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Ghost of Tsushima & Director's Cut

Late in 2019 I had the pleasure of joining Sucker Punch Productions and Sony (SIEA) as they worked towards the release of Ghost of Tsushima. After we launched, I was fortunate to stay on for additional work with their multiplayer entry, Ghost of Tsushima: Legends. Finally, there was one final opportunity to be had, and I stayed on for a bit longer as we worked through the creation of Iki Island, and the release of Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut for the PlayStation s4 and 5. It was a long production, and a turbulent transition as we changed to a "Work From Home" arrangement, but in the end we made a game that I can be nothing if not proud of. 

My initial work involved animation tagging, rigging Wwise states for mixing, and chasing down audio bugs. However, I soon had the opportunity to start implementing audio directly in the game. I would add walla and ambient livelihood to towns. I'd decorate missions with ambient emitters and audio triggers to sell the scale of our scenes and settings. I hooked audio effects directly into gameplay via scripting.


Towards the end of the project, I had the chance to branch out. I became involved in scripting audio tools, combing the Wwise Authoring API (aka WAAPI) with Python to streamline repetitive and tedious audio workflow. However, the majority of my work was still in implementation. If there were an area in the game where we felt sound lacking, or an opportunity was present, I was quite happy to take a look at it.

One notable notable example of my implementation work comes from the Director's Cut release of the game: the Nakajima shrine of Iki Island. The shrines in Ghost of Tsushima, as well as the Director's Cut, are extended segments of parkour platforming, ending in a shrine that the protagonist can pray or reflect at (and the player can get some nice perks.) These parkour sections often span a variety of areas. Climbing through cliffs, jumping over hazardous pits, and navigating dense forests, to name a few. Nakajima, however, poses an interesting juxtaposition of audio scenes: a monkey filled forest, surrounded on all sides by the roaring of the sea.

Nakajima Shrine is a small zone just off of Iki's shores. The locale is densely forested, features a handful of small caves to crawl through, and is home to a great number of the island's monkey inhabitants.


There was already some minimal sound due to our systemic coverage, but there was room for exaggeration. I painted the trees with loops of rustling leaves and sparse wood creaks, and spaced the emitters so the player would mainly hear the sound from the tree line above. The emitters are weaved throughout the island, and in the heart of it all the player can hardly hear the sounds of the ocean. I take the opportunity to remind them of it towards the end, though. As they approach the final stretch, the wind and the waves start to pick up again. First in bits at a time as the player passes by windows looking out from the woods and over the sea. Then again, in full force, when they reached the final ruined bridge leading out of the zone.

Video courtesy of:

Abyx Gaming. (2021, Aug. 22). How to CLIMB Nakajima Shrine | Ghost of Tsushima Iki Island DLC [Video]. YouTube.

The area also features a handful of bespoke triggers along the player's path, which accent the shrine's old age. Makeshift bamboo bridges will creak under the player's weight, and the aged walkways groan as the player climbs over them. One particularly harsh point comes during a long jump into a grappling swing. The anchoring tree creaks and crackles as though it's ready to break as the player swings by (see video - 2:30). Special care had to be taken here to ensure that: a) the player would only hit the trigger if they successfully grappled, b) the player couldn't trigger it from below, and c) it only ever triggered the first time through.

And finally, of course, additional monkey chatter emitters were added to sell the illusion of a fuller, livelier troop.


Lightmare is about a girl named Miranda who has just had a car accident. She gets stuck in a dream world and must fight her way out to return to consciousness.

Lightmare has so far been one of my more educational experiences at DigiPen. I joined the game team in the last few months of their development cycle after their previous sound designer had finished his work and moved on. I was originally brought on to do voice recordings and help drive the game’s narrative side, but after some feedback from the professors, it became clear that a lot more audio content was needed to help drive this project the extra mile it wanted to go.

You can download and play the game here.

Time ended up being the number one risk of this project. The game was nearing submission date and several of the core members were ready to graduate. In addition, I was a full time programmer and sound designer on a different game team, as well as doing part time sound design for two other teams. Fortunately, we were able to continue using a lot of the previous sound designer’s work, and so the main need was for better dialog and more sound effects. The mitigation ended up being one of the simpler ones; I spoke with some friends and the team agreed to hire on Anastasia Groves as a partner sound designer. Together, we were able to divide the work up evenly and give extra focus on the quality of the audio. By submission, we had filled our entire asset list, and with the programmers’ help everything was properly integrated just in time for testing and submission.

Eyes in the Dark

Eyes in the Dark is a 2D top-down horror game that starts with action-horror feel then gradually moves into “true” horror.

My main job concerning the audio of this project was dialog recording, sound effect creation, and asset implementation. Since a large part of this game was based on atmosphere and tension, I took great care to ensure the quality of the audio environment. One of the main things I did to achieve this was to carefully craft each individual enemy to make them all unique and repulsive in their own right. This, combined with positional audio, created scenarios of near blackness, where the only warning the player had was the guttural scream of a spider as it ran at him from behind.

You can download and play the game here.

I also had a lot of fun with the environmental noises of the game. Touches of ambient noise fill the game world, like the light tap of the player’s footstep as he wades through mud, or the electric hum of hanging light. However, the biggest ambient sound event in the game is the storm. It began when one of the graphics programmers designed some shaders to mimic rain in a 2D top down view. We implemented it, and after positive feedback from playtesters we decided not just to keep it, but intensify it. In the end, the entire experience of the storm became something that began as a gentle rain and gradually transformed into howling gale so intense that the player can barely hear the enemies around him.

The final component of our game’s non-musical, aural experience was the voice work. We had decided early on that we wanted voice acting, and so once we got the script finished we began recording. On a basic level, the dialog gave aural feedback about game events, and sometimes hints about what the player should do. However, the audio also greatly helped in setting the tone for our game. Minor comments from the player character revealed small bits about the world, and his relationship with the game locations. I ended up learning a lot about spoken dialog in games, and I’m looking forward to applying this in my future projects.

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