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Member Since 18 Sep 2010
Offline Last Active Oct 13 2016 03:31 PM

#5308160 Trying to get into commercial composing. How much should I charge for my music?

Posted by on 26 August 2016 - 09:33 PM

I paid $400 for my samples and DAW, why should I give my music away for so cheap?


I realize that good samples can be pricey.  Unfortunately, you are competing with composers who have spent thousands on their rigs: Computers, $2-4k worth of sample libraries, breath controllers, etc.  Or even composers who, for their demo reels, paid the $ to hire an orchestra or have some live instruments to play on their demos.


You are correct in that your compositions are good. But many (most?) game developers won't hear past the mediocre production values due to your sample libraries. That may not be 'right' but that's pretty much the way it is. So you may lose out to a 'worse' composer, but who has better production (samples).


One thing you might want to look at that's relatively inexpensive is to try out "Composer's Cloud" by east west. You can pay by the month, and there is a 30 day free trial.



Get a couple pieces in really good shape with your existing samples, and then signup for the trial version. Youll have to spend some time learning the library (learning how to use a sample library can be like learning an instrument--it takes some practice to make it sound good). At the end of the 30 days, you'll have a couple of really good demos. And you know that when you get a gig, you can always pay $30 ($15 if you're a student) and have all those sounds again for only as long as you need them.


(Note: I am not affiliated with East West in any way)


Good luck!  I challenge you to re-post the music you posted above, but re-recorded with EW composer cloud samples!


#5307215 Video game music

Posted by on 22 August 2016 - 10:04 AM

Start by reading the "Starting your career as a composer-sound designer (FAQ and answers)" entry that Nathan has pinned to the top of the group...

Give that a good read, then come on back with specific questions.


"how should I start my video game music endeavors" is a REALLY broad question :).. 



#5301848 Dynamic sound effects

Posted by on 21 July 2016 - 06:15 PM

All the techniques you describe are pretty bread-and-butter game audio techniques and are well-handled by tools like FMOD or Wwise.


You can do much of it in unity, but it will be quite a bit more work, since you're have to hand-code up what's in essence a (very simplified) FMOD/Wwise type engine.


If your games development budget is small, those tools are very low cost (or free) and would likely save you several programmer-days worth of work.

#5301835 Gamesoundcon Adds Audio For Virtual Reality Sessions

Posted by on 21 July 2016 - 04:49 PM

Hi Game Dev community!


I'm happy to offer a 10% discount off GameSoundCon registraton. You can use code, GAMEDEV100 to get 10% off online registration.


We've expanded this year adding an entire day on Audio for Virtual Reality


In addition to the new VR sessions, GameSoundCon features

Game Audio Essentials

  2 days of "all the basics" of game audio's creative, technological and business challenges

Game Audio Pro

  2 days of sessions  "for the experienced professionals"

Hands-on training in Wwise and FMOD Studio

  2 more dedicated rooms for lectures and hands-on with 2 of the leading game audio design tools.


Plus 'speed mentoring'-- Bring your best 60 second demo for critique and industry advice.


We have over 20 industry leading speakers including:

Gordy Haab (Composer, Star Wars Battlefront)

Paul Lipson (Owned the "Halo" Franchise until his recent departure from Microsoft)

Becky Allen (Plants vs Zombies and other EA/Popcap hits)

Marcin Przybyowicz Composer of the multi-award winning music for "The Witcher" series


Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or visit www.GameSoundCon.com


GameSoundCon is Sept 27-28 on Los Angeles, CA


Thank you!

#5301834 Should I Learn How To Use Wwise Fmod Etc?

Posted by on 21 July 2016 - 04:40 PM

Knowing how to implement can give you a big 'leg up' over competition, so I'd say that it's worth getting at least a bit fluent in Wwise and FMOD.


Now if you told me that you're a composer, and you can (truthfully) say that in a room of 1000 top composers in LA you're in the top 5 (literally comparing yourself to people like Bear McCreary,Michael Giacchino, James Horner, etc. then don't bother with FMOD, Wwise, etc. Just focus on creating excellent music.


Knowning FMOD/Wwise will not only give you a leg up (a lot of studios require or strongly recommend it), but it will also let you put out a better product and help make the game better

#5292973 Process of audio dev for games in 80's-90's?

Posted by on 22 May 2016 - 09:13 PM

In these cases what would a "System" mean? Unless you were just referring to the Console's "Sound Operating System" at the beginning, as if you were saying "Writing to" the sound operating system. In those sentences I'm comprehending it as something like a program written for the composer to help them compose music under the limits of the console, or something along the lines of that. I apologize for my confusion


Yes, I was just referring to the "Sound Operating System" (although the SOS was something that game developers generally had to write themselves-- the consoles didn't come with one, for the most part.
It is pretty confusing.. the SOS runs on the console itself, and it interprets data files to control the synthesizer.  


Basically I was asking if there was a way to simulate/emulate the sounds of the console's sound chips on the computer being used for development. With that "Special MIDI Interface" did you hear the sounds resulting from the key presses straight out of the SNES, with it being plugged into a TV/Speakers or was it also plugged into a computer with the sounds going into it so you could hear them from that?



No, there were no 'emulators' that would run on a PC to let you hear what the sound chip would sound like.  This was 1990, when a state of the art PC was a 30Mhz--computers these days are literally a thousand times more powerful when you consider clock speed, multi-core and vector instructions. :)
"VST" wouldn't be invented for another 6 years.

Yes, you could hear the results of pressing on a MIDI keyboard and hear the results coming right out of the SNES.

When we finally got that working, it was a great boon to productivity (before that we had to do a lot of file copying--using floppys, and run some other magic to make the SNES make sound).

#5292548 Process of audio dev for games in 80's-90's?

Posted by on 19 May 2016 - 06:23 PM

I did music and sfx for quite a lot of of Genesis, SNES games back in the day ... I'll see if I can answer your questions--sorry for the very lengthy reply!
-> So from what I understand, on those consoles, they had to "code" the music/sound while programming the game, typing in certain codes to make certain sound.
A game system would include a custom-written "sound operating system."  That is some computer code that gets incorporated into the game that would read lists of "musical" commands and then send them, at the right time, to the synthesizer chips to make them make sound. These musical commands were generally stored as ascii text files that woudl look like this
   patch Bass91
   volume 22
   note C2,30
   note c3,30
   rest 60
   glis c3,g4,60
   patch BrassSynth22
   volume 3
   note g3,15
   slur e3,15
So the "coding" (actually writing computer programs) was done once--to write the Sound system. AFter that, anyone would create these "notelist" files could write the music, given some semi-technical instruction.
-> But I heard even in those days, actual instruments were involved in the development, mainly synth keyboards.
Sometimes. It depended on the composer. SOme games didn't use notlists like I did, but used MIDI data. (I personally found MIDI data to not be very space efficient, so I didn't use it. it also didn't match the way I happen to compose). Those composers would compose in MIDI, save the midi file, and be incorporated into the game which would then be used to drive the synth chip
-> So the question there was did they just have composers make music with those instruments then record them (Tapes or on computers?) and hand them to whoever was writing the game's code for them to listen to it so they could translate it step by step, matching the notes played in the recorded music into the best batching sound making code lines the console could do?
Not really. As I mentioend above, once you have a programmer write a system, then the composer/sfx person doesn't necessarily need to be able to write comptuer code to write the music for the game.
That said, there was one game where I was hired to do just that-- I was given someone elses music and asked to implement it into a game system. That was actually for a playstation game, but the developers didn't realize until they had all their music composed that they coudn't fit the music AND the 3000 lines of dialog all on the CD, so they had to use the PS synthesizer chip (which was very similar to the SNES one, actually). 
-> Or did they somehow connect their keyboards to a workstation computer to map the keyboard keys to play different sounds from certain console codes on the computer?
Not quite sure I understand that quesiton. But, for example, for SNES games I did, we designed a special MIDI interface to the SNES (it went to the cartridge slot). That would let me play a note on the keyboard, and have it play from the synth chip in the SNES itself.
-> It must of been hard if they had to translate the music's notes step by step, were they able to write their own software to help convert the music?
It actually wasn't that bad.  I actually used to compose my music long-hand, on music manuscript paper (with a pencil and eraser). Then when I was happy with it, I'd start up a text editor (my fav was called 'brief') and transcribe the music from my music paper into the notelist format I gave an example of above. I got to be pretty fast at it.
-> I'm also wondering if the case was any different on Genesis, or other consoles with FM chips. Was it possible to use any of those FM synths like Yamaha keyboards from the 80's to compose straight to the Genesis's sound chip since they were both FM based, or would that composed FM music still need to be translated indifferently?
For a number of practical reasons, it didn't work that way. The synthesizer in the Genesis was differnet from the most popular keyboard (the DX7). 
FOr the Genesis, we woudl have special "Genesis sound chip" editing progrmas that would let us play with some of the parameters of the sound chip. when we found a sound we liked, we'd be able to save all the parameters that defined that sound, and then give it a name (for example, BrassSynth22, like in my example above).
For the SNES, since it used a "sample playback" engine, we could create our own sounds by recording actual instrument sounds, and then 'looping' them (makign them so they would play for an arbitrarily long time, even though thte sound itself was only a few tens of milliseconds long). Then we'd translate those sounds into the particular SNES format, again using a custom written software tool.
-> As you can tell, I'm probably overthinking this so hopefully this wouldn't be too hard for anyone to explain. I'm all ears here, If you happen to have stores of composing music and sound for video games taking place in the time frame I described, I'd be really interested in hearing them and it would probably help me gain the idea.
You're not overthinking at all.
The composition  and sound design workflow was really quite an issue back in those days. A lot of software developoment work often went into trying to make it easy for a non-programmer to be able to write music for those games. We would spend a lot of time refining the sound system software to add features and improve workflow. Back then a lot of us who were writing the music and doing the SFX were also the people who would program these sound systems, so we had a pretty good idea of where the pipeline bottlenecks were..
A few years ago, I wrote a gamasutra article on some of these techniques you might find interesting. http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/BrianSchmidt/20111117/90625/Designing_the_Boot_Sound_for_the_Original_Xbox.php

#5285164 Dealing with unstable contractors?

Posted by on 04 April 2016 - 08:07 PM

Another recommendation when dealing with contractors who don't speak English very well... Use very simple sentence structure and vocabulary. "It is quite possible you misunderstood my reasons for clarification" is pretty tough vocab for a non-native speaker..

Simpler is: "I think you did not understand me."  

I learned this (the hard way) when I did a lot of work with Japanese game companies. It may sound very harsh and abrupt to our ears, but it is far less likely to be mis-understood.


And, yes, unless it is crystal clear that you're asking for a 'demo' (which has been pointed out is not without some controversy), it could easily cause some hard feelings.


That all said, the advice from frob, etc is spot-on. Best to just let this go and let it die down

#5259810 Which to learn first: Wwise or FMOD?

Posted by on 30 October 2015 - 05:05 PM

I've been giving this some thought. Where would be a good place for a novice to start on audio coding? 



I would start with C# on Unity.  It's a pretty easy language, and the tutorials on the Unity web site are pretty good.


Now, if by "audio coding" you mean "I want to be able to write my own EQ's and DSP effects," then you'd want to learn C++ (and a lot more..).


A good resource can be your local community college-- look for intro to programming courses.

#5259640 Which to learn first: Wwise or FMOD?

Posted by on 29 October 2015 - 05:15 PM

Got my first job mostly because I know how to code pretty well for a junior sound designer.



Hi Valoon-- can you ping me offline (brian at gamesoundcon dot com)?  I'd love to get more of that story.  It's something I've seen in the industry, have explained to people, but another  specific example is always good!



#5259275 Which to learn first: Wwise or FMOD?

Posted by on 27 October 2015 - 09:15 AM

Slight disagreement with CCH...


A lot of games don't use any middleware, so it's important to learn the concepts behind what the tools have to offer as much (or moreso) than the tools themselves.


That said, since your question was "Which to learn first" (and not just "Which to learn"), I'm going to say FMOD.. Get familiar with it, and then move on to Wwise.


The reason is that FMOD's somewhat more popular for smaller or indie games than Wwise (according to the GameSoundCon Audio Industry Survey).  Their pricing is a bit more indie friendly than WWise's, which may be why it's used a bit more.


But definitely learn both-- The thing with games is that it's not up to the sound designer/composer what middleware will be used; it's up to the game developer.

#5258751 Aspiring audio for games producer here...

Posted by on 23 October 2015 - 05:24 PM

Small plug..  I was interviewed by Electronic Musician mag on this about a month ago:




Networking is key to working in game audio. You want to build personal relationships with people in the industry-- personal relationships can take time to make, but they will serve you very well in the long run.


I don't know where you live, but if you're in CA, right this very moment, indiecade is going on in Los Angeles.  .  GameSoundCon is a week after that, also in LA.  GDC in March is a must-attend. 


You might also be interested in this survey of game audio professionals on the state of salaries, how they got their last gig, contract terms, etc.


(edit..fixed a link that this forum didn't like)


It's also possible to a certain extent to 'network' online.  facebook groups like Game Audio Network Guild, Game Audio Denizens, Video Game Composers and Sound Designers, etc are all good places.  One note there, though.  The very last thing people want to see in those groups are "Hey, check out my cool track" posts.  If (when) you join these communities, you'll gain respect by contributing to the conversation, not to polluting it.


I'd also make sure you're set up to do SFX work as well.  If you look at that survey, a huge percentage of people in games do both music and sound design.

Smaller studios (where you're likely to make your start) are more likely either to only have a single audio person or no audio person, and use only contractors.  In that case, make sure that you have both music AND sound design skills. 


And re-iterating previous good advice above.  Only work for free if others on the team are working for free--i.e. a student project or a hobbyist project.  Note that "for free" might mean "for no cash"--i.e. maybe you can barter your music/sound design for a new logo, etc.  

#5256259 Reducing the number of octaves in a song

Posted by on 08 October 2015 - 01:08 PM

Awesome project...


As a first quick pass, I'd suggest your MIDI parsing routine just force the pitches into the range of your glockenspiel by doing an octave transpose.

It would sound a bit strange on some pieces (i.e it wouldn't make a 'complex aesthetic judgement'), but would let let all the notes be played and it would have the benefit of letting you give it any MIDI file.

The alternative would be to just ignore out-of-range notes.


For example



if (NotePitch > MAXGLOCKPITCH) {       // are we out of range, too high?

   While (NotePitch> MAXGLOCKPITCH) do {  // yes, keep transposing down an octave until we're in range.

      NotePitch -= 12;      // transpose down an octave



if (NotePitch < MINGLOCKPITCH) { // are we out of range, too low

  While (NotePitch < MAXGLOCKPITCH) do {  // yes, keep transposing UP an octave until we're in range

      NotePitch += 12;    // tranpose it up an octave



// at this point we have a valid NotePitch within range of the glockenspiel

#5256256 GameSoundCon 2015 discount for gamedev.net readers?

Posted by on 08 October 2015 - 12:58 PM

Yes, there is!

The code, GAMEDEV100 will knock $100 off registration.


You can register online at www.GameSoundCon.com




#5255043 Best free software for producing movie-like music?

Posted by on 01 October 2015 - 02:30 PM

One thing to note (and first of all, I think it's awesome that you're a game developer writing their own score!)..


Even with a "great" library, it takes practice to make the music sound real.  The best libraries have various control parameters, alternative articulations, that all need to be programmed (or better, performed) in, and practicing with your virtual orchestra makes a big difference in the final sound.


In fact, I've heard some great "virtual orchestrators" make really convincing music even with so-so libraries, and I've heard less practiced composers make  music that sounded virtual even with the most expensive libraries.