Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Should you skip on developers needing music/sfx but don't have anything to show?


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • You cannot reply to this topic
10 replies to this topic

#1 Majestic_Mastermind   Members   -  Reputation: 215

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 28 December 2011 - 05:41 PM

I try to work with indie developers, but it's kind of hard to take some of them seriously when they have no work to show.

I mean in my experience the developers who pay for music already have the game 85% to 90% completed and just add the sounds/music in the end.

Just hesitant to even give a demo/sample when you don't have a website or blog or anything.

How do other composers here feel about that?

Sponsor:

#2 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18577

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 29 December 2011 - 02:19 AM

Note that I'm not responding as a composer, but as someone who interacts with a lot of hobbyist and indie developers.

If they're willing and able to pay then absolutely -- they may or may not end up completing the project and actually using your work, but you still get paid for your time and efforts, and unless you've got an unusual agreement you should be able to put the pieces in your demo-reel/portfolio.

If they're not going to pay, or are offering you royalties/profit-share... well, that's a different story; I'd be much more hesitant about working with them in this case, and would suggest that you only do so if they have some compelling reason why you should do so, such as:
  • Nothing to show on the current project, but a good track record of completing and releasing at least a couple of previous games.
  • A particularly interesting project, where the experience of working on it will be rewarding to you even if the project flops.
  • A dead-easy project that won't waste your time and efforts; offering an already existing work might be ok if you're feeling generous.

Developers who are worth working with will generally always have something to show, and will usually respect your skills enough to be offering at least some form of up-front payment.

The vast majority of those who don't have anything to show and who aren't paying will probably either fail to complete their project or will take a painfully long time to do so as they learn along the way; you might strike it unlucky and miss out on the next big thing by turning down these people, but it's pretty improbable, and wasting your time and efforts on the many projects that will fail as expected in the meantime probably isn't worth the chance of this happening.


I'd hold out for more reliable options; if that means you're finding yourself with a shortage of work you need to advertise more, and you could also consider filling the time contributing music to royalty free libraries or building your own library of unused tracks that can be licensed for a cheaper fee than having custom pieces created.


Hope that helps! Posted Image

#3 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4091

Like
2Likes
Like

Posted 29 December 2011 - 09:43 AM

Let me put it to the forum this way - would you expect developers to take you seriously and give you a shot at providing audio if you didn't have any audio samples, testimonials, credits or resume posted? I wouldn't. So why do some developers expect us to take them seriously if they haven't even put any forethought or energy into marketing and promoting their project so it stands out from the many other recruitment posts? A bit harsh, sure, but it's reality. :)

Yes, I would skip them, especially if it's for sound design work. If they don't have animations for me to work with for sound effects then they're not ready for sound yet. It isn't uncommon to get some push back from some producers or teams but when asked "would you like the sound effects to match the game's animations perfectly or just be a rough guess?" they always choose the first option. For really simple sound effects (like a basic button click) I can sometimes go ahead and get started but it's really always best to at least have a screen shot of the game to reference.

In my experience some producers/teams get too excited and feel they can cut corners and get audio work do sooner than the project is ready. More on that next -


If they're willing and able to pay then absolutely -- they may or may not end up completing the project and actually using your work, but you still get paid for your time and efforts, and unless you've got an unusual agreement you should be able to put the pieces in your demo-reel/portfolio.


I would agree with this if (and only if) they have a solid game design document in hand. If they are so early in development that they cannot show even a design doc then you run the risk of doing a bunch of work which may not fit the game later.

Any production, I don't care how large or how small, is going to have changes over the production lifetime. Sometimes these changes are small and sometimes they are a bit more drastic. You don't want to do too much audio work early on because it might not reflect the game's final direction, look and feel. Granted there might even be some changes after they're 80% done and you've started work but at least much of the foundation has been laid and everyone working on the project has (at least) a better picture of what they're making instead of just guessing or estimating.


Side note: Always try to find projects that will help distinguish you as a composer/sound designer. Being freelancers we all have to take a certain amount of jobs to keep the cash flowing and bills paid - that's a given. But don't be so eager that you take on a bunch of projects with little potential. And frankly that's what I'd call a project/team that doesn't have any of the normal business and game design docs prepped. Ideas are cheap. Literally. Anyone can have a great idea that could make millions. Very few have the knowledge, energy and connections to make that idea a reality. So when you're evaluating a team or project try to focus on the business side of things as well as the concept and game itself.

Simply put - thank them for their interest but inform them that you need more information to help give them the most realistic and accurate quote. Until that happens you're really taking a serious risk of wasting your own time.

Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9869

Like
2Likes
Like

Posted 29 December 2011 - 05:40 PM

Just hesitant to even give a demo/sample when you don't have a website or blog or anything.


It's cheap to give'em a demo. It's not cheap to make a new demo. So why not just always do the former, but use your best judgment before agreeing to do the latter.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#5 Matias Goldberg   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3397

Like
2Likes
Like

Posted 29 December 2011 - 06:05 PM

Hi!

I try to work with indie developers, but it's kind of hard to take some of them seriously when they have no work to show.

Those aren't "indie developers". They're wannabie developers. It's a big difference.

No matter how big or small they are; if they're serious about game development; they are (or at least, should be) aware that sound & music is one of the last stages. To quote the article "they're the last guys to touch the game"

Just hesitant to even give a demo/sample when you don't have a website or blog or anything.

Ohh.. don't that, I'm with Tom. It's cheap to provide a demo reel. I also like to hear some of your pieces (they don't have to be in full quality; or sometimes not the full piece) so that I know what kind of music you provide. How good you are, and what is the mood/ambience you translate to your audience and what I'm trying to translate into my future players. I personally try to fit your demos into my game to see how it could fit. If I like what I see & hear, I'll get in touch with you.

Don't worry about other people "ripping" your demos and using them for their own, because:
  • You're in disadvantage to many audio artists that do provide a demo reel or audio samples.
  • They shouldn't be full quality (but not bad quality to prevent potential clients from being scared away)
  • If someone is stupid enough to actually use it and gets rich & famous; you'll most likely catch it. Congratulations, you can sue a rich guy with all odds in your favour. (Don't worry about legal fees, he's so rich the lawyer will do it for free and get his cut from the payment to you)
Also most games use ogg or other license-free formats instead of mp3. If your samples are in mp3 format, this means if I want to rip you off I have to recode them from lossy mp3 to lossy ogg. I lose quality just with that.
Once we get to an agreement we'll agree upfront in which format the content will be delivered (any reasonable indie developer doesn't want mp3; unless his wallet is not that of an indie and can afford to waste his bucks in an mp3 patent license).

Edit: I'm talking about demo/samples about a few songs that you've previously made and you have rights to put them on your site (that will depend on your agreements with former clients) or you've made in your free time. I'm definitely not talking about doing a new, custom demo for me so I can satisfy my own curiosity.

#6 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4091

Like
3Likes
Like

Posted 30 December 2011 - 09:00 AM

Not to get off on a tangent but I disagree with this:

Also most games use ogg or other license-free formats instead of mp3.


........


Once we get to an agreement we'll agree upfront in which format the content will be delivered (any reasonable indie developer doesn't want mp3; unless his wallet is not that of an indie and can afford to waste his bucks in an mp3 patent license).



It depends more on the technology the game will be launched on and I've worked with plenty of developers (from mid to higher level) that did use MP3. Granted MP3 does have certain limitations (i.e. the silent bookends the codec puts in as well as a licensing fee if X amount of units are sold) but to present MP3 as a mostly unused audio format in the gaming industry is rather drastic and untrue - based on my personal experiences. In fact in most cases developers will use several audio formats based on what kind of audio file it is, what function or role it will play in the game and how it is implemented.

Back to the main topic:

I do agree with

It's cheap to provide a demo reel. I also like to hear some of your pieces



It's always best to have a prepared demo reel which is easily accessible online. This way clients (and potential clients) can browse your stuff and see if you're a right fit for their next project. Also do you best to keep it as current as you can (understanding the confines of NDA as well as just day to day life). I had a friend try and scramble to put together a demo reel last minute for a job which was about to open. He had a real edge because the job hadn't even been posted publicly yet and I knew the hiring manager. He botched it by rushing until 4AM and delivering a demo that was very, very, VERY subpar compared to the industry. This was because he hadn't kept things current or prepped and much of his demoed work ended up being from his college days. Needless to say he didn't get the job.


Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

#7 Stormwave Audio   Members   -  Reputation: 1025

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:15 PM

I started to seriously think about game industry not so long ago, about a year or so. But now I'm at a bad point because I just took any projects that looked 'like a chance'

After producing few tracks just for presentations of my 'skills', the first thing I wanted to achieve was to go into those desperate portfolio fillers, which usually, for me looks like one of these:
  • "It's our first project, so is yours, let's just make a game and it might succeed"
  • "It's our first project too, and let's make great, huge, mega game with infinite possibilities to beat (insert half of biggest AAA titles here)" .
  • "Make us some music, we'll do the artwork/lore at later stage"
  • "It's gonna be PvP, make PvP music"

And I'm at the stage of having 8+ projects I worked on with absolutely NOTHING completed I could show to anyone(although there are 2 new that are somewhat promising). Never seen project being officialy abandoned, they are just stuck for many reasons, which usually resolves around "devs" working on it for 3 hours per week. Now I can't actually do much but just wait till something moves properly or someone pulls the plug on it.

The thing with me is that I have enormous amount of time to contribute, and sitting here and doing nothing specific makes me wish to have something more to work on.
I'm also beginning to think that there's no point in taking projects at early stages where devs don't have much to show, unless it's contract work for decent price.
That's why I'll rather produce tracks to my quite outdated now portfolio and aim for a bit higher quality projects.

If they're not going to pay, or are offering you royalties/profit-share... well, that's a different story; I'd be much more hesitant about working with them in this case, and would suggest that you only do so if they have some compelling reason why you should do so, such as:

  • Nothing to show on the current project, but a good track record of completing and releasing at least a couple of previous games.
  • A particularly interesting project, where the experience of working on it will be rewarding to you even if the project flops.
  • A dead-easy project that won't waste your time and efforts; offering an already existing work might be ok if you're feeling generous.


I second that.

#8 Ryman   Members   -  Reputation: 115

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 12 January 2012 - 03:55 AM

Hi!


I try to work with indie developers, but it's kind of hard to take some of them seriously when they have no work to show.

Those aren't "indie developers". They're wannabie developers. It's a big difference.

No matter how big or small they are; if they're serious about game development; they are (or at least, should be) aware that sound & music is one of the last stages. To quote the article "they're the last guys to touch the game"


Actually, I disagree that sound & music should be the last things to implement into a game. They both play enormously in the immersion of your world, so would you omit something like that until the final stages of your development?

One serious error that game developers often fall into is to not add music or sound to their game until the very end. A technique I learned from Kyle Gabler is to choose music for your game at the very beginning of your process, as early as possible - possibly before you even know what the game is! If you are able to choose a piece of music that feels the way you want your game to play, you have already efficiently made a great many subconscious decisions about what you want your game to feel like.

- "The Art of Game Design" by Jesse Schell

#9 Moritz P.G. Katz   Members   -  Reputation: 1053

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 12 January 2012 - 08:50 AM

Hello,

Matias Goldberg, on 29 December 2011 - 06:05 PM, said:
Hi!
Majestic_Mastermind, on 28 December 2011 - 05:41 PM, said:
I try to work with indie developers, but it's kind of hard to take some of them seriously when they have no work to show.
Those aren't "indie developers". They're wannabie developers. It's a big difference.

No matter how big or small they are; if they're serious about game development; they are (or at least, should be) aware that sound & music is one of the last stages. To quote the article "they're the last guys to touch the game"

Actually, I disagree that sound & music should be the last things to implement into a game. They both play enormously in the immersion of your world, so would you omit something like that until the final stages of your development?

Agreed.

It's not very common in the start-up scene, though, because the dev needs a good budget.
At the moment I'm working on a bigger project were I'm getting paid for conceptual work, similar to concept art. Feels so much better than pitching your music to a complete game, and enables you to talk about audio scripting etc.

Cheers,
Moritz

Check out my Music/Sound Design Reel on moritzpgkatz.de


#10 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4091

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 12 January 2012 - 09:37 AM

Actually, I disagree that sound & music should be the last things to implement into a game. They both play enormously in the immersion of your world, so would you omit something like that until the final stages of your development?


One serious error that game developers often fall into is to not add music or sound to their game until the very end. A technique I learned from Kyle Gabler is to choose music for your game at the very beginning of your process, as early as possible - possibly before you even know what the game is! If you are able to choose a piece of music that feels the way you want your game to play, you have already efficiently made a great many subconscious decisions about what you want your game to feel like.

- "The Art of Game Design" by Jesse Schell


The problem is when direction isn't solidified. It can become very easy to waste a good deal of time on assets that end up not matching the game. I've faced this many times and to an extend it's unavoidable. Projects will also change and adapt as the production moves forward. What I believe Jesse Schell is describing is having a musical goal or reference and NOT contracting out a composer to go ahead and create a track at the start of production. Those are two very different things. Very much akin to sampling a bunch of soundtracks from other media and picking out 3-4 pieces that the client feels best conveys the emotion and mood of the game. In other words place holder music. (Just as programmers use placeholder art until the art dept gets to it.) I agree with Jesse's quote and would advise any of my clients to do the same when they're beginning production. But if that same client approached me and want to hear the main theme draft of their next project without having anything to show me yet - I would tell them they're not ready for audio yet.

Also look at it from a economical point of view - if I charge per piece of music and the client has me write a piece of music at the start of production then realizes it no longer fits and needs a new piece - that client now has to pay for two pieces of music instead of just one. It can waste away budget simply because the client is eager to get audio into the game sooner than is needed. Add in recording live musicians for medium to large size projects and it becomes very obvious why most game projects wait until the narrative, cut scenes and art is all finalized before committing to recording full orchestras and/or musicians. It's very expensive to do that and you want to do it once.
Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

#11 Matias Goldberg   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3397

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 12 January 2012 - 12:05 PM

I was going to say the same that Nathan. He summarized pretty well.
I completely agree that sound & music play enormously in the immersion of your world; however games tend to change during production; sometimes the end result is far different from the original idea, and the mood & atmosphere of the music no longer matches the game's anymore.

May be a few pieces to use as "placeholder music" is a good idea like Nathan said, to see how it would fit/work; but that's all; otherwise you'll waste your efforts tremendously.




Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS