Ashley Hawkins

Freelance Indie Composer | Sonikbuster Music

Ashley “SonikBuster” Watts is an arranger and composer who lives in Lynchburg, VA with her Son Max, and her Husband Gary. She graduated from Liberty University with a BS. Degree in Music and Youth Programming. Sonik has worked as a freelance musician in the commercial music industry for 4 years.

She has worked on several indie games, YouTube channels, and game audio tributes such as Big Mat Attack’s DKC Mix’t Ape ’94, Chronicles of Time, NIBEL: Ori and the Blind Forest Remixed, Die Nachtblume, The Travelers, Miracle Mia, Game-Together, and a long list of tracks with the video game music label ‘Materia Collective.’ You can finder her online composing music weekly on her Twitch Channel for everything from Synthwave Genre-Mashed Electronic Tracks to Soothing Lullabies, and Broadway-esque Musicals and of course music for games.

Talk Description:

Hey Listen! Why Sound is Important in Game Design

Short/Guide Description: Sound is an important part of game design that is frequently overlooked when putting a team together, and often seen as a minor detail in the development process. This discussion is about sound design, music, and the roles that they play in successful game design.
Why is game audio important? What is the difference between a Sound Designer, and a Composer? Why should they be involved with the development team? How to find the artists you need for your project? All these questions and more answered.

Long Description: 

Hey Listen! Is a panel about the importance of sound in game design, and why it’s important to have a sound designer and/or composer on your development team.

There is a well-known issue within the game audio community regarding how music is handled by indie game studios. I have discovered that some of the reason for this is an incredible lack of communication between the game audio community, and the Indie game development community.
I hope that with the information I have to share we can close the gap, and encourage developers to consider their Audio Designers as part of their Development team. In this panel, I begin with a quick overview of the impact sound has on gamers, and how sound can bind a story to memory easily. (With a couple of quick demonstrations.)

As the panel progresses I have the opportunity to show how getting your audio team in on the ground level can improve their ability to develop complimentary sounds for the game. I explain how watching the game come together can be inspiring, and can provide the motivation needed to create music that compliments the game design. I also take a little time to encourage developers to invite composers, and musicians to local game jams, and indie dev meet-ups….and a little of my own experiences attending these events as a musician.

From here we can discuss finding the right composer for your project, and this includes tips such as ‘Consider what genres of music would best compliment the atmosphere of your game and seek out composers who you feel can meet that need.’ When looking for a sound designer think about what kind of tones you want…are you looking for something in 16-bit, pretty sounds, or something more realistic? Sometimes a composer can accomplish what you want, but other times it may take an additional team member, a sound designer, to bring your sprites to life.

At the end of the panel I’ll be presenting a short video of a game with full audio and sound design, then with only SFX, and then without any sound at all to demonstrate the differences between the two team positions, and to show what they can all accomplish together.

I’ll do a brief Q & A to answer any lingering questions the audience has at the end of the session.

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