Game Audio Production dilemma
Old 12th May 2012
  #1
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Game Audio Production dilemma

Heys guys! I am currently just after completing a BSc (Honors) in Music Production and although I have the option of going straight into a Masters (Music Technology) I believe that career-wise the better choice would be specializing in video game audio.

Now for the dilemma! As far as I can tell there are two paths to take here (albeit with quite a bit of crossover between the two). I have the option of continuing my studies to a post-grad level with 2 different masters. One has more focus on composition and sound design (MA in Game Audio and design) while the other specializes in game audio implementation and programming (C++/C#/FMod etc.) MSc in Video Game Audio Production.

Although I have an interest in both, I'm just wondering which would be more beneficial in the long-run as a career path and for employment opportunities?

Any help from those within the industry would be greatly appreciated!
Old 12th May 2012
  #2
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Programming. That's my suggestion.
Old 12th May 2012
  #3
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Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Programming. That's my suggestion.
Man of little words!

Any particular reasons why? Or have you personal experience in the area?
Old 12th May 2012
  #4
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If you know programming, you can always expand into that field.
Gves you more options, and even if you are doing sound design, you are more valuable if you have a programming background, to game companies.
Being a straight up sound designer means you will be in competition with a million other straight up sound designers.
Old 12th May 2012
  #5
Exactly. If you are a programmer with audio experience you will be much more in demand. All game studios want/need an audio programmer. Someone who knows where the audio artists are coming from, what they are going through and understands physics and principles of mixing. Unfortunately in most cases one of the programmers is assigned to audio and while they do amazing work its a bit more time consuming to explain things like mixing priorities when they don't have any previous knowledge of mixing. With your knowledge you'll be much more valuable as you can work more efficiently with the artists to develop useful tools for the artists and implement things without hand holding. You'll be trusted more and have more creative freedom since they know you can approach things from audio artist point of view. Like its been said tons of competition. This can set you up for more options and making yourself much more marketable. Not to mention tons more job opportunities if video game sound falls through.

I would take some beginning classes at a school or online and see if you like programming first. Programming is a entirely different way of thinking and you might not be apt for it/enjoy it. Have you done any audio for games yet? I would try to get an internship first. While a master degree in programming will help your career path in that field one in sound isn't going to help you any more than your current degree. Examples of work is what will make the difference at this point. Get on mod teams and get some experience. Either way if you want to be more of an artist learn some programming as that will set you apart. The artists spend more than half their time on implementation of their assets. If you don't understand basic audio object oriented programming you better have a killer reel.

Good Luck
-Dan

Sent from my PC36100 using Gearslutz.com
Old 12th May 2012
  #6
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Originally Posted by Dan Smith View Post
Exactly. If you are a programmer with audio experience you will be much more in demand. All game studios want/need an audio programmer. Someone who knows where the audio artists are coming from, what they are going through and understands physics and principles of mixing. Unfortunately in most cases one of the programmers is assigned to audio and while they do amazing work its a bit more time consuming to explain things like mixing priorities when they don't have any previous knowledge of mixing. With your knowledge you'll be much more valuable as you can work more efficiently with the artists to develop useful tools for the artists and implement things without hand holding. You'll be trusted more and have more creative freedom since they know you can approach things from audio artist point of view. Like its been said tons of competition. This can set you up for more options and making yourself much more marketable. Not to mention tons more job opportunities if video game sound falls through.

I would take some beginning classes at a school or online and see if you like programming first. Programming is a entirely different way of thinking and you might not be apt for it/enjoy it. Have you done any audio for games yet? I would try to get an internship first. While a master degree in programming will help your career path in that field one in sound isn't going to help you any more than your current degree. Examples of work is what will make the difference at this point. Get on mod teams and get some experience. Either way if you want to be more of an artist learn some programming as that will set you apart. The artists spend more than half their time on implementation of their assets. If you don't understand basic audio object oriented programming you better have a killer reel.

Good Luck
-Dan

Sent from my PC36100 using Gearslutz.com
I've done quite a bit of programming in audio environments, namely Csound and Max MSP. In terms of portfolio, most of my stuff has been with a focus on production with a few compositions aswel. Therefore I'm hoping to get experience with a small developer but it seems I'd need at least the basics in C++ and that's what I'm hoping to gain from the Masters as all those elements will be covered.

In terms of game audio I've done a few compositions but want to do some sound design and implementation. Any suggestions as to where I could get experience in these areas?
Old 12th May 2012
  #7
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Related to employment ops, there's always a demand for good audio programmers in the field.

I've worked in games for 20 years and am an audio director and composer. In my experience, the hardest spot to fill is the audio programmer role.
Old 12th May 2012
  #8
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Capricorn. Why focus an smaller studio.
Try and get an entry level gig at one of the big studios. That's where you will learn the most.

Tats how I approached my career.
Start at the top when looking for a job, and work your way down, until youngest your first gig. It takes just as much effort getting into a big place, as it does a small one.
Old 12th May 2012
  #9
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Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Capricorn. Why focus an smaller studio.
Try and get an entry level gig at one of the big studios. That's where you will learn the most.

Tats how I approached my career.
Start at the top when looking for a job, and work your way down, until youngest your first gig. It takes just as much effort getting into a big place, as it does a small one.
I was focusing on a smaller studio at the moment as with my background I don't have much knowledge of implementation and programming. I'm more a straight-up producer/composer. BUT I'd like to shift the focus to game audio programming/implementation as opposed to composition (more like the middleware guy) and my best option to do that seems to be with smaller projects as big studios surely won't entertain the thought of spoon feeding basic programming skills to an audio engineer.

As already mentioned, I don't want to be in competition with dedicated composers.
Old 12th May 2012
  #10
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Originally Posted by crashlight View Post
Related to employment ops, there's always a demand for good audio programmers in the field.

I've worked in games for 20 years and am an audio director and composer. In my experience, the hardest spot to fill is the audio programmer role.
Do you've any tips on how to make the transition from my current skillset (audio engineer with experience in audio programming environments)? As far as a body of work goes, I'd prefer to have some actual projects worked on as opposed to a portfolio full of compositions.
Old 12th May 2012
  #11
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Software engineering is certainly a different skill set, so learning core skills is a good place to begin.
I think someone in the thread mentioned MODs as a good way to gain experience, and I agree. There has also been an explosion of mobile apps and there's a lot of demand there so maybe you could get a foothold in that arena.

Also, you could always program your own audio-centric game app. Maybe team up with a lesser experienced, but ambitious game designer and visual artist. There are plenty of other forums to meet this kind of talent. Unity forums might be good for that.

But of course, learn software engineering skills first.
Old 12th May 2012
  #12
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Definitely the programming side!

I am co-founder of a game company, and experienced developer myself. It's relatively easy to find musicians, but it's very hard to find good programmers. Especially in C/C++.

Besides having inside in both sides of the game (developing and creation of music) gives you the possibilities to actually innovate game music itself, as music in larger titles becomes more and more dynamic.

But being a developer, of course my opinion is colored
Old 13th May 2012
  #13
Start with the basics of c++. Tons of step by step YouTube tutorials from the typical hello world program on up. Once you start getting your head around classes try building your own game. That would teach you the most because you can see what goes into various aspects of making a game. Again there are tons step by step guides to building a simple platform game for example. Once you've got that try out the unreal engine. There are looks of games people have made that you could download the source code and redo the sound on. I would suggest taking a basic class as it can be a difficult journey on your own. But imagine being able to have your future employer download your app and play it during your interview. More impressive than a reel of compositions as you say. Could see your creativity as well as programming sound and composing skills all together.

Good luck

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Old 13th May 2012
  #14
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If you've never learned to program before, I signed up to this site:

Learn to code | Codecademy

It's a bit more geared toward web development/java, but serves as a nice introduction.
Old 14th May 2012
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle007 View Post
Definitely the programming side!

I am co-founder of a game company, and experienced developer myself. It's relatively easy to find musicians, but it's very hard to find good programmers. Especially in C/C++.

Besides having inside in both sides of the game (developing and creation of music) gives you the possibilities to actually innovate game music itself, as music in larger titles becomes more and more dynamic.

But being a developer, of course my opinion is colored
It's hard to find both. It's easy to find crap musicians - there are loads of them. Even easier to find crap bedroom boys thinking they can cut it in game s( a big industry as you obviously know!!).

But - it's uber hard to find good composers and post production guys for the biz... even harder to find good audio coders... We have, like in the film biz, a lot of dubious creatives but very little true talent in the tech or creative areas!! So.... programming. Absolutely.
Old 14th May 2012
  #16
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I don't know about other studios, but at the studio I work at, the audio programmer is dedicated to pretty much improving tech and tools instead of implementation/sound design.

Personally, I'm a sound designer/implementator with no professional interest to be a audio programmer. I know it pays much better, but I'm happy doing sfx and implementation, which is where the action is.
Old 14th May 2012
  #17
Here's a site to help get you started in the industry. Great for beginners and has an ebook about breaking in to the biz - also has a job board

Game Audio



cheers
TJ
guitar tuner
Old 19th May 2012
  #18
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regarding job boards, there's also gamasutra.com. You're definitely going to want to attend next year's GDC conference and meet as many people as possible. There are also tons of small "indie" developers who could benefit from your music and you could benefit from the real-world experience.
Old 25th May 2012
  #19
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I'm really jealous of people who can get time in front of stuff like wwise and learn it.

So I vote programming.

(PS Anyone in the Austin area wanna show me some wwise? )
Old 25th May 2012
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Staccat0 View Post
I'm really jealous of people who can get time in front of stuff like wwise and learn it.

So I vote programming.

(PS Anyone in the Austin area wanna show me some wwise? )
Look what adsr was saying.

wwise/FMOD/UDK is not on the programmer's side. It's part of the implementation that is done by the sound designers.

BTW, there are great online tutorials for FMOD and wwise.
Old 25th May 2012
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
BTW, there are great online tutorials for FMOD and wwise.
...both of which are free, so no excuses! The Unreal Engine is also a free 'world editor', where you can practice creating ambient zones, placing emitters etc.

The main difficulty that I encountered learning implementation is that to get the most out of it, you need your world editor to talk to your audio implementation tool. Unfortunately, as far as I know you can't do that at this time without being a developer. Perhaps you can with Unity.

Many developers use their own proprietary implementation tools anyway, so the important thing is to get the concepts and terminology down.

I've heard more than one audio director say that if you (as a sound designer or composer) have C++ chops, you'll be in high demand. Even if you don't spend any time developing or improving existing tools, you'll know how to communicate with those who do.
Old 26th May 2012
  #22
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Originally Posted by PoxyMusic View Post
...both of which are free, so no excuses! The Unreal Engine is also a free 'world editor', where you can practice creating ambient zones, placing emitters etc.

The main difficulty that I encountered learning implementation is that to get the most out of it, you need your world editor to talk to your audio implementation tool. Unfortunately, as far as I know you can't do that at this time without being a developer. Perhaps you can with Unity.

Many developers use their own proprietary implementation tools anyway, so the important thing is to get the concepts and terminology down.

I've heard more than one audio director say that if you (as a sound designer or composer) have C++ chops, you'll be in high demand. Even if you don't spend any time developing or improving existing tools, you'll know how to communicate with those who do.
+1 , implementation is IMO - being able to implement sounds using both the world engine/game engine and audio middleware. Your level designer or programmer colleagues will be busy enough to not have the time to do the game engine implementation part for you.

Communication with non-audio people is key - this sounds ridiculously simple, but it takes a while to understand the concepts/techniques of playing a sound in a game. And getting non-audio guys to understand you...that's a big part of the job.

FWIW I use Wwise everyday....no C++/programming skills whatsoever. But I know what a boolean is! (translated into non-programmer: checkbox)
Old 26th May 2012
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapricornOne View Post
I've done quite a bit of programming in audio environments, namely Csound and Max MSP.
I was going to let it go... but I can't.
Just for the record... neither of these two are "programming." CSound is a scripting language and Max is a "boxes and lines" or object oriented synthesis package. C+/C++/C# are much deeper and are true programming languages.

While I agree that a programming degree is the smarter choice in the grand scheme of life, I think that depth in middleware is the ticket if game audio is your real life path.
Old 28th May 2012
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapricornOne View Post
I was focusing on a smaller studio at the moment as with my background I don't have much knowledge of implementation and programming. I'm more a straight-up producer/composer. BUT I'd like to shift the focus to game audio programming/implementation as opposed to composition (more like the middleware guy) and my best option to do that seems to be with smaller projects as big studios surely won't entertain the thought of spoon feeding basic programming skills to an audio engineer.
You certainly need to know the basics to get started anywhere but after that I would think that smaller studios don't have the budgets or manpower to train or guide you. In my experience, smaller places want/need people that are already up to speed with everything and can jump straight in... preferably yesterday. Larger facilities usually have a bit more leeway to get you up to speed.

IMO to be good at sound design and audio engineering you need to have the basic talent and feeling for sound within you. Something no one can teach you. After that it is practise and experience. Programming on the other hand is less of a feeling thing IMO although to be really good at it you need an analytical mind, excellent problem solving skills and great attention to detail. (And of course practise and experience).

If you are smart and analytical enough to learn (C++) programming, learning the basic technical aspects of sound design (by that I mean manipulating the DAW, samplers, synths, effects etc) should come easier than the other way round (assuming you have the basic talent in you). After all, audio tools are made for non-programmers. Programming environments are not. They are made for highly technical minded people assumed to know all the technical jargon and platform idiosyncrasies etc...

Programmers will always be more in demand so that is a much safer background to have than the other way round. That said, if your are dedicated and good at what you do you will succeed either way.

Alistair
Old 29th May 2012
  #25
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Might it be worth getting involved in some Modding Projects to get some video game Sound Design experience?
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