Lasers, Glass Bottles & Squidge

Brightrock Games

Welcome back to Galacticare Wednesday!

This week, we asked our friends over at Zimmer Audio to give us some insight into the magic behind Galacticare's sound design.

A game with so many moving parts like Galacticare meant the sound effects were something that really had to be hand crafted, so as to make each aspect of the game have it's own individual vibe. In this blog post, Zimmer takes us through their thought processes with example clips for your auditory pleasure.


Working with the talented team at Brightrock, we designed a dynamic mixing system that prioritised audio depending on its distance to the camera and severity level. For example, a room breaking down should call attention to the player from quite a far distance, whereas the electronic beat of Laser Surgery can only be heard when zoomed right in. We were also careful to ensure that the different zoom levels created a sense of space and environment as the player peers at the vastness of space with its distant planets, stars, and rock concerts.

Each of the assorted species, conditions, and strange treatment methods in Galacticare allowed our imagination and creativity to flourish as we set about bring these aural palettes to life.

For the audio direction, we drew inspiration from TV shows that share a similar vibe to the game, focusing on wacky and hyper-realistic sound design to immerse the player in the world. We wanted to ensure that the clicky exoskeleton of the Xil species is audible as they are thrown around the mechanical pooch in the Boning Chamber. Certain events such as a patient vomiting or dying needed to be clear and grab the player’s attention. - This is achieved by ensuring the sounds are larger than life (and pretty gross).

Granularity was key to achieving our sound design goals, ensuring each individual servo of a machine and every contextual click within the UI and the environment was crafted so that at close-up zoom levels, it would feel to the player that they’d been dropped straight into this crazy space hospital.


I wanted to make Brian (our name for the, er, Brain) and the Dreamarium Room squidgy, gruesome, and give it its own voice (although the little guy doesn’t have a mouth, at least, that we know of). It was a great opportunity to dig out sounds from my personal library of damp cloths, food manipulation and destruction, and toy noises! I wanted the hospital doors, vending machines, and toilets to reflect these hydraulic mechanisms triggering but without making them too overwhelming - slightly “over the top” but still bearable for our patients' daily routines.

The moon explosion in Burning Moon (the 2nd level of the campaign) required a massive sound, which was the perfect opportunity to throw everything at it: gunshots, earthquake rumbles, rocks, and debris rolling, etc. This was a tricky design challenge, as it doesn’t work to simply drag and drop a bunch of explosions in line; that would create a horrible mess. It needs careful attention to the placement of the transients so the “pops” clearly cut through while the rumble and destruction evolve to completely envelop the listener.


My role within the unique world of Galacticare was primarily to create sound effects for the UI, such as notifications, objectives, in-game actions, and recruitment. These ranged from positive or negative alerts, like earning money or successfully completing objectives, to events like staff termination or patients requiring priority treatment. A player of the game typically receives numerous ongoing alerts, so I ensured each sound category was concise yet distinct, contributing to a better player experience by aiding in differentiating UI events and their significance in-game.

Several sounds stand out to me, namely the hospital zone purchase, staff level-up, and merchant sounds. For the hospital purchase, I combined drills, hammers, cash registers chimes, hydraulics, and hospital equipment beeps, creating a unique sound identifying the zone being purchased. The staff level-up involved cheering, clapping, and fireworks to distinguish it from other positive alerts. The merchant sound comprised cash registers, bells, and glass bottles to set it apart from other purchase notifications. To differentiate positive and negative notifications, I adjusted pitch layers for negative sounds and incorporated stereo delay for the cheerful success sounds so the sound of success would ring out in the player's ears.

For the appetising task of creating a sound for the Medibot cleaning up vomit, I used a combination of a hose, bubbles, shaving gel, squeezed fruit, and hydraulics, resulting in a squelchy, squirting, and satisfyingly repulsive sound that I hope will either cause the curling of toes or laughter from players. Ensuring every sound had its distinct place amid the bustling space medical facility and accommodating weird and wonderful beings undergoing the most advanced intergalactic procedures in the universe was a huge amount of fun!


Designing UI sounds is an unsung but immensely satisfying art and one that is particularly important in a simulation game like Galacticare. The sweet spot between "overly detailed in order to be interesting" and "simplistic to the point of being dull" is quite narrow! The menus and buttons in Galacticare have as much visual detail and consideration applied as the rest of the game, so the audio needed the same degree of care and attention to match.

To fit with Galacticare's style, the UI SFX needed to be detailed and high tech. Many other sounds in the game already tapped into the visual humour of the game, so I played it straight with these. The key to making nice, techie UI sounds is to use lots of layers, but with most of them mixed subtly, just enough to act as a subliminal “style cue”.

Handily, there are plenty of tactile buttons and switches dotted around the studio, so I recorded myself hammering a bunch of these and also made a trip to the garden shed to record a few sounds of clippers and secateurs snapping shut - when shortened, these work nicely when placed just before before a button click, to give a subtle sense of something “leading into” the sound - adding these small, barely noticeable touches adds a sense of polish. To flavour the sounds with the appropriate sci-fi vibe, the UI SFX are peppered with short excerpts of sounds such as data telemetry readouts, synths, night vision goggle activations and deactivations, printer servo motors, and various other weird and wonderful layers.


The majority of the audio that I designed is exactly what you expect from a futuristic setting, featuring an array of lasers, rays, servos, machinery sounds, and ethereal spacey drones that immerse players in the cosmic environment.

However, the unique challenge with Galacticare arose from the task of injecting humour into the sound design without it sounding too cartoony - in other words - how much we exaggerate a sound and how much we keep it centred in the realm of "realism". Finding an equilibrium between the two was a trial and error process, but after some experimentation, we found a nice balance.. We were keen to pinpoint this line during the design process, and we eventually managed to attain a balance that satisfies us, Brightrock, and hopefully the players.

And that's all for this week's Galacticare Wednesday!

We hope you enjoyed delving into the stories and meeting the talent behind Galacticare's sound design.

Don’t forget we regularly publish blog post and videos, usually about development, across our TikTok, Twitter, and Discord.

See you next week!

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