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Win Sound Methods

Those of you who have switched to iGaming from other kinds of game development may be aware of the term “audio middleware.” The two most prominent audio middleware programs are FMOD and Wwise. These can be integrated with the project’s development engine and give sound designers almost limitless control over how sound is handled in games, allowing them to create a smooth, polished audio experience without having to hassle the programmers.

Unfortunately it isn’t common at all to utilize these for the smaller projects like most casino games, so the audio needs to be carefully planned in advance. It’s more common in slot games than other types to have lots of musical winning sounds, sometimes lasting up to 10 seconds. Playing these alongside background music can get messy very quickly, especially during free spins where the music is usually much busier. The problem can be partially solved by the obvious technique of keeping the background volume down, or fading it down even lower while win sounds are playing, but let’s have a look at some of the techniques I’ve come across for minimizing the chances of clashing sounds even more.

1. Interactive Music
Some of the best slots I’ve played use this technique very well. If you break down a piece of music into multiple tracks that can layer on top of each other, you have interactive/dynamic music. You just have to play all the layers at the same time, but with the stacking layers muted until it’s time for them to fade in. In some of our recent projects we’ve used this for building excitement as you get closer to a feature, and sometimes used the full combination of layers as the free spins music. You can also introduce exciting layers during win animations, and different layers for different levels of win. This way you don’t need to use separate win sounds, it’ll always sync up and it won’t get repetitive.

2. Short Stabs
This is usually used in combination with some of the other points in this list. If you just use a single burst or “tadaaa”, even for the higher wins, there is a much lower chance of messy clashing, and it just serves as a neat announcement, while the roll up or interactive music or even just the visuals can take care of the rest of the excitement.

3. Frequency Spectrum
I feel this should always be considered, whether you combine with other techniques or not. The frequency spectrum is generally talked about in three categories – lows, mids and highs. For the purpose of demonstrating how this relates to slot sounds, let’s further break them down to just low and high frequency sounds. If you have this whole spectrum covered in your background music, it’s almost like you’ve not left any room for the wins. A general rule to follow is to cut down the high frequency sounds in the background music as much as possible, and let them sparkle in the win sounds. This can go a very long way in avoiding clashing sounds. You can also do the opposite, but there’s a higher risk of a high frequency background track grating after a while.

4. Instrumentation/Style Comination
This is kind of similar to the previous point. I like to mix up the instrumentation sometimes, and the way I go about it totally depends on the client’s preferences. Some people like to incorporate more of the classic fruit machine sounds into games for the UI, wins and SFX etc. Most of the time this can really stand out from the theme of the background music. If the client prefers the wins to be in the same theme as the rest of the game, you can just hold a few instruments back. If it’s epic orchestral, you can avoid using heavy brass and percussion in the background, and then let it blast in the wins. If it’s rock, you can use your drums bass and rhythm guitar in the background, but add in the screaming lead guitars and maybe organs and cymbals for the wins.

5. Win Rollups Only
Instead of the rhythmic hits and melodies of a musical win sound, you can just stick with a fast repetitive loop while the win amount increments. Some developers like to combine this with the melodic sound, which works just fine, but using it alone can really minimize chances of clashing. Some also like to start the winning rollup sound quite basic and subtle, gradually increasing as it reaches higher levels of winnings.

6. Switching Up FS
Freespins usually has much more upbeat music, so if your sounds are all playing together nicely in the base game, FS might be a different story. It might seem a bit strange, but sometimes it can be a good idea to change the method you use for just during FS. Very short stabs as mentioned in method #2 for example. Then when the free spins end, you can play a huge exciting sound for the total winnings.

7. Ambient Backgrounds
Developers often have strong preferences regarding whether they want full on music in the base game or not. Often they’ll instead opt for just the atmospheric themed background (nature ambience, city ambience, beach waves etc) or extremely subtle ambient music. While this can suck some of the initial excitement out of the game, it definitely eliminates audio clashing, as well as minimizing the risk of the music eventually getting annoying as it loops round and round.

These are just some of the techniques I’ve used and/or observed over the years. There isn’t really a right or wrong, it just comes down to preference and what works for each particular game. The majority of our clients already know how they prefer to do things, and we keep notes of these preferences and stick to them. On the occasions a client wants to change things up, clean up some older projects or try out some ideas, we’re more than happy to advise on this sort of thing!


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