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Member Since 22 Feb 2006
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 08:48 PM

#5085887 "Random Action Theme" a new film-style action theme by me....

Posted by nsmadsen on 14 August 2013 - 01:01 PM

There's some nice ideas here but the production could be polished quite a bit more to give the song more impact and make it better align with current AAA-level game music. Some of your samples are quite weak and that's distracting. Also the string samples have a slow(er) attack than this style of music requires. I do love the direction however!


Hope that helps!



#5084268 cute and nasty game character voice (WARNING: language)

Posted by nsmadsen on 08 August 2013 - 05:12 PM

I'm struggling to see how this could be used in a game because this is more a performance. The thread title suggested some kind of narration/character driven voice over that could be used in games. So unless a project is looking for this exact kind of music... I don't see it being very useful, honestly. Add in the rough language and the fact that zero context is given (direction, goal, feedback desired, etc) and it's really hard to know how to respond.

#5084265 Game SFX packs

Posted by nsmadsen on 08 August 2013 - 05:08 PM

Most of the online free sfx websites I found offer some cheap amateur quality sound effects that I am not happy about.


It's rare to find high quality, free stuff. Check this guy's stuff out - http://www.gamedev.net/topic/645677-affordable-sfx-libraries-new-libraries-available/


Lots of great options and nicely priced as well. There are many other options out there too - Sound Rangers and Sound Dogs offer an a la carte method and then Sound Ideas has many libraries but they can get expensive quickly. 


Could you possibly hire a sound design from this forum to work with you? I think that's the best option. 


Hope that helps, 



#5081802 Eerie soundtracks

Posted by nsmadsen on 30 July 2013 - 04:28 PM

Sibelius is more about music notation. I would get a DAW (Logic, Pro Tools, Reason, Live, Sonar, FL Studio, etc) and begin working with 3rd party libraries that have a better sound. Not sure of your budget but ProjectSAM's stuff is right up your ally. 

Check out this demo using the library: 






Also Spitfire is a good collection of libraries that can make awesome orchestral mock ups as well. It may not be possible with this particular project but it would be a great idea to put these items on your list for possible upgrades in the future. 

#5081498 Eerie soundtracks

Posted by nsmadsen on 29 July 2013 - 11:20 AM

I just checked out a few of your links. You're on the right path but your current set of samples used are getting in your way. It's going to take quite a bit more production to make things sound more eerie. Right now, with the heavy focus on strings in (mostly) tonal writing - it's coming off more sad/somber than scary. 


Perhaps it would be best to combine some synths or drop the strings/orchestral feel altogether. If you're intent on making it an orchestral soundtrack then I think getting some better libraries would really, really help you hit the target!  Also in some cases making eerie music is less about melody (and formal song structure) and more about textures. 

Check out this track: 



Part of what makes it eerie is that it's NOT symmetrical and "normal" but instead unusual. 


Another great reference - a bit heavier on some melodic content:



And another: 



Take note of the percussion usage here. And how the strings go in and out of "tune" by playing clashing notes or doing bends. 


Hope that helps! 



#5081343 Weary Travellers [New Composition]

Posted by nsmadsen on 28 July 2013 - 09:06 PM

I like the percussive groove/intro but some of your patches feel like they stick out a bit. Especially when the strings come in - the production doesn't sound like it's being performed in the same space... or at the same time. The solo violin is really too dry. Considering adding some reverb and slight delay to help hide some of the MIDI-tastic elements of that track. 


Also, I felt the overall intensity and volume of the track remained pretty stagnant. Some tempo variations could also help. 


It has some great potential and foundation, just needs a bit more love on the production side! 

#5077196 Composer looking for help.

Posted by nsmadsen on 12 July 2013 - 02:37 PM

So does anyone have any advice on actually finding work in this field?


Put together an attractive, concise and easy to navigate website that features your work. There are many ways to do this so I'd recommend poking around various sites and seeing who attracts you and why. Then take some of those elements and incorporate them into your online demo. Your demo need not be super long - in fact the more concise the better. I've seen audio directors/managers browse online demos and it's amazing how little time you get. Sometimes it's 5-15 seconds. I like to think of the online demo as an introduction instead of a long, drawn out conversation. 


So, in short, take your absolute best stuff, put it into a format that is quick and easy to work with so someone can easily figure out who you are and what you're about. 


From there, attend conferences, be active in the industry, get to know people and become a sponge. Soak up all of the positive vibes and good tips you can find. Then just work-work-work at it. I've been building my network and career since 2005 and it takes a good while to get momentum going. But keep at it. The early years are the proving grounds but they can also be some of the most exciting! 


Hope that helps, 



#5077078 Composer looking for help.

Posted by nsmadsen on 12 July 2013 - 07:44 AM

There's a huge misconception in the entertainment industry that folks should work for free. Most other fields have very different approaches towards young workers. Aaron Marks discusses the working relationship in his gook The Complete Guide to Game Audio, which I'd recommend you pick up and read. Making it a tangible exchange helps solidify the working relationship. There's more on the line for both the contractor and the client - whereas working for free puts only the contractor at risk. I've also seen (and experienced) the low morale when it comes to working for free early in my own career. It's hard to get inspired and put in the long hours when you know the client is getting it all for free. Trust me. It may not feel like it at first but everyone has a line.


I've seen some developers actually prey out young(er) audio guys to get free work. Once that person starts to build up a resume and some credentials, that developer seeks out the next new face to get more free work. Of course, not every developer is like this. It happens in other fields too - especially film. I cannot tell you how often I've read ads where producers/directors will say they raised X amount of cash to film on a RED camera and got B actor and such but have zero money for audio work. Yet they're going to want Hollywood level quality.

The longer you work in this business, the better you'll get at spotting those projects that don't really have any clue what they're doing. Most often it's those projects where the lead or producer is making huge promises but cannot deliver anything tangible. Working for free only continues to devalue you and your work - as well as the audio industry as a whole. You could certainly charge really cheap rates and explain that it's a special discount while you're establishing yourself.


I've referenced this video plenty of times before but Harlan really lays it out perfectly (warning rough language):



There's also a great skit which outlines the various BS lines that we often hear but I'm having a hard time finding it.

#5076736 Composer looking for help.

Posted by nsmadsen on 10 July 2013 - 05:25 PM

There are many "getting started" threads and articles, some on this forum and others outside of it. But a really quick, high level scan of some basic concepts for game composers (and audio folks in general) would be:


  • Be nice! Be authentic! Be eager!
  • Constantly try to learn more about your craft. Get inspired by pros in and out of the game industry. Do A/B comparisons of your stuff with theirs and see where it's falling short or shining.
  • Networking is key. And networking is much more than just cold emailing. Strive to create relationships!
  • Know your craft. Scoring video games is very different from other forms of media. You need to understand these differences and how it changes your process/content.
  • Have fun! Passion and energy are contagious. If you're having fun at what you're doing then it rubs off on those around you.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. It's going to happen. Instead of beating yourself up about it (which sometimes can be my tendency) learn from it.
  • Don't sell yourself or your craft short. There will be folks that want your audio for free or "for credit" only. Avoid them. Make it an exchance, not a gift.
  • With Android and iOS there are more opportunities out there than EVER! So go out there and start working with teams now!

The how, when and what are parts that you need to study and dig deeper into each topic. I learned much of this on the job and I feel it's the best way to learn... at least for me. I've listened to your music and you clearly have some talent. What I'd do is spend some time learning better production techniques, investing in better gear (samples mainly) and keep on striving to get better and better.


Hope that helps,



#5076119 Sound Efx Designer - new to forums

Posted by nsmadsen on 08 July 2013 - 07:46 AM

Many of groovy's points I thoroughly disagree with and seemed like he was simply bashing my work.


No, Groovy wasn't bashing your work. He was critiquing it, which you asked for on your work. He was specific about what he felt was good and needed improving in your demo video. If he was bashing it, the feedback wouldn't be as elaborate. Bashing someone's one is usually much shorter like "this sucks" "just quit" etc. Groovy clearly wasn't doing this. Stop feeling attacked because, frankly, you're not being attacked. smile.png


The first video in fact was a first pass, my first attempt at game sound ever.


Nothing wrong with starting out and asking for feedback! This is a great step to getting better. But if that feedback is constructive, as Groovy's was, then you should work on your ability to recieve it. Trust me, I've worked with producers, directors who can be VERY blunt in their feedback. Sometimes I can even 100% disagree with their opinion of how to make my work "right." But that doesn't mean making a fight. That would just stall progress and make me look bad to the team. Instead, it's best to realize that something is off the mark and do some refining. Right now, to put it bluntly, you're coming off really defensive. That's not a good image for you, especially since you started this post asking for feedback on your work. In short, you need really thick skin to work in this industry.


So many people forget that game audio is much more than just making good audio.


and pay attention to melody? what kind of feedback is that?


And his point about pay more attention to melody - I felt the same thing. Your FF demo music started off really nice and had some good elements to it but at some points it felt like it started to wander around melodically, even harmonically. There was less direction and as a listener, I started to lose interest in those parts of the music. I believe that was part of Groovy's point. So what kind of feedback was that? It's GOOD, constructive feedback! It gives you precise points that could use some work and even a few tips on how to improve them.


I tried to find a way to delete this topic awhile ago, yet your forums won't let me. if you could delete this topic it would be appreciated


If you'd like, I can close this topic, sure. But there's no reason to delete this in my opinion.

#5073404 Looking a good place to find trailer music

Posted by nsmadsen on 27 June 2013 - 05:19 PM

Depending on your definition of "cheap" - I think the best approach would be to hire someone within your budget. That way you can collaborate with that composer and really get the best end product that fits your needs and vision. 


If that's not possible then google "royalty free music" and you should get many hits for libraries. Audio Jungle, Sound Rangers and Sound Dogs come to mind. 

#5071767 How to create sound effects quick and dirty?

Posted by nsmadsen on 21 June 2013 - 07:21 AM

Also check out: 








These sites offer a la carte style purchasing as well as bundles. You can get some great foundational sounds here to expand upon. If you don't want to use Audacity, which is open source, then you could use Reaper which is $60 for a license if you're making less than $20,000 a year doing this stuff. It's a solid program.  





#5061678 What do I need to know about sound

Posted by nsmadsen on 13 May 2013 - 09:52 PM

1. I haven't used it, but I've heard very good things about Reaper. It's free, so you might as well give it a try if you're interested.


Just FYI: Reaper is not free. 

#5061677 What do I need to know about sound

Posted by nsmadsen on 13 May 2013 - 09:51 PM

I have been making games for 8 years now and have advanced from 2D to 3D after two years and I have always taken sound for granted, even leaving it for the last minute.

I have now started work on my first commercial grade game and found that all the sounds I use are either licensed or of poor quality, now I want to learn how to make my own, but there are things that I need to know first:


First off, why not consider hiring an audio guy to do this for you? Not sure what kind of budget you have or if this is something you want to do so you can say "all content created by me" but if you're just needing better sounds, hire some one! 


1.) What free DAW has a easy to use user interface?


Easy is relative, especially since you're new to both audio production and DAWs. And you're wanting free and high quality. There are all kinds of trial or LE versions of programs out there. Depending on your computer (PC or Mac) give some of these a shot: 

- Pro Tools

- Logic

- Sonar

- Reaper

- FL Studio

- Vegas

- Reason

- Cubase


There are many more. Just getting a DAW doesn't mean you'll have everything you need to create great sounds for the game. I often create sounds by blending synths with library sounds as well as foley sounds I've recorded myself. You'll also need a decent audio interface/card and this depends on your set up again (i.e. laptop vs. tower, etc). 


I don't want to spend money on it if it turns out that I can't use it, and I already saw the one I want to buy in the 15 Good DAW's topic.


I hate to break it to you but it's rare that free and high quality go together. You get what you paid for... but I certainly understand your concern about buying something usable. This is why the trial demos, which nearly all (if not all) DAWs provide are so useful. My only concern is it can be hard to see what's usable when you're so new to audio, production, etc. 


2.) What sound file format would be best for PC games?


It depends on the audio tech being used as well as the medium. Is this a Flash-based game? Something like Unity is amazing because you can use high fidelity assets and then select the specs to export them out to. It also depends on the function of the audio - one hit sound effects (which are usually short) or long(er), streaming audio files? Does it have to loop? Etc. 


3.) What sound files are the largest per second and what sound files is the smallest.


Google audio formats to get into this because it's not just formats but also sampling rate and bit rate. Again, it really depends on the tech/engine being used and what your playing the game(s) on. Then it also depends on function of the audio assets (i.e. ambient files vs. music vs. one-hit sound effects, etc). 


4.) Where can I find good basic tutorials that can be applied on most DAW's?


Instead of tutorials that cover most DAWs, try out a few trials and see which DAWs strike your fancy. Then google tutorials on those programs only. I highly suggest Youtube - it's a wealth of info. It's also helpful to note that some DAWs do better at certain genres or types of audio than others. For example Live and Reason are mostly used for electronic, hip hop and a few other styles. Can your write orchestral music with Reason? Yep, you sure can. I've done it. But other DAWs may lend themselves better to orchestral writing. 


5.) Where can I find beginner,advanced and professional sound files to compare?


Not really sure. Besides, I'm not sure this will work for you because sound is subjective. What sounds good to you may not sound good to someone else. The better approach would be to find what sounds fit your game the best then playtest it a bunch to verify your target audience agrees with you. If not, change the game to make it score better. 


6.) How long dose it take to become a professional?


Highly variable. They say it takes something like 10,000 hours to become an "expert" at something. But a professional is really someone who gets paid to do something, right? And most professionals, myself included, are constantly learning and striving to become better. It's not like one just arrives and stop progressing. smile.png


7.) Are there any good study's on how sound effects on players?


There are tons. Often times these are play tests within large® video game developers who study how audio impacts a player's emotions/body/etc. I remember Ed Lima's study about how Doom 3's audio would impact the player. The question is... if these studies/tests are published or not. I'd check postmortems for things like that. 


8.) How much about DAW's can I learn in 60 hours spaced at 1 hour a day?


I really cannot answer. I don't know how quickly you learn. Again, as I said in the first paragraph, unless this is a personal goal it might be best to hire someone who's already done the studying and getting the right toolset together. 


9.) What are the do's and don't do's of making sound for games?


Number one rule: Make it sound great. As to how to do that - there are many methods! 


10.) Any thing I missed?


I will be grateful for any help, thanks.


Just remember to record foley you're going to need a good microphone as well as an audio interface. If you wish to record foley from outside your studio, you'll need a portable recording situation. Of course there are good libraries which can be a decent starting point. If you want to go the library route, or even a la carte method then check out: 






There are many more websites and resources. 

#5060261 What is the best way to get good sound effects?

Posted by nsmadsen on 08 May 2013 - 05:39 AM

It ranges really. I've seen as little as a few bucks are sound and up to $25-30 bucks per sound. There's no set standard, instead it depends on what you can negotiate. For example a guy with a bunch of triple A titles on his resume is going to most likely set his rates higher than someone with zero industry credits. The best thing you can do right now is begin to get bids on the project. This will give you much more insight.