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Why use MODS???????


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#1 Vlacarus   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 05:41 AM

I am an accomplished composer and I would like to know what the big deal about using mods in games is all about? I mean...to me they dont sound as nearly as good as compositions done with real music gear and high quality professional samples. Whats the big hype about?? I do understand how they work(not too partial to it though)but the sound quality they produce is of low standards. .....????

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#2 mason   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 06:07 AM

OK, first of all - MOD is a generic term meaning "tracked music." The MOD format itself is basically obsolete, having been replaced by S3M, IT, and XM formats, which allow for much higher polyphony (I think IT can have up to 255 tracks), and many more effects (IT has instruments which support panning, ASRD envelopes, etc.)

In general, tracked music is preferable in games because it doesn''t take as much space as CD audio. Yes, the format isn''t as flexible, and the quality might not be as good, but you can fit an entire soundtrack into the space that one song of CD audio would fit in.

And besides, it''s my opinion that for in-game music, you don''t really *need* 44 Khz sound. The music is usually the last thing that most users pay attention to. And it''s usually drowned out by gunfire anyway





Mason McCuskey
Spin Studios - home of Quaternion, 2000 GDC Indie Games Fest Finalist!
www.spin-studios.com

#3 Kosh   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 03:04 PM

hi everyone,

yes this is what I thought, I was talking with our sound engineer for our game Zargadia and well, he thinks that Midi is SOOOO much better than mods, but of course, it''s great if you have like £600 sound cards and such, but most people dont. So if you want sequenced music, then yeah, if you''re got GOOD midi hardware then you''re ok, but some dont, they have lousy midi and that means youre music will come out sounding trashy, just remember what midi sounded like on sb16? and you''ll understand.

the good thing about mod, is that it doesnt matter what soundcard you have, if you can support the output format, which if you cannot, you''ve got something wrong with you or your computer, cause it''s VERY unlikely. It''s always going to sound the same, cause they are wave files playing in a sequence.

mp3 is coming into it''s own in games, there are more and more people using this now, it''s starting to take over CD audio, fine, it''s more CPU intensive, but the benefit? Well, since CPU''s are more powerful, you can afford to waste 5% or so on music, it''s fine, no slowdown.

full on CD audio, wow, you''re talking about 1MB/minute arent you? (aint done the maths, just remembering something someone said) compare that to about 3 minutes of mod music, which is fine for most games at about 200KB, mp3, erm, dont know, aint thought about that

anyway, just my little £10 to the discussion

kosh

#4 TryggTorkel   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 08:36 PM

I just thought I had to answer this. MOD files can sometimes be as large as Audio, because it all depends on the samples you use. Its not at all dificult to have samples of about several MB if you want your music to sound good.

It´s about 10 MB/min if you want your music to be 44 khz, 16 bit. You could lower this to 22 khz, 16 bit to half the size. this has been used in many games with great results.

But today I would also go for the mp3. Its definately good enough.

#5 granat   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 08:47 PM


Using mp3 in my program (game), caused the animation to look bad. I have a Celeron 300.

So for low end machines mp3 is out of the question.

#6 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 09:16 PM

I think with the recent addition of hardware DSP chips on sound cards for MP3-decoding and encoding, using MP3 music in games is becoming more and more feasible. It will not tax the CPU much, and lets face it, a few megs for five minutes of music is not that much


#pragma DWIM // Do What I Mean!

~ Mad Keith ~
**I use Software Mode**


#7 MoDZarT   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 10:05 PM

Something you guys have forgotten is that mp3 nor CD audio are very good for modern gaming experience. OK, you might think I''m stupid now - "high-quality, real music IS the future...!" - but I think the prerecorded soundformats is very limited. Maybe gamemusicians dreamt for this many years ago when they had to bear with squaretones and sinustones like on the NES, but now it''s all about _interactive music_. You can''t change the channels and instruments, changing the musicstyle, etc, very easy using streams. Maybe I''ve played too much N64 that has a lot of games with this kind of interactive music. Music and sound you listen to should be static, but gamemusic, should play with your actions.

OK, MIDI or MOD? Let''s be honest. When people buy a new computer, do they even care about the soundcard? Most of us will just care about the videocard, it should look as beautiful as possible. I have a SB32 AWE since 1994 and I''m a music freak. You see? It''s truly selfish to say MIDI is good because it sound good on "my" computer. Well, in that case your music might sound shit in other''s opinion because it sound soo bad on their computers. Later, bad music, bad sound,...weak sound, affect the gameplay, don''t you agree.
There are no really restrictions using tracker formats. XM and IT are both great formats and if mastered well, XM-music or IT-music will sound just like real music. Big files, you may say, but not necessarily. Tracking music is just like programming (literally) and everything can be optimized. I personally like it when I can see the samples myself and edit them myself.

At the moment, I think tracked music is the only way to go when doing gamemusic because it sound generally best. Also it''s very easy to learn (at least it was for me) and you can use sample with ease.

Yeu Kang Hua
HBT Developement Studio

#8 Marcuz   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 18 May 2000 - 08:42 PM

You seem to forget to mention one of the best things about module music (.XM, .IT or whatever). The module music can be looped in a way that the music never ends. It repeats from the looppoint you set out in the tun when editing it. That mean, if this is done good it seems like one neverending tune. Thats the thing about modules that beat CD streamed music and such, becouse you cant loop those in the same way.

Im not really saying that module music IS better than CD streamed or MP3 music, just that sometimes it can be beter to use those. like if the game is gonna be downloadable shareware or something like that, modules can sound very good at the same time as it is very small.
Though in fullscale games, you need the best sounding stuff you can get, and that means CD streamed music or MP3 (MP4 is also used nowadays i think).

Have a nice day!

------------------------------------------
/Marcus Knudsen //MDM
Game music composer
For work examples: www.mp3.com/marcuz
------------------------------------------

#9 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 20 May 2000 - 07:35 AM

About MIDI vs. MOD:

Technologically they are on par with each. Both can be interactively controlled, both have methods of storing sampled instruments and accessing them.

The real difference is in how integrated each is. From day one MODs included samples in their implementation, but MIDI has very slowly added it, and their is no standardized way of keeping the samples with the composition

Still, there is the issue over which allows for more control over the playing of the actual notes. I know E-mu has a system for MIDI with 6-sectioned envelopes for each sample; Delay, Attack, Hold, Decay, Sustain, and Release. These envelopes provide control over how a sample acts such as if it were hammered, plucked, blown, pressed, etc. I have no idea whether this control is provided in any of the "MOD" formats. The 4-sectioned envelope of ADSR is resonable at least.

As for large samples, I got a 1MB or so sample of a grand piano. That''s just one instrument, but it sure sounds great. {I think they sampled each key} That''s where a real problem for both formats lies; either samples are efficient, small, and cruddy, or they''re wasteful, large, and sound great.

The worst problem; not all languages / authoring enviroments allow for these formats. I ran into this problem importing a MIDI I made into Director for a school project. I was working on a Mac, so I had to convert it to a Quicktime Movie {Director doesn''t support any type of MOD.} Problem is, Quicktime Player didn''t understand it, so it couldn''t convert. Ironically, on the same exact Mac, I could play the MIDI though both of the browser plug-ins. AAaaahh!! I ended up recording it as a .WAV at home and has gone from 5 KB{stereo} to 5 MB{mono.} That sucks!

#10 MoDZarT   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 May 2000 - 08:22 PM

You see. 1MB samples. Even if it''s built-in (sampled every key) in your soundcard, not everybody would have it. About the envelope-thing, XM uses it, and I think the IT is even better at handling that (comparing to XM). Playing mods nowadays is childish easy with the BASS DLL which plays all kinds of formats, including mp3, (but unfortunately not midi but that can be done anyway), and is very effective.

I think if you''re making a highbudget game, maybe you''ve hired an orchestra, you should use recorded music. Still you won''t as Marcuz said, be able to loop your music the way a module loops, and you won''t be able to change notes, fade channels, etc, in realtime, doing interactive music. I think if you''re good enough, have the right sample, be a little bit smart, you can do all kinds of music, like orchestrated music, using MOD. Look at those 4 channels amiga module makers, with only 4 channels they can (could?) make very professional sounding music.

#11 MoDZarT   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 May 2000 - 08:27 PM

Sorry to SonicSilicon. I didn''t read your message properly. No, I don''t think any of the mod-formats support that kind of envelopethings:

"Still, there is the issue over which allows for more control over the playing of the actual notes. I know E-mu has a system for MIDI with 6-sectioned envelopes for each
sample; Delay, Attack, Hold, Decay, Sustain, and Release. These envelopes provide control over how a sample acts such as if it were hammered, plucked, blown, pressed, etc. I have no idea whether this control is provided in any of the "MOD" formats. The 4-sectioned envelope of ADSR is resonable at least."

At least not XM. Maybe IT. But what you wrote sounds great. I''ve only made a few midi tracks (using cakewalk) so I don''t know very much.

#12 TryggTorkel   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 May 2000 - 11:49 PM

I´m no programmer, but I just can´t see why you can not loop audio recordings. With Cubase I do this all the time without problems. All you have to do is to include some sort of audio controller in your software, but you have to do this with with MOD as well if you want it to loop at certain places etc right? I know people are working with real time control over audio to follow interactively. It´s not that hard, I think, just "loop this section" until then "jump here there and everywhere".

Concerning the 1Mb sample of every key: Not likely. There is this software Gigasampler which include a 1GB piano. Not even this one sound really like the real thing.

#13 TryggTorkel   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 21 May 2000 - 11:54 PM

This MIDI control with 6-steps of the envelope sound interesting. Are you sure this is MIDI controllable? In that case, which envelope? Amplifier, filters, LFO etc? with current MIDI controll identifiers, I don´t know much about MIDI 2 yet, there is not much space to include these controllers for all envelopes. (Just 128 spots). And in any case, would it not be a shame if it only worked with EMU syntheseizers?

But it´s a very good idea, mayby its included somehow in MIDI 2?

#14 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 May 2000 - 02:51 PM

Egad! It seams I''ve confused a few people.

Envelopes: These are applied to a sample *before* it is used in playback. Basically your setting the beginning and end points for the different sections of the sample. An Attack is usually a sudden increase in volume, the Decay a decrease to the stable level of the Sustain, and the Release is the drop to silence when the note is ended. A Delay is a period of silence or near silence before the attack. The Hold is similar to a sustain, but much shorter because it''s between the attack and decay.
The 4 section evelope {ADSR} has been a standard in synthesis for a long time. In fact, many of the pre-Sound Blaster books covered music reproduction using ADSR.

Oops, it''s a patch: That 1MB was for the entire piano. I mistakingly called it a sample at the time. It was actually a "patch" of the instrument.

Pre-recorded audio looping: What was refered to earlier was the looping of CD audio. Currently this cannot be achieved, period. It''s a physical-level problem; you just can''t move the CD-ROM drive read head fast enough and buffering is only for data. A similar problem occurs with streaming media. It''s not physical, it''s just the network lag is too much. {And, yes, to be streaming it must be on a network since it is included in the definition of "streaming media."}
However, this can be achieved with correctly edited audio files on local media. Actually, many companies sell "music loops" for multimedia use. You''ll hear them on Shockwave/Flash sites a lot. These are just short, little files, though. Still, the same can be done with any music.
I''ve heard some games that would have the files on CD-Rom or copied to the hard drive. The problem is nobody bothers to make them truly loopable in most cases. They started, played though, faded out, then started again. If they were editted better, they would''ve have worked.
If you wanted, you could make an Intro, Loop, and End and execute them at the appropriate times. I have no idea how to go about making sure they were synchronized properly.

#15 MoDZarT   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 23 May 2000 - 01:29 AM

I just want to tell you how I did the music for a game I''m making. In the intro I show some pictures andplay some speech telling the game''s story. During this the music is very moody. Then just as the titlescreen is showing, I make a fill-in and changes the music to a faster tempo. I''ve timed the music. BUT, if you cancels the intro, the music will go immidiately to the "title-music".

OK, then I''ve got music for each stage, currently I''ve got two. I''ve done these tracks in the SAME XM-file! Here''s how the file is done:

1. Stage 1
2. Ending
3. Stage 2

Each track is looped.

You may have noticed track 2 - ending. This pattern can be used to end the tracks. I''ve done it that way that it will sound good wherever you''ve decided to stop and insert the endingtune.

And I''m very happy with the results. No delays in the loopings, trackchange, etc.

Hope you understand my awful english.

#16 TryggTorkel   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 23 May 2000 - 03:37 AM

This is just to confuse everybody even more.

Sonic, you are very funny. since the development of DEGs, Digital Envelope Generators, in the beginning of the 80s (Korg Poly 800, and such) the ADSR is no more. what you was telling us has thus been around for almost 20 years. But I was correct, they are working on the problems of using GM level 2 to controll envelopes, its just a matter of time.

Yes, I was mistaken. Of course I don´t mean CD-tracks to loop. I was referring to short audio bits which you can loop and add.

#17 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 24 May 2000 - 05:41 AM

Uh, oh!
Most of what I was stating came from the SoundFont Creation FAQ with my Sound Blaste Live! Platinum. {You don''t know how good full-sized DIN-5s are til you have ''em.} I think they were covering the basics of making sets and patches, so I guess this is still somewhat valid.The most complex evelopes they covered was the E-mu 6-level.

I don''t really work with the keyboards themselves. I''ve got a lowly Yamaha PSR-85. It''s adequet for what I do {futzing with melodies and tracking on my computer.} My only complaint is that it isn''t GM compliant.

As for MIDI controlled envelopes, I think XG MIDI was based on, and incorporates, that concept. Unfortunately I couldn''t find any documentation on Yamaha''s sites. I know it''s there, because I read it before, they''re juct poorly laid out.

#18 Whirlwind   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 24 May 2000 - 06:05 AM

As a game player, I just have to note that it depends on the game whether music can be more than background noise or not. I play AOK with no music, but I play FPS'' racing, and some strategy games with music. I see no one has mentioned .wav files (ala TreadMarks). They sound just fine for a game where you are listenning for incoming fire as opposed to analyzing the music''s composition and whether that was a bason or an oboe playing that last roll.

I thought mods were great - 4 years ago, before I had a CD player in my computer. I think they sound better than mp3, which sound like crap on my celeron 433 and A3D card. It isn''t my speakers, since I push all my sound out to my Kenwood SRS decoder attached to a great sounding pear of Bose 101''s.

Use the right format for the right job.
Have your buds with the cheap sound cards hear your stuff.
Figure out the role of the music in the game beforehand.

Just a few pointers from a non-industry expert, but an avid game player....

#19 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 24 May 2000 - 12:23 PM

.WAVs do sound good, but are huge. They''re better than CD Audio because they can be buffered for skip-free looping.

The quality of MP3s has nothing to do with the processing power of your systems. It has everything to do with how it was compressed. Too many people "shave" the daylights out of the file, and the result is a warbly sound in the mid-range sound. And, Whirlwind, your SRS decoder is doing a number on the MP3. I have an adjustable level of spatialization on my notebook and an MP3 just keeps sounding worse as I turn it up.
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Back to topic:
I looked at the manual that came with my XG Software Syntesizer. There is no control of the envelope in the XG standard. There is, however, tons of extra controls over the sound of each channel. I listened to some on a WF192X based card. BIG QUALITY INCREASE! The best part is that the WF192X chip is the on-[mother]board audio for most new systems.




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