Thursday, February 25, 2010

Music Vault - The Butterfly's View

In an effort to re-expose some ancient musical recordings i'll be highlighting various musical tracks from the vault. While it seems like forever (1998) since these recordings were made, It could just as easily be yesterday.

Back before this website moniker was just a faceless name rounding up interactive audio curiosities and other such oddities, it was used as a name for a musical project that started after the demise of another band.

Today's track comes off the Lost Chocolate Lab release entitled "The Butterfly's View".

The title track is a chaos of swirling noise, distortion, and cacophony. The Flute performance was played live in the studio by my wife, and manipulated in realtime via the alleged DM-1000. The surrounding pileup was a mess of processing and caterwauling mayhem whose origin cannot be recreated. The whole everloving mess later had prose attached to it's various ebbing and flowing with regards to the title's proposed vantage point, the likes of which can be followed along with here.

Lost Chocolate Lab - The Butterfly's View

Having finally come across Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" recently, I don't think a comparison is fair - despite a similar penchant for squealing and distortion. Ours has way more melody than the afor mentioned...although it may be no less relentless in it's attack.

Thankfully the rest of the tracks are a grab bag of styles reflecting different takes on the whole sound thang. After that kindof treatment, hopefully haven't totally estranged you and you'll drop by again sometime.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, February 22, 2010

“Game Audio Basics” March Issue of Mix Magazine

The March issue of Mix Magazine has an article I collaborated on with Tech Files scribe Eddie Ciletti in which we attempt to overview several game audio specific processes. It was a great experience swapping dialogs back and forth regarding what content to cover, and how to effectivly communicate some of the more technical concepts. I'm indebted to Eddie for his guidance, and masterful ability to wrestle coherency out of my jargon laden diatribes.

Tech Files: Game Audio Basics

Also in this issue, an in-depth on the Sound Production for God of War III with several members of the audio team reprazentin'. I love it when Paul Fox talks about the 2MB of RAM available for sound on the PS2...those were the days. Couple that with Steve Johnson's talk of 20 pre-buffered sound streams and I think we all have something to be thankful for in the current generation.

How many Megs do you have to work with?

Edit: Also now available in non-interactive magical flashiness version.

The Time is Right to Fight

Thanks to Anton, who the other day re-ignited an old flame I once had with Atari Teenage Riot, I dug out another old WIRE magazine with an Alec Empire interview in it. If we've spent anytime talking in person, it's likely that at some point I've attempted a comparison of the music and games industry for various reasons. Mostly because I grew up with one foot in the rock and roll door, and also because I can't help but long for the maturity and diversity that the music industry continues to foster in each of it's various micro-genres. One thing I found interesting about Biba Kopf's article was his framing of ATR in the context of video games:

"Just because ATR come on like a lurid, excessively violent Manga comicbook, programmed at flicker-speed with all the sensitivity of a video arcade cop-killer game, certainly doesn't make them less 'artistic' then the Empire solo discs, which are couched in the 'art music' trappings of the Mille Plateaux label."
Without opening up the "Games as Art" debate, I think it's interesting to note that both music and comic's have come through the gauntlet of "Is it Art?" and emerged as some of the foremost harbingers of culture and popular art of our times. I continue to look forward to this broadening of scope when it come to video games because I can't listen to Digital Hardcore for the rest of my life, but I want to keep playing games that stimulate my adult mind.

"The time is right to fiiiiiiiiigigggggigiiggigghhhhht!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tales of Monkey Island Audio Sweeps Readers Choice Aggie

The 2009 Adventure Gamers Award Winners have been announced and finds Tales of Monkey Island sweeping the Readers Choice for best Voice, Music, and Sound....oh, and Best Adventure of 2009!

It's great to see that all of the hard work that went into every aspect of this title was enjoyed by players.
It's especially satisfying to have helped out with the sound aspect and for it to have been well received.

Also a congratulations to Jared for the nomination of his score to Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventures.

Thanks for listening!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Article Grab - Et In Arcadia Video

In case you can't tell, I've been cleaning my desk of paper work and inspirational debris that has been deposited or accumulated over time. This habit of cataloging noise curiosities was fostered in no small way by a  music magazine out of the UK called 'The Wire' which I stumbled upon for the first time in the mid 90's. A fair portion of any article could be attributed to the passionate and colorful description of music that usually landed (way) out side the normal avenues of listening (which of course made reading about it that much more interesting).

Mixed in among the issues I'd accumulated either at newsstands, or through a brief run of subscriptions, are several pieces that continue to speak to the core sound fanatic in me, and even a couple that cross over into the interactive space I've been living in for the past years. One of these was Ken Holling's historical cross-pollination of video games and music, and the deep understanding of the influence of sound in games.

Looks like in addition to bridging the gap between William Burroughs and Simulations, Ken is also working on a piece for the Beeb: "‘From GameBoy to Armageddon’ looks at the developing relationship between videogames, military training sims and the continuing history of Future War."

"With great power comes great responsibility." - Spider Man

Great words to keep handy on our way through the interactive audio maelstrom.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Puzzle Master's Sound Effects Fill-In

Hot on the tails of Kanji Sound Effects is this crossword puzzle from an activity book I've had laying around since my youth. Drop me a line if you need the answers!

*all these sound effects have been authenticated. :)

Kanji - Steamboy

Call me late to the party, but I just made the connection between Japanese Manga 'Kanji' or 'Katakana' and Sound effects. Reading through Steamboy by Katsuhiro Otomo recently, I can across these introduction pages which outline the different symbols and their English translations on a page by page basis. Fascinated by the depth of the characters used, their presentation, and the descriptions I decided to put up a couple example pages to use with the intro.

Take a peek:

The Japanese analogy to the 'boof' -  'bap' -  'pow', and no less awesome!
Now, who's up for some Kanji Invader?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Aminata: Polyphonic Spree

I played this years ago, and it fostered the purchase of The Polyphonic Spree's 'Together We're Heavy'.

After listening to it again today I gave 'Quest for the Rest' another spin with the 4 year old and it was just as magical.

This from Aminata Design, the recent makers of the sublime Machniarium.
Sound Design and Music for their titles have always been excellent.


The future of film is Sound Synthesis

In a brief interview with Randy Thom at Siggraph last year, Randy Thom let loose with a projection for sound in film:
"I think that the future in terms of technology is in sound sythesis and very little R&D has been done in that compared to synthesis in the visual realm."

I'm excited for the same potentiality in game audio, and I hope as an industry we can lead the charge in the move towards runtime synthesis. With some stunning examples already I think we are well on our way.

More to come, into the FUTURE!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Next Big Steps In Game Sound Design

Gamasutra: The Next Big Steps In Game Sound Design

In an attempt to summarize some of the cool things I've uncovered during my time reading between the lines in the game industry, I've pulled together a crop of current generation trends and standout examples of technical Sound Design. While this is a more generalized overview than my Implementation Greats series, the hope is that by raising the awareness of these techniques and the forward thinking interactive audio pioneers working to raise the bar, we can all learn from them and go on to push the boundaries of whats possible in games. Toward reality, toward abstraction, toward whatever suits the game.

Hope this finds you well,

Game of the Year - Every Day the Same Dream

I'll say it again: Game of the Year - Every Day the Same Dream
Like a familliar novel slowly unfolding, at once recognizable but always keeps you guessing.
I don't want to debate what makes this a "game", just that I was engaged throughout with a sense of glee at every turn.