As discussed in the last meeting with my programmer for the project, it's possible to impliment sound effects and music but it isn't needed. Music can change depending on the page being viewed, and I am thinking of restricting sound effects to buttons on the menu and potentially environmental sounds. Without the extra time to commission music or make sound effects myself, I can look for safe-to-use options - and there is a lot out there.
Since the project's narrative and ambition surrounds a warm, good-mental-health kind of vibe, with only little touches on sadness and somber, something very chilled would fit the atmosphere. Lo-fi or "chillhop" is a very popular genre that a lot of youth in particular listen to, to study, relax, and sleep, so I think this genre would be appropriate. Lo-fi hip-hop should be somewhat familiar to the older bracket of the audience due to it's popularity and being used on big platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. It should feel natural to be with the contents of the comic.
The record label Chillhop's usage conditions: https://chillhop.com/creators/#faq
With these notices in consideration, I think it might be fine for private university distribution with credit. It will not be monetised or distributed publically (at least, at this time - if any future decisions were different the music would be changed to follow suit.)
Playlist of other copyright-free lo-fi hip-hop music: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL06diOotXAJLAAHBY7kIUm5GQwm2ZinOz
Copyright Free vs Royalty Free
Royalty free means you don't have to pay for it, but it can still be copyright striked.
If looking for safe stuff, look for DMCA or copyright free rather than royalty free.
One of the life simulation games at the core of my video game/wellbeing research, Minecraft, actually has its soundtrack available to use in projects like this. The rights belong to the original independent creator C418/Daniel, not Microsoft.
Minecraft's soundtrack is extremely atmospheric, calm and easily looped without feeling too obvious. It is a direct reference to an inspiration founding the project.
C418 sells the Minecraft albums, and also individual tracks, on his Bandcamp:
From the albums, the tracks that stand out for this project in particular are Blind Spots and Dreiton from Minecraft Volume Beta. There are other fitting tracks, but I fear they are too symbolically 'Minecraft' to pass as background music.
Sofasound has two albums that are free to use. They have chilled out energy, but the tracks don't appeal to me for this project quite as much as the Minecraft and general lo-fi selections.
The menu will have sound effects. It's the obvious choice to go for something of a classic video game sound that's also free to use. Nintendo-esque sound are a preference, just since the comic and project is so heavily influenced by Animal Crossing.
Sounds needed: 1. Scroll/hover on menu button options 2. Select on menu button options
"Freesound" has a lot of free-use sounds but a lot of them sound quite bad. This is the best effect I found.
For weather and environmental sound effects, YouTube's Audio Library has a sizable free-use playlist.
A friend of mine, Lewis, studies Computer Software - a course covering game development and game design. He offered to attempt to create a custom sound effect for the menus. I gave him the context of the project and explained the atmosphere and feeling I was going for - that the sound would be ideally something subtle and soft, but also comparative to Nintendo or life simulation games, and perhaps lo-fi too.
After my mention of Nintendo, he was influenced by the click of the Nintendo Switch signature sound to record himself clicking in Audacity. He then used the Noise Reduction effect to collect the noise profile of any background noise so it could be removed. He presented 3 samples of this same sound, which differ slightly and can be used as a set (one sound for hover, a different sound for selecting, one misc.)
Development compilation for Pixel Plasters.