The sound of Dized: Blood Rage, Viking instruments and audio production for board games Tutorials

Our previous blog post covered the process we went through to create the Blood Rage Tutorial, and what we learned that we’ll apply to future content.

This time we want to introduce how Dized will use audio, something that dramatically differentiates our Tutorials from other ways of teaching board games.

A Dized Tutorial contains three different kinds of audio tracks: music, sound effects, and voice over. The soundtrack is essential to setting the tone and maintaining the right vibe(s) during the game, the sound effects to communicate valuable information during play, and the voice over to guide players through the rules.

Check out the Blood Rage Theme!

Although it shares some elements with the work needed for movies or video games, creating audio for a Dized Tutorial is a fundamentally different challenge. Since we’re pioneers in the field of interactive Tutorials for games, even the audio part is uncharted territory.

The first thing we do is find a style and genre that matches the world and atmosphere of the game — board games usually don’t come with audio material, so this whole process is one of discovery: understanding what the game is about both thematically and mechanically. As Blood Rage is heavily inspired by Norse mythology and Vikings, the audio for the Tutorial had to incorporate elements generally associated with these themes.

While the graphics, animations and game mechanics are indeed the core of a Dized Tutorial, audio is an essential means to enriching the experience and creating a particular atmosphere related to the game being taught.

In the case of Blood Rage, as you take new actions, new background music fitting the current scenario is played. For example, the Pillaging music suits battle scenarios. Every time an Age changes a new theme is introduced, adding to the overall experience.

Coordination between musician and designer is an integral part of the process: where the music will be played, what type of music fits the game phases or scenarios, how does it need to be timed, etc. were all topics of discussion. Designing the overall experience is not a one person job — all parts of the Tutorial have to mesh together to form an inspiring and compelling whole.

As mentioned, we started to look at what kind of instruments would fit a Norse mythology/Viking themed game. In addition to computer-generated samples, we used a real Jouhikko. The Jouhikko, a particular kind of bowed lyre, goes back all the way to Trondheim, Norway in the 14th century.

Acoustic Electric Jouhikko by Charlie Bynum, Silver Spoon Music, NL. 2014

Another unusual instrument used in the Blood Rage Tutorial is the Sami drum, a shamanic ceremonial drum typical of the Sami people of Northern Europe. Traditionally used to drift into a trance during spiritual ceremonies and divination rituals, we have used it to create just the right feeling during game phases leading up to a battle.

Mari Boine with a modern drum. Drums are now used both as a musical instrument and as a symbol of Sami identity.

Of course, we understand that not every publisher has access to a recording studio or rare, exotic instruments. Once the Tutorial tools we’re working on are ready, we plan to offer the possibility to import pre-recorded tracks (custom or licensed), but we’re also looking into other options. First of all, we would like to provide a library of ready-made sounds and background ambiance tracks. Secondly, we’ll soon be able to connect available talents with publishers in need of a hand, and this will be available for all aspects of Tutorial creation. Lastly, text to speech technologies are evolving rapidly, and will soon be good enough to voice our Tutorials in a natural-sounding way.

It’s still early days though and experimentation is at an all-time high: the best is yet to come!

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This app makes playing board games easy and fun. Early Access version already available for iOS and Android. http://dized.com