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How Does In-Game Audio Affect Players?

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What effect does in-game audio have on players? Audio expert Raymond Usher (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Crackdown) shares the results of
a study in which players were monitored while playing three games -- Osmos, FlatOut, and Amnesia -- with audio and without
[/quote]
http://gamasutra.com...dio_affect_.php

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Good study made by my friend Raymond Usher. Finally some proof, that we can use to convince our clients of the importance of audio and why to use custom made audio..hehe[/font]

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If your clients don't understand the importance of audio then they shouldn't be in the business. (Sound makes a huge difference, i'd rather take 80s graphics than 80s sound in my games)

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If your clients don't understand the importance of audio then they shouldn't be in the business.


Actually I think most do understand the importance of audio but they just don't want to have to pay for it - let alone pay industry standard rates! And with so many people offering their services up for free (or severely below market value) some feel like they don't have to.

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[quote name='SimonForsman' timestamp='1334772964' post='4932537']
If your clients don't understand the importance of audio then they shouldn't be in the business.


Actually I think most do understand the importance of audio but they just don't want to have to pay for it - let alone pay industry standard rates! And with so many people offering their services up for free (or severely below market value) some feel like they don't have to.
[/quote]

You get what you pay for though.

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Completely agree which is why I continually push for folks to charge a fair rate. Even charging something is better than working for free.


Plenty of amateur programmers and graphics artists work for free aswell though.

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[quote name='nsmadsen' timestamp='1334779410' post='4932552']
Completely agree which is why I continually push for folks to charge a fair rate. Even charging something is better than working for free.


Plenty of amateur programmers and graphics artists work for free aswell though.
[/quote]
They don't work for free, they pursue a hobby for free.
Which is absolutely cool. The point where it starts to irritate me is when people call this "work".

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[quote name='SimonForsman' timestamp='1334779754' post='4932554']
[quote name='nsmadsen' timestamp='1334779410' post='4932552']
Completely agree which is why I continually push for folks to charge a fair rate. Even charging something is better than working for free.


Plenty of amateur programmers and graphics artists work for free aswell though.
[/quote]
They don't work for free, they pursue a hobby for free.
Which is absolutely cool. The point where it starts to irritate me is when people call this "work".
[/quote]

Ah, so a composer offering his services for free is working for free (Which is a bad thing apparantly) but a programmer who does the same isn't working as programming is just a hobby (and thus its cool). (That was quite frankly insulting)

Creating something is work by definition, alot of people in almost all creative fields work for free for various reasons (It could be that its just a hobby for them, it could be because its for a charitable cause, or a number of other reasons). (Look up the definition of work, creating something is work by definition even if there is no compensation for the work)

The price of goods and services is set by the market, supply and demand, expecting people to charge or pay "industry standard rates" on a global market is silly as there is no such thing as a standard rate on a global market, If people are willing to work for less than you are you need to raise your quality or lower your prices to compensate. Trying to form a composer cartel is not a viable solution.

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Ah, so a composer offering his services for free is working for free (Which is a bad thing apparantly) but a programmer who does the same isn't working as programming is just a hobby (and thus its cool). (That was quite frankly insulting)


I don't think that is what Moritz was advocating or saying and I know it wasn't what I was saying. The difference is hobby vs. commercial teams (regardless of how small). If a hobby team wants to put out a game for free and it's a labor of love - I see no problem with that. If that same hobby team approaches me and asks me to work for free simply because they all did then it becomes my choice. But in my own experience I've had teams come to me and actually request free audio, without deferred pay or profit shares but were hoping to release the game commercially. That's what we're arguing against and sadly audio industry noobs sometimes reinforce the perception that audio should be free by offering up their services in hopes of getting some work on their resume. My point is they should put some kind of tangible value on their time and craft instead of offering it for 100% free.


Creating something is work by definition, alot of people in almost all creative fields work for free for various reasons (It could be that its just a hobby for them, it could be because its for a charitable cause, or a number of other reasons). (Look up the definition of work, creating something is work by definition even if there is no compensation for the work)


Sure anytime we create anything we're working on it. So perhaps instead of using the term "work: it would be clearer to you to use the term "usage."

But again we're discussing hobby (free) teams and projects vs. commercial projects that have retail aims. Frankly I don't really care how the deal is set up but I'd prefer that folks working on commercial projects stand to earn something for their time and craft. And yes this applies to all disciplines, not just audio.


The price of goods and services is set by the market, supply and demand, expecting people to charge or pay "industry standard rates" on a global market is silly as there is no such thing as a standard rate on a global market, If people are willing to work for less than you are you need to raise your quality or lower your prices to compensate. Trying to form a composer cartel is not a viable solution.


I think you've misunderstood my point. There IS an industry standard or perhaps a better label is industry range. Of course the industry range differs project to project based on several items: especially what kind of device will the game be launched on. For example my rates differ for an iOS game vs. a PS3/Xbox 360 title. Nobody is creating a composer cartel, please, give me a break! Have you seen anyone in this thread actually say X is what you can charge?! No! All I've said is charge something. In the past I've suggested other ideas besides just monetary compensation. For example it could be an exchange of services like: "I create the score for the game and you create a new website for me." The point I keep driving home is audio folks should charge SOMETHING for their time and craft so clients understand there's a tangible value tied to it.

The industry standard (or range) is seen in every kind of market and you even stated that "the price of goods and services is set by the market, supply and demand." Completely agree and the industry standard or range I've seen is based on many composers and clients discussing what they've spent on various kinds of audio. Of course that cost can range drastically from indie to AAA level projects and what kind(s) of devices it's there but to say the industry standard doesn't exist at all is wrong. Finally, just because there IS an industry standard it doesn't mean you have to charge that rate. For example I work closely with my clients to figure out what their budget is and then present options to fit within it. I don't just say "oh well, sorry, I charge 10X that amount. Bye!" Nobody is saying that the industry standard (or range) is law and written in stone but understanding what is the "norm" in the audio industry can help someone create appropriate rates based on your experience, target clients and skill level.


If people are willing to work for less than you are you need to raise your quality or lower your prices to compensate.


Let me stress this point, again, I have no issue with someone charging less than me. I know for a fact that I'm more expensive than some but cheaper than others. My rates are based on my credentials and skill level as well as what I've found clients are usually willing to pay. I only object to someone charging nothing which, in my experience, doesn't do anything to promote the audio industry on the professional level.

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[quote name='Moritz P.G. Katz' timestamp='1334794440' post='4932639']
[quote name='SimonForsman' timestamp='1334779754' post='4932554']
[quote name='nsmadsen' timestamp='1334779410' post='4932552']
Completely agree which is why I continually push for folks to charge a fair rate. Even charging something is better than working for free.


Plenty of amateur programmers and graphics artists work for free aswell though.
[/quote]
They don't work for free, they pursue a hobby for free.
Which is absolutely cool. The point where it starts to irritate me is when people call this "work".
[/quote]

Ah, so a composer offering his services for free is working for free (Which is a bad thing apparantly) but a programmer who does the same isn't working as programming is just a hobby (and thus its cool). (That was quite frankly insulting)[/quote]
That's not what I said!

Obviously the same goes for composers - I don't know how you could read this any other way without assuming I'm a real dick.

And there's nothing I could add to what Nate wrote, I fully agree. I for one welcomed the new Classifieds section that clearly differentiates between Jobs, Contract Projects and Hobbyist propositions.

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Let me stress this point, again, I have no issue with someone charging less than me. I know for a fact that I'm more expensive than some but cheaper than others. My rates are based on my credentials and skill level as well as what I've found clients are usually willing to pay. I only object to someone charging nothing which, in my experience, doesn't do anything to promote the audio industry on the professional level.


a person charging nothing is not a professional, he is an amateur by definition, You are complaining about the existance of amateurs in your field, They exist in all fields and will always exist. I havn't seen a single professional team that expects anyone to work for free so i really don't see why you are complaining.
Yes amateur teams will generally expect people to work for free, This has nothing to do with the audio industry, noone on an amateur team gets payed and noone charges for their services. If you want to work for an amateur team then you most likely have to work for free regardless of what field you're in.

There might be some "professional" teams where the "manager" expects others to work for free while he takes the profit (Most profit sharing projects seen in help wanted fall into this group), Again though, this has nothing to do with the audio industry and these projects have, as far as i know never gotten anywhere.

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a person charging nothing is not a professional, he is an amateur by definition, You are complaining about the existance of amateurs in your field, They exist in all fields and will always exist. I havn't seen a single professional team that expects anyone to work for free so i really don't see why you are complaining.
Yes amateur teams will generally expect people to work for free, This has nothing to do with the audio industry, noone on an amateur team gets payed and noone charges for their services. If you want to work for an amateur team then you most likely have to work for free regardless of what field you're in.


No, again you're missing the point. Sheesh. I'm explaining how clients can begin to preceive the audio should be either very low cost or at no cost whatsoever in large part because of what some in the audio profession are choosing to do: give their work away for free. And when these amatuers attempt to undercut pros by landing commercial (i.e. PRO) contracts then it DOES impact the industry as a whole. To not see the connection and ripples that this causes is... frankly.... beyond me. Also when those amatuers begin to strive to attain professional contracts and work on professional teams/projects shouldn't they realize it's time that they themselves begin acting.... professional? I think so.

A good friend of my and industry vet of over 20 years was about to begin work on a Nintendo DS project. Right before beginning work the producer approached him and said that another audio guy has offered to do the whole project for free. This other audio guy was much younger and wanted to make a name for himself. The producer asked if my friend could complete with that. He responded with "I cannot compete with free." In my own experience I've been on projects where a new audio guy approaches the team and wants to do it all for free - just for his name in the credits. The team choose him over me and I wished them all the best of luck. About 6 months later that team approached me again detailing the complete disaster and nightmare it had been to work with that free guy. They even said from then on out they were only hiring (i.e. PAYING) guys. This is where I completely with your earlier post - you get what you pay for. In many cases you and I agree on things - we just disagree if what amatuers do has any impact on the industry as a whole and on professionals. I say it does - you seem to say it doesn't.

And if you continue to insist that what amatuers do has zero impact on the industry as a whole, which is easily proven false in my view, then please watch Harlan's rant about amatuers and getting paid. (Warning rough language)

[media]
[/media]

If it isn't an issue, like you insist, why does Harlan display such passion about this very topic? He's extremely established, successful and by all criteria considered a professional.

Again, I'm not saying what people should charge - I'm just saying act professional and charge what you feel is a fair rate for your work. It's really that simple. You seem intent on debating this until we're all blue in the face and are refusing to see the obvious connection between people in the same industry: amatuer and professional alike. In the end don't most amatuers eventually aspire to become professional in the end anyway?

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Most people definitely understand audio, people are not stupid. If the clients don't understand audio, they could hire anyone to do it or use stock audio and likely get a game that sounds shit. These are likely the people that are happy to trust in someone providing them audio produced above "hobbyist level" for free or for low cost.

What's questionable is the value of the audio and the value of the time and work that goes into producing it. The linked article actually proposes further studies that would delve into what actually makes and is GOOD use of audio in games, not just that there's "some kind of audio", because that's just pointless. Compared to film sound, game sound (not everything though) is still light years behind in terms of how efficiently audio is utilised and much of it boils down to technical constraints. I think that what R. Usher is really trying to pursue is to advance the utilisation of audio, to raise awareness that use of audio should be considered to be an integral part of the product (not just an afterthought or the last "layer"). This also considers that the use of audio should be an important technical consideration already during the development process to enable audio to be used in more complex ways than it's now used and this touches game developers / programmers just as it touches audio content creators or "designers".

What comes to payments in the game audio industry, well, the competition is fierce as Nathan states and likely will grow to be so. If one doesn't do it, there's likely a next guy in the line. I don't really think there's much point in proving that "they need audio" but proving that "I can offer this". It should be the solution for competing with peers as well. (Experienced) people that produce exceptionally good and in some way unique audio solutions, should always be desirable, worth paying for and above the rest. If the client doesn't see this, then it's his/her problem. There's fundamentally something wrong in the audio industry, if younger and unexperienced (and those offering free work) can realistically compete with more experienced professional producers.

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Well said Tecnocrat. Just one caveat:


Most people definitely understand audio, people are not stupid. If the clients don't understand audio, they could hire anyone to do it or use stock audio and likely get a game that sounds shit. These are likely the people that are happy to trust in someone providing them audio produced above "hobbyist level" for free or for low cost.
[/quote]

Sure, I agree most people are not stupid. Most understand what is truly exceptional and what's just average. The issue that has gone ignored or missed (somewhat) here is that there are studios (or clients) that willfully create mediocre stuff. I have an artist friend who worked for a very well established company where the CEO actually said in a company wide meeting that the studio was only going to do game ports of movie IP and that their aim was only to make about 70% quality. It was their business model to take on these projects, get major bucks from movie studios to create that game and only shoot for acceptable (at best) quality. According to my friend, the CEO actually stated this. Side note: my friend started looking for a new job that day.

So while we have plenty of studios and clients that do want the best they can afford and push the envelope, there are plenty out there that just want to make a quick buck. It's those kinds of clients that, in my experience, actually hunt out noob crews to work for little or nothing because in the end the focus is dollars and not the game's quality.

Finally there's a story about Picasso (I don't know if it's just urban myth or actually real - regardless the point it makes is still valid):

Some guy told Picasso he’d pay him to draw a picture on a napkin. Picasso whipped out a pen and banged out a sketch, handed it to the guy, and said, “One million dollars, please.”
“A million dollars?” the guy exclaimed. “That only took you thirty seconds!”
“Yes,” said Picasso. “But it took me fifty years to learn how to draw that in thirty seconds.”

There's a similar story about Miles Davis where he responded to a woman in the audience complaining that she didn't understand what he was playing:

"It took me 20 years of study and practice to work up to what I wanted to play in this performance. How can she expect to listen 5 minutes and understand it."

The point being there will always be someone out there that doesn't consider what he or she hears (or sees) as only the tip of the ice berg. They don't consider the huge amount of work and foundation laid beneath the surface which is vital to be able to create the art or sound needed. And this all goes back to my point that folks just starting out are doing themselves and the industry a huge disservice by offering up their craft for free. It's worth more than that. And it hurts the way others outside the audio industry perceive audio's worth.

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Hmm, interesting point about these "mediocre companies", definitely ignored that there are people that approach work in that, unethical way.


The point being there will always be someone out there that doesn't consider what he or she hears (or sees) as only the tip of the ice berg. They don't consider the huge amount of work and foundation laid beneath the surface which is vital to be able to create the art or sound needed. And this all goes back to my point that folks just starting out are doing themselves and the industry a huge disservice by offering up their craft for free. It's worth more than that. And it hurts the way others outside the audio industry perceive audio's worth.


But where's the problem? I'm not really sure if charging something compared to charging nothing makes a huge difference in how someone would pick the audio content creator for his/her project if the "free guy" and "the more expensive guy" are on the same line. But how can they be? Price competition will always result when there are too many people offering the seemingly same services and expertise and then the only way to compete is the price. I think the market is just oversaturated and the services or produced content is somehow too similar to make a big difference to some clients, unless they have budgetary concerns. The work is "worth more than that", but if the work doesn't justify itself, then there's just something wrong in the industry. Somehow I also feel that the people that can semi-professionally or professionally afford to work for free in this industry just can't possibly put all their effort and resources to a project, or then they are really doing it for pure enjoyment/hobby, rather than attempting to cover their own costs and getting paid for their efforts. Simply the gear, facility, sound library and possible outsourcing/talent hiring costs are so considerable and a big part of the overall work.

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I'm not really sure if charging something compared to charging nothing makes a huge difference in how someone would pick the audio content creator for his/her project if the "free guy" and "the more expensive guy" are on the same line[/quote]


[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif]

[background=rgb(250, 251, 252)]By definition, they're not "on the same line. There's more to the work than the work smile.png... What I mean by that is that if I have a paid relationship with a composer I hire, I have some control over them. They have some incentives to get the work done, get it to me when I expect it, and to not complain if I ask for changes, etc.=. If someone's doing it for free, i don't have any of that control, and the relationship between parties has a very different dynamic. If I'm a student programmer doing a hobby project, that might be fine. But if I'm in any way commercial (even if its only me doing an indy game), the "for free" composer to me is very scary. I just have no way of knowing if they'll follow through, get to me on time, or go ballistic if I ask them to change something..[/background][/font]





[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif]

[background=rgb(250, 251, 252)]Brian[/background][/font]



[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif]

[background=rgb(250, 251, 252)]GameSoundCon[/background][/font]

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Brian's exactly right. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen someone, who was working for free, eventually walk away from a project. This could be due to frustration, boredom, a lack of motivation. Sometimes these people just dissappear, leaving the team confused and angry. But when money's involved people will push through difficult situations because the relationship is more professional. When there's an investment made in the person and their craft they're going to take it more seriously than someone just wanting content for free. They're much more willing to see things through to the end.

As it's always been said in this thread - you get what you paid for so even though there might be someone willing to work for free it doesn't mean it's a smart business decision for your project.

Charles Deenan once said that he'd gladly pay more for the security and ability to know that contractor A is going to get the job done. Charles is busy enough with everything else and part of his job is to keep things on budget and on schedule. If he takes a risk on contractor B, who might be 1/4th the cost of the other guy, then he might have to spend more of his time making sure the audio is on the mark and on schedule.

When a client can know and trust in you and your work - that can (and usually is) worth a great deal more than just looking at only the content. And believe it or not much of that also makes up the "beneath the surface - ice berg" analogy I pointed out above.

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