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Member Since 22 Feb 2006
Offline Last Active Today, 01:05 PM

#5013955 Happy Holidays and Thanks!

Posted by nsmadsen on 24 December 2012 - 09:59 AM

Hey guys,


Short and sweet: I'm so thankful for everyone who reads, posts and contributes in other ways to the Music and Sound forum! I hope each of you have a wonderful season with your friends, family and loved ones!


Cannot wait to see what 2013 holds for game audio as well as gamedev!


Thanks again,



#5013185 Branching Into A More Professional Audio Sound

Posted by nsmadsen on 21 December 2012 - 11:44 AM

I've built my studio up over years and years. There's no way I could have afforded it otherwise. The great thing is you can often find good sales on sample libraries which should really help improve your sound. Even if you cannot find a good sale there are many, wide range sample libraries that can help you cover a good bit of ground to get a jump started. I'd recommend something like pairing the EWQLSO up with Komplete 8. Or even the Complete Composer Collection which is $900 (at the default setting) but gives you seven libraries to get going.

#5010052 Atmosphereic/Ambient Track [Free D/L]

Posted by nsmadsen on 12 December 2012 - 08:54 PM

:P I think we're splitting hairs here. When I offer critiques on pieces I do so in the form of positive feedback only. In other words I don't just type "I hate this" or "you suck." Just trying to get a feel for your intentions behind this post but offering up a piece for feedback is more than cool.



#5007085 office hours for musicians

Posted by nsmadsen on 04 December 2012 - 08:44 AM

Every in-house job I've held was salary. And Hodgeman is exactly right - the job entailed everything audio, from sound design to voice overs to music and implementation. It also included pre-production and production meetings with other depts. I was always required to work mostly on-site but at one company I had a nicer audio set up than they did. Once my boss got to know and trust me he'd often tell me to work from home if we needed a certain style of music that my home rig did better than the office rig. Most companies, at least at the start, will want you on-site. It can also present a licensing issue if employee A is producing company material on their own set up - but not all companies are concerned with this issue.

A trade off to working in-house is that everything you produce on company time and hardware is theirs. Even if they don't use it in the game - they own it. Some companies can be really laid back if you ask for unused cue X (usually the medium to smaller sized ones) but the larger ones can be more of an issue. When you work as a contractor, especially when you're completely off-site, this is less of an issue since you own the hardware/software and most freelancing contracts do not claim to own anything and everything you produce. If they do - either don't sign or charge 50X more than your usual rate!

As far as which is more common - I'd say the later these days. I know more freelancing, off-site composers than I do in-house.

#5006067 New to this site, I'd appreciate your opinion on some tracks I've rec...

Posted by nsmadsen on 01 December 2012 - 12:45 PM

Hey man,

First off, welcome!! I checked out a few of your tracks. Overall, you do a good job of creating atmosphere! Here are a few points for you to consider:

Something Wicked Comes:

0 - 47 is great. I especially like the piano.

The cymbal swell sounds pretty processed - like it was stretched or just a low quality sample. If this was intentional, cool. If it wasn't then consider replacing it. It jumped out to my ears because everything else up to this point was acoustic and realistic so a sythentic layer really jumped out at me.

Much of the mix seems to be static and center panned - consider moving things around to create more space and interest.

The guitar riff and the percussive element (sounds like a loop) at the change near 47 do not mesh well. The two conflict with each other creating an impression of sloppy rhythms.

I get what you're going for with the low strings but there's a ton of reverb on the strings and the attack is quite slow so it takes away from the impact.

For the build up/crescendo near 2:58, I'd consider also increasing the tempo dynamically to help create even more tension. Slowly building up the instrumentation definitely is effective but it can be pushed further!

Again - take a close look at some of the rhythmic loops you're using and seeing how they're jiving (or not jiving) with the other layers you're playing in.

There's some nice growth and changes in your piece so I definitely think you have a ton of promise. The production just needs a bit more polish to really let your music shine as much as it deserves. I'm glad you shared your work with us.



#5005695 Making of In Verbis Virtus "Main Theme"

Posted by nsmadsen on 30 November 2012 - 08:22 AM

Pretty cool stuff, thanks for sharing! Although I do wish the article was a bit more indepth about your actual process, allowing the reader to listen to how the various individual layers sound alone as well as combined with each other and your production approach. Not to nitpick though, I enjoyed the track!



#5001352 How much am I expected to integrate sound into a game?

Posted by nsmadsen on 15 November 2012 - 03:37 PM

Nate, what is FMOD? Is it an engine for the audio?

Yes, it's a middleware solution for audio. A fantastic program, too! Another option would be Wwise or Xact if you're working with MS projects. Some companies have their own proprietary engines as well.



#5001283 How much am I expected to integrate sound into a game?

Posted by nsmadsen on 15 November 2012 - 11:12 AM

When I was in-house it was part of my job to implement the audio as much as I could with the available tools. At first our toolset was really limited so there wasn't much I could do but later we pulled in FMOD and things really changed. Also our level editor toolset had matured to a point where we could really add some finesse to the audio. Now that I'm freelancing it varies even more. Sometimes I don't even get to implement any of the audio - I just "throw it over the fence" then try to provide as much feedback during testing as possible.

What I've learned over the years is that each team is very different and the toolsets they have differ too. As much as you can, be involved and have you hand in all things audio. I remember with one team things were so back logged that I actually started editing ActionScript in the front end (title screen, menu, character build, etc) myself. I knew the basic play or stop commands in ActionScript and fiddled my way through the code. I'd get a code review and test everything with someone who actually knew coding before checking it back in. Was that technically part of my job? Nope. But I was tired of waiting for simple hook ups to my sounds and just did it anyway. Plus it was kinda fun.

I'm rambling somewhat but my point here is game development is fluid. Sure you have the job description as it relates to HR and such, but once you're hired on - do EVERYTHING you can to make the audio awesome (and early and under budget if at all possible).

#4999930 Li Xiao'an - Online Portfolio

Posted by nsmadsen on 11 November 2012 - 09:35 AM

Your Boss Battle cue reminded me of many of the Final Fantasy cues - well done! I felt the choir was a bit oddly placed in the mix but the rest of the arrangement was pretty good. The low end could be brought up some but the musical aspects of the piece were solid. I enjoyed listening to it... made me want to kill a big, bad guy! What were you using for the choir?

Exploring the Plains was also nice - reminded me of Chrono Cross. I do feel like you could experiment more with the note velocities in the harp as well as play around with tempos and note placement so it's not so.... perfect all of the time. Humans don't play that perfectly so when writing with acoustic instrumentations I strive to make it as organic as possible. The term I usually use is humanistic.

Thanks for sharing!


#4999928 Sound Editing and dubbing for games

Posted by nsmadsen on 11 November 2012 - 09:26 AM

Top of the game: ProTools 10. Should go for about 700 USD if I'm not mistaken. This is a hollywood-level solution.
But you can do wonders with Adobe Audition CS6 or Nuendo 5.5 as well, which are about half that price.

Uh... Nuendo is a great deal more than $700. You can usually pick that up for about $1,700 or so but it's MSRP is around $2,400. http://www.sweetwate...detail/Nuendo5/ Perhaps you're mistaking Pro Tools HD versions, which can go up to $20K depending on the card set up you use.

Have you done sound editing before? I'm just asking because it seems like you are about to go on this task yourself and sound design is a very specific area and requires a lot of skill and experience.

Agreed! It sounds like you've either never done audio production or had very limited experience in it. I'm all for folks learning new skills but if you're looking for high quality audio for good bang for the buck (and at a faster turn around) then I'd highly suggest two options:

1) Hire a sound guy on here. Odds are you'll find someone who would cost about the same as it would cost you to purchase the software and the gear to record your source files (if you're making these from scratch).

2) Purchase royalty free sound effects from sites like http://www.soundrangers.com/ or http://www.sounddogs.com/.

You could even do both and have someone more experienced in audio do the complex sounds while you handle the simple sounds (like a button UI click) via the a la carte method. Of course if you're looking to create a game 100% by yourself, then that's understandable (and admirable). It really depends on what your goals and intentions are with this project.

Hope that helps!


#4999441 Sound Editing and dubbing for games

Posted by nsmadsen on 09 November 2012 - 03:56 PM

Are you on PC or a Mac? Do you want the "best" or are you looking for cheap? Are you looking to edit one audio file at a time or wanting to build multi-layered sounds? Do you want these sounds to be organic and realistic or are you wanting more specialized sound design?

#4998965 Rates: A Habit of Underpricing

Posted by nsmadsen on 08 November 2012 - 12:32 PM

First off, thanks for the kind words on my work! Appreciate it!

There is no set, standard rate across the entire industry but there are norms or trends. I've heard the "common" rate for exclusive rights can be as high as $1,000 - $1,250 per minute of music composed. I've even heard as high as $2,500. But for "normal" indie budgets this can quickly exceed what's realistic. So you have to focus on the average price point of the end product. A typical iPhone app isn't going to have the same price point as a PS3 title. This is why it gets tricky when discussing standard rates... plus, to my knowledge there's no mass email or publication going out to (non-union) composers saying "okay, now X is the new set rate." At least not yet.

It's hard to say what the average indie game producer(s) can pay these days because that label encompasses a much larger range of folks and projects. Before the app store and such, most indie game producers were smaller, non-major companies that still had a decent amount of dough. These days an indie game producer could be a programmer in a basement who pays the $100 dev fee to Apple and uploads his game.

in short - I've charged more than $600/min and I've charged a whole lot less. Many of the factors already discussed in this thread would explain why. Posted Image

Here's the contact page if you still need to speak to someone directly on staff about the Marketplace: http://www.gamedev.n...ut/contact.html

#4998103 ***READ THIS FIRST YO!*** Forum rules

Posted by nsmadsen on 06 November 2012 - 11:13 AM

Far be it from the newbie to suggest this, but as the Music and Sound forum is almost half locked classified ads, perhaps something stricter would help? Or perhaps just deleting the post and sending the user a private message to save space?

Your opinions and feedback are always welcomed! I'm choosing to keep them on the board because:

- some potential posters can read these closed posts and see that it's not the right spot. I do have some PM chats with posters when they have specific questions but leave the closed post public so others can (hopefully) see how the forum is moderated.
- there's still not enough traffic to really warrant keeping the board even more clean. Once traffic increases, I'll adapt my approach. But as such, I think we have plenty of space right now.

Thanks for your input!


#4997021 ***READ THIS FIRST YO!*** Forum rules

Posted by nsmadsen on 03 November 2012 - 06:05 PM

Done and done.

#4995897 Non Disclosure Agreement

Posted by nsmadsen on 31 October 2012 - 11:49 AM

Guys - I don't mind this discussion as it's still on topic. So no worries about being off topic, because you're not. Posted Image

First of all, nobody forces you to make all your content public. Just say "hey, I'm making this <short description> game, contact me if you're interested", you don't need an nda to do that.

Agreed. Too often teams/managers get excited or to eager to fill out documents instead of taking time to evaluate potential audio vendors with vague info. The initial evaluation should be focused on if my audio content/talents fit your needs, am I available and do the numbers work out for both parties. More specific, sensitive info can be shared later, once a vendor is selected and on board.

- Of course the nda is mainly about that person then revealing all of the content. Fortunately, our brains are quite capable of evaluating whom we can trust. If the other one is someone trustworthy, you can simply ask them to please not reveal anything and they most likely won't. If on the other hand the other one is someone out to screw you, they will do so with or without an nda, there's always a way.

Hmmm, not so much. Without an NDA it makes it harder to show a clear case of violating trust. For example if I over hear someone in a public place talking about a cool game project and I blog about this new, neat idea - have I violated that person's trust? I say no because the discussion was held in public, without any documentation and no shared expectation of privacy. Just asking someone to keep a secret often doesn't pan out and is poor business.

- The above is even more true considering that an nda is nothing but a piece of paper with a little bit of ink applied if you're not willing or able to enforce it. If someone actually breaks the nda, it will cost time, energy and money to actually hold them accountable for that. Even if you are willing to move time and energy from the gamedevelopment to the courtroom, being an indie-team, you most likely won't have the funding to pay a lawyer.

Could be but just because funds or available interest/time may be low, are you actually advocating indie projects simply ignore the common business practices and standards? That hardly seems appropriate. I agree with your first point regarding the timing but I disagree with your later points.

- "But what if someone steals my idea?". That is certainly the most-asked question in this context. And even though it's been said countless times, let's repeat once again: ideas are cheap. They're a dime a dozen and anyone working in gamedevelopment has more ideas in their head than they'll ever be able to produce. What makes a good game is the execution, not the initial idea. The only reason someone in indie would prefer to steal your idea instead of working together or making one of his own, is that they don't have any. But if that is the case, they'll hardly be capable of making that idea into a game any better or faster than you.

True, implementation is what maters but surely even you can agree having all of the legal documents in hand can make it much easier to prove malice/copying/cheating happened. Also the stronger the case, the easier it is to settle and not end up going to court in the first place. I'm not a lawyer but I've heard the amount/type of damages that can be sought change with what kind of documentation and set up is in place.

- The other main reason for NDAs is marketing. The trick with mystery-marketing however is that, while no one knows what the answer is, everyone knows that there is a 'mystery' (in this case, the content). The big industry can pull that off pretty easily, they can just push content into the media until everybody is sure to have heard about that at some point. Indie teams on the other hand do not have the budget for that and mainly rely on word of mouth advertisement, and it's just really hard to get people to say "I've seen this cool upcoming game. I've never heard of the guys who make it and I don't really know what it's about, but you should definitely check it out." Maybe there are examples where it worked and it would be great to hear of them, but most of the time, indie-gaming is still too small and at least I wouldn't know of any cases where that really worked on a large scale.

Wrong. An NDA is a mutually binding agreement where we can evaluate and "audition" each other. For example the NDAs that I sign state that I'll not release sensitive info on the company and it's project and they'll not release my info such as rates, test pieces I may have provided or other nonpublic materials I provided so they could help evalute me. Every NDA I've signed remained private and I never once say the company use my NDA as marketing. In fact for months and months no public discussion whatsoever took place. It wasn't until the project reached a certain maturity that marketing started putting out teasers and such - and that was related to marketing and PR not NDAs.

- Methods and standards have evolved in game design and continue to do so, but in it's core, it is a creative process. And like any creative process, it relies heavily on the dynamic within the team and the motivation of the individual members (even if money keeps them working, motivation is what produces quality). NDAs damage these dynamics by introducing yourself with two basic premises: Even though you might make a 180°-turn from outside the team to inside, the very first connection between the team members on which anything else is built will be distrust. Secondly, even before the new guy is joining, you define an unhealthy hierarchy: You are the boss and you alone decide the rules under which one might work with you. While I certainly don't say there shouldn't be any hierarchy at all, the role of the team leader should be a supporting one, not the bad boss that want's to control everything.

Interesting take but, again, I find fault with your logic. First off ANY job requires you agree not to share company secrets. This applies to jobs in and outside of the game dev industry. Secondly every single job I've taken on had a boss. Zero jobs have hired me on without at least one person to report to, who holds me accountable. Also having a clear hierarchy can help creativity instead of hurting it. I've been on teams where there wasn't a defined vision and there was weak leadership. That project ended up missing deadlines, lacked a coherent vision and morale fell drastically. This didn't help creativity, it hinder and blocked it. Folks often do best when there is a clear vision, a defined leader (or leaders) and a set standard.

While there might not be many that are higly opposed against ndas in indie-teams, the simple fact that they have to make quite an effort to only view the most basic content of the game and thus even consider joining the project is a huge inconvenience for many people when looking for a team. The result is that quite a few of them simply won't and stick with a project that tell's them what they're up to from the beginning instead, resulting in fewer that are even contacting you. Those that do contact you are then likely to contact the other teams with ndas as well, resulting in them having lot's of options which project to join. All in all, it will result in you having a much harder time finding members than you would have had otherwise.

I've never experienced this as both and employee or a freelancer.

- As Katz already said, this will also take away the exchange with other developers and the community. While many might do well enough without input from other developers, a quick glance at the gamedesign forum shows that most of the people that ask for advice there get tons of ideas they wouldn't have ever thought about on their own. Even more important might be that this doesn't apply to design-questions only, but also to tech-questions. So especially if someone on the team is inexperienced or trying out something new, they won't be able to ask "I'm trying to <do this>, how do I accomplish that?", making work much harder for them and lowering the quality of the product.

There are many interviews, articles and guides (often as post mortems) that show the good, bad and ugly behind a project's development. The only trick is they're often after the game is out... which makes sense because during development the team is too busy and still figuring stuff out. Also there are many ways to discuss problems and their solutions without violating NDA. I do it all of the time on here. It could just be me but I do not find NDAs a hinderence or harmful factor to the industry. In fact, I would encourage more people to behave like professionals so we have fewer clients expeceting free-yet-Hollywood-quality audio for their games. It would also help deter people stealing audio work or flaking out on their committments to the folks they hire for their indie projects.

- Finally, a game idea evolves and changes heavily during production. While it's always good to have a design document, an nda requires you to have a very detailed one so that as many of your ideas as possible are covered by the nda, and then reinforces the notion that those ideas are "worth protecting". This leads to a very static design process, where many deferring roads remain unexplored and lots of potential goes unused.

I'm not sure what NDAs you're signing or talking about but every NDA I've signed had a blacket clause that covered project X as well as a time frame. That allowed the game (and it's design) to change as needed.