Sounds and Moods
Truth be told, I had no idea what kind of a soundscape we should have for the game when we first started drafting a design. In the back of my head, I was thinking something eerie, but 'lovecraftian' was the best adjective I could think of for it. So I was very happy to just hand over the whole planning process to our Audio Designer Otto.
He quickly came up with the idea of utilizing a music box for the main theme and after a few iterations on the actual melody, we had a game theme that we were very happy with. But it is walking on a very thin line between being too childish, too melancholy or too in-your-face-scary.
Some iterations went for a more lullaby kind of a melody, but it usually ended up sounding too immature, or in some cases: Christmasy. It was still fruitful, since it forced us to really talk about what age Alina would actually be. The age had been quite fluid before this: at times we thought of her as being even under 6 years old, but thenagain she could write quite fluently in her diary, suggesting she was much older than that. In the end, we went with 'somewhat older than 6' and scratched the lullabies.
Melancholy was another theme we needed to balance with. Although the game is dark, with melancholy elements, we didn't want the mood to be too depressing or paralyzing. Instead we wanted to feed the emotions connected to protecting Alina and even feeling the distress of swarming monsters. But if the music was too hectic, it would also distract from the eerie theme.
Of course, we also needed to keep in mind the vast amount of mobile gamers who play with the phone on silent mode. So we couldn't rely solely on music and sound effects for any gameplay mechanic. Sound cues will be utilized in the game, but always coupled with visual cues. We still would love to encourage the players to put their headphones on and listen to the music if they can, it brings a lot of wholeness into the experience.
Author: Sade, Vainary CEO / Anxiety of Alina producer
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