For the final episode on the making of Mega Man 11, the game’s sound design team discussed how they do their job and how they make the game’s sound effects, handled voice acting, and made the game sound good.
According to Sound Director Ryo Yoshii, colleagues who are able to mimic the sound they are trying to achieve without being embarrassed are key people on the sound team, as they make creating sounds much more easier to achieve. Composer Marika Suzuki chimed in as well, saying that people who can write down what they want in an easy-to-understand way are very helpful as well.
Making the Music
Regarding the actual music in the game, the composers and sound team in the game felt a lot of pressure, especially after reading opinions and surveys that focused quite a lot on the music in Mega Man games. However, because they created the BGMs with detailed boss proposals and test footage in mind, it was quite easy to imagine what the music would sound like, such as in the case of Block Man’s stage theme.
Suzuki and Yoshii talked about one experience where after discussing about the preliminary composed piece for Block Man’s stage, and after letting their colleagues listen to the BGM, an email from Koji Oda (the director) came in. Here’s what it reads:
“I felt a haunting, lonely feeling from the piece, like what you feel from music played by South American instruments. It was also quite fast and rhythmical.
<What I want>
Heavy, strong, stifling feeling, but with an upbeat atmosphere.
Most of the stage takes place underground in a construction site-like area, and Mega Man fights against heavy machinery and enemies based around various construction site tools, so I would like to recreate the stifling and bustling atmosphere in the music.
Sorry for the abstract descriptions as usual.”
The director would regularly make requests through email like this. He also asked for the music in this game to be hummable, with a strong melody line like in classic Mega Man games. This was something that has gradually changed since the NES days, as more sounds and samples became available for use.
Making the Sound Effects
Something that is quite different in Mega Man 11 are the sound effects, seeing as this is a modern-looking game compared to the 8-bit and 16-bit installments. While the sound team used modern sound effect-making processes to create the noises, what was important was adding a twist to make the sound effects less serious. For example, they would add the sound of tin cans to that of heavy machinery, in order to make the explosion sound effect more familiar to people. (See 5:34 to 6:01 in the video for a demonstration) The sound team has an entire studio full of things such as empty kettles, a set of armor, and other things, in order to create the sounds. Using actual tools like those, they would record the sounds and then digitize them.
According to Yoshii, the task of imagining the sound effects in a fictional world like Mega Man’s is quite fun. For example, with a robot like Mega Man, Yoshii imagines that obviously there would be a sound made by the parts inside Mega Man while running. The whole task feels like building a plastic model kit piece by piece, which is why it’s so interesting.
Voice Acting Direction
On the topic of voice acting, once again the character details for each character’s personality came in handy. The design sheets go as in-depth as to include details that aren’t shown in-game. For example, Block Man is usually a hardworking, cheery fellow who does his best at everything, including morning radio exercises. While his personality stays similar after being altered by Dr. Wily, he is unable to control his strength, and becomes more protective of the work site.
The character information is handed over to the voice actors, and they are also given a briefing on the character’s personality. When they were asked if there were any questions, most of the voice actors didn’t have any and went on to get down the right voice for the characters right away thanks to how detailed the info was. However, there was another secret to why the voice actors were able to grasp the right voice so quickly…
It turns out that apart from the character designs and character summary, there were screenshots of some of their animations, as well as various temporary voices made by Yoshii himself. The original purpose of the temporary voices was in order to gauge the patterns and personality needed for each character, so the fight wouldn’t feel boring. Yoshii would read through the info himself and come up with a voice for each character. After sending off the temporary voices to confirm whether the amount of voice acting was okay, he was actually praised for his acting, which he’s quite embarrassed by.
At the end, Mega Man 11 director Koji Oda stressed that all the staff members developed the game with the feeling of wanting to fill in the gap where Mega Man games had stopped, which kept fans waiting. It became a guiding light that culminated into Mega Man 11. They really wanted to make the best game possible in the best conditions possible.
You can watch the full video down below:
Mega Man 11 will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 2, 2018.