Music and sound effects usually get left to the end of a game’s development cycle, right when you don’t feel like working on it any more. My recommendation is to get someone professional to do it. One thing I learned from Adam Saltsman’s workshop (notes on this coming soon): I could spend 30 hours making music that is just “ok”, or I can get someone else to make something awesome in a couple hours.
But sometimes you need to get something in there, even if it’s just a placeholder, or you want to give your sound designer a starting point for mood and style. Here are a couple great tools for throwing together some music and sound effects, fast.
Update: As discussed in the comments, please note that it is difficult to overestimate the value of getting a professional to do your sound and music for you.
Voice Band for iPhone
This is incredible. Get that melody out of your head and turn it into real music, by singing into your iPhone. Just watch the video, you’ll see how awesome it is:
A handy tool for generating procedural sound effects, sfxr lets you choose a general style for the sound effect, then tweak the settings for it. If you find one you almost like, hit the “Mutate” button a couple times to get something similar to what you have. sfxr used to be Windows-only, but was recently ported to Flash, so now you can use it on any computer with Flash Player 10.
Another trick is to download Audacity and layer several sfxr sounds. Drag them out, reverse them, distort them, and come up with something much nicer than a clip right out of the box.
Thanks to Adam Saltsman for putting me onto sfxr.
Your computer microphone
I find that the most fun way to get sound effects is to make them yourself by banging things together, throwing things across the room, and generally making a racket as creatively as you can. Audacity has a decent noise-removal tool that lets you sample a bit of “quiet”, it then uses that data to remove noise. Even your laptop mic can be used for production sound effects this way.
I guarantee you’ll be happier with homemade sound effects than with stock you spent annoying hours searching for online.