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V Planet (
The first 100% QuickBasic game Review magazine

It Sounds Like Not Enough

(5/18/2000) V Planet game reviewers tell all how not to get horsewhipped in the sound department.

Monospace is one example of how 2-color graphics can be neutralized by a killer soundtrack.

Sound is an important part of any game. A flourish of sound effects can give an arcade game some punch. A change in music can transform the mood of an RPG. A good choice of sound and music can even enhance the replay value and fun factor of a game. Everybody knows this. The console giants have been working with this audial phenomenon for years.

So how come QB proggers haven't capitalized on this gold mine?

Consider this. Of the 61 games that V Planet has tried and reviewed, 20 of them don't have any sound or music. Of the remaining 41 game reviews, 24 of these games score only a two or less in the Sound/Music category. That means over 72% of the games reviewed by V Planet have not met the sound and music standards that QB games have set.

This heinous statistic can be attributed to one of two factors. On one hand, maybe V Planet game reviewers are heartless cads who like slaughtering people with awful Sound/Music scores. This might be true, but the more likely reason is that the standards set by QB's biggest masterpieces are so high.

If you're one of the 72% who have been slapped with two or fewer points for sound in your game, or if you're trying to give your game an extra edge, you should consider the following rules to get the most out of your game (and make reviewing QB games sound that much better for us =)

Rule 1: Don't use another video game's music
When you're introducing somebody to your video game, you want to make sure that the experience feels original. Having a famous console game tune in your game can take away from that originality. Plus, people playing your game who are familiar with the music you borrowed will start comparing your game to their memories. It's just not a healthy place to be; many times video game players are pretty loyal to the first games they play.

This rule is especially enforced with QB games. Ripping music from another QB game (especially popular games like Wetspot 2 and Monospace) is suicide. Even if Wetspot 2's music isn't original, using the same music anyway is like using third-hand underwear. It just doesn't work.

Rule 2: Avoid using Popular music
Sometimes you may not have a musician who can help you, and as a result you have to download music for your game. In this case, try to find something that truly fits the feel of your game. Finding a sweet classical piece or something with a little beat is okay; getting a really popular piece like the Indiana Jones theme and plastering it onto your game is tacky. Syndicated TV tunes and Billboard chart-toppers released after the 1960s should also be avoided.

Rule 3: Pick "real" sounds over "game" sounds
If you're not making your own sound effects, try to get sound bites from the night that haven't been abused by video games already. I don't care how cool you think it is to have some Mario jumping noises, Sonic ring sounds, or someone screaming "Hadoken" in your game. It's not original... it's been done.

The sound for your game can be a whole lot better if you download a sound bite from the net and edit it so that it caters to your game. For example, Shell Shock (which got 3 out of 5 in the sound department) has no music, but the edited explosion sounds and turret noises give this 2D shoot-'em up the feel of a 3D flight simulator.

Rule 4: Care For the Ears
Your real goal in adding sound to your game is to pull people into your game. So don't abuse any sound effects that could hurt the ears. It's a good idea to have a fair balance of sound and music according to how your game is made, but if sounds and tunes come at just the right time, you could get a very good score even if your game is all sound, no music or all music, no sound.

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