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Book of Travels

Book of Travels is a serene TMORPG (tiny multiplayer online roleplaying game) with a focus on exploration, atmosphere and roleplaying. Players create their own characters and shape their own stories on their journey through the beautiful Braided Shores.

The game is developed in Unity by Might and Delight, and is currently in Early Access on Steam.

I had the pleasure of joining Might and Delight as an intern in January 2023, before taking on full-time employment as a sound designer in July. Below is some of the content I've worked on.

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Fishing minigame

During my internship at Might and Delight, the first thing i got to work on was an updated fishing minigame (which is obligatory for any game to have, of course).

With this sound design, I aimed to make fishing an engaging and rewarding experience while still keeping it calm and laid-back.

The sounds vary depending on your precision in the minigame, the type of catch you get (or if you get none), what type of rod you are using and if you're sitting or standing.

Here are some of the sound effects!

Perfect Throw
00:00 / 00:04
Dial Movement Loop
00:00 / 00:05
Fish Escaped
00:00 / 00:04
Catching Fish
00:00 / 00:06
Caught something!
00:00 / 00:04
Floater Impact
00:00 / 00:03
Reeling Loop
00:00 / 00:06
Failed Minigame
00:00 / 00:04

The soundscape of Kasa

When I started my internship, the team's main goal was to release Kasa, a large new city area. As the sound designer on the team, I was tasked with creating its soundscape. This came with a number of questions and challenges that I had to meet:

  • How do you characterize a place and make it unique compared to the rest of the game, while still feeling like a part of the same world?

  • What stories can the sound design tell?

  • How can I make the city feel organic and alive in a rather non-organic sound system with technical limitations?

  • How can the soundscape contribute to the update as a whole living up to the players' hype?

Finding solutions to these things taught me a lot, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. Here is an overview of my process.

An ASMR-esque video, showcasing to the soundscape

Ambience

As I see it, the starting point for creating a believable and immersive environment is designing the ambience. The sounds in Kasa, like real life cities, depend on many things. The first step for me was to consider how the following things will affect the soundscape:

  • The overall state of the city - lockdown, deserted

  • The geographical location - port town, southern Braided Shores

  • The specific parts of town - north, south, beach, graveyard

  • The amount of people - very few, dogs and cats roam the streets

  • The time of day - dawn, day, dusk, night

  • The weather - sunny, drizzling rain, heavy rain

Audio Areas (2D ambience)

From previous projects i was used to working with ambiences as non-linear as possible - I want sounds to play at random and loops to have varying lengths to creative never-repeating patterns. However, the fact that this game simply uses Unity without audio middleware forced me to get creative in a different way. How do I make the ambience feel non-linear in a linear system?

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My solution was to find variation in other things than randomness - even if the 2D ambience technically is made up of static loops, the way the areas and daytime variations are different and how they mesh with the positioned 3D ambience sounds makes the soundscape not only varied but also adaptive to how the player chooses to explore the level.

Beach, day
Beach, night
Graveyard, day
Graveyard, night
North, day
North, night
South, day
South, night

The four main areas with their day/night variations.
Press the right/left arrows to switch scenery and play the corresponding sound files to hear how they fit!

I then created Audio Areas that play the correct ambience loop when the player is inside. As the player moves between areas, the ambience simply fades between versions.

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Beach

South

North

Graveyard

Kasa seen from above in the editor

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South

North

Beach

Graveyard

Audio Areas isolated

Point Audios (3D-positioned ambience)

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As you walk through Kasa, you will hear many details around you - water splashing, wooden bridge creaks, muffled chatter from the houses, birds, and more. These sounds don't belong in the 2D ambience - they have a 3D-positioned source, and should be heard from that source. This is important to make the space immersive and to match the visuals in the level.

For this, I used PointAudios. They are positioned 3D-sounds like Unity's default "audio source", but with additional custom settings that make a big difference in the context of Book of Travels.

For example, I could use these settings to only make sounds play when certain world conditions were met. This crowd murmur sound will not play during dawn when the inhabitants of the city is still waking up, or when the weather is too bad for them to want to go outside.

All Point Audios in the level

The level is filled with these details. You will only ever hear a few of them at once, and they're not meant to grab the player's immediate attention. They are simply there to make the environment sound the way it looks and give it more life.

This taught me more about how sound design can be used as storytelling!

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Music design

There was already a finished Kasa theme produced when I arrived at the company. However, I decided that using a fully fleshed out composition in the deserted, lockdown-state that Kasa was going to be released in would clash with the narrative and what the player actually experiences in gameplay. Additionally, the theme risked feeling repetitive since there was no other intended music for the city. I instead chose to use a system that is already used in some other locations in the game and is loosely inspired by games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Minecraft.

After asking for access from the band that composed and produced the Kasa theme, I took the original instrument tracks and picked out musical phrases and motifs that could stand on their own. I experimented with combining different parts and added a few software instruments, with the goal of creating short segments of music that could be played in any order while still feeling coherent and fit the scenery.

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I remixed the theme into 7 short musical segments, labeled parts A-G. Here's how they sound:

Part A
00:00 / 00:40
Part B
00:00 / 00:40
Part C
00:00 / 00:40
Part D
00:00 / 00:40
Part E
00:00 / 00:40
Part F
00:00 / 00:40
Part G
00:00 / 00:40
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Finally, I put them into our AudioArea system in Unity. With these settings, there is a break of 60-120 seconds every time one of the sound files is finished playing, and then a new randomly chosen one will play.

This keeps the music never-repeating and works well for longer periods of gameplay. Working with silence also gives the soundscape time to breathe, and lets the ambience shine through.

This music design was a great way to meet the players' hype for the new update while also building new hype for the full release of "alive-Kasa" where the whole musical arrengement will be used, representing the city in its full glory.

Reverb and snapshot zones

The last part of building Kasa's soundscape was designing reverb- and snapshot zones that affect sounds when the player goes to certain spots. Zones like this were already in the game, so the process of adding new ones was fairly quick.

The reverb zones used are largely the same subtle city reverb. The two smaller reverb zones in the graveyard and the walkway between the north and south parts of the city have more reverb to give a sense of "closedness" in those specific areas.

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Reverb zones

Snapshot zones change the mixer settings for the ambience and weather sounds when entered. In this level they are exclusively used for indoor or sheltered locations. Most notably, they muffle the sound of rain and wind.

Snapshot zones

Entering and exiting an "indoors" snapshot zone during rain

More coming soon (NDA)

Due to my non-disclosure agreement with Might and Delight, I won't be showing off my latest work on Book of Travels here just yet. I'll have an update soon though, so hold tight!

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