I am making a small 2D sidescrolling shooter and have all the basics done now. I have a player, enemies, different weapons and a map. I am unsure about at what point in development you should add sound effects. Would it be too early to add them now if the game is not completely done?

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    \$\begingroup\$ In my experience, new game creators usually wait until too late to add sound effects, underestimating how important they are to good game feel and clarity of mechanics. I would consider it good to add sound effects as early as you possibly can. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


Would it be too early to add them now if the game is not completely done?

You can argue this about anything. It is too early to add XYZ because the game is not completely done. Well, the game is not going to be completely done before you add them, will it? Thus, no. You need to add XYZ before the game is complete, otherwise it will never be.

I am unsure about at what point in development you should add sound effects.

For small projects it matters little. For bigger projects this question becomes more important.

Assuming the game is large enough that is matters, the first thing you must consider is that you should iterate. Which implies you should slice your work.

In general, you should begin from the things that you are certain of. And delay decisions you are uncertain of. In other words, you should not design in a way that backs you into a corner.

Regardless of how you slice your work, you need to know what are the goals of your current iteration. And I'd suggest to document it. In particular if you are working in a team. Let there not be problems later.

Bringing that to the issue of sound. When you tell your artist - who might be yourself - that you need some sound, how do you describe it? The artists will use that description to get the sound. And the tester will use that description to verify it is effective in practice. From there you can decide if you need to change it.

Which brings me to this: If you already have a mechanic working, you can add sound to it. Yes, even if other mechanics are not ready. Since the game is not done yet, you can come back later and change it. And the same goes for all art.

Some suggestions:

  • Keep a document of the things you need to change before release.
  • Don't use material you don't have a licence for, in case you release the game with it.

On that note, I remind you that silence is an option.

I'm going to suggest to make sure your game works without sound. For us, hearing folks, sound and music enhance the experience. But it is not a good idea to rely on sound and music to carry the experience. Make a game that is good without sound and music, so that when you add them, it becomes much better. And yes, accessibility is important. Have subtitles and directional visual cues.

Another thing that I want to suggest is to complete a vertical slice of the game. That is a game that people can play from start to finish and has the core mechanics - even if it only one scenario. And yes, with sound and music. Then you iterate expanding upon that vertical slice.

Since you say:

I (…) have all the basics done now

It seems you are approaching that vertical slice. So, yes. Add sound.

Even if that is not the case, it should give you an idea of when to do it: You want to test your mechanics and scenarios without sound, and you also want to add sound to them before moving on to the next ones.

And - to reiterate - that sound you are adding does not need to be the final sound. You might change it later. In fact, you may want to do some extra polish iterations after all the mechanics and scenarios are completed, where you also go over your list of things to change before release.


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