Audiokinetic and our external judging panel would like to thank all of the participants in the Wwise Limbo Redux Contest. The entries have been received from all around the globe, the judges have done their analyses, and we have our three winners!
Emmanuel Doulut (France)
As Grand Prize Winner, we contacted Emmanuel to ask him a few questions about his history and ambitions, as well as his vision and execution of his entry.
Audiokinetic (AK): Emmanuel – first off, congratulations on winning the contest! The judges were really impressed with your entry at the video level, as well as at the Wwise Project level and the amount of thought that went into the artistic vision.
Emmanuel Doulut (ED): Thanks! I’m really happy that the judges appreciated the effort I put in, and the product that came out at the end!
AK: So, tell us a bit about yourself – are you currently in the game audio industry?
ED: I am, actually. I just finished up work on an upcoming title from Ubisoft that is really innovative. I can’t say much more, but people should be able to check it out sometime later this year. I’m currently looking for my next challenge in the game audio business, and that next awesome game to work on!
AK: Did your experience in the industry help you a lot with this contest?
ED: Well, the game I just finished working on was actually my first, and it was sonically VERY different than Limbo, so the experience I gained in the industry helped me from a pure audio & music design level, from a conceptual level, but not so much from an audio integration level.
AK: So looking forward, what are your goals in the industry?
ED: I definitely want to find more projects in the game and interactive media space where I’d be having a real impact on the final product from design, production, implementation and music composition. That was another reason why this contest was so great – I got to learn Wwise! Lots of companies in the PC and console space are using it, and even more and more I’m seeing it used in the mobile and indie scene. And in fact, it’s a really useful tool for sound designers in the video game industry.
AK: Are there any aspects of sound design that you’re really focused on?
ED: I’m really interested now in interactive music and music composition. Some of the info I’ve learned about the next version of Wwise looks like it’ll be getting even better in that respect. But overall, I like to get my hands dirty everywhere!
AK: Let’s talk a bit about your contest entry – what was your main inspiration?
ED: Well, Martin Stig Andersen’s work in Limbo’s sound design was already so amazing, that the contest was a big challenge. I really liked the section of the game that is referred to as the ‘Gravity Jump’ zone, so I chose that as my 60-second section. The sound there is the only sign to the player about the temporal evolution of the gravity timer, so they really have to listen to get the timing down. I wanted to make an alternative to Andersen’s rhythmic acceleration, while maintaining the anticipation of the change of gravity with musical and sound cues.
AK: Were there any special ways you used Wwise to accomplish this vision?
ED: I used Wwise as a music sequencer, and I used many music events and a fixed BPM. All of the sounds in the sequence are separable and independent. This allowed me to have a lot of flexibility in my audio integration work.
AK: Did you have any major hurdles to overcome?
ED: Because my design was reliant on a fixed BPM, it really worked best with a fixed frame rate as well. The sequence is all based on ‘5’. 5 seconds between gravity changes, 5 areas, and 5 portions to the sequence. I clocked all of my sounds at 96bpm, including an auxiliary channel with a delay in 96bpm, starting playback of multiple sounds with an initial delay in 96bpm and using the RTPC_gravityTimer value (that 5 seconds between gravity changes) for several loops and long sounds. I used the 5 defined areas of the scene to gradually increase the dramatic tension. Once I got my head around all of that, the project started to fall into place!
AK: What about the thematic elements of the design?
ED: Artistically, I wanted to stay in the dark aesthetic that Andersen created, and stay in the ‘noir’ feel of the picture tone. I wanted to draw contrasts between musical elements, contrasting sound spaces, contrasting sonority and tessituras, melting musical and non-musical elements as a unit. To emphasize tensions and releases between gravity changes.
AK: Did you source the sound effects externally or do the creation work yourself?
ED: I’m a DIY enthusiast, so all of the sounds were made and designed by myself with synthesizers and sound recording. None of the sounds came from sound banks or synthesizer presets. Basically, I wanted to make differentiation between the ‘up’ state and the ‘down’ state using delay echoes, tones, chords and tessituras, and develop the idea of tension and release with sound. The loud sounds put the helpless boy in a vast and hostile environment. I separated low, medium and high frequencies to manage tessituras changes in real time.
AK: Excellent stuff – any last thoughts?
ED: This contest was an opportunity for me to test and learn the Wwise engine, and I really enjoyed it! In addition, Limbo is a great game with great sound design and everyone should check it out!
Thanks to Emmanuel for his great work! Two other entries also stood out from the others, and they’re our runners up:
Tom Maddocks (UK)
Sylvain Jannot (Canada)
Thanks again to all of our participants, and stay tuned for the next contest from Audiokinetic!