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Punchey

Do you use MODs or something else?

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I'm trying to keep the music for a downloadable game below 300k, but the problem I've run into is that writing MODs is EXTREMELY user-unfriendly IMHO. I'm used to using tools like Sonar (Cakewalk), or Cubase. So it's a bit unnatural for me to try and write music through an interface that bears so much resemblance to a hex editor. Another problem I've run into is incompatability between various instrument file formats. If I find a tracker I can work with, it invariably doesn't support the instrument format I want to use (.iti for example). So my question is: Is there another size-efficient way to do music other than using MODs? or What are the absolute BEST, most professional tools out there for working with MODs? Thanks!

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There are really no "professional" MOD composition programs because MOD is an obsolete format. MODplug tracker is considered to be one of the best, though FastTracker and ImpulseTracker are still used. You might check out Renoise as well, which I think is going to be implementing piano roll functionality in the next release.

There is no other solution, besides using MIDI files.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
So then MODs are basically the only way to achieve that level of efficiency? I'm working on a project for a downloadable game, so download size is critical. We can't fit much music into the target 300k if it's mp3 or ogg, obviously.

The basic idea of MODs is very good and efficient, I'd just think someone would have taken the next step.

As for Renoise, the problem I've found with that app is that it only saves to its own native format. At least I couldn't figure out how to make it do otherwise...

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Well, MODs, S3Ms, ITs, XMs, etc.. yes. All basically follow the same concept of storing samples and notation and putting them together on the spot. Only other space-efficient format I know of besides MIDI.

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From memory, I think ModPlug Tracker has some rudimentary MIDI import capability. So, you can write your music using your MIDI software (via an attached keyboard, or the piano roll), import it into ModPlug, then assign the samples/instruments as needed.

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I would definitely go with MODs as a high quality - consistent source of music for shareware games.

Either MODPLug Tracker or MadTracker may be your best bet.

Renoise is useless as a "standard" tracker. It's specifically written to make use of VST instruments + effects.

An ENHANCED MOD format which will save even more space is M03's.

An M03 is a mod with mp3/ogg compressed samples. This allows you to use high quality samples 44kHz 16bit to achieve the same size as if you had used 8bit 22kHz WAV files. BASS Engine is the only one I know of that supports M03. It will convert IT, s3M and XM to M03 format. You will require m03enc to encode the mod files.

MODs are NOT obselete. Believe my word on that. They may be a little dated, but definitely not obselete and have their place in the scheme of things.

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I tried importing MIDI with MODPlug and got nothing but grief. It actually would screw up my notes, and would get some of them off rythm.

The two main problems I've run into here are:

1. Importing MIDI
2. Creating sample sets (instruments)

Every tool I've tried using screws up one or both of these. Surely there are more reliable, professional tools available for this type of format? I mean, you're right, it has its place and appears to be in wide use. So what's the deal with all the available tools being so crappy and unreliable?

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That's the thing. Midi composers trying to create mods WILL find it hard. To create a decent sounding mod takes usually 1-2 years of practice. It's one thing to write music with just midi notes, but another to mix, balance, and implement effects you take for granted with Sequencers in a MOD. This is what makes good mod composers stand out.

The problem with importing midi is that midi is MESSY. Timing is everywhere.

Mods are Extremely structured. Think of them as a perfectly quantized step sequencer (ie like a drum machine).

You need to get your midi cleaned up to get it imported.

1) Extra Polyphony in one track will eat up channels in a mod. You need to ensure that if you are only using 3 polyphony for piano, to keep it ONLY at 3 polyphony at any time in the song. Best way to do this is to split to 3 monophonic tracks.

2) Sloppy timing = messy importing. You need to HEAVILY quantize your midi START and END times so that notes start and stop on your selected smallest value. (16ths, 32nds) whatever.

3) MIDI FILE: Save as MIDI Type 1 (type 0 plonks only has 1 channel and MODS will plop notes everywhere).

4) Before saving, ensure that Tempo is set to fixed and 125 bpm. Modplug likes to work at a default of 125bpm.

This will only get the MIDI into Modplug. It will then take you a while to load up suitable sample patches, tune the samples, create envelopes, perhaps multi-patch instruments, figure out loop points (if you haven't done this in the sample editor).

Then you have to PAN, and re-edit all the volume settings per note, because perhaps you did it too quiet in your sequencer.

The mod will also be not optimised.. it will have huge gaps between notes (specially when you use 32nd notes, and 64th notes). This will eat up your file size quickly.

ALl in all, converting MIDI to MOD is a PAIN. In projects where I have had to convert midi to mods, I find it easier to do it by ear and re-create the mod step by step. I get a cleaner, efficient, and better sounding song.

Hope this at least gets you on the right path to try to work with your midi data.

Best of luck!

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Quote:
Original post by Punchey
Surely there are more reliable, professional tools available for this type of format? I mean, you're right, it has its place and appears to be in wide use. So what's the deal with all the available tools being so crappy and unreliable?


Well, no. The MOD format and its derivatives date back from the demo scene, and were made and invented by hobbyist programmers for the most part. 'Professionals' used MIDI and so all the expensive development has been done that way. Consider the average cost of pro music tools, and you can see why people are willing to pay so much for Sonar or Logic. In turn that explains why those tools are so well developed and supported.

That sort of money just isn't available for people working with MOD files, and therefore also not available to people who write the tools. The demand was never there.

On the other hand I'm surprised there isn't some sort of stripped down Fruity Loops format that can be redistributed used in games.

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yjbrown:
I think I did everything you listed, except that I had started at 100bpm instead of 125. I can see that causing some problems maybe, but I don't think it would have actually changed some of my notes as happened to me... but who knows?

I quickly realized what you were saying about just re-doing the song in MOD native instead of converting it from MIDI. Problem is for me, from the creative side of things, the editing interface for MODs (the hex editor-looking columns) really inhibits my creative juices from flowing. It's just not friendly at all. And if there is this great need for highly optimized music formats in games, as there is, then why hasn't someone improved the format more? I mean, MODs seem WAY too restrictive. I mean, often you don't want a heavily quantized piece. Sometimes you want subtle irregularities in timing. But I guess that's why the MOD scene has always been primarily the domain of techno-ish music. Certainly not something as rhythmically "sloppy" as blues.

Kylotan:
I totaly agree there ought to be a Fruity Loops type of thing available. Heck, how hard would it be to take a simple sampling engine, like is used for Cakewalk or something, and concoct a simple file format that combines MIDI with samples? This could easily be used in games, and would be LOTS more flexible than MOD. I mean, it's already been done from a technical standpoint. It's just taht nobody's combined the two thing into one (MIDI sequence data and samples together).

But I disagree that there isn't enough money in the industry. Downloadable on-line games is a huge industry, with lots of cash flowing about.

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