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Most game development (game design, art, programming, etc.) can be done by one person with relatively little equipment: A game designer needs a pencil and paper, an artist Photoshop or Paint, a programmer a laptop and compiler.

Sound is different: External noises are a big problem, sound effects can't be made with instruments, and small mistakes easily produce disaster.

I can see how large companies with big studios and budgets do this.
How can I do this as a one-man indie?

Should I synthesize everything? Record sounds and buy some crazy program for editing them?

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First, read this question:

Second, there are so many musicians and sound designers of all skill levels (and expecting various degrees of compensation from free to standard rates) wanting to join on with a project. If you're having trouble finding somebody, you just need to find more internets. ModDB, GameDev.net, forums for specific engines/tools that have tried to form a general game development community. Seriously consider giving working with somebody a shot. You'll both learn a lot.

If you're wanting to be a one-man developer, then you can take a sound editor, microphone, and samples and synths, and now you're a sound guy. It's another art/craft to learn, no different in that regard to drawing/modeling/other-graphic-art, game design, and programming. Use the tools Valryon mentioned (SFXR and Audacity) to get started. Also look into:

  • Wavosaur - A freeware sound editor
  • Reaper - A very inexpensive DAW (digital audio workstation, used for producing music from audio recordings and midi) and Ardour, a FOSS alternative for Linux and OS X
  • KVRAudio.com for free basic VSTs (often playable directly in Reaper and other DAWs
  • Modplug, Renoise, SunVox, and Buzz are music trackers for old-school-style game music composition
  • Links for the lazy: Audacity and SFXR

For learning about sound, you should be aware of some of its physical properties and how we are able to digitally represent it.

To start making music, you should learn about music theory and how to produce music.

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There are many sound banks on the Internet providing sound effects or musics for games. It can be free or not, in all formats and quality you want. An example: Findsounds

You can mix those samples, or modify them to create new sounds. A fridge sound can be transformed in a spaceship laser sfx. Some softwares are quite easy to use to do that, such as Audacity.

If you are into retro/chiptune sound effects, there is an awesome software to make those kind of sfx : SFXR. You will spend some hours getting what you want but you can make everything with it.

Another solution is to record on your own. You need a mike and a lot of imagination (like this bread landing in the bath producing an octopuss being scratched sound...). But results may not be terrible.

Finally you can do all your sound effects with your mouth, the result may be.. unexpected!

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    \$\begingroup\$ There is actually an Air version of SFXR with slightly updated feature set called BFXR -- bfxr.net \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17 '12 at 12:42
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As a one-man developer, I've got something quite interesting - I invested a few months into writing a piece of software which autonomously generates music. This doesn't work for everyone, of course, but it is really, really, helpful, since some music in the style of the game really helps me get into developing. If you're not a musician, then consider looking at other algorithmic composition programs.

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I've been making music longer than I've been making games...But I just make all of my music and sound effects in Milky Tracker and FL Studio. That works for me since all I need are 8/16-bit style sound effects for my games.

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