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KoMaXX

Small puzzle game: Do I even have to bother with music?

16 posts in this topic

Hi,

 

I've recently published a small iOS game, Flipz (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flipz/id775988938?mt=8).

 

Now, I've gotten some feedback that I really need to add background music. Unfortunately, I don't have any experience composing/creating music and my guess is that this is nothing you can learn in a weekend. And I can't pay someone to create music for me...

 

So, puzzle game developers out there. Is background music really something you have to do? Does it actually add to the fun?

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Ahem. Sorry about the topic title, I just realized how condescending that sounds :[

To clear it up: I have great respect for the art of making music, I simply can not do it, don't have the resources to pay someone - and hope to make a fun game despite lacking background music.

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Composers (especially) and sound designers are probably the easiest people to find for free when you make a game. I'm not saying they will be great (they might be tho) but a lot of students are trying to get experience and hoping to get int the game industry this way. Just like every other field, but the audio field is one of the hardest and the composers have the hardest time.

 

I mean I'm a sound designer myself and when I posted an add for the game I'm programming with Unity to get people, I specifically said I don't need a composer or a sound designer yet I got 2 or 3 of each asking me if they can join. Meanwhile I got 0 3D artists for example.

 

Long story short just post on some audio forum and you'll find some. I'm going to guess you probably even got pm because of your post.

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Hi,

 

I've recently published a small iOS game, Flipz (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flipz/id775988938?mt=8).

 

Now, I've gotten some feedback that I really need to add background music. Unfortunately, I don't have any experience composing/creating music and my guess is that this is nothing you can learn in a weekend. And I can't pay someone to create music for me...

 

So, puzzle game developers out there. Is background music really something you have to do? Does it actually add to the fun?

 

Music isn't strictly required but if done right it will greatly lift your game, If you don't need exclusivity you can pick up some pretty solid tracks at a very low price or even for free (depending on what type of license you need), For exclusive rights you have to be prepared to pay quite a bit though.

 

You could also license a sample library(or get a free one) and use that to "record" some classical compositions that are in the public domain.

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So, puzzle game developers out there. Is background music really something you have to do? Does it actually add to the fun

 

Good audio can make any expeirence more immersive. You might not need looping, ever-present background music. Perhaps short(er) musical cues that play depending on game events would be better? That or just sound effects?

 

The best way to find out is to do some testing - why not do a private build with and without music. Test it over many people and see how the scores rank. It could be especially effective if you don't tell them what you're testing after - just see if the fun factor or desire to keep playing the game is higher with the music build. And like others have mentioned, the right music can make all of the difference.

 

Composers (especially) and sound designers are probably the easiest people to find for free when you make a game. I'm not saying they will be great (they might be tho) but a lot of students are trying to get experience and hoping to get int the game industry this way.

 

Really wish this wasn't the case. Too often audio folks get devalued for their craft, talents and time. I do my best to promote the idea that even first time audio student should make their work have tangible value: be it a trade of services, some pizza, a few bucks. Working for free is rarely a good thing, in my experience.

 

You could also license a sample library(or get a free one) and use that to "record" some classical compositions that are in the public domain.

 

Not a bad idea just make sure that whatever recording is being....recorded again is ALSO public domain. While it's true that classical pieces, like Beethoven's 5th Symphony is public domain, a recording of the New York Philharmonic performing that symphony may NOT be.

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Composers (especially) and sound designers are probably the easiest people to find for free when you make a game. I'm not saying they will be great (they might be tho) but a lot of students are trying to get experience and hoping to get int the game industry this way.

 

Really wish this wasn't the case. Too often audio folks get devalued for their craft, talents and time. I do my best to promote the idea that even first time audio student should make their work have tangible value: be it a trade of services, some pizza, a few bucks. Working for free is rarely a good thing, in my experience.

 

 

 

Well don't get me wrong I'm not saying it's a good thing, but I do think that what I said is true.

 

I mean it would deserve it's own thread and I don't want to use this one to talk a lot about this, but considering the amount of competition there is for audio even for the shittiest mod ever you could find, when you're a student you already have to be crazy good to ask for money else that's just like killing your career in the egg.

No one will ever take you because they can take people for free, and no company will ever hire you because you don't have anything to show. That's just the death loop. So most people including me do it for free. And I can't even complain because I feel I'm a little bit lucky since I do have some people coming to me for sounds instead of only me trying to get a project.

 

I mean, hell, even some pros who already work try to get projects and they do it for free too. I actually had one who worked with me in one of my project who failed. So you're a student, you just want to make a little game for experience and you have pros trying to take the same jobs for free "because it's my passion and it's fun". True story, the guy worked on AAA titles. At the end of the day it was nice I learned stuff but it's still a little bit annoying in my opinion.

Edited by Valoon
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I disagree. As a composer, you should never sell yourself short, otherwise what's the point? Whether it is royalties/ profit shares, physical money, services, whatever the case may be, you should always ask for some sort of compensation for your work. It is yours after all, why would you just want to give it away?

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Well don't get me wrong I'm not saying it's a good thing, but I do think that what I said is true.

 

I mean it would deserve it's own thread and I don't want to use this one to talk a lot about this, but considering the amount of competition there is for audio even for the shittiest mod ever you could find, when you're a student you already have to be crazy good to ask for money else that's just like killing your career in the egg.

No one will ever take you because they can take people for free, and no company will ever hire you because you don't have anything to show. That's just the death loop. So most people including me do it for free. And I can't even complain because I feel I'm a little bit lucky since I do have some people coming to me for sounds instead of only me trying to get a project.

 

I mean, hell, even some pros who already work try to get projects and they do it for free too. I actually had one who worked with me in one of my project who failed. So you're a student, you just want to make a little game for experience and you have pros trying to take the same jobs for free "because it's my passion and it's fun". True story, the guy worked on AAA titles. At the end of the day it was nice I learned stuff but it's still a little bit annoying in my opinion.

 

Ask yourself why? How did we get here in the first place? The entertainment industry is the ONLY industry I know of that offers so many unpaid internships. My wife's industry pays their interns more than I've made at salaried jobs.

 

If audio folks don't make your craft worth something - then it's always going to be like this. You cannot make a living off of exposure. Not really. There has to be some sort of sustainable business model behind that exposure. Billy Corgin makes this point in this video interview (some rough language but hey... it's Billy Corgin): http://blip.tv/revolution/billy-corgan-why-musicians-need-more-than-viral-videos-to-succeed-6257082 And frankly, very few projects reach the level of exposure where an audio guy could do something with it. 

 

Plus when there's a tangible exhance of goods/services it keeps the relationship professional. I cannot tell you how many times I've lost out on a gig because the client wanted to get the "free guy" only to have that same client come back 4 months later and beg me to work on his project for a fee. Why? Because so often free work is unreliable. Folks vanish. They refuse to do revisions. Etc. I've seen it time and time again.

 

This is why I try to mentor young(er) audio folks to always charge something for their work. Even a tiny amount keeps that transaction professional. You want to make a business out of game audio? You want to be considered a professional? Then you should act like one. smile.png If you don't want a career in game audio, then it's really up to you. But understand that what you do and how you do it DOES impact other audio guys. Guys (and gals!) who may be seeking a career/living in game audio.

 

And I'd like to point out this specific statement: No one will ever take you because they can take people for free, and no company will ever hire you because you don't have anything to show. That's just the death loop.

 

Then how did anyone, anywhere, ever get to the point of charging for work? Let alone some really established people who, eventually, could charge thousands of dollars for their work? If they had taken the approach you're talking about... then the answer is they probably wouldn't have ever made it to that point. The very first project I landed, I charged for my services. Sure, I've worked for free on a few projects for example one was a hobby project and another one was an activist project against overfishing where nobody was getting paid. I've also helped out a few friends here and there but that's because they were friends. Trust me - I've seen some devs go from free guy to free guy. Almost always they talk about "I'll pay you the next time!" or "the exposure will be huge!" I fell for this a few times early on but then I discovered that once I put a fee to my work, even a very tiny one, they dropped me so fast and went to the next free guy.

 

 

 

I mean, hell, even some pros who already work try to get projects and they do it for free too.

 

Who are these pros? Because every single one I know charges for most of the projects they take on. Same with me. They may do some free ones - like the types I listed above (friends, hobbyist, activist, etc). You cannot make a living working for free. Period.

 

So... tying this back into the OP's topic: you can find audio work from all kinds of places! Some expensive and some cheap. Some of it is great and some isn't so great. I'd consider hiring a young(er) audio guy that's willing to work for something you can afford. Or if that's not possible, go with a library track which you can license - often for very cheap.

 

 

The pro I'm talking about had worked on some AAA game (I don't really want to say which one because I don't know if he would want to) and he was doing the project for free, he was not a friend of the dev or anything (I talked to the dev quite a bit about multiple things). He apparently didn't have a pro project at the time tho.

 

But I completly agree with you don't get me wrong, I guess I didn't have the "balls" to ask yet, but it was planned that the projects I'm doing right now are the last ones I do for free especially because of the "the free guy vanishes" kind of stuff, I don't vanish but people do and the projects always fail because of this.

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I would search for Creative Commons music tracks that suit the style of my game.

A custom search for commercial use CC-licensed tracks.
http://freemusicarchive.org/search/?adv=1&mood=all+moods&quicksearch=&search-genre=Genres&only-instrumental=1&duration_from=&duration_to=&tempo=0&music-filter-CC-attribution-only=on&music-filter-CC-attribution-sharealike=1&music-filter-CC-attribution-noderivatives=1&music-filter-public-domain=1&music-filter-commercial-allowed=1

Some rare music tracks fit with your game theme and are licensed for commercial use. Usually, they only require that you mention the author in the credits. Edited by Kryzon
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Thank you guys, for your insights!

 

I'll definitely try to get some background music now (sound effects are already in there, albeit sparsely), trying your proposed methods. And yes, I will pay for it, even if it's just a pizza ;)

 

 

One more thing: This is highly subjective and might be impossible to answer:

You guys stretched that it's important that the music "fits" the game. Is there a good method to assess this? I'm no musician and I am to close to the game to see clearly anymore...

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And yes, I will pay for it, even if it's just a pizza ;)

 

 

You know what they might appreciate even more?  How about a new logo for their composing business?  Or a design for their business card, etc?

 

That's also a bit more fair trade-- your expertise in creating visual assets (presuming you did at least some of the art for your game) for their expertise in creating sound assets..

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Nathan hit the nail right on the head in my opinion. Music and audio can completely change a consumers experience. The right music will keep them coming back for more, music that doesn't suit so well will put them off for life. Think of the amount of films you have watched that have a great soundtrack. Do you walk away remembering all of the dialogue or humming the theme? My guess it's the theme. Music helps people connect and should never be devalued.

 

I also wouldn't advocate the use of simply buying a piece of royalty free music to put behind the game. More often than not if you aren't a musician or composer yourself you aren't going to choose the best piece of music. Get the services of someone with experience in, even if it's just for them to provide a bit of advice on direction. It will pay dividends in the end product. And of course, as Nathan and others have said, offer them at least something in return. It's the polite thing to do. 

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You guys stretched that it's important that the music "fits" the game. Is there a good method to assess this? I'm no musician and I am to close to the game to see clearly anymore...

 

Couple things here bud. First of all, hiring an experienced composer is the best thing you can do. One of the most important things we do as music creators in this field is being able to properly translate what is going on visually into not just audio, but audio that will actually evoke some type of emotional response from the player/ viewer.

 

Second of all, after putting a track into the game, take a break from the project altogether; Play a few other games or something in the meantime. Come back a couple days later with a fresh mind (a cleansed palette, so-to-speak) and take note as to what exactly you feel from the combination of graphics & audio in your project. That is the absolute best test you can do to see if something fits, in my opinion - and hey, it actually works with anything in the game, whether it is writing, graphics, dialogue, etc. 

Edited by xCatalyst
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