Sound Judgement (A PUN!)

by Tim
Wed, January 5, 2011 -- 22:18 UTC

IGF LogoThis Monday, the Independent Games Festival annouced their Finalists and, to our great surprise we noticed our little Jamestown listed under Honorable Mention for Excellence in Audio!

As those who follow @finalformgames on Twitter will already know, we submitted Jamestown to the Independent Games Festival this Fall. Like most IGF entrants, we held secret hopes of recognition deep in our hearts, but saw it more realistically as a good opportunity for some exposure and a deadline to push hard for.

Needless to say, we are delighted about this unexpected honor! Many thanks to the IGF and judges for their kind acknowledgement.

Given the circumstances, we think it fitting to introduce you to the gentlemen who so carefully crafted our audio experience, and to share with you a little about how we approached the audio for our game.

First of all, we’re pleased to introduce our composer, Francisco Cerda, who works with us remotely from Santiago, Chile.

Here is one of his 4 compositions that went out with the IGF build, entitled “War Upon the East Frontier”.

As an added bonus, we’re pleased to share a brand new track, entitled “Into the Dark Sector”.

I had the pleasure of meeting Francisco while he was visiting Berkeley in 2008. A friend of my former housemate, Francisco stayed with us for a few days, on a few occasions sitting down at the piano for an hour or two of improvisational play. What I heard was expertly performed, dynamic, and emotionally powerful.

We exchanged contact info before he returned home, and have stayed in touch since. When the time came to select a composer, we worked with a few (truly amazing) candidates, but ultimately could not refuse Francisco’s passion, versatility, speed, and sheer compositional might.

Francisco Cerda

The man behind the music.

We decided to eschew the traditional shooter chiptune soundtrack, inspired instead by games such as Ikaruga, Gigawing 2 and Under Defeat. Our milieu and story suggest a more conventional orchestral instrumentation, so we tried to marry that style to the intensity of a wailing Joe Satriani guitar solo. What we ended up with is something that we feel is greater than the sum of its parts.

For sound effects, we turned to our old friend Justin Mullens, with whom I worked on several past titles. While we can’t as easily represent his work here as Francisco’s, suffice it to say that his steampunk-inspired wood/brass/cloth approach to the UI sounds offers something new to the shoot-em-up landscape. He scratch-built all the sounds in the game, employing every trick in the book to find some coherence in the crowded sound space of a 4-player shoot-em-up.


Here is Justin recording a fire hose, that most elusive of sounds.

We are all honored to have our hard work acknowledged, and to be able to bring this honor to the oft-overlooked shmup genre in general. We are working hard to continue to improve the audio experience for our game, so that by the time it ships to you it will provide an even richer experience than what the judges saw in October. After all, the most important external validation can only come in time, when the game ships to the world at large.