The Secrets Of Sounds, And The Joy Of Door Noises – An Interview With Celeste’s Audio Designer – Feature


Kevin Regamey
Image: Zoe Si

Audio design is an underrated part of a video game’s soundscape, though you almost definitely have appreciated a particularly good noise at some point in your gaming career — whether it’s the creak of a Resident Evil door or the sound of Sonic collecting a ring, audio design helps create the right mood for a game.

Our Nintendo Life Video Game Music Festival has largely focused on music so far, which makes sense — it’s in the name — but we wanted to show our love and appreciation for the world of audio, too, which is intertwined with music in many ways.

With that in mind, we spoke to Kevin Regamey, Creative Director on the award-winning Vancouver-based game audio design team, Power Up Audio. Alongside four other talented sound designers — Craig Barnes, Jeff Tangsoc, Cole Verderber, and Joey Godard — Kevin has made noises and music for a huge variety of games, with credits including Celeste, Cadence of Hyrule, Darkest Dungeon, Super Meat Boy Forever, Subnautica: Below Zero, and Towerfall.

Read on to find out all of Kevin’s secrets and favourite noises in games, how to make audio for monsters, and what it’s like to create sounds from scratch…

Nintendo Life: How did you get into audio design?

Kevin Regamey: I trained in music my whole life (piano/trumpet), and after high school I thought I might get in to film scoring. I studied music composition at Grant MacEwan in Edmonton, followed by a course in Audio Engineering in Vancouver, which led to my realizing how awesome audio design was – it was all about bringing visuals to life through sound, and I could still use plenty of the knowledge I’d acquired throughout my musical training.

During my studies in audio engineering, I called up a game audio studio and notified them I’d be finished school in 6 months. Then I emailed them again at 3 months, then 2 months, then 1 month, and then I called them at 2 weeks out. I got an interview, which led to a short internship, which resulted in getting hired on for about 3 years. Presently, my co-founder Jeff Tangsoc and I will soon be entering the 10th year of our own studio, Power Up Audio.

Power Up Audio team
Image: Power Up Audio

Where do you usually begin when creating a game’s soundscape?

The nature of the project itself can help to determine a general neighbourhood for how the sound should feel – sweet or dissonant, cozy or jarring, etc. – and these adjectives can serve to inform how I would approach any given sound the game might need.

But really, this is a question about Audio Direction, which is informed by a project’s overall Creative Direction. Just as the creative direction serves to define the creative boundaries within which the project should reside, the audio direction follows suit. And given that the entire role of sound design is to support and drive the narrative forward, we need to ensure that the choices we’re making are serving that purpose. Is the project gritty and realistic? Is it old-school and 8-bit? Is it a colourful comedy adventure? Is it a frightening horror story? And, if it IS a frightening horror story, how frightening exactly? Are we talking “Nightmare on Elm Street“, or are we talking “Scooby Doo“? References like these can help keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that creative decisions across the project feel cohesive.

What do you love about your job?

I love the challenge of building out a world and supporting a story with a light touch – impacting players emotionally, and informing their decisions, ideally without them even realizing that it’s happening. If one of our studio’s projects receives a review score of 10/10, and sound isn’t mentioned a single time…we know we’ve done our job.

What inspires you — whether it’s a person, a team, a particular movie or game, or just the natural world with all its weird noises?

There are a lot of incredibly talented folks in the games space. Joonas Turner (Nuclear Throne, Noita, Downwell, Tormentor X Punisher, Scourgebringer…) is a guy who repeatedly blows me away with his hard-hitting sound design and music.

The team at A Shell in the Pit (in particular Em Halberstadt of Night in the Woods, Untitled Goose Game, Chicory: A Colorful Tale…) does amazing work too.

The team at Sweet Justice is an industry leader (SOMA, Cuphead, The Ascent, tons of AAA support…), the team at Wabi Sabi is another great one (The Witness, Ori and the Blind Forest…). Also Darren Korb of Hades, Pyre, Transistor, and Bastion… Honestly there’s just way too much talent out there to name.


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