Presentation on theme: "Casual Moods: Creating Sound and Music for a Booming Field."— Presentation transcript:
Casual Moods: Creating Sound and Music for a Booming Field
Laura Shigihara (PopCap, EA, Microsoft, Tikgames) Adam Gubman (Konami, PlayFirst, Square Enix, Ubisoft) Sean Beeson (Disney Interactive, Big Fish Games) Richie Nieto (EA, Ubisoft, THQ)
1. Work flow of a contractor with a smaller development team When working with smaller developers, you can be put in some unusual roles. Be prepared to be a tester, developer, lead, implementer, and more! While not in your contract, it can sometimes be a necessity to gain or keep a client. Know the expectations of the developer. Set a boundary. Understand their experience. Is the client disinterested in the audio? Disconnected? Ignorant? Get them involved! In those cases, position yourself as the authority on audio as soon as possible. You may need to defend your assets! Make sure they are used as initially planned!
1. Work flow of a contractor with a smaller development team Investigate. Make sure your assets are being implemented correctly, as you intended. What do you imagine the score to this game will sound like? Could be anything!
1. Work flow of a contractor with a smaller development team What do you imagine the score to this game will sound like? Could be anything! Be proactive in developing a musical identity for your game. In many cases, you are the expert. Provide musical suggestions to clients who may not have a clear concept for the score. If you can't find out exactly what they want, you can at least find out what they don't want.
1. Work flow of a contractor with a smaller development team Set your musical boundaries. Be flexible and communicate. Compromise within reason.
2. Casual Specific Audio Strategies: Defining Genres Magic of the Main Theme Casual Game Categories Toys -Fart and Burp Apps. Animals that repeat what you say. Pure win. Tower Defence - Big AAA audio, memorable melodies, ear-breaks -Fieldrunners Hidden Object (Adventure? Mystery?) - Ambient, bits of floaty melody, free tempo - Big City Adventure series, Escape series, Wheres Waldo, etc.
2. Casual Specific Audio Categories Casual Game Categories Light Sims -Chocolatier, Bakery Story, Island Paradise, FarmVille, Youda Survivor Board Games/Puzzle Games -Bejeweled, Unwell Mel, Words With Friends Light MMO -Pixie Hollow, Club Penguin, NeoPets…usually with product tie-ins and lots of minigames Time Management -Dash Series, etc…more later…
2. Strategize Your Content! How can you best organize and implement your assets to support player experience… Make strides to keep game audio on and iTunes off! - obvious things…
2. Genre Study: Time Management (Dash) Time Management Games Ive Scored: - Diner Dash HomeTown Hero, subsequent expansions - Hotel Dash, subsequent iterations - Diner Dash Grilling Green - Fashion Dash - Diner Dash BOOM! - Cooking Dash 3: Thrills and Spills - Wedding Dash 4-Ever - Life Quest - Fitness Dash - Delicious Deluxe 2, 3, 4, 6 - Dash Tycoon - Farm Dash - Ice Cream Craze 3 - Nanny Mania 2 - Little Shop of Memories
2. Genre Study: Time Management (Dash) Time Management Strategy - Keep it Fresh, High Quality, and appropriate for long level play - Limited Budgets, maximum audio content - Casual adaptivity - Split cues into smaller randomized bits - Mixdowns and Layering - Melodic reduction and non intrusive ambiences - non directional writing - Mix it up…busy vs non busy sections, appropriate compositional meandering - Simple but not stupid. Purposeful! - Maintain quality over busy-ness. Dont blow your wad. - One live player?
3. Tips for finding work as a video game composer Dont treat your job search as if you were looking for a record deal. Send your demo CD to major companies, but dont forget casual, social, mobile, and indie games. Success usually comes from consistently building your portfolio rather than a big break
3. Tips for finding work as a video game composer. Things to keep in mind when looking for work as a game composer: Talk with game developers because theyre generally the ones who will be searching for composers Search for work through online game development communities Independent Game Development forums (TIGsource.com, indiegamer.com, etc.) Game development software forums (Game Maker, Adventure Game Studio, RPG maker) Youll have more success if you become a part of the community before advertising
3. Tips for finding work as a video game composer. Things to keep in mind when looking for work as a game composer: Keep your website up-to-date and make sure its easy to navigate and has relevant information Attend events like GDC, PAX, and other game-centric events If you cant find work right away, work on other projects to fill out your portfolio Community games, contests, mods, recreating a soundtrack for an existing game, etc. Developers want to know that you understand game audio specifically
4. Opportunities for Experimental Audio in Casual Games Financial and time investments are smaller. Projects are proportionally less risky. Non-gamers are harder to engage and capture. This forces developers into lateral thinking. Developing a new IP allows for an audio identity to be generated from scratch. Limited marketing and promotion resources require a product with a fresh design signature to stand above the crowd.
5. Music Preparation for portable devices Know what resources you have to work with, and prepare your assets accordingly. Is the title restricted to an over the air file sizes? What is the maximum music footprint. Keep a running list of musical assets. Prioritize the cues in order of their importance in the game. Certain cues can be compressed more than others. Experiment with compression if needed. Depending on the instrumentation and style, you can compress certain cues more or less.
5. Music Preparation for portable devices Try to listen to the music in context of the game, with different levels of compression. Listen to the compressed audio on the device that you are scoring the game for. Is music being played with sound effects? Can you compress the music more? How and where the music is used should dictate how your music is compressed. I am not a fan of compression. Sometimes we are just forced to do it to meet restrictions.
6. Managing Time and Workload: One Man Army You CAN deal with heavy project loads! - Calendars and Milestones - GOOD TEMP! (more later…) - Know when to take risks and avoid re-writes - Keep good templates - Avoid extensions (business savvy!) - Take breaks - Focus notes
7. Things to keep in mind for your first few jobs. Dont underestimate the importance of getting your foot in the door. Dont get taken advantage of, but dont be afraid to do your first gig for free (create an internship) Dont work for free if your game developer is equally inexperienced but planning on selling the game At this point you arent getting anything out of it that you couldnt get elsewhere If the developer cant pay you upfront you can negotiate royalties (5-10%)
7. Things to keep in mind for your first few jobs. Try to establish a protocol for contract negotiations. Educate yourself about the legal aspect of being an independent contractor Determine whether or not you want to retain the rights to your materials Try to include a clause in the contract about ancillary rights/selling a soundtrack Rights regarding profit received from materials that have nothing to do with the game Royalties in these cases are usually split 50-50
7. Things to keep in mind for your first few jobs. Maintain a good relationship with the people youre working with. Submit your deliverables on time Inquire about the developers future projects and express interest in working on them Take constructive criticism well (be polite and dont be a diva)
8. Sound Design Considerations and Hurdles Generally much smaller memory budget for audio. Constant revision of sounds prioritization. Less room for sound variations means demand for more interesting sounds. Hardware limitations. Design sounds for target sample rates & bit depths to avoid aliasing and maintain phase coherence. Speaker limitations must be taken into account (reduced LFE content). Content considerations. Many casual games are family-oriented.
9. Increasing your exposure in the indie and casual markets Meet the team. Know the team. Become a part of the team. They are all connections! A lot of smaller developers exclusively use contractors. That includes artists, programmers. Treat each member of the team as a potential connection. Ask them about their other gigs. Be genuine in building your relationships. If you treat them well, they will return the favor. Investigate the member's other projects. Ask them about their connections in the industry.
9. Increasing your exposure in the indie and casual markets Meet non-audio contractors and developers before they need a composer. Network with non-audio contractors. These relationships can lead to continued contracts. Search for forums and communities where developers and contractors hang. Build a rep. Integrate your portfolio into your website and social networking sites. The internet is your friend. Work for people, and they will work for you. Work exists for those willing to work for others. Share your work with communities outside of the entertainment industry. Can be fruitful.
10. Dealing With Temp and Difficult Developers Iterations - Learn the IP HISTORY! Learn the DEVELOPER SOUND! Clarity - WHAT is the Dev temping? Tempo? Instrumentation? Time Signature? Language - Emotions, Colors, Energy Creativity - Make Suggestions, take RISKS when necessary to assert confidence in ideology but… Revisions - PICK YOUR BATTLES. Should bad temp warrant re-billing?
11. Business Advantages to Working with a Casual Game Dev Rights ownership and back-end earnings can be negotiable with a smaller studio – even if you are not a big name! More flexible contracts, easier to revise on the fly. More agile communication and decision-making, faster feedback and approval. Wages not necessarily lower than those of AAA projects.
12. Creating a memorable soundtrack with limited resources Solid composition is key. Having limited resources forces you to focus on the composition Despite limitations, some of the best game scores came from the NES/SNES era I always compose using the MIDI test to make sure the composition can stand on its own
12. Creating a memorable soundtrack with limited resources How do you create this type of music? A good exercise is to see how closely you can reproduce music that you like Study old video game music because its a great example of memorable music from limited resources
12. Creating a memorable soundtrack with limited resources Think outside the box and be creative! Challenge yourself to come up with fun and interesting ways to integrate music into your games Despite limitations theres still room for dynamic music, music videos, music gameplay The PvZ theme song was completely voluntary (PopCap didnt ask for it)
12. Creating a memorable soundtrack with limited resources Think outside the box and be creative! Get creative with the sound effects and make sure they add to the game without annoying the player Pitch shift SFX that are heard frequently (eating noises, picking up coins, etc.) SFX are small so you can do realistic live recordings (real butter hitting a real head)