Today I went for something very much outside of my comfort zone and usual composition style. Ridiculous orchestral battle music! It was really fun to write something in this style as I’ve never tried it before, I also learned how to change time signatures in Reaper which is cool, and surprisingly easy.
Very much inspired by the fighting theme from FF7:
Had a little break from blogging for a while but, given the current situation I currently have a lot of time on my hands so I’ve decided to do the Video Game Music Academy “21 Days of Video Game Music” challenge!
I’ll be writing a new piece of music every day for the next 21 days, some of these will just be quick sketches or ideas and some will be a bit more fleshed out or (hopefully) finished. I’ll also write a short blog post here about each one and if I use any novel or interesting (at least to me!) techniques I’ll talk about them here. I’ll be sharing them on twitter too, and you can follow the hashtag #21DaysofVGM to see what other folks taking part in the challenge are doing.
This weekend I went to my first ever Global Game Jam and I had a lovely time! I had no team when I arrived and so was put in a team with other folks who I hadn’t met before. Considering we’d never met or worked together before we managed to work together well and get a reasonably working demo of what was quite an ambitious idea together. You can download and play the game we made here: https://globalgamejam.org/2020/games/airplane-graveyard-8
The theme this year was repair and we also tried to pick up a couple of the diversifiers, namely that the story was inspired by a lesser known woman from history and that the real world weather affected gameplay somehow. The basic narrative idea behind our game was that you are an airplane pilot who’s plane has gone down over a mysterious archipelago and you need to collect parts to repair your plane before a storm comes and washes you away. You can travel between the islands on a small boat. Some of the more complex mechanics (like the storm!) didn’t make it into the game due to time constraints but some of the ideas that we managed to get working in there were (in my opinion at least) quite interesting, notably that the gameplay would be affected by the weather in the real world.
The islands were procedurally generated each time the map is spawned, meaning they’re different each time. We also decided not to include any original music in the game overworld. I wrote a short theme for the menu screen but other than that all of my work was sound design and a small amount of implementation. Inspired by Galaxy News Radio from Fallout 3, we decided that the music would come from a radio that was in the boat you travel around the islands on. I did my best to select music that felt appropriate to the time period (and storm or plane related) and tried to get some songs that were released in 1937 (the year of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, the inspiration behind our unnamed protagonist).
I picked four songs to play on the radio and the programmers helped me to get them to playback in a random order in Unity. Prior to this, Charlie (our writer) came up with the idea of news bulletins and weather forecasts which are affected or triggered by the weather somehow. He wrote four bulletins and we ran off to a side room to record them, along with 8 wind reports/directions (north, north east, east etc). I then edited these into eight bulletins, each with a wind direction appended to the end of it. Jason (one of our programmers) then wrote some code which would cause each of these to be triggered based on relevant wind data collected from a weather API. Jason also programmed the wind data to create an in game force which acts on the boat, pushing it in the opposite of whatever direction the wind is coming from.
So, I took all these assets (the bulletins/weather reports and four songs) and processed them using a combination of Izotopes Trash 2 and some convolution reverb to make them sound like they were playing from a radio. I then handed over the assets to Jason and we hooked them up to his code in Unity and it all worked! He also wrote some code to duck the music when the bulletins were playing and given more time I’d have like to tweak this a little as it didn’t quite work as well as I’d have liked. I’m not super experienced with Unity, but I’m sure there’s probably a simpler way of achieving this within the engine using internal bussing or something. We also simplified the mechanic by attaching the bulletins and weather reports together, but it would have been nice to keep these separate for more variety/flexibility at run time.
Aside from this, most of the assets/sound design were more straightforward but no less fun to create, I particularly enjoyed creating a loop of “plane being fixed” sounds for the engineer character who is on the island where the player character spawns. I used various sources for this but mostly a paper shredder, which sounded surprisingly good! I had a lovely time and will definitely go next year, thanks to all of my team, especially Jason and Vikki for being patient with my endless questions about programming! Also had the chance to use Adam Croft’s instant take suite in Reaper for the first time and it is really awesome! It worked very well and was really simple to set up with key commands etc so thanks Adam! I highly recommend it to all sound designers and editors using Reaper, especially if you’re switching from Pro Tools like me and rely a lot on Audiosuite as part of your workflow.
I thought it was about time I wrote a little update of things I’ve been up to over the last few months.
I’m pleased to say I graduated from my MA with distinction in September and have been working full time at Doghouse Post ever since. Meanwhile in my spare time I’ve been keeping busy with various audio related endeavours. I finished the mix of the short film ‘Window’ which I started working on earlier this year. You can see the full movie below:
I also went to my first ever game jam! The lovely Fuse Jam in Bristol. I met some lovely people here and we made a little game about floating around on a raft, I collaborated on the audio with Starshine Audio. We both did a bit of the sound design, I wrote the main level music and he wrote the ‘Pirate Mode’ music, (press F to find out what I’m talking about!) You can download and play the game here: https://itch.io/jam/fuse-jam-3/rate/493872
I’ve got my first three sound libraries online and available to buy now, two of which are still fifty percent off.
Finally I made a little bitsy game, after feeling inspired post game jam. I put this together over a few weekends and it’s my first foray into game design. A short puzzler about collecting cats and finding your way home.