Sounds Like Wood

July 7, 2017

Game assets are anything audio, visual, or “other” that go into making up the content of a computer game. As a game develops it becomes clear what assets are needed by that game. No big surprise there. The interesting thing is that sometimes opportunities present themselves to get game assets before you even know when or if you’ll need those assets. Such an opportunity happened to me recently when I had the chance to mess around with a large pile of scrap wood to get some interesting sound recordings.

When I created the first Sleuthhounds game, The Unlocked Room, I needed the sound of collapsing wood at one point as a ladder breaks apart and falls to the ground. I could hear the sound I wanted in my head but wasn’t sure how to go about creating it. After a bit of experimentation, I gathered together a handful of small scraps of wood and dropped them on a quarter inch thick board I raised off the ground to get a bit of an echo. The sound was almost exactly not like what I had in my head and it was one of the things from that first game that I was never satisfied with.

Recently I was helping to tear down an old, wooden carport. At the end of the day we had a fairly large pile of old wood.

[Nothing like an old, rotted pile of wood to knock around.]
Nothing like an old, rotted pile of wood to knock around.

Much of the wood was rotten or warped so it wasn’t suitable for anything and was destined for the trash. As I helped to pile up that wood I remembered being unsatisfied with the wood collapsing sound from the Sleuthhounds game.

The not quite sound of wood collapsing.

Even though I don’t have any concrete plans to include wood sounds in my current game projects, I thought this was a chance to get some decent sounds for if the situation ever came up. I brought out my laptop and my Blue Yeti microphone and spent the better part of an hour picking up and dropping pieces each other, banging boards together, dragging planks across one another, and I may have even did a little dance on top of them all at one point. The result was a good selection of wood sounds that I can use in future projects.

Here are a few samples of wood collapsing sounds that I’d choose from if I were making The Unlocked Room now. I’m not sure which one I’d pick, but they all sound better to me than the sound I did use.

Wood falling #1.

Wood falling #2.

Wood falling #3.

The moral of the story is to always keep your eyes and ears open for things you can use in your game projects or other creative projects for that matter. Opportunities like having a pile of scrap wood to knock around don’t come up every day. Even if you’re not sure if you’d use assets coming from such things I think it’s probably best to take advantage of the situation and have those assets and never use them than to need such an asset and not have it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a messy pile of wood to go clean up.