Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Game Audio Relevance 005

You wake up late for school man you don't wanna go!

New Audio Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath Dev Diary
Registration is now open for the AESorg 41st Conference on Audio for Games! personal picks - Inside Gaming Awards 2010 Best Sound Design
Wwise 2010.3 Now Available

Designing Sound - Jamey Scott Special: Reader Questions
Designing Sound - Jamey Scott Special: Unreal Tournament [Exclusive Interview]
Designing Sound - Jamey Scott Special: Gears of War [Exclusive Interview]
Designing Sound - Audio Director Mike Keogh on the sound of "The UnderGarden"
Designing Sound -  “Fable III” – Exclusive Interview with Kristen Quebe, Kristofor Mellroth and Shannon Potter

TinySubversions: GDC networking stories from Jeff Edward Ball
First videogame console was mute! Magnavox Odyssey: Music To Play Games By via SounDesignBlog
We Love Indie GameMusic
Game Audio Forum München
Zach Quarles New blog post: 10 Years Strong
Terraformers post mortem - a 3D game for both blind and sighted
“How Video Games are Different from Anything You’ve Worked on Before!"
Time Machine - part IV: Sound Tricks of Mickey Mouse
The Polynomial: Space of the music
Battlefield Vietnam Hardware #7: The Sounds of the 60's
Official photos from AESSF
Buy MP3s of sessions you missed at AESSF
In The Loop: Planning for Feedback in Game Audio Production Everythings related to graphic scores and Wiki
The Music of Majin and The Forsaken Kingdom
New "Field and Toys 2010" video here
Maya pyramids = acoustics riddle
FABLE III: A Fable in and of Itself
Making of Rabbit Ears Audio Hydrophonic Library

Using FMOD and simple music visualizer demo code and slides are up
Kawasaki ZX6R sound with fmod designer
Intro to Audio API's: FMOD, Wwise & Unreal

New MusicofSound blog post:: Creative Process
The Artistic Necessity Of Constraint
Robert Henke (Monolake) speaks of Making Decisions in Music Making

Dynamic Interference - New site post: Rollback...AES 2010 Day 3
Dynamic Interference - New site post: Rollback...AES 2010 Day 2

Interview with Composer Jared Emerson-Johnson on Tales of Monkey Island
Interview with Jared Emerson-Johnson Bay Area Sound's Composer Wunderkind

Trinigy/ Firelight Partner to Bundle FMODEX into Vision Engine 8 via
One of the best demonstrations of sound design in the FMOD Sandbox I have seen in a while via
UDK problem using Distance Crossfade for 1p/3p sounds, sound gets retriggered. Ideas on a fix? See Video Example via

via Lost Lab (that's me!)
Music Vault: The Pac-Man Album
Game Developer - Sound Design: The Forgotten Team
AES 2010 - Game Audio Track Wrap

Keep em' peeled,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Music Vault: The Pac-Man Album

Today's foray into the Music Vault proffers an incredible artifact from the vinyl library that we've been recently reunited with. The Pac-Man Album picture disc hit's a sweet spot in my adolescent heart, as I'm fond of claiming Ms. Pac-Man as my first girlfriend.

I hope you find time to appreciate it in all it's glory!

-The Pac-Man Album: Side 1 (.mp3)

The Pac-Man Theme
Pac-Man's Magic Land
I'm Number 1
The Gang of Ghosts Quarter

Side One kicks off with some sampled audio (likely) from the game cabinet, and then musically unfolds into a synth-a-licios disco hoe-down of sing-song-y goodness.

-The Pac-Man Album: Side 2 (.mp3)

Turning Blue
He's Too Busy for Me
If it's a Game
The Pac-Man Finale

Side Two contains a brilliant solo performance by Ms. Pac-Man, and I suggest it be adopted by audio widows across the (magic) land.

This is the first of my Video Game Music collection, keep an eye peeled in the future for another nugget of yesteryear in the future.

For those of you adventurous enough to peel back the dermis on my video game addled upbringing, read on for a fascinating peek behind the curtain.

Relevant Story #1

Towards the end of High School there emerged a scene of sorts centered around an all night establishment called "The World Zoo" and located "Midway" between the Twin Cities of Minnesota. This became a lightning rod for all sorts of outcasts and all-aged shenanigans, and could often be found populated by a beautiful mess of characters from disparate locations in the area. The drama ran deep most nights, as cliques formed in an instant and were dissolved just as fast. My only escape from the swarming teenage emotions was the upright Ms. Pac-Man cabinet. I took to carrying a roll of quarters around with me, and in that way I was always guaranteed time to myself when things got too hairy. I chalk it up as one of the only ways I was able to survive that time of my life, the other relevant ingredient to that was the camaraderie of good friends.

I'll close by saying that: it's the people (real or pixelated) who help you through this life.

Relevant Story #2

Once upon a time I worked in a Call Center at a local University. During one of the many "reorganizations" that have become popular in todays fast-changing administrative sector found a group of us dropped down in the middle of a grey-walled cubicle jungle. Imagine if you will 5 or 6 phones in a constant ebb and flow of ringing and answering, ensconced in a dressed down "silence is golden" work environment. But that's not all. With us we brought a record player, with enough vinyl to exist for days on end without repeat. We routed the output into this crazy Telex Brain that we than distributed cabling out to each individual workstation. Each us us then became quipped with a set of local powered speakers in order to control our own volumes independently. All day long depending on arrival times, each of us would take turns picking out music and flipping our own records. I won't go too deep into the psychology of 'picks' except to say that there's more to it than meets the eye. Needless to say, someone (and it wasn't me!) was slightly infatuated with this record and it found it's way into constant rotation so much so that my posting it here is a slight tribute to her.We also had to hide it on occasion, but all in good fun!

I'll close by saying that: it's the people you work with who sometimes make working worthwhile.

Thanks to everyone I've had the pleasure to meet, get to know, and work with!

Gobble Gobble,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Game Developer - Sound Design: The Forgotten Team

This bit hit too close to home when I read it the first time. I though "In a few short paragraphs someone at a production level has boiled down the plight of game audio across the industry." I say that because it has been my experience that most of the time what he describes is not the exception but the rule in today's development cycle. I can say no more, but feel inclined to excerpt "What Went Wrong #5" from the recent Game Developer postmortem for Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions.

"Along the chain of production, many design choices occur, and just as many changes are made, if not more. When delays happen at any stage in the process, the last team in the line of production is the one trapped against the deadline wall. This was the audio team on Shattered Dimensions.

As the entire development team iterated on every aspect of the game simultaneously throughout development, nothing was ever really final until the very end. Hence it was impossible for the audio team to start working on anything with final quality in mind, and it was very hard to determine what portions of the game could be worked on at what time, with minimum risk. Eventually, when everything in the game reached final quality simultaneously, the amount of accumulated audio work was just too much for the team to handle."

You can read a preview of the article page which includes the full exceprt here:

Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions Postmortem: Sound Design - The Forgotten Team

It's great to see honest and clear insight into the production process as it relates to the sound team.As someone who has personally seen the ripple effect of other disciplines missed deadlines with little understanding of how that effects other stakeholders standing down stream, it's refreshing (if not a little disheartening) to see it in black and white. It's clear that there are many ways to approach a solution to this problem, not all involve jockeying the schedule, but many involve increasing the the awareness of where audio falls in the pipeline and how each discipline affects the eventual workflow.

I'll be looking forward to seeing some of these practices pave the way for a tighter integration of game audio scheduling in the future!

Until next time true believers!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Game Audio Relevance 004

Hot on the heels of my AES 2010 Wrap Up I'm corraling the last months Game Audio related news into a impossibly verbose and undigestible chunk of internet link goodness.

SONORY is a company that specializes in synthesizing the sound of vehicles
Goldeneye DS Dynamic Music
Now Hear This - "Sound Rendering" and Harmonic Fluids
RjDj-style augmented/interactive sound-project based on the Inception-soundtrack?
Andy Serkis on Enslaved and acting in video games
Framework for making 2D games with Lua using a basic OpenAL interface.
A 'batteries included' awesome sauce solution to getting Lua up and running.
Presentation .PDF of San Fran GameSoundCon 2010 talk on procedural audio for games
N64 -Wii, Re-imagining “GoldenEye 007? Exclusive Interview w/ Graeme Norgate and Steve Duckworth
Notation vs BINKY vs visualisation
Microsoft DirectMusic Producer - No I haven't missed you, but here we are again.
Whats So Special About Interactive Audio?
Call for Papers: The Oxford Handbook of Interactive Audio
Making Interactive Music
Dynamic Music in Wwise
Shmusicup: Dodge Bullet Patterns Created By Your Own Music
Behind the Sounds of Fable III: From Chicken Singalongs to Very Angry Dogs
Epic Mickey Music and Sound
Good piece on Rock Band 3, Power Gig, and the decline of music games.
Rock Band 3, Behind the Scenes: When A Music Game Gets More Real
An Interview with Zachary Quarles, ID Software’s Audio Lead
The Game Audio Tutorial's take on Portal's GlaDos
Stephan Schütze: FMOD 101
Stephan Schütze: Using XACT for Sound Design
Stephan Schütze: Boingy Boingy Boingy - Why I hate repetition and what can be done about it.
Interview with New Vegas composter Inon Zur
Part 2 of a behind the scenes look at Back to the Future: The Game, 'Hey McFly!' now!
Ben Long talks with Jeff Essex, a veteran of Interactive Audio
Stadium Crowd Recording Session - NCAA Football UF Gators vs. LSU Tigers
Sound in Canabalt
Information about Attenuation and the Distance Model in the Unreal audio system.
'From the Shadows of Film Sound', is available now!
Interview: Super Meat Boy 's Silly Take On Classic Platformers
BeatPortal - How to get music in video games
"How to get into the Video Game Industry" (Sound Designer Edition)!
[GCAP 2010] Interview: Emily Ridgway - Emily Industries
Brutal Legend: More Than Just Noise: It's Called...Heavy Metal!
Aaron Marks Special: Function of Game Sound Effects
Podcast with Bernie Krause, who collected an impressive library of soundscapes: listen to ants singing!
Soundtracking Mario - Koji Kondo. Edge Mag article
The tech behind the music of Fallout: New Vegas' Mojave Wasteland
Sound of the Dead: audio design in Dead Nation
Official PS3 sound bar designed to enhance game dialog
Mick Gordon interview with the awesome Stylus Monkey
Splash Damage Talks Audio for "Brink"
Subversion: Dev Blog 20 - Multi-track Music w/ tool pics and video examples

A ton about BioShock Infinite's tech? Check out this reply from TD Chris Kline

"BioShock 1's audio system was... umm... "sub-optimal". This time around our sound team demanded a new audio pipeline based on AudioKinetic's WWise technology that supported 5.1 with adjustable dynamic range and a fully dynamic mixing system. Not only did our engineers rise to that task, but they subsequently took it up a notch and implemented both a custom sound propagation system (so voices properly echo down corridors and around buildings) and a dynamic wind audio system that reinforces the dynamic weather in the world."

Audio Implementation Greats #9: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 Multiplayer: Dynamic Wind System 

Now that I've got all of that off my chest, it's time to get back to work!

AES 2010 - Game Audio Track Wrap

It is a special privilege to be able to connect to other like minded individuals out there in the world today. Whether trolling the internets, tweeting the hottness, or conversing in person; it's a beautiful thing to share your geek with peeps that are into it. It was with this appreciation that I descended upon San Francisco this past weekend to take part in and contribute to the 2011 Audio Engineering Society Game Audio Track.

Having been to a handful of Game Developer Conferences in the past 5 years, I had never made the pilgrimage to AES. Either due to circumstances, or what seemed like a lack of technically inspired game audio programming, the annual GDC has always matched or exceeded what was offered at the emerging AES Game Audio Track. Couple that with the high volume of game geeks present at GDC and the scales have always tipped in favor of connecting with the development tribe of professionals I'm so used to working with.

After having spent the weekend soaking in the current state of affairs I feel like I'm quickly coming to terms with exactly what Game Audio is and could be to the AES. As an example of where my line of thinking is leading, the mission of Siggraph is to "promote the generation and dissemination of information on computer graphics and interactive techniques." What comes of that statement is a successful cross pollination of very technical white papers focused on furthering the state of the art and the adoption and absorption of such idea's by today's computer graphics creative leaders.

I think there is a growing correlation between what is going on with crossover at Siggraph in the potentials for crossover at AES with regard to game audio. In addition to several presentations targeted at the general audio professionals in attendance, there was a slice of technical and future focused talks that helped cement game audio as an industry that belongs as part of the AES whose acknowledged role is as "an international organization that unites audio engineers, creative artists, scientists and students worldwide by promoting advances in audio and disseminating new knowledge and research."

Here's a brief rundown of the things I found most exciting.

Technically Speaking

Thursday Peter "pdx" Drescher helped educate attendee's in the fundamentals of C++ through the use of FMOD Ex and FMOD Designer in conjunction with a custom written program that enabled functionality from outside the provided toolsets. He has uploaded the FMOD Xcode Project so that others may benefit from his awesomeness!

Friday saw Kristoffer Larson waxing philosophical on the use of high level programming language Lua in games and went on to illustrate it's accessibility and use in an open source 2D game engine called "LÖVE" which utilizes OpenAL to play back audio.

Later that day Michael Kelly followed up with an overview of XML for use in games.

Highlight Up My Life

Richard Dekkard and Tim Gedemer dug into 5.1 Orchestral recording and ended up unloading a pile of technical information about how sound is handled in games. Their stories from the trenches and wisdom regarding process and motivation made for a great introduction for audio professionals coming from outside the game industry.

David Mollerstedts presentation on 'Mixing the DICE Way' was a well placed and laid back presentation disguised as a treasure trove of technical implementation that illustrated (warts and all) the HDR approach to Battlefield Muti-Player and the need for additional creative control moving forward with their single player campaign. Needless to say the topic of interactive and dynamic mixing is a hot topic these days, and the solution that DICE has implemented seems to be serving their aesthetic design quite well. If that wasn't enough David is also one of the great minds behind the Teenage Engineering OP-1, the only piece of hardware to have me salivating in recent years. (or at least since the Tenori-On)

Adam Levenson gave a lunchtime keynote on the "Trappings of Hollywood" during which he crystallized my favorite theme of the conference when he suggested that the future of interactive audio involves synthesis and procedural techniques to a great degree. This was echoed by a whitepaper written and presented on by Simon Hendry entitled "Physical Modeling and Synthesis of Motor Noise for Replication of a Sound Effects Library" in which Max/MSP was used to simulate the sound of DC motors for interactive applications. Moving every step a little bit closer to a believable model of reality.

Closing things out on Sunday afternoon, the 'Physics Psychosis' panel I had the pleasure of kicking off was one that (obviously) had a special place in my heart. After having presented several time on the technical side of physics in games, I chose to pull back and instead focus on the artistic considerations of approaching a dynamic physics system, while laying down some fundamentals and illustrating with examples from The Force Unleashed. I joined the audience in what was set to be a ramp up in technical detail as Stephen Hodde from Volition proceeded to blow minds with footage and information from the forthcoming Red faction installment and iteration of their GeoMod technology. Of special interest was a super-sexy debug fly-through that enabled visualization of the different sounds emanating from a structure during it's destruction.A beautiful sight to behold. Next up in the continuation of rapid technical acceleration was Jay Weinland from Bungie showing off the Bonobo Toolset that they've been building behind closed doors for the past 10 years. What looked like a powerhouse of properties and potential for the customization of sound playback in games resulted in very articulate and accurate playback of the 100's of surface types and potential object interactions. The cleanup crew was brought in shortly after to clean up grey matter from the room dividers after the spontaneous explosion of several attendee's.

Wrap it Up

Which brings me to an interesting intersection that occured en-route to the convention while reading the latest copy of Computer Graphics World. In an article by Noriko Kurachi presenting an overview of technologies from this years Siggraph she outlines one of the idea's presented that was based on "sound rendering" and Harmonic Fluids. Essentially the simulation of fluid dynamics tied inherently to the synthesis and reproduction of sound, based on the simulation in realtime. This convergence of graphics and sound at an unabashedly graphics focused conference makes me long for the same symbiosis between the acedemic and practical in game audio.
My head is still spinning from the overspilling information that I was witness to during the conference, but my key take-away is that feeling of belonging to a group of people who is as passionate about audio as I am. It's during ties like these that I feel like it's important to note that in alot of ways we are all on our own solving the same problems; whether it's Physics, Mixing, Synthesis, or Surround. Industry events where people can come together and share their experiences and dream a brighter future are the petri dishes where the state of the art get's challenged and eventually pushed forward.

See you at GDC 2011!



Audio Recordings of sessions and presentations are available for sale via convention recording service Mobiltape:

The Geek

Code Monkey Part 1: What Game Audio Content Providers Need to Know About C++ Programming
Code Monkey Part 2: LUA is not a Hawaiian Picnic - The Basics of Scripting for Dynamic Audio Implementation
Code Monkey Part3: XML

The Tweak:

The Wide Wonderful World of 5.1 Orchestral Recordings
Mixing the DICE Way - Battlefield, HDR Audio, and Instantiated Mixing
Physics Psychosis

The Freak:

Audio Cage Match!

The Biz:

Takin' Care of Business

The Buzz:

Lunchtime Keynote: Adam Levenson

There's other good ones in there, for a summary of these see above!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Game Audio Relevance 003

Climbin' in your internet snatchin' your game audio links up.
Hide yr tweets, hide yr tabs. (Hide yr tweets, hide yr tabs)

AudioStage: New dimensions in 3D audio authoring
Caught in a Loop: The Sound of Falling Tetrominoes
Keeping (Audio) Budgets Low and Spirits High
What the iPhone’s Sound Capabilities Can Do for Your Projects
Game Audio 101: The Creative and Technical Aspects of Music & Sound in Games
Reactive Music: Can artists learn from game developers?
The Sound of “Enslaved” (Video)
Bogotá AES online Presentation - Info on sound design for games & "How to Get a Job"
More About the Sound of "Crackdown 2"
Interview with iD Audio Lead Zack Quarles
Videogame soundtracks are often better than movie scores
Behind the music of Civilization V
The Music and Sound of “Front Mission Evolved” (Video)
Breaking into Game Audio
Nice selection of resources for learning about field recordings by The Wire Magazine
PSAI (Periscope Studios Audio Intelligence) outlined in EDGE magazine (zipped pdf)
Wwise - Convolution Reverb, DSP, Sidechain, YouTube Tutorials
Commandments of Bug Tracing
Implementing Sound for “Ace Attack” (iOS)
Julian Treasure on Sound health in 8 Steps
One to One & One to Many Relationships in Game Audio
Minnesota Sounds: Ice cream and summer, I hardly knew you
The Sound And The Fury Of Fallout: New Vegas
Sound Development for Ace Attack
Learn about sound waves and their sources watching this vintage video lesson
Sound and music for Retro City Rampage
Develop Magazine: Care in the Development Community
Penumbra Audio Physics
Making of Amnesia - Sound Designer Tapio Liukkonen
Mixing movies vs. mixing games. Watch ‎"HALO: REACH" game audio video!
Master of Sound: Tyre Textures & Indiana Jones

GameAudio Podcast #4 - Procedural Game Audio
Audio Implementation Greats #8: Procedural Sound Now!
Procedural Sound Now! [LINKS]

Hopefully I can keep rounding these up once a month to keep the aggregate digestable.
Where do you go for your daily dose of game audio related news?


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Article Grab - Acoustic Ecology

Hot on the heels of a post over on the Official Blog of The Wire: Reading List - Environmental Agents: The Art of Field Recording. I finally got around to shaping up some scans of an old article from the magazine of the same name that has been doing time on the coffee table lately. Hard to believe I've been in possession of it since 2002, and that it somehow rose to the top of the pile over the past few weeks, but such is the case when you are talking about quality journalism in this day and age. (still a soft spot in my heart for print too, as it were)

So, in addition to the tasty round-up of links of the The Mire to whet your appetite, I'm also putting up some scans from an article entitled "Acoustic Ecology" from December of 2002. (go ahead and buy the whole mag, it's excellent!)

Acoustic Ecology - The Wire Issue 226 December 2002

Regarding our emerging man made soundscapes and the perception of what sounds "good":

"One of the things that bothered me about the WSP was that they never asked people about their sound environment. They made a lot of assumptions from a musical point of view about what people liked or didn't like about the soundscape. Sounds that soundscape musicians moan about, like traffic and aircraft noise - for some people, those are their favorite sounds."

"There are times when a plane in the distance, particularly if it's a propeller engine, is a really nice drone, and there are times when you have constant jets going overhead, which make you want to scream. I think trains generally sound pretty nice. What I personally object to is traffic noise - this broadband spectrum which prevents you from hearing everything else. There are many reasons for getting people out of cars or trucks, and their effect on what we are able to hear is certainly one of them" - Peter Cusack
I've read a bit about the crowding of the spectrum from Bernie Krauses book "Into a Wild Sanctuary: A Life in Music and Natural Sound" which is a recommended read if only for the behind the scene's story of George Harrison and the liberated synthesizer sounds. (not to mention the far out styling of the recorded In a Wild Sanctuary, which was my first introduction to Beaver and Krause...and the origination of the THX sound earcon) There's plenty of value in what he has to say about our dying ecosystem and loss of soundscapes. However, I also count several man made sounds amongst my color me conflicted, as anyone who feels their impact upon the planet should with regards to the role they play in sustaining the human race here on earth.

On the topic of what role soundscapes serve in the general public:

"It's about getting folks to value sound. This appreciation can be one more impetus to NOT let habitats die out. The hope of these recordists is that, by the end we have a deeper appreciation for the rich variety and abundant unity of the voice of our planet. Perhaps we'll even find a way to help our voices blend more graciously, more respectfully, more receptively; from there, we may find our way back to the old ways that believe the whole story is about actively nurturing relationships with all of life." Jim Cummings

Still haven't had enough, dig into some of the great links posted over here: Music of Sound Blog - Sound Maps

Best of luck on your sonic adventures!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Procedural Sound Now! [LINKS]

Procedural Sound is a topic that I feel has a great potential to solve some of the challenges facing game audio. Whether it's the dynamic composition of music in real-time, geometric sound propagation modeling , or harnessing already available simulations to create approximations of sound using synthesis, there exists a tremendous amount of solutions to the problems of how to make our virtual worlds more directly reactive and immersive. It's with optimism that I set upon trying to raise awareness of some of these techniques and technologies available outside the confines of console specific runtimes. It's my hope that by looking outside of our industry we can catch a glimpse of the future for game audio, and set our sights on some new ways to provide engaging, dynamically reactive, and emotionally resonating interactive sound.

In a companion article entitled "Procedural Sound Now!" at as part of the Audio Implementation Greats series, I've made a case for a return to the formative years of game audio with an eye towards new developments in synthesis and procedural. The article wraps with a QA with three audio professionals working with procedural sound in some capacity.

This post is an attempt to round up the cadre of links I was able to unearth in relation to the article. You'll get a bit of sound modeling, some procedural, a bit of music, white papers, and research materials. Keep an eye on this space over time, as I hope to keep adding to this list as a resource for people who are interested in new developments and articles. Please send along any further suggestions or post below in the comments section.

Additionally we have released Game Audio Podcast Episode 4: Procedural Game Audio  - Head over and subscribe via iTunes and give it a listen!

It's taken the help of many dedicated sound professionals to bring to light and assemble the different pieces of the puzzle. My deepest thanks and gratitude go to: Anton Woldhek, Karen Collins, Andy Farnell, David Thall, Mads Lykke, Francois Thibault, and all of the inspirational audio futurists pushing the envelope.

Andy Farnell:
Andy Farnell: Audio, code and tutorials on synthesis
(See links section for additional jumps)

Andy Farnell: Synthetic game audio with Puredata
Andy Farnell: An Intro to Procedural Audio in Games
Andy Farnell: Designing Sound

Stefan Bilbao
Stefan Bilbao: Conference Proceedings
Stefan Bilbao: Numerical Sound Synthesis

Kees van den Doel
Kees van den Doel: Publications
Sounds of Shapes

Mark Grimshaw
Mark Grimshaw: Publications
Game Sound Technology and Player Interaction: Concepts and Developments

Dylan Menzies:
Dyland Menzies: Publications

Phya: Physical Audio for Virtual Worlds
Phya and VFoley, Physically Motivated Audio for Virtual Environments

Procedural Papers

Nicolas Fournell

Leonard Paul: Video Game Audio

Cosyne Synthesis Engine

USO: Generative Music: an interview with Peter Chilvers

Create a scalable and creative audio environment: middleware project PLAY ALL
Procedural Audio for Game using GAF

Master of Sound: Automatic Sound Synthesis from Fluid Simulation

FOLEYAUTOMATIC: Physically-based Sound Effects for Interactive Simulation and Animation 

Audiokinetic: Sound Seed

FMOD Designer

Princeton SoundLab: Publications

Banded Waveguides and Propagation Modeling: Efficient Physical Models of Solid Objects

A Brief Overview of Physical Modeling

Perry Cook: Real Sound Synthesis for Interactive Applications

Procedural Audio in Computer Games by Mads Lykke

Sound Synthesis in Game - MuCell

Realistic Real-Time Sound Re-Synthesis and Processing for Interactive Virtual Worlds


Brian Eno with Wright on Spore and Generative Systems

Spore Anthem Creator Tutorial

Spore City Music Planner from GDC 08

Aaron Mcleran: Procedural Music for Spore

The Beat Goes on: Dynamic Music in Spore

The Generation of Procedural Generation

Liveblogging Procedual Music in Spore @ GDC08

Audio Interview with Cyril Saint Girons (Audio Engineer)

Brian Eno: Before and After Darwin

Brian Eno: Generative Music

Geometric Algorithms for Modeling, Motion, and Animation

GAMMA - Projects Overview: Sound Synthesis and Propagation

SIGGRAPH 2009: Interactive Sound Rendering Presentations and Proceedings

Symphony: Interactive Sound Synthesis for Large Scale Environments

Synthesizing Contact Sounds Between Textured Objects

Sounding Liquids: Automatic Sound Synthesis from Fluid Simulation

AD-Frustum: Adaptive Frustum Tracing for Interactive Sound Propagation

Efficient and Accurate Numerical Simulation of Sound Propagation

Precomputed Wave Simulation for Real-Time Sound Propagation of Dynamic Sources in Complex Scenes

Next Generation Virtual Musical Instruments Using Multi-touch Interfaces

Interactive Sound Propagation in Dynamic Scenes Using Frustum Tracing

Fast Edge-Diffraction for Sound Propagation in Complex Virtual Environments

An efficient time-domain solver for the acoustic wave equation on graphics processors

Fast Geometric Sound Propagation with Finite Edge Diffraction

RESound: Interactive Sound Rendering for Dynamic Virtual Environments

Direct-to-Indirect Acoustic Radiance Transfer


Sound Rendering for Physically Based Simulation

Rigid-Body Fracture Sound with Precomputed Soundbanks

Harmonic Shells: A Practical Nonlinear Sound Model for Near-Rigid Thin Shells

New Scientist: Virtual crashes and clatters get real 

Crash, bang, rumble! Bringing noise to virtual worlds 

Harmonic Fluids

Fast Modal Sounds with Scalable Frequency-Domain Synthesis

Precomputed Acoustic Transfer: Output-sensitive, accurate sound generation for geometrically complex vibration sources

I hope that get's you started on the wide world of Procedural Sound and Synthesis.
If you have any additional suggestions for links to interesting materials please drop a line or comment.

Proceduraly yours,

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Game Audio Relevance 002

Time again for a round up of game audio articles, if you're missing the party over on twitter feel free to tune into the #gameaudio search and watch things tick by in realtime.

Today's post officially marks my transition back in the saddle at the home studio after leaving behind the fertile environs of my "Summer Job" in San Francisco. In my wake is a studio under reconstruction, an amazingly artistic bunch of people, and one game that has successfully pushed my personal bar of quality when it comes to game audio. I can't wait for y'all to get your ears on it, it has truly been a pleasure to again work with one of the finest groups of creatives in the industry.

So, whats next?

I'm happily soliciting answers to that question and on the hunt for interesting projects, but in the meantime here are a few of the things that will be keeping me busy:

The Game Audio Podcast is back in production! 

Anton and I recorded a quick mini-episode on my way out the door from SF which should help bridge the g.a.p. (lol) until the technical difficulties of the official Next Episode have been dealt with.

What an episode it is!

Just to put it out there, we have rounded up three figureheads in the world of procedural audio and put them to task at defining the current state of affairs and setting sights on what the future holds. If you're like me, eagerly awaiting the synergistic return of synthesis to our current generation of consoles, you might be surprised to hear about all of the potential on the horizon.

The return of Audio Implementation Greats!

This series has been on hold during the great push to get TFU2 out the door. That said, I've been slowly working with some creative game audio pioneers to gather up and put forward some details on the cool tricks that may have been overlooked in the past. Keep em' peeled for more on this in the near future!

Until then, I'll leave you with this bevy of Game Audio Relevant links that should keep your gears turning:

...and if that doesn't keep you busy maybe you should GET BACK TO WORK! :)

Until next time true believers,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Content is King - Rise of the Independent Sound Library

Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives...well, the sands of time in my life have been moving a little too fast for me as of late. In the blink of an eye months have passed by in a rapid succession of: too much coffee, overtime dinners, and late nights all alone with a test tube. During that time there seems to have been a renaissance in Sound Libraries and a fully embraced digital download model for distribution.

Before I get into all of the new hotness out there in the world of content, I have to level with those of you who don't know where my loyalties lie. In a great overview of Sound Design roles in the game industry Rob Bridgett helped to clarify the newly embraced title of Technical Sound Designer which "implies that implementation and design of systems of playback is an integral part of (the) sound design process" and goes on to legitimize the moniker as a viable niche within the game audio community.

Since the moment I designed my first sounds for a small casual game it became immediately apparent  that there was more to game sound than just delivering content and calling it a day. Once my sounds had been integrated by the programmer I received a build back that found the beautifully sculpted tails of my one-shot's truncated after each successive re-triggering of the sound. While it ended up sounding cool, it was definitely not my intention. From here my fascination with the interactive playback of sounds took over for any desire I had for actually creating the sounds. The challenge of getting great sounds to play back appropriately when triggered from the mega-multitimbral synthesizer that is today's audio engine was just too interesting for me not to pursue.

As luck would have it I fell in with Julian and the content creators at Bay Area Sound and have since been spoiled by the level of quality that he and the rest of the team bring to every project I've worked on since officially starting in the industry (not to mention the other talented sound designers I've had the pleasure to work along side). With no concern over the content side of the equation, I've been free to pursue the craft of Technical Sound Design to the fullest without having to worry about the raw materials. It's true that the best sound can end up sounding bad if implemented poorly, but when the two are working together synergistically what you end up with is a whole that is greater than the sum of it's parts.

In short: for me it's all about the implementation, but I couldn't do it without great content.

Which brings me back around to the reason for this post: the plethora of options available as alternatives to the big-box sound libraries that have been used (and over used) in the short history of sample based game audio. But before we get to the bounty, here are some great sound design specific blogs that have sprung up recently, most of whom can also be found pontificating on a daily basis in the twitter-verse:

Chuck Russom
Noise Jockey
Miguel Isaza
Field Sepulchra
David Steinwedel
Music of Sound
Master of Sound
Left Brain (Audio) Blog
Colin Hart's Sound Kitchen
The Recordist
The Educated Sound Designer

It should come as no surprise, once you've read some of the passionate explorations of sound and field recording, that several of these fine fellow's have climbed on top of the capitalist mountain and have begun to bring some of these audio gem's to the masses. In several digestible forms of easily attainable audio packages, these trendsetters have spearheaded a new model focused on a high level of specificity, extreme quality, consistency, and user friendly bundles of sound. It has been pure joy over the past few months watching the launch of these personalized libraries, and I can't help but feel that the community aspect of twitter has helped foster a positive growth environment for each of these during their development. The support I've witnessed between sound professionals during these online tweets has constantly reinforced the beauty that can exist between people who, it is safe to say, all have a profound respect for one another.

With that, I'll unload on you a host of links that, hopefully, you'll come to rely on in your search for unique, highly variable, and affordable sound design elements. Several of these can be purchased in different sized bundles depending on the need for variation, sometimes including a free set meant to whet you sonic appetite.

Hiss and a Roar

Currently Available:

For review's see Tim's about page, and be sure to read (and listen to) Miguel's write up's.

Currently Available:

Author of the excellent Field Sepulchra Blog Michaels new venture recently launched with a bang!
Chuck Russom FX

Currently Available:
-Metal FX SFX Library
-Rocks SFX Library
-Skateboard SFX Library
-Handgun Foley SFX Library

Chuck has been at it long enough to know the unique demands of game audio, and the high level of variation represented in his libraries speak to his experience in creating multiple versions of the same sound to keep listener fatigue and repetition under control.

Currently Available:
-Ultimate Ice Sound Effects Released
-Broken World: Glass Sound Effects Library
-Thunderstorm HD Sound Effects Library
-Special Edition Sound Effects Library

-SB-DRS01: Doors of Stone
-SB-DUD01: Dungeon Doors
-SB-DED01: Demonic Doors
-SB-SFD01: SciFi Doors
-SB-MTE01: Metallic Energy
-SB-SFE01: Sci-Fi Energy
-SB-RM01: Rocket Man
-SB-SPF01: Space Fighters
-SB-SPF02: Space Fighters 2

As important as the sounds are the library backstory provided via his blog.

Currently Available:
-Cinematic Metal - Construction Kit
-Cinematic Metal - Impacts
-Cinematic Metal - Bundle

Be sure to check out the Metal Impacts - Review by Jim Stout

While we're on the topic of libraries, let me link dump some conversations that have been swirling on the topic of metadata and how to manage your ever-expanding library:

Designing Sound - Metadata in Sound Library Applications
Designing Sound - Sound Design Essentials: Software (I) – Database & Organization
Music of Sound - Metadata support in Sound Library Apps
Music of Sound - Do YOU use Metadata?

And the latest greatest:
Music of Sound - Why Use High Sample Rates?

Well, I've been meaning to round up all of the great things going on in Independent Sound Library creation so there you have it. I'm looking forward to hearing what all of the creative content creators come up with, and I look forward to pushing the art of implementation to insure that good sounds sound good in games.

'Til next time!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Game Audio Relevance 001

Inspired by Tim Prebble and his Detritus series over at the incredible Music of Sound Blog I've decided to round up a host of links floating around online that have specific relevance to Game Audio. Maybe not the first time i've attempted such a round up, but hopefully I can get onboard with keeping these digestible from now on, this one is rather lengthy...we'll see how it goes.

A powerful ally for narrative: The audio of Bad Company 2
Game Audio Basics” March Issue of Mix Magazine

Cracking the Code: Breaking Into Game Sound

Edge Magazine takes a good, hard look at the state of Game Audio

Interview - Bay Area Sound

An oldie on surround music in games

Erick Ocampo Talks About the Sound Design of  “Front Mission Evolved”

Exclusive game audio videos from GDC posted!

Footsteps – Informal Game Sound Study

The music and sound of Flower

Akira Yamaoka's Sound Design Lecture at GDC 2010

Cadet 227 - An action/adventure game for the visually impaired / blind.

The Beautiful Sounds of Arcades: Arcade Ambience Project

Tutorial blog post - Adaptive Music with FMOD

Sound Spam - Interactive Audio Crimes in HEAVY RAIN

Dead to Rights: Retribution - Creating a coherent audio mix Pg.54

GDC 2010 - Lua and adaptive audio - Don Veca (Dead Space/ Activision) Presentation

Chuck Russom Special: God of War I & II

Chuck Russom Special: Call of Duty

DICE Publications: Audio Presentations

Video Game Audio Breakdown - Interactive Music [lecture]

Introduction to Audio API's, Comparison between Xact, FMOD, Wwise, And Unreal

The Sound Design of "Splinter Cell: Conviction" (Video)

Video with Lightning Bolt bassist/game scorer Brian Gibson

"FMOD Designer 2010 – Let’s Take a Look"

Recording motorcycles for the SBKX video game 

Develop is stocked with audio goodness. BF2, Wwise, and interactive dialogue

Interview: Audio Director Kristofor Mellroth on the sounds of Crackdown 2

Mario Music of Golden Proportions

Evolution of PC Audio - As Told by Secret of Monkey Island

LeftBrainBlog: Game Audio Inspiration - Dead Space

Why Audio Guys Use "Nice" Speakers

Develop Magazine: The Evolution of Middleware, FMOD Spotlight and Audio Track 2010

Psai Engine: "Periscope Studio Audio Intelligence"

APB in-game music sequencer

BerkleeLC forum "A Crash Course in Video Game Sound Design"

Stefan Strandberg on the Sound of "Battlefield: Bad Company 2"

Article about audio in the game design process

Disney Adds New Audio Descriptions to Theme Parks

Getting game audio right

Microsoft Gamefest 2010 Audio Presentations

How to break into Game Audio

UDK Game Audio Demo Project - Extensive Documentation

Blog post about closed captioning in games [CC]

Blind Community Upset By Nissan’s Choice of Sounds for New Elecrtric Car

The wealth of knowledge on the subject of game audio is somewhat staggering these days. It wasn't so long ago that I can't remember reading between the lines in articles trying to figure out how they did this and that in whatever game or interactive project was being discussed.

Hopefully the details of different techniques being exposed will lead to a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes, and continue us down the path of standardization and best practices as an industry.

Got more links?
Drop em' on by!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sound Quote: Steppenwolf - Herman Hesse

I've become more and more tuned to the representation of sound in the written word. Seems like I can't turn a page in most fiction without coming across a passage that attempts to bring the ephemeral quality into black and white. Most recently in the writings of Herman Hesse and Steppenwolf. One of the few of his that I hadn't already read, it can be a tough slog at first. Pages go by without pause in intense descriptions of the inner workings of a man's grizzled mind, leading towards a myriad of epiphanies and eventual blossoming of understanding of the human condition.

Several section lept off the page:

"For my part, the whole building reverberated everywhere with the sound of dancing, and the whole intoxicated crowd of masks, became by degrees a wild dream of paradise."
"I stood for a moment on the scent, smelling this shrill and blood-raw music, sniffing the atmosphere of the hall angrily, and hankering after it a little too. One half of this music, the melody, was all pomade and sugar and sentimentality. The other half was savage, temperamental and vigorous. Yet the two went artlessly together and made a whole. It was the music of decline."
"The discovery would be made - and perhaps very soon - that there were floating around us not only pictures and events of the transient present in the same way that music from Paris or Berlin was now heard in Frankfurt or Zurich, but that all that had ever happened in the past could be registered and brought back likewise. We might look for a day when, with wires or without, with or without the disturbance of other sounds, we should hear King Solomon speaking, or Walter von der Vogelweide. And all this, I said, just as today was the case with the beginnings of wireless (radio), would be of no more service to man than as an escape from himself and his true aims, and a means of surrounding himself with an ever closer mesh of distractions and useless activities."
"Whoever wants to live and enjoy his life today must not be like you and me. Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours..."

While I would recommend my personal favorite Gertrude (also especially music and sound minded) or even Demian over the tale of the Steppenwolf, it is not without it's own power and grace.

Until next time!

Music Vault - Beautiful Flute

Arguably among my first hands on non-linear audio experiments, Beautiful Flute was the culmination of hours of tiny slices made to an epic improvisational flute piece by my soon to be wife. It was with care and delicacy that I approached the source material in an effort to render the emotional tone into a meditative instrumental poem of tranquility.

Working on a Power Mac 7300 in Cubase 3.5 I set to splicing and dicing into short passages and loops, after which I took isolated tracks and eventually the entire mix through the (now) well documented Reverse Reverb process in order to give it an otherworldly effect. Admittedly a technique cribbed from some of my favorite bands, it helped lend the appropriate fluttering shine that edged the piece further towards realization.

Lost Chocolate Lab - Beautiful Flute 01

Lost Chocolate Lab - Beautiful Flute 02

Lost Chocolate Lab - Beautiful Flute 03

Lost Chocolate Lab - Beautiful Flute 04

At the core of it is the beautiful voice of the flute lilting and looping, supported by the reverse ebbing fluctuations giving things an abstract propulsion.

Things are in a state of imbalance lately and it's moments like those represented in the music of my past that I cling to in order to secure footing. Whether it's music I've had a part in the making of, or sounds made by people I've never met, I often seek the comfort coming out of two speakers when things start to drift. Vibrating air molecules like the wings of a butterfly, resonating deeply and soothing my road weary soul.

Thanks for listening.