My name is Aaron Cendan and I recently joined the Tablecraft development team as a technical sound designer. What does a technical sound designer do? Well, it’s a name that carries quite a wide range of implications but for all intense porpoises, I’ll be handling just about everything related to sounds in Tablecraft. Get ready for plenty of new funky jams, crunchy sounds effects, and interactive audio!
When I’m not making sounds for video games, I’m usually busy making custom controllers. A few years ago, I started a small business, Stickless Customs (shameless plug), making video game controllers for individuals with unique hand and wrist complications. I love DIY activities in general — I’ve made guitar pedals, acoustic panels, MIDI controllers, and tons of audio gear too — so it has proven to be a great opportunity to do something I enjoy while giving back to the community.
As is tradition, I’ll address some of the questions proposed to the Tablecraft devs that are oh-so-essential to better understanding each of our passions and personalities.
Have you ever tried to bake a cake? How did it go? Got any pics to support your claims?
Actually, yes! I baked my own birthday cake a few years ago while pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago. It was an apple and cinnamon Bundt cake (yes, that’s spelled correctly) from a recipe my mom made all the time while I was a kid. Was it as good as hers? Absolutely not. Was it better than everything else I made myself in college? You bet.
Please help us put an end to the most debated issue in science. Once and for all, which Periodic Element has the coolest sounding name?
Yttrium, hands down. Also, just look at this stuff. Don’t you dare try to tell me it’s not the coolest element. The name also sounds like a final boss in God of War, one of my favorite video game franchises (if only marginally biased by their team’s phenomenal sound designers).
What was the piece of work in your portfolio that you’ve had the most fun producing? Tell us about it – maybe show it to us if you can!
A while back I received an assignment in a Level Design course that didn’t really have any defined rubric or expectations. I took it upon myself to try out something I’d thought about and never had the chance to try: syncing the intensity of a game’s soundtrack with the player’s current heart-rate while they’re playing it. While the project never really made it past the prototype stage, I did manage to fully build the groundwork for the system and test it out myself. For the technically-inclined and curious, I used an Arduino Uno to send your current heart-rate from a pulse sensor to a plugin in Unreal Engine 4 via Serial Command Protocol. From there, UE4 assigned your heart-rate as a parameter in FMOD Studio, my preferred audio middle-ware engine, to control the intensity of the background music. Here is a video demonstration of some of the early potential/ideas for the system, here’s a clip of it integrated in the final demo level, and here is a video of how I programmed the full system and integrated it in FMOD. Enjoy!
If you were not working in the field that you work now, what kind of work would you see yourself doing?
I’ve always wanted to get into the more professional end of my DIY work, potentially pursuing work in carpentry, machining, or something else at the crossroads of hands-on and creative.
That… or go back to school to be an architect.
… or an engineer.
Let’s just say that I am extremely happy doing one of the things I genuinely enjoy — audio — and so long as I continue to love it, I will do my best to provide captivating and fun sounds in all that I work on.
What’s a recent book you’ve read, movie you’ve watched or game you’ve played that has had an impact on your work or life? Tell us about it!
I swear I’m not just hijacking Alex’s welcome devlog, but Breath of the Wild had a huge impact on how I think about and approach audio for games and non-linear media. It features a natural and wide range of sound and music that all seamlessly fits within the world. And on top of that? With just over a hundred hours in the game I’m still not tired of any of the sounds or music in it. I believe it will continue to be the high-water-mark for me for quite a while longer.
What’s your favorite YouTube channel right now? What’s it about?
Making Records with Eric Valentine is the ultimate hidden gem for anyone remotely interested in professional music production. He’s the producer behind a ton of famous tracks, from Smash Mouth to The All American Rejects to Weezer, he regularly takes his viewers through deep dives into the nitty gritty of the recording and production process for his chart-topping acts. I can’t recommend his channel enough and I have spent many hours with my eyes and ears glued to his content.
Very well… welcome!