I’ve been a lifelong user of Unreal technology, and like so many, I can recall playing such early Epic titles as Jazz Jackrabbit. So of course it was really special when Human Head Studios was approached by Epic to help build a technical demo to demonstrate what Unreal 4 could do on mobile (specifically, the Samsung S7) using the Vulkan graphics API. Needless to say, this was not the typical game project! Instead of carefully “boxing in” problems in an attempt to avoid risk, we did the opposite: we pushed the engine to its limits, developing on PC and trusting our (amazing!) partners to implement these features on the target device! My role on this process was as the audio designer and music composer, with the added benefit of being able to script my own audio implementation (most audio designers do not do this). My music was even recorded by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra! Finally, I was featured in a highly polished making of video, which you can see in the video section of this page.
The audio scripting required manipulating sound cues based on touch interaction. For example, there is a large spinning planet, surrounded by satellite planets, that the player spins by using swipes across the touch screen. The pitch and volume of the music and sound effects change with the speed of the ball’s rotation. Additionally, the musical timing required careful scripting as well as player input sounds. My favorite interaction that I scripted was the satellite planets, which respond with a glass chime (actually a tuned brandy glass!).
I was in charge of the sound design and musical composition of the tech demo. Both aspects were highly iterative, as this is the process for both Human Head and Epic Games. Musically, the demo went through many variations, some sounding very different from on another, until we settled on the right balance of grandiosity and playfulness. From a sound design perspective, I chose glass as a signature element, as it was the one sound effect that best matched the visual goals of the project: to create a spectacular environment that also seemed familiar. Late in the project I worked with Dynamedion, a leading group of orchestras and arrangers in Europe. The result was a spectacular musical score, as only professional human performers could achieve! I also had the pleasure of working with Epic’s sound designer, Zak Belica, who helped finish off the project’s audio during the final stages of the project.
Developer: Human Head Studios
Release Date: 2016
Publishers: Epic Games, Samsung
Platform: Technical demo for the Samsung Galaxy S7
Genre: Interactive Technical Demo