It is certainly possible to have separate versions of your SFX that match the keys of the various background musics. That said, it's improbable your programmer would want to take the time or resources to support that.
As mentioned, you might get the programmers to be able to duck the music when you play sfx
But is it possible your music is just mixed too high?
Another thought-- re-orchestrate your music so it isn't quite so dense ("big" is the word you used). One of the challenges in music for media is making sure the music leaves enough room for the SFX. I recall a talk by the team who did Star Trek III-- at one point everybody is on the Genesis planet which is is full of volcanos and earthquakes.. The sound designer talked about he and the composer would frequently meet to discuss the overall audio for the film. For that particular scene, he knew he'd have lots of low frequency rumblings, boulders crashing, etc. So the composer didn't write much for the string basses or low brass for that scene, which left room for the low frequency sound effects...
My question, then, is...how do they do it? Is there any one language that is easier to work with to get these sort of audio analysis results? Or any one library, for that matter?
Generally, the first thing games do is change the music from "time domain" (i.e. a normal wave) to "frequency domain". Time domain is what a normal wave file is-- a mapping of changes in air pressure with time, which is what sound is. Frequency representation is an alternate way of describing sound in terms of its frequency components. Do some google searches on "frequency domain representation of sound", or "time domain vs frequency domain", etc.
There is a well-known technique for transforming a sound from time domain to frequency domain called the FFT, Fast Fourier Transform. once the sound is in frequency domain, you can do things like look for lots of bass, areas of high-frequency etc. You can find source code by searching online for FFT. Usually this is done in 'C'.
Another (time-domain) technique these games use is called auto-correlation. That's typically done for beat detection.
Getting much more into it would take a lot more than can be done in a forum posting, but searching those terms I highlighted should give you a bunch to chew on...
One other hugely important thing is what format they want you to deliver the sound in. Is it straight PCM, or does it need to be compressed? Getting smooth loops in a compressed sound is a whole 'nother ball of wax.
If straight PCM, does their system support loop points of the type Samith described? If not, they'll need to write some code to do it.
Yea, getting smooth loops, whether for music or ambiance is quite tricky, and one of the interesting challenges of game audio.
One other trick is to create two semi-long loops that aren't the same length and tell the programmer to start playing them at the same time. If (for example) one is 11 seconds and the other is 13 seconds, the resulting loop will be 143 seconds long (11x13)*. An advantage of that method is that the sounds cover up each other's loop points...
Regardless of what technique you use (IK-Sound or Samith), first check with the programmer to make sure that they are able to play back the sound as you intend
*If you remember your middle-school math, you want the lengths of your loops to be "relative primes" with each other.
When I read that I didn't actually have to do anything to ensure that my work was copyrighted, I was a little skeptical- is it really that simple?
It is and it isn't... It is that simple in that, by law, as soon as a creative work is put into tangible form, it is automatically copyrighted. I.e. the copyright of a creative work belongs to the creator as soon is it's no longer just in their head.
it's not simple if you ever need to prove that youcreated it and when you created it. Officially registering it can make proving that case easier should a dispute arise.
Also, if you every want to sue someone over it, then you must register it.
At that time, I spoke with them both and they both gladly agreed that they would relinquish their rights to the game (even the code that they’d both worked on) so that I could continue development with new partners in the future.
Do you have any of that in email? That would help refresh their memories ...
- develop solid, lasting relationships with people working in the industry. (Networking)
- pitch my company's services to industry leaders, producers, publishers, and developers.
- settle deals and help my company get the development process kickstarted with our clients.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these are mutually incompatible goals.
You may find it difficult to begin the process of developing "solid, lasting relationships with people working in the industry" if your actual motivation is to sell them services.
Not to say that trying to settle deals isn't a good thing, but it isn't the best way to start long relationships with people in the industry.
I would take tom's suggestion "Join the local IGDA chapter" one further-- Join and become active. And not just to make sales, but to genuinely try to help others out. "Help" doesn't mean "look how my software/services can "help" make your product better." Help means doing something for someone else with no expectation of something in return-- connect two people you've met who might be able to work together. Volunteer to take minutes at the IGDA meeting, stay and clean up after the "mixer" event, etc.
I'd also suggest networking with other than "high quality studios"-- games is a small industry and the little guy you blow off (because his studio isn't big enough) may well be the person you're trying to sell at a "high quality studio" next year.
You don't provide enough info to really be able to make a recommendation.
Do you ever have any intent to make your engine work outside of Windows (iOS, Android, Mac, etc...)?
presuming 'no', what is your target game developer? if's indy or small developers without a lot of budget, then sticking with the free stuff (XAudio2 if you're on Windows) may be the best way to go.
If you're looking at selling this to sophisticated game developrs, then you'd want to make sure you engine easily integrates with the advanced, high-level audio tools/API's from FMod and/or Wwise.
A simple API like XAudio2 or DirectSound is ok if all the game needs to do is play wave files in response to game events. But that is considered extremely basic these days and note really sufficient for all but the simplest of titles
You also keep mentioning that you don't play any games lately. That really isn't a problem.
I'm going to disagree a bit with frob (yikes...his reputation is over 10,000!)..
As far as doing the actual work, there is some validity to that. But in terms of networking or even interviewing, playing games shows you're passionate about the industry. Often people want passion as much as they want skill. It will let you actually engage in a protracted conversation with a developer where otherwise the conversation would have lasted 3 sentences.
When I was at Microsoft, it wasn't uncommon at all for us to suddenly ask a candidate during an interview "So...what games are you playing?" Someone coming up empty on that wasn't necessarily disqualified, but it certainly didn't help them stand out.
I've just realised GDC Next (Nov) is sooner than GDC (March next year). How do you think it would compare in terms of my aims - i.e wandering around with a stack of CD's trying to meet the right people? Would the same companies be likely to be present at both?
That's a hard question. GDCNext, being new, is a bit of an unknown. It won't be nearly as big as GDC in March
GDCNext has no "Audio Track" (that's one of the reasons I put GameSoundCon right next to it).
So the downside is that there are no audio sessions to go to or audio people to meet. Of course, the plus side would be that there aren't 300 other composers "wandering around with a stack of CD's" to compete with.
GDCNext is also co-located with another new conference called AppDev which is for more general app developers than just games.
As far as content/learning is concerned, you would get more out of GameSoundCon/GDCNext than GDC. GDC sessions generally assume a few years experience in the game industry, whereas GameSoundCon has a series of sessions specifically for composers/sound designers from Film/TV, etc to educate them about games and also has some hands-on training in game audio tools. In fact, composers who went first to GameSoundCon and then on to GDC have often told me they would have felt lost in a lot of the sessions if they hadn't gotten the background at GameSoundCon.
You'd also get to know the speakers better and have a chance to talk with them by going to GameSoundCon specifically because it's so much smaller.
But as far as overall networking is concerned and getting the "vibe" of the game industry, GDC in March is a hands-down winner. (Here my disclaimer is that I sit on the GDC Advisory Board).
As much as I'd love to say "Go to GameSoundCon and GDCNext", if you could only do one, you would probably get more out of GDC in March. Of course You could always do both ;)
Finally, we do have a deal with GDCNext; if you attend GameSoundCon, you get a free "EXPO" pass to GDCNext/AppDev. That gets you onto the show floor and to the GDCPlay events, but doesn't let you attend any of the technical sessions.
wandering around with a stack of CD's
As someone on the receiving end of this, most of the audio directors I know these days don't take CD's at shows anymore. Aside from the fact that they're a pain to have to carry around, when they are, they are often just left in the hotel room or discarded. Not because we don't have the best of intentions, but just because its hard to find the time to listen to them.
Definitely have contact information, biz cards with direct web links to your demos,etc. But a CD is also kind of old fashioned these days ..
It's very common for US game companies to hire composers all over the world.
GDC is a must-attend if you're serious about doing games. It's a tremendous networking resource, provided you're not a wallflower.
Do you like games? That can be a big plus. It's much easier to network and hold a conversation with a developer at GDC if you know and love games, know what's current, and have opinions about them. Do you think Speilberg would want someone scoring his film that hadn't seen a movie in 10 years?
Also, apologies for the plug, but on November 3-4 in LA, there is GameSoundCon, a conference and seminar specifically for composers and sound designers who want learn more about doing music and sound for video games. There are a ton of differences between doing game music and doing film music. Big disclaimer: I run GameSoundCon. Also, there's a discount for people who read GameDev.net (if you go to the music and sound forum, you'll see it).
GameSoundCon is just ahead of a new conference from the GDC people called GDCNext also in LA on Nov 5-7.
As frob mentioned you should look into the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), a non-profit group that many professional and aspiring game composers belong to. They occasionally put on events, talks, or just social get togethers. They also host the annual GANG Awards each year at GDC, which recognizes accomplishment in game music and sound. Another disclaimer: I'm President of G.A.N.G. so may be biased.
Don't be afraid to go after some smaller games-- even medium sized facebook or iPhone games can have audio budgets in the low-mid 5 figures. It's not the half-million dollar (or more) audio budget of a big AAA game, but they also take one tenth the time to do.
Feel free to email me if you have specific questions about either GameSoundCon or GANG. I'm easily google'able. (though please note that I did not win the Nobel Prize for work in Astrophysics a couple years back--that would be the other Brian Schmidt)