Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Field Trip to Sony Game Studios!

Waking up at the break of dawn to traverse the icy cold winter morning, we ventured down south to find, not warmer weather, but the Sony Games studio in San Diego. Located deep within the unmarked corporate buildings of Mira Mesa, Sony Games sits hidden from the random pedestrian. Although from the outside the building is nothing to gawk at, once you enter the front door of the reception desk everything changes. Greeted by their friendly receptionist and a display of their various game systems all summed up to one golden PS3 placed behind bulletproof glass on a pedestal, the hype was definitely real.

After a signing of an NDA, a verification of our identification cards, and a official looking man having a brief private conversation with Vinnie, we were prepared to look behind the veil of Sony. A big thank you to sound designer Kurt Kellenberger, our official guide for this excursion. Leading the way into the bowels of the development team, we were briefly shown the various cubicles occupied by each of their production teams, including coders, graphic designers, and in house game testers all sporting decorations of various sports teams from around the country.

Once we wrapped up in that first building, we headed into a different building across the street. Here, we got a sneak peak into one of the studios, a padded room with all sorts of consumer speakers ready for testing. Next we were shown the studio in which Sony produces some of their sound effects with a clutter of miscellaneous materials, all scattered in and around a foley pit located in the center of the room (a studio any sound designer would dream of having access to). The next room we entered was a show room of sorts and had the all too familiar Protools session open. Here Kurt gave us a view into the next step of their sound implementation, we were then shown a video with 100% of the sound effects were produced in the  aforementioned studio, and were informed of their in-depth sound effects library (a section of which is dedicated to the diverse sound of the human fart, a must have in any sound effects library!). With the clock ticking, the last visit on our tour we were given a sneak peak into the program which Kurt used to implement the sounds in a video game. Replaying a scene over and over and showing all the possible outcomes that could occur in the video game world, we got to learn how a sound designer battles with a gamer's free will,  attempting to predict all the actions a player could possibly make, and using this to maintain the games immersiveness. Running behind on time, we wrapped up the tour, with an open invitation for us to apply for their internship program, and Kurt guiding us back to our vehicles. With a big thank you and a sorrowful farewell to Kurt and Sony Games, we began the return back to campus, leaving with a whole new appreciation and understanding of what it takes to design a video game, leaving all of us thinking about this other possible career path.

- Jacques

Sony Games Sound Design Kurt Kellenberger speaks. Garrett Hood, Andrea Allmond, and Jordan Tani listen.

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