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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:47 am 
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Space Floater
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Hi all,

just came across this project and was interested in the musical side of things.

Has there been any decision on an overall musical theme or strategy for the project? Since it's a space-based game i thought that there would be electronic and/or cinematic musical scores but i was wondering what the situation is so far. Will there be a lot of ambient soundscapes? That is an area which i would like to start mucking about with.

I have an HND (equivalent to first 2 years at Uni) in Sound Production/Engineering and would be happy to help with production of music or engineering of audio, including converting to OGG format and overall mastering. I prefer to write electronic music and don't have much experience in film scores but am happy to help any way i can.

Cheers

Monk


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:10 am 
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There's pretty much nobody working on audio right now aside from, perhaps, another new contributor who just arrived, but he sounds (pun intended) more interested in non-musical audio.

Back when the former audio lead was contributing, I think the basic plan was to wait and see what happens with the rest of the game content before working out such issue for music. I'm not sure about that though, so you might want to browse the audio forum for old threads on the subject. Regardless, if you have ideas, they can probably be quite influential, especially if you stick around long enough to get them implemented.

I think we'd like to have a variety of background music for the galaxy map, research / production screens, galaxy setup, design screens, and especially combat, with varying degree of "ambiance" and "dramatic accompaniment" as appropriate. Perhaps various races could have their own themes as well.

Audio stuff is quite undecided and lacking in contributions in general at this point, as it's (perhaps unfortunately) a type of polish or final touches that make things really click / work great, but which can be difficult to work on before the rest of the design, UI, graphics, etc. are decided and implemented.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:33 pm 
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Space Floater
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I know what u mean about music being the polish and giving the final game some finishing touches.

I'd also thought that it's a good idea that different races should have their own musical themes.

It would probably also be useful to know how the game will be using the audio before making it. For example, will the music be changing depending on whats happening in the game. Will it be necessary to make snippets of audio which can loop ok or will the game be able to overlap clips, fading them in and out so the audio loops ok. Will it mostly be ambient audio clips or will there be times when drums and beats are required.

I'll see if i can have a look at the races and what the differences are between them to see how the audio could reflect their differences. Are any of the download a workable game, e.g. a demo?

Monk


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:28 pm 
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Space Floater

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If you want to try the game, you can get a running version here:http://www.freeorion.org/index.php/Download
Unless you compile it from the newest svn revision there will be allways features missing, but I believe you won't need those to get a general idea about the game. There is already one ambient background track looping (it's endless repetition slowly starts getting on my nerves, so it would be nice to have a change sometimes :wink: ), which could give you an inspiration. You will also notice that those things which most likely could gain from having different music, such as races and a combat screen haven't been implemented yet, but I hope that doesn't stop you, even if your tracks can't be used now, they still can be used later.

On the technical side of things, as far as I have looked into this part of the code, the sound in the game uses openAL and you are currently limited to one track for music without any overlapping, but if you suggest changes they might be implemented if some programmer finds the time.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 3:27 pm 
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Space Floater
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I've tried getting FO to work but i keep getting an error message. None of the topics in the forums seem to provide me with an answer unfortunately :-(

Looping audio by using overlapping tracks would be good and make audio production easier, and also provide more flexibility for the finished product.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 3:46 pm 
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At the very least having several tracks to play in random order throughout the game would be a much improved state.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:25 pm 
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YES. Please add some more music, please please please please please please please please, o nutty monk...

Btw, that's a pretty fantastic sig you got there, I like it :D. He's using his mouth as a giant fly trap, right? Just makes sure pd doesn't see it; I don't want to be looking around for a new graphics assistant lead.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:43 am 
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lol.

He's a new sub-species of human which i call 'Homopotamos Irregularis'. A wily creature, he can usually be found at carnivals and festivals in southern USA. The distinguishing features of a wicker boater, unkempt facial hair and beady, bloodshot eyes are often mistaken for the characteristics of a down-and-out. Be wary though, his amiable appearance conceals extremely strong jaw muscles which have been known to strip the flesh from the arms of unwary Homosapiens who attempted to steal his chargrilled chicken.

:)

Anyhoo, back to the music. I feel that the best way to make the background music more random (apart from maybe during battles) is to have a large selection of short audio clips (1-2 minutes in length each). At a randomly selected time, say every minute or so, the game should choose a randomly selected clip (which is specific to that race) and fade it in slowly (maybe over the space of 15-30 seconds) while the existing audio clips continue to play. As a clip nears it's end, the game should fade it out slowly, again over 15-30 seconds or so. Modulation of volume and panning for each track could also be applied.

By taking all of the random factors into account ...

1. which clip should start playing next
2. when the clip should start to play
3. how long it fades in and out for
4. modulation of the volume and panning of the clip while it is playing

... we will get a constantly changing and unique melange of audio ambience which will never sound the same at any 2 points in time. This will hopefully stop the music from becoming something which people hate listening to and eventually turn off altogether. It would be necessary to make sure that the audio tracks for each race are written in a minimalistic style and with little or no percussion or repetitive elements such as drumbeats, since these would not mix together well in a randomly generated soundscape such as the one i am suggesting. The minimalistic style of writing for these tracks would also be necessary to ensure that if 3 or 4 tracks are overlapping each other, you don't end up with an over-the-top mess of noise, but as long as some thought is put into the production of the audio tracks, that shouldn't be a problem.

Ideas for the audio of specific races could also be interesting to create. e.g. an underwater race could have lots of muted bubbly noises; a space-based race could have lots of higher-frequency pulses and well-constructed noise to represent the energy emitted by stars, gas-giants, black-holes etc; a flora/fauna race could have the sounds of wind rushing through trees and plants rubbing together.

I could also write some pseudo code to govern control of the audio tracks if anyone is interested in using these ideas. I'm reasonably experienced at HTML, MySQL and especially Flash Actionscript where i have used random generation of this type for graphics and audio in previous projects of my own. I'd also produce some audio tracks to test it out with. Once everyone was happy with the code and test audio and how it all worked together, it would just be a case of getting a decision on the final race-types and coming up with themes for each race and then producing the audio for them.

Any thoughts people have on these ideas would be appreciated.

Cheers

NM


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:46 pm 
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Space Floater
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Here is a sample of audio which could be used for a space-based organisms race...

http://www.musicbybone.co.uk/Misc/Sample_Audio_1.mp3

Plenty of randomisation has been used here for the notes, when they play, how loud, which note and randomisation on the instruments themselves and the effects which have been applied to them.

Comments?

Cheers

NM


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:17 pm 
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The general idea of randomisation sounds good, although it would perhaps be possible to even go further and add one ore more layers to allow different combinations of back and foreground so for example if you have ten one minute samples for background, foreground and an auxiliary layer each, there would be a theoretical 10*10*10 = 1000 minutes (over 16 hours) of different background music. But I believe we should start simple first by adding some sort of randomized playlist and fading-mechanism to the game. I would like to do this myself, but considering I have no idea whatsoever of OpenAL this should better be done by someone who knows what he is doing.

The sample you posted sounds great, although I think it is to hectic. Space is something with a lot of time so it should be something slow but powerful. Maybe try slowing down the modulation to 1-2 seconds and make the thunder-like background noises longer, the first one right in the beginning is fine but it ends too abrupt, something of this magnitude should have a really long irregular reverb, like 10 seconds or so.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:32 pm 
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The thing about how i made the audio sample is that it is almost completely randomised and each time it plays it sounds different. I also used random lfo's in the instruments although i could lengthen their cycles so they take longer to do a cycle. I'll muck about with it again and see what happens.

I was thinking that it might be a good idea to have some longer audio samples, say 5 for each race at 2, 3 or 4 minutes each, and a bunch of shorter samples, maybe 10 of them at 30 seconds or so. Thats about 30 minutes of audio for each race. The longer ones are general ambience and probably would have no more than 2 files playing at once. and the shorter ones can come in quite often and maybe also have just 2 of them playing at once. It means that there would be an overall ambience created by the long samples, with the short snippets of audio having some type of particular noise or effect to add to the overall feel and keep things moving.

Cheers

NM


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:37 pm 
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NuttyMonk wrote:
... we will get a constantly changing and unique melange of audio ambience which will never sound the same at any 2 points in time. This will hopefully stop the music from becoming something which people hate listening to and eventually turn off altogether.


Do you have an example of this kind of approach working?

I think you are overrating the role of novelty in a person's desire to hear the soundtrack. As an extreme example, static is probably completely novel for as long as you would care to watch— but few people care to watch at all.

What you are describing seems to me to approach too closely to static... something that most people would grow tired of long before a sound structured with skill and purpose.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:10 pm 
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NuttyMonk wrote:
Here is a sample of audio which could be used for a space-based organisms race...

http://www.musicbybone.co.uk/Misc/Sample_Audio_1.mp3

Plenty of randomisation has been used here for the notes, when they play, how loud, which note and randomisation on the instruments themselves and the effects which have been applied to them.

Comments?

It's not enjoyable or interesting... It just sounds random, with now movement or shape.

If this strategy is viable, we'll need a better proof of concept.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:40 pm 
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Space Floater
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The sample was just an idea of sounds that could be used for a space-based race. And it only has 2 sounds in it. It wasn't an example of how they would be used in a finished game. To showcase that i would have to create a lot of sounds and probably make a flash program to get the idea across fully.

Also, i guess the final objective matters. Do you want ambience or music, because what i was doing with the sample was to create a couple of sounds which would be used for ambience, not music. If it's music that you're after, then the randomisation i was talking about would be pointless because whole tracks would have to be made as they would be played. That would definitely fit in with eleazar's idea about carefully constructed music.

Thanks for your comments anyway.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:48 pm 
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NuttyMonk wrote:
Also, i guess the final objective matters. Do you want ambience or music...

I'm not sure... How about ambient music? Something that doesn't necessary have a melody or overarching chord progression, but which doesn't just sound like randomly played sounds at random pitches...

Based on some of the Let's Plays I've seen on YouTube, Knytt and Knytt Stories levels tend to have pretty good atmospheric music, for example.


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