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Forestknight25

emulating retro sound hardware for new game

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Me and my friend are making a 2d, sprite-based game designed to combine the best aspects of early-90s gaming and modern gaming. One thing we want is retro-style music, and both synthesized and sampled sound effects. I don't know the exact sound hardware I've been wanting to replicate, but whatever it is, DOSbox emulates it perfectly. I think it's either Ad-Lib, Gravis Ultrasound or a Sound Blaster-something or other. If you've ever played The Incredible Machine (1992, for DOS) that's the sound I'm going for. The game will be programmed in C++, but programming will not be done until we find a decent programmer (because I'm not too good.) Anyways, any suggestions for how to get/emulate sound and music this way? It'd be most appreciated :D

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For music, you'll need to find a musician who works with tracker music formats, like .mod and .midi. With suitable instrument choices you should be able to get the sound you want, then you can either play the .mod back directly in-game (FMOD supports this) or just output it to mp3 or ogg and play that back. Try some of the trackers here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_audio_trackers#Windows.

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Sierra used MT-32 for games in that time.

So producing equivalent sound should be trivial on any OS that can play back MIDI files.

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Bear in mind that midi uses whatever soundbank is installed on the user's computer, and so the end result may vary (usually depending on what sound card and drivers they've got installed). Which is why you should prefer a format like .mod (which bundles the samples in the file) or export to mp3 or ogg where it's not an issue.

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Quote:
Original post by Antheus
Sierra used MT-32 for games in that time.

So producing equivalent sound should be trivial on any OS that can play back MIDI files.


Not just Sierra. A lot of companies used the MT-32 as a high end sound synthesis solution at the time. And at the time, and even near the beginning of General Midi, the MT-32 was an awesome device. Unlike GM, it was reprogrammable, so if you didn't like the default sounds, you could load your own. And it's Roland, so it's a very high end sound solution, at least compared to the other GM cards at the time.

While I would suggest mod over midi for reasons OrangyTang stated, I believe he really wants to emulate FM Synthesis instead of standard midi playback. Besides, both midi and mod files have their limitations, which many old games used their own proprietary format. And as far as FM Synthesis goes, DOSBox can only approximate it some. It doesn't really sound perfect, as at the time, many of the Sound Cards had flaws which helped add to the effect that newer cards don't suffer from, but it gives a unique feel.

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that doesn't sound retro enough, wasn't there a time when games just used like square tri and saw?
Another totally out there thing was using "synth chips" in arcade games (I don't know if it was ever done or just talked about). These chips were analog ICs that had a vco vca and possibly a vcf. You could emulate such a chip with software.

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One free tool for making retro style fully synthetic sound effects is Coagula. It's a lot of fun to just play with too :)

I wouldn't bother with MIDI or mods for music. Just find a free or reasonably priced composing tool that (a) lets you compose music in the style you want and (b) outputs in a format you can easily use (wav, mp3, ogg). For example, Soundclub is a now-free tracker/sequencer style program that uses arbitrary sound files as instruments and outputs in Wav.

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Quote:
Original post by Fingers_

a format you can easily use (wav, mp3, ogg).


Unfortunately, to keep with the retro feel, I am strongly against using pre-recorded formats for game music (wav, mp3, ogg, etc.) I prefer to use sequenced formats (midi, mod, xm, etc.) I know pre-recorded formats seem to be the way things are mostly done these days, but bear in mind the whole point of my current game project is to turn back the forces of obsolescence.

That said, I'm sure I can find some sort of way, maybe talk to the DOSbox team, to emulate classic sound hardware from the early-90s, whatever Sierra used. Also bear in mind ideally some of the sound effects would be produced via emulated hardware as well, though others would be pre-recorded samples.

Thanks for all the replies guys!

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do any of these trackers sites offer tutorials for those of us not musically inclined or come from a music background?

also i love chip music and tracker synth stuff especially but i couldnt tell you which samples i like because i dont know what they are called.

i heard Buzz was popular but maybe that isnt for the synth tracker noobie.

tutorials for any of the ones listed on wiki would be great(yes i have looked at some but there are many, was just wondering if anyone knew any off hand)

thanks!

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Quote:
Original post by Forestknight25
Quote:
Original post by Fingers_

a format you can easily use (wav, mp3, ogg).


Unfortunately, to keep with the retro feel, I am strongly against using pre-recorded formats for game music (wav, mp3, ogg, etc.) I prefer to use sequenced formats (midi, mod, xm, etc.) I know pre-recorded formats seem to be the way things are mostly done these days, but bear in mind the whole point of my current game project is to turn back the forces of obsolescence.


My point is that there's no difference in the feel of a piece of music in mod format and the same piece in a format that's easier to play back; what comes out of the speakers is identical. The only reason mods were used back in the day was to save disk space and memory. I linked to soundclub because it's a tracker/sequencer program (it actually loads mods and s3m's etc) but also allows outputting in a wav file so you don't have to write as much code to play it back in your app. Of course, if you use a library like FMOD then it'll be just as easy either way.

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