Happy New Year! I hope that whatever 2016 has in store for you will be fantastic. I myself am really looking forward to these first few months of the year as they will bring with them the culmination of some great projects I've been working on for a long while now. This will be the first in a series of posts filling you in on these projects so I hope you enjoy it and come back for more soon.
The first project I can unveil is my first forray into an industry that is gaining serious momentum. Escape Plan, the brainchild of Brendan and Kerry Mills, is an exciting addition to the UK's growing escape game market. Based in Elephant & Castle, Escape Plan offer a unique, WWII-themed escape experience that drops you right into a Great Escape-esque adventure. Players are given 60 minutes to test their mettle against a range of challenges and escape from the Stalag-Luft III-inspired barracks.
You can find out more about Escape Plan at www.escapeplanltd.com.
I was commissioned by the creators of Escape Plan for 2 pieces of work: to design both a sound system for the venue and also an immersive soundscape to accompany the game. The soundscape needed to help immerse players in the environment of a 1940's POW camp. Footsteps, scrapes, rustles, escape attempts, aeroplane fly-overs, weather; it was important to achieve a detailed sound environment. The sound design needed to adapt to different zones to give gamers the experience of the camp exterior in earlier game areas, as well as the interior of an officer's barracks later on in the game. To create these environments I had to gather a massive amount of raw sound material, which I collected through foley recording and sample libraries. The number of distinct sounds used in the soundscapes number over a thousand.
I had to be quite creative with how the soundscape would be played back, as the soundscape had to synchronise to an exact 60 minute duration but also provide the operator with the ability to jump to random playback points depending on the gamer's progress. I achieved this using Ableton Live coupled with an audio interface. This allowed for different sound material to be sent to different zones with everything being synchronised by Ableton's master clock. The soundscapes were mixed in 4-channel surround to achieve the immersion factor we needed, and with Ableton allowing us to synchronise multiple surround outputs together, we got great results from a modest, 8 speaker system.
Here you can listen to the climax from the last game area. The final 10 minutes of the game features a slow build up where sound elements heard previously layer on top of each other and are slowly morhped and modulated. As well as this, the outdoor camp soundscape from zone 1 builds to a climax in the background. The game finishes with the chimes of the grandfather clock. To hear it in all it's glory you'll have to pay a visit to Escape Plan and take on the game for yourself using the link further up the page.
That just about wraps it up for this post, so if you want to know more about this work or any upcoming updates from me just drop me a line using the Contact page. Also, keep checking the blog or my Twitter feed as there will be another update soon.