state of the art audio equipment and audio libraries specifically created for our projects. Audio for animations are being better synced, the effects custom-made and our audio department part of the quality assurance (QA) and creation process.
Has the progress of technology, particularly on mobile devices, assisted in putting more sophisticated soundtracks and effects in front of players? What restrictions are still in play when creating sounds suitable for on-the-go play?
It isn’t about the devices as such, but more about moving away from old technology such as MP3s and adopting smaller, better-quality formats such as OGG and M4A. That said, the true magic will always remain in the hands of the audio engineer. We remain restricted in terms of overall package sizes as we all want our games to load as quick as possible, wherever a player happens to be across the world. It’s a balancing act between sophistication and all the required assets downloading quickly, including images and animations.
To what extent does regulation shape sound design – for example, where a sound effect might imply a win that is less than the stake?
Regulatory requirements have been fairly easy to comply with. For example, with wins that are less than the stake, we simply show a splash text of the amount and a short ‘ding’ sound. For higher wins, we will visually count up the win along with ‘count-up’ sounds or big win presentations, so that it its easily distinguishable to the user that the sound effect is a correct representation of the amount received.
Will there ever be a time when an online game – perhaps in the metaverse – has audio as impactful and immersive as can be found on dedicated cabinets?
As a VR player myself, we are a long way off a Ready Player One experience with video games. VR is still pretty niche and has not yet been adopted by the masses. That being said, the video gaming industry is constantly pushing forward year after year, so who is to say that more iGaming companies won’t venture into the metaverse eventually, as more people start using improved VR technology.