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Sound Design for Simple Games

Creative Vision

When I started the Uranus Attacks project, I was instantly brought back to the Atari and Game Arcade days of design simplicity.  The movements and theme of the game reminded me of Space Invaders and Donkey Kong combined.  Due to this, I wanted to keep my sounds simple and organic sounding to emphasize each event in the game.


The gameplay video below displays the sounds I created, in use in the Game Uranus Attacks.  During the game, the spacehip from Uranus attacks two different planets and the goal is to kill six creatures per planet to win.


For the game Uranus Attacks, I utilized the sounds of things found in my kitchen; this gave me a wide range of frequencies and sounds to use. From metal shelves to dishes and appliances, I changed the pitch, time, and volume of these different sounds, as well as adding effects to achieve the “space” sounds required for the game. I used my Zoom H5 Recorder for all of the sounds except the creatures.


KRAKTOH AMBIENCE: For this sound I utilize a pot of water heating up to boiling on the stove, adjusted with a variable volume and pitch. Then time stretched and a flanger added. Waiting for the exact level of boiling water was the key to getting the right sound for this ambience.


DKUK AMBIENCE: I recorded the sound of ice breaking out of an ice tray for this sound, to highlight the rocky terrain of the planet, adjusted with variable volume, pitch, and time stretched, then added a cricket sound underlay to fill out the empty spaces in the recording. Careful EQ and modulation effects got the even sound that I was looking for.


ENGINE SOUND: Layered recording of the motor of a blender and a food processor, adjusted with variable volume, time stretched for a lower pitch and blend, to simulate the ship moving closer or further away from the target.


VAPORIZER SOUND: This sound is really the highlight of the game, so I used a rubber spatula dragged across the wire metal shelf, experimenting with hitting plates and glasses on the shelf at the same time. I then stretched out the recording using a time lapse to adjust for pitch and attack, added a phaser and reverb and adjusted for volume.


TELEPORT IN/OUT: For these sounds I took a baking sheet and made different metal pops by pressing down and releasing certain points on the sheet.  Then adjusting the pitch and volume in opposite directions to achieve the “in” and “out” tones, and adding a phaser and flanger to achieve the attack of each sound.

BARNABY AND FNOON: For the creature noises, I found clips on of cougars, wildebeasts, and racoons, took the clips and time lapsed, added phasers and modulation, and careful editing to create the sounds of these creatures being in pain and dying when zapped by the vaporizer.

Kraktoh Ambience - Kirsten Johnston
Dkuk Ambience - Kirsten Johnston
Engine - Kirsten Johnston
Vaporizer - Kirsten Johnston
Teleport In - Kirsten Johnston
Teleport Out - Kirsten Johnston
Barnaby_G - Kirsten Johnston
Barnaby_H - Kirsten Johnston
Barnaby_I - Kirsten Johnston
Fnoon_G - Kirsten Johnston
Fnoon_H - Kirsten Johnston
Fnoon_I - Kirsten Johnston


During the creation of these audio assets, I learned that creating individual sounds for a specific themed game requires flexibility of techniques used for musical recording and editing. Implementing specific start and stop times, that seem too short for a musical piece, that trigger exactly when the action happens during the game. Taking one sound that when recorded, sounded like it would work just fine, and using effects and frequency changes to make each sound pleasing to the ear as well as fitting for the game. Using the feedback given by my peers and teacher, I was able to finally reach the sounds that were needed to fulfill the game and make it exciting.

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