Creating Sci-fi User Interface Sound Effects: the Creative Process

Hi! My name is Antoine and I take care of sound design and interactive music on GalaCollider. I live in Belgium, birthplace of the big bang theory (no kidding), and I’ve always been fascinated by outer space.

In this post I’ll tell you about the different aspects of my creative process for the user interface (UI) sound design, which has been my main focus so far on the game.

Before working on specific sounds, I thought about the general sonic aesthetics I wanted to achieve. My goal is that GalaCollider’s UI sounds like a slick and advanced high-tech device. It should sound smooth, pristine and satisfying to use. Typically, UI sounds have to support visual aesthetics and give informative feedback to players. In a strategy game like GalaCollider, the UI is really the interface between players and the core gameplay. So what we hear when clicking a button should tie in with what that action means within the game’s wider strategic framework.


For every sound effect, I start by playing the game and paying close attention to visual elements. At that point, there is often a gut feeling of how the effect should sound. I then ask myself the following questions:

  • What do we want players to feel?
  • What is the meaning of the action in relation to gameplay?
  • Is it related to other sound effects in the game? (for example, all sounds related to a specific resource)
  • What information should the sound carry?
  • Is it part of a sequence of actions that means the effect will need to work nicely with other sounds – in sequence and/or simultaneously?
  • Do I need to create one sound or different variations?

Based on this I start creating different layers which I synchronize to video in my digital audio workstation. Here is a picture of the “draw a card” sound effect, which is made of seven layers.


As a starting point for UI sounds I often use a nice little synth called Galactic Assistant by SoundMorph. I also use a bunch of other software synths, a Moog Sub 37, and some sample-based instruments.

Once I have a good basis for a layer I start processing it with different effects. Often the processed sound is very different from what I recorded initially. In most cases, it is possible to know that by recording a certain source and applying specific effects I’ll reach the required result. But sometimes I just experiment with different effects and see how they work together with the game. As in most creative fields you get happy accidents, which is always nice!

Here are some examples of sounds from the game.

Drawing a card (as shown in the above image):

Opening Tech Research:

Confirming Resource transfer:

To implement sound and music in GalaCollider, I use DarkTonic’s MasterAudio plugin (shown in the picture below) in Unity. Once sounds are imported in MasterAudio, they can be triggered in C# in one of the game’s scripts. So I dive into the code and find where to trigger the sound. Implementation can vary from one line at the right place to more sophisticated syntax. Working mostly in C# has been great because it allows me to learn how the game really works under the hood. It helps being more self-sufficient and take some weight off the programmers’ workload.


Then it’s time for the first verdict. I test the sound in the game and see how I respond to it as a player. Does it really work with the visuals? What does it make me feel? Does it sound good in context with music? So I can then go back to my audio session and adjust the sound and repeat the process until I have a first version that works. A few parameters can also be adjusted with MasterAudio. Over time, I also go back to the sound with a fresh set of ears and make revisions based on further impressions and feedback from the team.

If you have any question about creating UI sounds or working with MasterAudio, don’t hesitate to get in touch on twitter (@Antoine_VL) or through my website, where you can also find samples of my work.

Expandable Cards in GalaCollider

Disclaimer: Some of the following information offers a sneak-peek into our monetary economy plans and is subject to change as GalaCollider continues to be developed. We’d love to know your own thoughts and suggestions!

Hey everyone! It’s Scotty here to give you a brief news update and to talk about expandable cards in GalaCollider.

First off, it’s an exciting time as we approach the completion of our Alpha5 build, which will include all sorts of great new features! In other news, we had a special guest on our podcast this month, Jean-Michel from Abrakam Entertainment, the team behind Faeria which was just released in March. Faeria is a beautiful, fun CCG that takes the land concept from Magic the Gathering to a whole new level wherein players actually create a board map each game that functions somewhat like mana:

It’s a great game, and it’s free-to-play!

We also released a second artist showcase video, with music by Sam Watson!

 

So, a little bit more on the expandable card game model we’ve been envisioning for GalaCollider. With such an increase in popularity of card games in recent years among the gaming community, the NeoCrux team saw an opportunity to try something new. We want to take a different approach to most current digital card games. By combining the foundations of 4X games with the mechanics of card games, we aim to offer players what we believe to be a unique gaming experience.

Many card games have gone down the route of a collectible card game (CCG) model. While this model does create moments of excitement when opening random packs of cards, it can often create an unfair advantage to the player who spends more money on the game. CCGs are not typically available in complete sets, and some cards are usually more scarce than others, meaning that a significant amount of cards packs usually need to be purchased in order to obtain the exact cards you want.

With GalaCollider, we want to level the playing field for our players. This has been achieved by using an expandable card game model (similar to what is used in Android: Netrunner and AEG’s Doomstown: Reloaded for example). Rather than open random pack after random pack, we give players the opportunity to purchase sets of cards where they know exactly what they are paying for. Individual decks can be created from these sets, meaning that players will still be able to enter battles with their own custom strategies.

Each release cycle of cards will explore a different theme and showcase new mechanics, opening up fresh strategies for players to discover and master. The metagame will stay novel as strategies must evolve and adapt to the regular releases of new cards, game modes (various team, co-op, solo modes of play etc.) and maps. Needless to say, GalaCollider remains exciting while being kinder on your wallet than your average collectible card game!

If you like what you’ve read, then feel free to sign up to our newsletter. We’ll update you with new developments and let you know when you can try GalaCollider for yourself! Simply leave your email address here.

GalaCollider’s Evolving Campaign

Hey everyone, it’s Scotty here from the Outreach team!

One of our biggest draws towards strategy-based games like the Sid Meier’s Civilization series is the fact that no session ever has to be the same. The players themselves help drive the story of every game they play, all depending on how they focus their efforts and objectives during a playthrough. With GalaCollider, we want to take this a step further by creating a game where your actions not only affect individual games, but help to co-author the overarching story seen by every participant.

So how can we achieve this? As a possible implementation, imagine a grand-scale tournament between the two main factions, the Coalition and Sylith. Perhaps both sides are battling one another to take hold of a territory which holds a new technology. You have the ability to support your favorite faction in your own battles in an attempt to contribute to the overall victory of the campaign. Upon winning the tournament, the victorious faction is given access to a new card which, in turn, can change the meta entirely. The story will also adapt based on this outcome, potentially opening up new content such as maps, special conditions, scenarios and future objectives.

However, while we have big expectations for the tournament scene, we don’t want GalaCollider’s evolving campaign to be limited to simple tournament outcomes. The story might shift based on monthly themes, the introduction of new modes or even ideas generated from the community itself. The month of April could follow the theme of April Showers for example, where all story maps encounter more nebulas than usual, including the possibility for players to complete special achievements within these special conditions. The following month might involve making first contact with unknown alien ships, forcing players to quickly formulate new strategies to overcome this threat. As you can likely gather, room for expansion and growth of GalaCollider’s story is almost endless!

Ultimately, the main objective is to keep the game fresh and exciting, with the players having the opportunity to co-write and drive the story in the direction they want. The GalaCollider team are invested in building a community where everyone has a voice. This might involve players bringing their favorite hero or faction to the forefront of the story, right through to suggesting their own game modes and scenarios. You can count on the fact that we’ll always be listening!

If you like what you’ve read, feel free to sign up for our newsletter. We’ll update you with new developments and let you know when you can try GalaCollider for yourself! Simply leave your email address.

Visual wave

Greetings friends, much has happened in the last few weeks!

MagFest

GalaCollider was selected to present at MagFest! We’re very excited to have a new opportunity to show the game to the world. We’re working hard to get a nice humble booth all organized and prepared for the event.

UI Progress

We have made tremendous progress towards getting the UI of the game improved. We still have a lot to go but there is already a world of difference in the game.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.11.24 PM

We’ve also been working on various kinds of visual feedback for different game effects, like red spirals to show a planet is being raided or flowering purple-blue rain when an ability reveals a sector at range.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 10.41.09 PM

Sectors now have colors that are more clear to show ownership, the core world glows brighter, sectors that are not selected have various visual indicators disabled.

The half way point

Alpha4 isn’t done yet, but we’ve decided to make a mid-way marker in the development. Our goal in the next two weeks is to make a stable build of Alpha4 in anticipation of MagFest. We will also use this stable way-point as a means to get everyone on the team playing the newest build too.

Only a few actions remain that can’t be undone with our new Undo button – which has proven to be such an essential feature.

It’s also very easy to load custom decks into the game now, and we’ve got 16 new ships and another half dozen or so other new cards in the current pool to play with.

Progress on the single player mode is currently hampered by a few last features we need to finish. Namely we need to code the game to permit us to set the player’s deck, and the order of the cards in their hand at start. Once we have these things, and a few bugs resolved, we can then work on refinement and testing on our puzzle missions.

Planetary 3D models

The game uses 3d models for many things. Everything on the map is 3D but still linked to a card. There were a number of planets added in Alpha3 but they had some problems, pinched textures at the poles, odd colors, rotation problems, or they just simply glowed too much and didn’t match our concept designs close enough.

I’ve spent the last 3 or 4 days going back to the source files and rebuilding all the planets in our game to be a better representation of what we want to achieve.

Tonight I wanted to see all the planets together and measure which ones are too similar and what some of them should be called / renamed into. Here is what I threw together to help me get oversight:

planets_overview_01

Alpha 5 designs, first look

Starting in Alpha5, your hand will hard-cap at 7 cards. If you have 7 cards you just can’t draw more (or you get fewer cards). You can still discard at will, so it won’t stop you from getting new cards if you clear some space. There are many benefits to this change, first it will mean that turns are faster because we never have to wait for a discard phase. Secondly it will also mean we can show more of each card to the player, gone will be the days of only seeing card edges until roll-over. Ghosts on empty slots and lights that glow to show you your hand-spots filled will also make it quick to count and see if you have space in your hand remaining.

We had always planned on having enemy information displayed on an “Intelligence” tab (bottom left corner) – the problem is, that tab doesn’t exist yet because intelligence mechanics (controlled by playing Spies) is a whole world of mechanics that remains in the future… rather than the present.

It’s important to see information about your opponent, especially their star count, so you know if they are about to win. I wouldn’t say this design I made is done, but it’s starting to go in a good direction.

The idea is to leverage the traditional “street fighter” split, me on the left, enemies on the right. I also really like the idea of seeing avatars – you want to identify as much as possible with your side and your enemy. I have ideas in mind for multi-player games, but this current UI assumes a 1-on-1 arrangement.

Finally the menu, done and undo button will move to be more central – I think that makes more sense? But playing and you – will let us know if this indeed true. So here it is, my first draft for Alpha 5 design changes:

Gala_Mainscreen_space_UI_us_v_them_03

Full game replay 01

Hi folks, today we bring you a full game. Played by yours truly. This is a fairly long game because I spell-out all of my thought processes and decisions related to various options I have on each turn, with no clock timer. If you like commentaries with a lot of strategy talk, this video is for you.

My opponent Trevor decides to push slowly and methodically for my core-world while I make a split decision mid-game to forgo defense in order to push for prestigious victory by collecting 50 stars. With only 8 stars to go to reach 50, can I hold my territory while Trevor threatens to capture and claim my territory as his own?

Sylith 3D model explored

Today we look at our new Sylith Cruiser 3D model and flip between the various modular components. Our models are in low and high poly renders. And every part of it can be turned on/off to create new variations.




Update, July 22nd 2015

Kickstarter update

Our Kickstarter (KS) video is well on target and we just went over the first draft of it this week. It’s looking really nice! We can’t wait to show it to you. As of today we are exactly 4 weeks from our currently planned KS launch date: August 19th.

(note that we might move this date back a week or two if we need to!)

This is both really exciting and daunting at the same time! We’ve been working really hard on this game for what seems like forever and the moment of truth is now rapidly approaching.

If you haven’t already, please sign up for our newsletter on our home page. We will send you a note when our KS is live and if you sign up before August 19th we will also put you on our bonus list. Everyone on our bonus list will get $5 in-game credit plus a bonus Core World card for signing up before the KS! So stop reading, sign up and then keep going. 😉

Product shots

In anticipation of the KS we’ve been finalizing things like our card-packs, deck boxes and so forth, here are some draft versions for them:

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.23.49 AM

Card Spoilers?

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 1.05.05 PMWe are going to share card spoilers during our Kickstarter campaign on other websites that are interested in sharing content.

Do you run a blog or a website about games? Are you interested in us giving you a card spoiler to post on your website to get traffic and more fans? Contact us.

More artists

Adam Sondel joined our family this past week. Here is an example of his work:

dock
Adam Sondel

Coding, testing, press and tournaments

Otherwise, a lot is going on all over the place: Chris and Omari coding away the final features for Beta 2, a busy test team cracking bugs, and a team-tournament planned to run next week where we all get to play Beta2 competitively before the press does. Press releases have begun, games with the press are being scheduled and we should know in the next week or so if our August 19th KS date is solid or if we might need to move it back a week or two.

Press kits

Are you from the press? Would you like a press kit? Would you like to schedule a demo of the game? Let us know!

Pricing model

There really aren’t many digital card games out there that are of the non-Collectible kind. Currently if you want the depth of a collectible card game, but you don’t want to hunt random cards, you mainly have to go for physical card games; like Android: Netrunner, Star Wars: the Card game, and Game of Thrones.

Instead, we are bringing the cost-predictable game to you, delivered to your desktop or portable device.

What is unique though, is that we are also accommodating the Free-to-Play (F2P) players. It is important to us that the game permit everyone to participate, irregardless of their funds.

Most F2P games survive because of the small 2-10% of the player base that drops money into its game. By making them collectible games, they need the collectors – who want all the cards – to spend large amount of money, thereby supporting the F2P player base. This is why most digital card games are collectible (random rewards) and not expandable (predetermined).

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 1.41.49 PMOur solution to this, ultimately, is to cut up our releases into multi-mini-packs that can be acquired separately. We will offer you several packs for each faction, each release. These mini packs we are calling X-Packs (X for eXpansion). Each X-Pack contain 15 cards ready for deck building: 3 copies of 5 unique cards. You will always be able to look at all the cards in an X-Pack before you buy it. So there is no guessing or random draws.

F2P players will be able to grab packs through the credit they earn by playing, but not all of them. This means that F2P players will need to select packs that they think are either fun, or from deck lists that they want to combine to create tier-1 (tournament winning) decks.

The end result is that buying content in our game shouldn’t net you more than it would to keep up with your favorite paper-expandable game (similar to the above aforementioned LCG™s fom FFG®), while still enabling F2P players with a means to play competitively (by picking their earned-packs wisely).

Closing thoughts

It is now definitely “crunch time”. We have a pretty tight schedule to hit the 19th and everyone on this big project is doing a really great job to make this happen. This project has become very substantial in such a short amount of time, we’ve all been pouring our souls into it for such a long time, all for one big Kickstarter splash. We all really hope you will love what we have put together and will support us to supply you with what we envision to be an extremely captivating, engaging, evolving, deep strategy game.

Thanks again for reading this, your continued interest inspires us.

Modules and Battles

Today we are going to combine a blog post and a video together. We’ve hinted at ship modules but haven’t really gone too deeply into them yet.

Modules

Syl_Ship_Stinger_miniEach ship can have up to 3 modules, though most will only start with 2 or less already installed. Over the course of a game you will be able to modify the modules on your ships, or to increase their values.

If you add or change a ship’s module set, then all copies of that ship on the board, but also still in your deck and hand adapt and reflect the Mods you apply to them, they are not lost when the ship is destroyed.

We have a zillion modules planned for the game, but you have to start somewhere, below is our current list of modules that are being playtested:

Module list

module-cheat-sheet

There is a wide variety of module types from invasion, colonization and bombardment to mess up planets. To weaponry armaments that give you bonus damage vs. certain sized enemy ships, multi-shots, the ability to pin-down enemy ships to prevent them from escaping, planetary economic harassment, efficient energy consumption and counter-attack batteries.

Free build is a module that will let you build the ship on any friendly sector, even when there isn’t a shipyard. These could be small scout-type vessels, meant to bluff as threats or to explore the deeper territories of the map, or they could be fully capable battleships, whose price tag is inflated by their flexible nature to be built anywhere.

Each faction will have a propensity for some modules more than others, and some modules may even be unique to one faction all together.

Battle in action

Here is a sample battle turn, the Sylith move in two raiders to try and disrupt the opponent’s resource production and slip their faster moving ship past enemy lines.

The Coalition player sits pretty in a well defended position and blasts the raiding ships with their dreadnaught and ground-based laser cannons:

The end result is a lot of dead Sylith but one of the Sylith raiding ships survives and will block all resource production on the enemy planet next turn.

That’s all we have time for this week, stay tuned next week to yet more sneak peak information!

Building Star Ships

This week in our regular video-replay reveal we go into building Space Ships. You’ll need to decide strategically where to best place them on the map. Take out or contest enemy star docks in order to block your opponent’s ability to build their own ships.

Visit our channel to subscribe. Join us next week as we dive deeper into tactical ship-to-ship battles!