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Mini Q+A with Brian Schmidt - seasoned game audio pro and founder of GameSoundCon
Old 21st October 2017
  #1
Lightbulb Mini Q+A with Brian Schmidt - seasoned game audio pro and founder of GameSoundCon

UPDATE: Now closed to new questions! Thanks to everyone who participated!!

Hey everyone! In advance of next month's big GameSoundCon, Brian Schmidt is going to hang with us for a few days and answer any questions you have about game audio - business, technical or creative! We're doing it here in this new immersive audio forum because the future of lots of high-end game sound is certainly going to be in this space.

This is a rare opportunity to pick the mind of a master. His bio is below!

Because this is a very specialist topic, in a slightly more focussed, condensed format than our usual site Q+As we are going to try running the Q+A within this one thread to start with - if things go crazy, we may have to expand the format, but for now let's see if this works - so just reply to this thread with your question and he will be jumping in from next Tuesday the 24th till about Thurs or Friday to answer stuff, maybe a little longer if things are really fun.

Because Brian is a super generous dude in both the metaphorical knowledge sense and also the literal sense, he is going to give away two passes to GameSoundCon - we'll pick two winners at random from question submitters and hopefully they can make use of them (they are worth almost $700 each!)

Big thanks to Brian (@bschmidt) for doing this, we think it'll be very enlightening.

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BRIAN SCHMIDT is the founder and creator of GameSoundCon, the industry-leading conference focused on video game music and sound design. The 2008 recipient of the Game Audio Network Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Brian has been creating game music, sounds and cutting edge game sound technology since 1987. With a credit list of over 130 games and a client list including Zynga, Sony, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Sega, Microsoft, Data East, Namco, SounDelux and many others, Brian has used his combined expertise and experience in music composition, sound design and his deep technical knowledge to change the landscape of the game audio industry.

Brian currently sits on the advisory board of the Game Developer Conference, is a founding board member of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) is a former steering committee member of the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (ia-sig) of the MMA, and has been a featured keynote speaker at The Game Developers Conference and Project BBQ. Brian was also a member of a select group of ten game audio professionals who successfully lobbied NARAS into making video game soundtracks eligible for the Grammy Award in 1999. In 2012, Brian was elected President of the Game Audio Network Guild and currently serves in that role.

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Old 21st October 2017
  #2
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Brian, with you're sound card background with standardizing audio algorithms, you bringing in surround sound to games with the initial xbox, and your cell phone games that are in my mind the first XR audio ... Q. what do you think about the roll out of 2nd order ambisonics as a new standard to build workflow on? [I'm thinking of cutting my entire workflow and distribution channels to 2nd order ambisonics for primarily cell phone distribution, that sound like a good bet ?]
Old 23rd October 2017
  #3
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Brian,

I've done a bit of mastering for video game soundtracks and really enjoyed it. Good music, often mixed by the composer himself in a musical way.
I'd be interested in doing more of this work and wondering... what's the route that big games take for mastering? Do they have someone in-house or just use a music mastering house?

Thanks!
Old 23rd October 2017
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickFaith View Post
Brian, with you're sound card background with standardizing audio algorithms, you bringing in surround sound to games with the initial xbox, and your cell phone games that are in my mind the first XR audio ... Q. what do you think about the roll out of 2nd order ambisonics as a new standard to build workflow on? [I'm thinking of cutting my entire workflow and distribution channels to 2nd order ambisonics for primarily cell phone distribution, that sound like a good bet ?]
Wow, a hard question right off the bat! I presume you're talking about recorded or generated semi-interactive scenes (i.e. you just want to be able to 'look around' by moving your cell phone in a 3D youtube video, etc, as opposed to creating content for mobile games).

2nd order is generally a decent tradeoff between spatial resolution (1st order is very coarse) and data size (9 channels), but you are still at the whim of the decoder. I.e. even today Youtube (even on computer) recommends B format (1st order). So in the near term, I'd be worried that I was carrying around a bunch of extra channels that get thrown away by a 1st order decoder.
But if you want a bit better spatial resolution than 1st order can deliver, or are looking to 'future proof' your content, 2nd is a reasonable compromise.

That said, on systems where spatial accuracy is very important (eg VR games, etc), most people use 3rd order. Space isn't so much an issue because most of these applications encode into HOA in real-time (eg on PC, Playstation VR, etc.)
Note that even 3rd order spatial resolution gets 'smeary' above about 3kHz, which some people consider insufficient for VR apps, preferring individual HRTF channels or other non-ambisonic formats for VR games.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #5
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Hi Brian,

What are your thoughts about the trade-off between realistic spatial audio vs stylized audio in different game genres. I recall some presentation (perhaps at GDC) where the Microsoft guys teamed up with Unreal to precompute reverb and directional sound-fields (BEM based) across a map but the game-sound engineers had to override much of the former's effects as it defied certain expectations (e.g. small room sounding more reverby than a large space).

Also, is the application of spatial audio suitable for VR experiences that are not geared towards realism? e.g. embedding spatial audio within a cartoony VR world produces an "uncanny valley" effect?

Last, do you think mixed reality is a new opportunity for changing how music could be produced? Traditional DAW interfaces have reached a certain plateau in the amount of feedback that could be mustered between screen-mouse-keyboard-midi controller. A multi-surface/volumetric-medium and extension of the wand would conceivably move the process towards a richer digital/analog hybrid domain.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nonnaci View Post
Hi Brian,

What are your thoughts about the trade-off between realistic spatial audio vs stylized audio in different game genres. I recall some presentation (perhaps at GDC) where the Microsoft guys teamed up with Unreal to precompute reverb and directional sound-fields (BEM based) across a map but the game-sound engineers had to override much of the former's effects as it defied certain expectations (e.g. small room sounding more reverby than a large space).

Also, is the application of spatial audio suitable for VR experiences that are not geared towards realism? e.g. embedding spatial audio within a cartoony VR world produces an "uncanny valley" effect?

Last, do you think mixed reality is a new opportunity for changing how music could be produced? Traditional DAW interfaces have reached a certain plateau in the amount of feedback that could be mustered between screen-mouse-keyboard-midi controller. A multi-surface/volumetric-medium and extension of the wand would conceivably move the process towards a richer digital/analog hybrid domain.
For games, I'm a big believer in "sounds fun" beats "is accurate." We also have to remember that many times in game we are really trying to match user perception, since many of the audioscapes are are trying to create have never been actually experienced by the player. For example, if you enter a big cave in a game/vr app, the player has probably never actually been in a big cave. But, they still have an idea about what it *should* sound like--maybe they got it from watching movies, or maybe they are just extrapolating their own limited experiences. So I would argue that it's more fun to match the non-accurate physically, but 'accurate expectation' (as far as player preconception is concerned) experience. That's why the MS algorithms often had to be overridden by the human sound designers.

As far as the 'uncanny valley' effect [that's the observation that as you try to make robots/animations more literally human looking, they actually become kind of creepier/uncomfortable for people], I haven't seen any evidence that this effect translates over to spatialization, but I do know that's an area of research. Anecdotally, there tends to be a lot of leeway we have in forgiving a mismatch between a physically accurate acoustic space and a 'faked' acoustic space. The uncanny valley effect itself does seem to be limited to "artificial humanoids" and doesn't seem to apply to non-human entities. But while the uncanny valley wouldn't seem to apply to reverbs/acoustic spaces, it does seem to apply to human speech generation. I.e. text to speech systems do sound kind of creepy as you move from "Stephen Hawking" speech synthesis to realistic sounding speech synthesis, especially as you start trying to add emotion to the voice.

For your last question. YES! I think the Mixed/augmented reality has huge potential for music production. Beringer had a demo of this at NAMM last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9MTlsA-wi4 . There are some challenges (precision of gestures, lack of haptic [tactile] feedback), but once these get worked out, it opens up a lot of possibilities. I'm sure there will be some false starts (for example, UI's that leave the user with sore arms and are too tiring to use!), but in general I'm very excited about the possibilities. And I think the successful ones will be true mixed reality.. i.e. work in conjunction with physical equipment (eg mixing consoles) and not just try to be a 100% virtual UI.
Old 23rd October 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Diamond View Post
Brian,

I've done a bit of mastering for video game soundtracks and really enjoyed it. Good music, often mixed by the composer himself in a musical way.
I'd be interested in doing more of this work and wondering... what's the route that big games take for mastering? Do they have someone in-house or just use a music mastering house?

Thanks!
One thing that's fun about games (or frustrating, depending on your perspective) is that it's still the Wild West-- companies often do many different things, and there is no "well, this is how the industry does it" that will cover 95% of the bases. So the answer to your question is "it depends...."

In games, we often need to deliver 'semi finished' music as stems--separate tracks with different instrument groups, for example. The reason we do this is because very often how we want to the music to sound will depend on what the player is doing in the game-- and we can't know in advance what they'll do or when they'll do it. So by delivering music as stems (layers), we can have the game pick which layers need to be playing at any given moment in time, and mix them together.

So in that sense, we don't "master" the music in the traditional sense much of the time, although we do have to make sure our stems (submixes) are themselves appropriately mixed. Stem mixing might be done in-house or by an external, dispassionate mix engineer; it really depends on the studio's preference. Of course the higher budget games are more likely to have the $$ for external mix engineers.

Note: this is for music that is delivered as part of the game itself. If you put out a game soundtrack album containing finished, mixed music, you would likely have that mastered in the more traditional sense- that's the case where a company would most likely use an external mastering studio.


To more thoroughly answer your question and in order to get it from one of the most in-demand and experienced game music mixers out there, I reached out to my music recording, mixing & mastering engineer friend John Rodd for specific info about his approach to mastering game scores and stem mixes. If you are not familiar with his credits they include many AAA games including Call of Duty, five Star Wars game scores, three Assassin Creed scores, and numerous titles for Blizzard including World of Warcraft and Overwatch. He has also worked on hundreds of film scores, including the film Get Out and shows like Better Call Saul.

To quote John:

"Music mastering can mean many different things to different people.

Many think that mastering is just making it louder with a peak limiter, but that is only one possible part of music mastering, and in some occasions, music is not peak limited at all!

When I am creating stem music mixes…. plus a full music mix for a game score, I am always sure to make sure that any mix processing that is a part of the “food group” (for example the synth pads stem mix) always gets baked into that stem mix.
So if I happen to be doing some subtle overall compression and EQ on the synth pads stem mix buss, that compression and EQ is baked into the synth pads stem mix. One might call it mastering….. but I would just call it mixing. For decades music engineers have been using mix or submix buss processing.

So it really comes down to semantics, and I would generally call mix buss processing or even submix (stem mix) processing: mixing.

Generally speaking music that I mix goes right into the game, so of course I have to make sure it is sounding fantastic, and needs no further work. To achieve this I do use some of the same tools and techniques that I use when mastering score albums, in addition to my mixing techniques.

Except for extremely rare situations…. for game scores there is generally no separate “mastering” process that happens in between the score mix completion, and the score then being placed into the game. This is due to schedule, plus the sheer volume of music needed for a game. Furthermore the score mix should just be “right” and work well in the game, as it is delivered by the score mixing engineer.

The separate situation is……. score albums you buy will have (or should have) been mastered by an experienced album mastering engineer. This is standard practice. "


Thanks John!!!
Old 23rd October 2017
  #8
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Wow.... in all my years using these forums that is probably the best reply I've ever gotten. Extreme thanks.
Old 24th October 2017
  #9
Gear Addict
Hi Brian,

Great that you have a Q&A here!

I've been making music for a long time but not made it in any kind of career or professional business. When I started to be more serious about making music, I always wanted to be a game music/sound designer.

The industry is diverse and the games vary a lot from small indy games to huge productions. One of my dreams is to be make a living, or rather...make music that is used in games. I started to love this when playing games like Command & Conquer, the sierra 'Quest for glory, final fantasy and world of warcraft series... all great!

Do you have a tip to start small. And to be more specific:

- How/where can you get (small) assignments for this kind of industry. Are there platforms to get into the industry?
- Creative work is always hard to match with the requirements and expectations. Mostly, requires skill, creativity and....experience. Do you have some insights for a starter? :-)
- How to deliver this? (What is the standard for stems?)

Or just basically...how to get into game music as a 'bedroom producer', :-D


The questions are a bit all over the place, I hope you be able to answer a few !

Many thanks in advance,
Jordy
Old 24th October 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gitaarwerk View Post
Hi Brian,

Great that you have a Q&A here!

I've been making music for a long time but not made it in any kind of career or professional business. When I started to be more serious about making music, I always wanted to be a game music/sound designer.

The industry is diverse and the games vary a lot from small indy games to huge productions. One of my dreams is to be make a living, or rather...make music that is used in games. I started to love this when playing games like Command & Conquer, the sierra 'Quest for glory, final fantasy and world of warcraft series... all great!

Do you have a tip to start small. And to be more specific:

- How/where can you get (small) assignments for this kind of industry. Are there platforms to get into the industry?
- Creative work is always hard to match with the requirements and expectations. Mostly, requires skill, creativity and....experience. Do you have some insights for a starter? :-)
- How to deliver this? (What is the standard for stems?)

Or just basically...how to get into game music as a 'bedroom producer', :-D


The questions are a bit all over the place, I hope you be able to answer a few !

Many thanks in advance,
Jordy
Hi Jordy,
Thank you for your question(s)!

The game biz is a lot like the music biz-- a lot of it is done via networking/who knows whom, etc.
There are 2 types of people it's good to know if you want to start getting some game audio gigs: game developers (that includes designers, programmers, artists, etc) and fellow game composers

The reason you want to get to know game developers is probably pretty obvious-- they are the ones looking for people to do music/sfx for their games.
The best way to do that is in person--either at 'networking' events (though I despise that term for reasons I'll get to in a sec..), or game development clubs or other get-togethers.

One way to find them as well is to look for a "game jam" in your area. A game jam is basically "throw some programmers, artists, game designers and...composers in a room/hotel/train for a couple days with some computers and at the end of 48 hours, there's a game. You can find some game jams either by googling or checking out sites like https://globalgamejam.org/
Colleges/universities with decent computer science and/or game development programs are also a good place to meet fellow fledgling game developers.

The reason you want to get to know fellow game audio people is a bit more subtle, and will help your career long-term. For many mid-sized and most large-sized game companies, there is a role called "Audio Director." The audio director in these companies often will do the actual hiring of freelance composers and sound designers for specific games. And these people are almost always composers/sound designers themselves. So your 'competitor' today (a fellow freelance composer) may be the person in a position to hire you 2 years from now.

I mentioned 'networking' above. One thing that (IMHO) it is important to keeping mind is that network is NOT speed-dating. In fact, it's just the opposite. People who I have seen successfully work their way into the game music industry sometimes spend years building their network--attending conferences, participating in on-line forums, attending game jams or other networking events. Networking is NOT "Hi--Here's my demo--I'll do a great job scoring your game." But rather it's a slow-play of making true connections with people, and going in to a specific event with no expectation of coming out that date with a gig. It's far better to come out of a 'networking event' having made 2-3 real connections and conversations with people than a stack of business cards/'prospects'.

Regarding your question on 'experience'.. Yes, matching can be hard. That's why game jams and school/university game development programs are good-- they are all at the same stage as you-just learning this stuff. So you're all a bit more tolerant of the fact that everyone is learning. There's a further benefit that you are now making good connections with people who may not be game developers right now, but may well end up in the industry themselves. So you are building your network.

"How to Deliver this? What is the standard for Stems"
This is a pretty long topic for an email thread .. we spend 2 days at GameSoundCon going over this stuff! That said. there are a couple of semi-industry standard game audio tools. one is called Wwise (pronounced just 'wise') from www.audiokinetic.com. The other is "FMOD Studio" (fmod.com). The cool thing about game audio tools is that they are completely free to download and learn. Only if a game uses the technology does the company charge a license fee, and then it is the game developer (not you!) who pays it. That makes it cheap to learn. That said, it's important to understand the issues/problems the tools are trying to solve--those unique technical and creative challenges we have in games that don't exist in more traditional media (Film, TV, etc.). Otherwise, those tools can be pretty confusing.

Here are a couple resources:
GameSoundCon: This is the conference I run, which includes a 2-day "crash course" on game audio. (it also has lots of other stuff for more experienced game audio people as well). That's Nov 7-8 in LA and is probably one of the best events for meeting fellow game audio people.

GDC | Home. This is the big Game Developers Conference held each year in San Francisco. This year it's March 19-23, 2018. As much as I hate to say it, if you can only go to one conference, it should be this (of course you should go to GameSoundCon, too ). GDC is 25,000 game developers all converging on San Francisco. The one downside to GDC is that everyone there is hustling, so it can be harder to grab peoples attention; but it is a must-attend event if you're serious about working in games.

globalgamejam.org I already mentioned.

IndieCade - International Festival of Independent Games is a conference of indie game developers. This can be a good place to try to meet new game developers.

There are also some good books: if you're specifically interested in music,
Chance Thomas' book Composing Music for Games is quite good
Winifred Phillips A Composers Guide to Game Music
As is Michael Sweets "writing music for video games"


For more than just music, there's Aaron Marks' Complete Guide to Game Audio

And a final reminder on building a network--networking is a lifelong process, not a quick-fix.

I have a pretty big network these days of course--i.e. people who would take a phone call, meet for lunch, etc. Among them are:

-- The designer/producer for one of the largest selling video game franchises of all time.
-- A "c-suite" executive at multiple major game companies
-- The senior audio director at a major game publisher
-- The drummer for a major rock band, who has been on the cover of Modern Drummer multiple times.

I single these out because I met and got to know each of these when we were all just starting out, with zero credits or experience. I played in a wedding band with the drummer; the exec and game designer were each just out of school when I met them (the game designer became my Best Man); the audio director and I played in a band in college. As we've each grown in our careers, we have passed along references and recommendations, or worked directly together.

That's what I mean by "networking is a slow-play." These connections take time, but can pay off. And ironically, by not trying to make them 'pay off,' they often end up being the highest value.

Wow..sorry such a long-winded response!
Old 28th October 2017
  #11
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If I could ask another queston, I read and watched your video's on https://www.brianschmidtstudios.com ... I found a lot of super useful interviews on there. Where i'm at is in the cinematic VR space though, and was woundering when the cinematic VR distribution mechanism are going to come together. Seems like the vr game distribution side is working extremely well, but the cinematic vr distribution side seems broken, even content that should work like movies done in 3D aren't streamed by the studioes but mapped in 2D onto vr walls with simulated stereo (i.e. it doesn't feel like they are using even the 5.1 sound in the streaming vr apps like hulu).
Old 29th October 2017
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickFaith View Post
If I could ask another queston, I read and watched your video's on https://www.brianschmidtstudios.com ... I found a lot of super useful interviews on there. Where i'm at is in the cinematic VR space though, and was woundering when the cinematic VR distribution mechanism are going to come together. Seems like the vr game distribution side is working extremely well, but the cinematic vr distribution side seems broken, even content that should work like movies done in 3D aren't streamed by the studioes but mapped in 2D onto vr walls with simulated stereo (i.e. it doesn't feel like they are using even the 5.1 sound in the streaming vr apps like hulu).
Disclaimer: I'm not nearly as 'up' on cinematic (semi-linear) VR as I am games....

From what I can garner, the linear media studios are still trying to get their hands around VR. VR is inherently much more like a game than a traditional movie or TV show-- i.e. for audio, VR audio is--from a technical standpoint-- almost the same as doing sound for a typical 3D game. That's stuff we've been doing for literally over 20 years. Object based panning, rolloff curves..even HRTF processing and room modelling were present in the original Xbox (2001) and PC sound cards going back to the late 90's. But it is all 'new' for cinematic VR.

As soon as you put the VR headset on, you necessarily need to use technology that hasn't been needed to be used in linear media. And the linear media tools just aren't up to the task.


If you think about it, Hollywood has always been the undisputed master at the completely curated media experience. Every detail of presentation is specified--scene length, audio mix, camera angles, lighting..everything. And the result is a final cut of a movie and a final soundtrack.
VR changes that, by allowing users to vary how the content is presented--even by something as simple as just turning their head... Not to mention peering underneath things, walking towards things.. even in non-game cinematic VR.
Hollywood has never been very good at non-curated media experiences.. that's where the game companies have always shined. And I think that's why cinematic VR has been having a bit if trouble finding its legs.

What you are starting to see is more game-oriented tools (such as Unity) seeing the opportunities in cinematic VR and adding in features that are more useful for that, and not as much so for a typical game developer customer. A perfect example of that is Unity's new feature (out a couple months ago) "Timeline and Cinemachine".

That's one of the reasons, I think that from an audio perspective, knowing the tools/technologies of game audio will be a big benefit to traditional media sound designers who want to cinematic VR.
Old 29th October 2017
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Hi Brian,

here is an educational question. I am a classical Cellist, who realized it won’t be exciting enough for me to continue on a conservatory, so I changed to sound. As I like to tell stories or support stories by sound I went to a film university for sounddesign and mixing. After successful film projects I am now in a glad position to get a scholarship for visiting a media university worldwide to create new skills in games audio and VR and extend my sounddesign/music. This year I already got in touch with FMOD and people working not in film but in the games audio industrie (e.g. at EA). I am learning fast but still their environment is different to mine.
My question is, if you can recommend a games audio / VR university class anywhere in the US, Canada or somewhere else?

When I think on the massive adventurous time I spend over years on the game Half-Life and its worldcraft editor and the group of players (all adults) I guided with just my young 12 years this will be my final destination to go for.

Thank you for this Q&A
Johannes
Old 30th October 2017
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Hannes View Post
Hi Brian,

here is an educational question. I am a classical Cellist, who realized it won’t be exciting enough for me to continue on a conservatory, so I changed to sound. As I like to tell stories or support stories by sound I went to a film university for sounddesign and mixing. After successful film projects I am now in a glad position to get a scholarship for visiting a media university worldwide to create new skills in games audio and VR and extend my sounddesign/music. This year I already got in touch with FMOD and people working not in film but in the games audio industrie (e.g. at EA). I am learning fast but still their environment is different to mine.
My question is, if you can recommend a games audio / VR university class anywhere in the US, Canada or somewhere else?

When I think on the massive adventurous time I spend over years on the game Half-Life and its worldcraft editor and the group of players (all adults) I guided with just my young 12 years this will be my final destination to go for.

Thank you for this Q&A
Johannes
Hi Johannes,
Thank you for your question.

I can relate-- I originally went to college to be a classical tuba player

There are a few places that offer programs in creating audio for media/games.

Berklee college of music (Boston) offers a Minor in Video Game Scoring, and a minor in Audio Design for Video Games

DigiPen Institute of Technology--well known for it's degree programs for video game programmers and designers recently started offering 2 degree programs in game audio. Bachelor of Arts in Music and Sound Design and Bachelor of Science, Computer Science in Digital Audio (Disclaimer, I teach part-time at DigiPen and helped design their curriculum)

The UCLA Extension has a course in Composing Music for Video Games

As far as classes go, as opposed to degree programs, many colleges offer at least a class or two in video game music composition, particularly those with strong film scoring programs such as NYU, USC (Thornton School of Music) and Columbia College (Chicago).

An important thing (IMO) is to see if a degree program or set of courses has you actually involved in doing game projects, eg with other programming/art, etc students. That kind of hands-on experience can be very helpful.
Old 31st October 2017
  #15
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by bschmidt View Post
Hi Jordy,
Thank you for your question(s)!

The game biz is a lot like the music biz-- a lot of it is done via networking/who knows whom, etc.
There are 2 types of people it's good to know if you want to start getting some game audio gigs: game developers (that includes designers, programmers, artists, etc) and fellow game composers
Wow, thanks for the elaborate reply. I had to take some time to reply, sorry :-)

I was thinking of this. It is hard for me to get in touch. I was hoping for platforms to show off the skills of the trade and get into contact with fellow starting developers and musicians.

Quote:
The reason you want to get to know game developers is probably pretty obvious-- they are the ones looking for people to do music/sfx for their games.
The best way to do that is in person--either at 'networking' events (though I despise that term for reasons I'll get to in a sec..), or game development clubs or other get-togethers.
Ha, i might know how you feel! When I was self-employed, I disliked those things too. Usually, reference worked best for me. In the end, it also was something that was the thing I struggled most with. Fortunately, I am also a developer in my day job, except, I am no game developer. That might give me a benefit. I know there are some "Meetup"(platform) meetings, but they are very minimal.

Quote:
One way to find them as well is to look for a "game jam" in your area. A game jam is basically "throw some programmers, artists, game designers and...composers in a room/hotel/train for a couple days with some computers and at the end of 48 hours, there's a game. You can find some game jams either by googling or checking out sites like https://globalgamejam.org/
Colleges/universities with decent computer science and/or game development programs are also a good place to meet fellow fledgling game developers.
Nice! This is something I would love to do. Not many for my area yet, but this is something I will keep bookmarked! Thanks!

Quote:
The reason you want to get to know fellow game audio people is a bit more subtle, and will help your career long-term. For many mid-sized and most large-sized game companies, there is a role called "Audio Director." The audio director in these companies often will do the actual hiring of freelance composers and sound designers for specific games. And these people are almost always composers/sound designers themselves. So your 'competitor' today (a fellow freelance composer) may be the person in a position to hire you 2 years from now.
Yhea :-) the actual networking. I believe I just need to get over the thing, and start doing it :-)

Quote:
I mentioned 'networking' above. One thing that (IMHO) it is important to keeping mind is that network is NOT speed-dating. In fact, it's just the opposite. People who I have seen successfully work their way into the game music industry sometimes spend years building their network--attending conferences, participating in on-line forums, attending game jams or other networking events. Networking is NOT "Hi--Here's my demo--I'll do a great job scoring your game." But rather it's a slow-play of making true connections with people, and going in to a specific event with no expectation of coming out that date with a gig. It's far better to come out of a 'networking event' having made 2-3 real connections and conversations with people than a stack of business cards/'prospects'.
This sounds much better than 'networking'. I am a developer, and I know how valuable it is to be able to work together. One can code, or make music better than any other, however, if he/she cannot work together, nothing really comes out. I think showing off to get results together in a fun way, is more important sometimes. And I believe in this case... it will :-) I never thought of this way of getting into the business. I really like that approach!

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Regarding your question on 'experience'.. Yes, matching can be hard. That's why game jams and school/university game development programs are good-- they are all at the same stage as you-just learning this stuff. So you're all a bit more tolerant of the fact that everyone is learning. There's a further benefit that you are now making good connections with people who may not be game developers right now, but may well end up in the industry themselves. So you are building your network.
I unfortunately passed the fact I can spend more time on education at universities. I decided to take up proper piano lessons with also some focus on theory, skill and composition. I think being open about not knowing it all, makes way for learning... and this is something I really love to do.

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"How to Deliver this? What is the standard for Stems"
This is a pretty long topic for an email thread .. we spend 2 days at GameSoundCon going over this stuff! That said. there are a couple of semi-industry standard game audio tools. one is called Wwise (pronounced just 'wise') from www.audiokinetic.com. The other is "FMOD Studio" (fmod.com). The cool thing about game audio tools is that they are completely free to download and learn. Only if a game uses the technology does the company charge a license fee, and then it is the game developer (not you!) who pays it. That makes it cheap to learn. That said, it's important to understand the issues/problems the tools are trying to solve--those unique technical and creative challenges we have in games that don't exist in more traditional media (Film, TV, etc.). Otherwise, those tools can be pretty confusing.
Great! I just took a quick look. I can understand that there are a lot of things to get over, and that this topic is not the best area for this! :-)
I really am sad that the GameSoundCon is far away for me (taking days off, travel to the other side of the world). I should be looking for something that would come close to your event. Sometimes, I wish I was a bit closer to the action ;-).

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Here are a couple resources:
GameSoundCon: This is the conference I run, which includes a 2-day "crash course" on game audio. (it also has lots of other stuff for more experienced game audio people as well). That's Nov 7-8 in LA and is probably one of the best events for meeting fellow game audio people.

GDC | Home. This is the big Game Developers Conference held each year in San Francisco. This year it's March 19-23, 2018. As much as I hate to say it, if you can only go to one conference, it should be this (of course you should go to GameSoundCon, too ). GDC is 25,000 game developers all converging on San Francisco. The one downside to GDC is that everyone there is hustling, so it can be harder to grab peoples attention; but it is a must-attend event if you're serious about working in games.

globalgamejam.org I already mentioned.

IndieCade - International Festival of Independent Games is a conference of indie game developers. This can be a good place to try to meet new game developers.

There are also some good books: if you're specifically interested in music,
Chance Thomas' book Composing Music for Games is quite good
Winifred Phillips A Composers Guide to Game Music
As is Michael Sweets "writing music for video games"


For more than just music, there's Aaron Marks' Complete Guide to Game Audio
Thanks for this! Great I will go over them later. I already recognize the name "Chance Thomas" :-D. He scored the tracks for Quest for Glory V. And I LOVE that. Great!!

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And a final reminder on building a network--networking is a lifelong process, not a quick-fix.

I have a pretty big network these days of course--i.e. people who would take a phone call, meet for lunch, etc. Among them are:

-- The designer/producer for one of the largest selling video game franchises of all time.
-- A "c-suite" executive at multiple major game companies
-- The senior audio director at a major game publisher
-- The drummer for a major rock band, who has been on the cover of Modern Drummer multiple times.

I single these out because I met and got to know each of these when we were all just starting out, with zero credits or experience. I played in a wedding band with the drummer; the exec and game designer were each just out of school when I met them (the game designer became my Best Man); the audio director and I played in a band in college. As we've each grown in our careers, we have passed along references and recommendations, or worked directly together.

That's what I mean by "networking is a slow-play." These connections take time, but can pay off. And ironically, by not trying to make them 'pay off,' they often end up being the highest value.

Wow..sorry such a long-winded response!
Thanks so much for the insights and great explanation. These are a lot of things I should start to consider. It give me some great ideas. I luckily have some ares that I know people to help me in certain areas (mixing, mastering, music, developers).. so its only a few sidesteps I need to make. Perhaps take another developer job in a game publisher and start from there. (Like the same way that a Guild wars 2 composer also got her job :-) ).

Great great great! Thanks so much again!
Old 1st November 2017
  #16
Just want to say a huge thank-you to @ bschmidt for dropping by and doing this - we really appreciate your detailed replies to all the questions asked. We hope you learned something... let's try to give away a couple GameSoundCon passes then in the next 24 hours so a couple lucky folks can hit it up!
Old 3rd November 2017
  #17
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Yes thank you to everyone who made this little thread possible- a gearslutz gem for sure
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