For Scramble Legends, Alex and I wanted to make the sound design more subtle and natural as opposed to overly bright and sci-fi; the idea was to use pleasing, simple audio to augment the player’s actions without necessarily driving them altogether. We also wanted emotionally distinctive sounds (positive, negative, victory, defeat, etc) that weren’t over-the-top with regard to the feedback they intended to convey.

During the design process, Alex would send me videos showing all the game mechanics and features he wanted sounds for and I loaded them into my DAW (Sony Vegas) and put markers on each individual section that required unique assets. From there, I searched through my sound libraries for a lot of organic material such as wooden blocks falling, paper movements, bubbly sounds, airy whooshes, stopwatch ticks and so on.

A series of words being collected

I began editing everything together doing my best to keep each sound comprised of less than three layers (they sound less dense that way) and not relying heavily on DSP outside of simple EQ’s and volume automation.

For the tiles flipping, I originally took the sound of wood sliding across a floor, pitched it up and made five very short variations out of it but it didn’t work well once Alex implemented it – it was too harsh and random. What actually did work was using one small ‘tick’ sound that I’d made for the UI and then slightly altering the pitch of it.

For the ‘ready’, ‘set’, ‘spell’, elements, I made those from simple chimes and bubble sounds edited together. And for the overdrive sounds, it was similar except that I used whoosh sounds instead of bubbles.

Altogether, it took about one week and three or four revision passes to get everything implemented and sounding right.

An explosive letter detonating in a word

The simplicity of the audio really worked well for Scramble Legends. The sounds are just present enough to give the player some auditory feedback without encroaching too far into their awareness which is mostly focused on finding and arranging words. As all veteran sound designers say, “you know you’re doing your job when nobody notices.”

Keep reading the "Making of Scramble Legends" series:
  1. User Interface: a look at how the user interface was designed
  2. Avatar Style: follow the evolution of Scramble Legends' art style
  3. Making the Avatars: guest post by Kyle McGill artist for Scramble Legends
  4. Avatar Design: learn how the avatar art style was finalized
  5. End Game Condition: explore the thought process behind the game's end game condition
  6. Attack Design: understand why Scramble Legends is all about burying your opponent
  7. Overdrive Mode: a look at the design and technical considerations behind this special game mode
  8. Sound Design: guest post by David Kizale sound designer for Scramble Legends