Game audio design is the creation of sound effects and music to give games emotional impact.
Music gives an experience emotion. Music composition for games adds additional dimensions of interactivity that normal linear music doesn’t have. How important is music? Imagine Star Wars without music. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it:
Sound effects design
Sound effects give actions punch and create an atmosphere with background noises suited to the environment.
Audacity is a free sound editing tool
Most people use Audacity to edit sounds for use in games.
Sfxr for retro low-bit sounds
USFXR is a sound generator that lets you generate randomized procedural glitchy sound effects similar to retro video games of earlier eras. It is a great source of raw sound clips to process into fancier sound designs using audio software filters such as reverbs and equalizers. USFXR is a Unity plugin but there are other versions for the web and BFXR for standalone download.
Freesound for real-world sound recordings
Freesound.org: is a source of millions of free sound recordings. You can often search for a word, find a dozen sounds related to what you want, get 2 or 3 that have parts that are close to what you want, download them and pull parts of them out in Audacity to combine them into multiple variations for randomizations or combine them into hybrid sounds.
Hyperlight Drifter’s sound designer explains the creative process he used for the game in a GDC talk that shows how many sounds were combined and filtered together to make unique new sounds:
The most important sound effects to concentrate on are the sounds that accompany your core mecahnics anc coolest most iconic characters and props.
If you had to think of the most iconic sound effect in all of science fiction, you could probably think of quite a few distinctive ones, but most people would think of one in particular. The designer of the iconic sound explains how it was made:
Notice that no modern audio software was used for that early era. Instead, sound designers used actual physical objects to record using a set of techniques that are called Foley.
Foley sound recording
Foley is the act of recording sound effects to match up with what is happening on the screen. It comes from the sound designer John Foley who pioneered this approach in movies. It can be used to cusotmize sound to match animation in cutscenes.
Buing audio and music gear
You’ll need some musical instruments and other gear to make music.