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ditroiamusic

Tips For Creating Mobile Game Audio

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Hello. I'm new to the forum and wanted to introduce myself. My name is Adam DiTroia and I'm a composer and sound designer for games and other media. I recently created a company dedicated to mobile games. It's called "Mobile Audio Design" (or M.A.D. for short). More info about me can be found at www.adamditroia.com.

I also wanted to start out by contributing in at least a small way. So here are a few tips/tricks for creating great music and sound effects for mobile games and apps:

1. Mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Droid, etc) lack bass response. So my first tip to you is forget the earth shattering sub-basses and low, deep synths. They will simply disappear when implemented into the game. Try experimenting with different EQ settings and always play the music track or sound effect back on as many mobile devices as possible (as well as earbuds/headphones).

2. While mobile game sizes are increasing (in some cases they're as large as 2 gig or more), audio is still treated as the last kid picked in dodgeball sometimes! So like it or not, you're going to have to compromise. I'm typically asked for mp3 for music. One thing you can do is chose a bitrate that is a good compromise between size and quality. 128 seems to work well. But check with the developer first of course.

3. This last tip has to do with creating a smooth music loop. For some reason, when saving as an mp3 in Sound Forge, there is always extra space added to the front and end of the track. My final step before sending it to the developer is opening it in Audacity (which is free) and trimming the ends. Why Audacity does this and not a much more expensive program (Sound Forge)...I have no clue :)

I hope you find these tips useful! Thanks.
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3. This last tip has to do with creating a smooth music loop. For some reason, when saving as an mp3 in Sound Forge, there is always extra space added to the front and end of the track. My final step before sending it to the developer is opening it in Audacity (which is free) and trimming the ends. Why Audacity does this and not a much more expensive program (Sound Forge)...I have no clue 

 

Hmmm, provided that you're still bouncing out an MP3 file after editing the silent bookends in Audacity, this tip actually wont fix the loop. The MP3 codec itself is placing those silent bookends (it gets more harsh the lower the bit rate), so editing out the bookends and re-exporting out an MP3 means they'll still be there. This is not the fault of Sound Forge. A better solution would be: 

 

1) Selecting another format that is still lossy so as not to hurt performance/footprint. OGG can work well and Apple's CAF can do a good job too - especially in the hands of a good programmer. 

 

2) Use code to "subtract" those bookends. Some middleware applications, like Unity, will do this for you! If you're not using middleware, a quick Google search will yield several hits for how others have solved this issue. 

 

3) I used to use a program called MP3Trim which could set the playback regions to remove those bookends. It wasn't the best method and now it's practically unusable due to a bad developer patch that was released. I emailed the creator but never heard back so I've dropped it as a viable option. But perhaps there are other apps that work better now. 

Edited by nsmadsen
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I second OGG as it's got a clean license - and I didn't know it solved this "blank padding buffer" problem.

I think you need to pay some very big fee to be able to decode MP3 in your application.

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