I had a very specific idea that this post was first titled with but I’ve realized I could broaden it. So the idea today is to focus your project by limiting yourself. The more of these I write the more apparent it will be how much I love limitations and working with in them. The epic expanse of all possibility is a scary place and it can be really good to put some walls up and box off a smaller area to work in.
So lets start with what I was first going to write about. Limiters. The dynamic audio kind. Not the artificial creative ones or game dependency related ones. For every project I choose one limiter that all the assets will be mastered through. How much limiting is of course a sound by sound issue. Sometimes there isn’t any at all. But that same limiter is on the master channel of every sound. It’s of course a very subtle thing but it helps bring all the sounds in the game together in a related way. At the beginning of the project I make a gut call of from what limiters I have available what goes best with that game. I’m not going to go into why I have picked the ones I have because it’s been a complete personal opinion that hasn’t really gone on any hard facts. I pick what I think its right and run with it. You’ll have to make your own call on what limiter or master chain goes with your game/project.
Ok so that was a cool idea. Now lets broaden that out. Other than limiting our limiters what else can we limit? Well really anything that have multiple creative options can be limited. Maybe you want to only use a certain synth for a song. Maybe it’s only a certain collection of libraries for your sfx. Maybe it’s excluding lion sounds from any of your creature creation. You can make up any kind of limiting rule for yourself. And they can even be different for different areas of your project. I feel it’s always best to stick to these things but of course if push comes to shove you can always drop them if needed. None of this is written in stone.
Some times I like to limit myself to certain plugins or libraries I know I haven’t used much. We’ve probably all got great tools we’re not using to their full potential. And to get out of our regular ruts that we know work. We’re creatures of habit. Now restricting yourself to the newest tool in the shed will probably be the most likely time you’ll want to throw that rule to the side. But if you stick with it you could get the biggest pay offs. This could be how you find your new signature trick. Or the great new unifying sound your project needed.
Now maybe you’re asking what the benefits of this might be. For me it’s two main things. The first is you can speed your self up by removing “endless options” and replacing that with “several options”. You don’t have to worry about exhausting every available way of making a gun shot. You just have to work through the tools you’ve limited yourself too and come up with the best with in that. Now of course, you may have created a rule set that comes up bad sounds in which case you might have to change things up. Finding what works and what doesn’t just takes experimentation.
The second main reason I do this is to bring some uniformity to a project. Not to the point of sounding boring but just a little so the project sounds cohesive. Finding ways to fit everything together into one vision is how we can help create living breathing worlds that subscribe to their own internal logic. And not just a collection of cool sounds.