Hours 37 – 40: Art / Games / Hack Gamejam at The National Video Game Arcade

Hello! I’m back again, after a little while this time. Sadly my degree has been pretty heavy going at the moment (my currently unfinished dissertation is due in two days) so I haven’t had many chances to get out and do any recording. However, this past weekend I attended an event in Nottingham at the National Video Game Arcade (or Gamecity) called ‘Art/Games/Hack’, a kind of loose gamejam intended to bring together digital artists, game developers and other creatives, to make some cool ‘game’ prototypes. I’ve done a few game jams before, and they’ve been a lot of fun, so I figured it’d be good to go along. We ended up making an interesting little game, and it was great to hang out and meet some like-minded people. We actually were one of the winning teams at the jam too, which is pretty cool.

Essentially, the game was an amalgamation of a lot of other, older games. None of the team were pixel artists, so we pulled sprites and background etc from the web, and put this game together. We wanted it to be a little leftfield, so we decided to usurp the player expectations a little: the game appears to be a typical street-fighter esq scene, two players with equal health who batter each other til one dies. The truth is actually that the player is facing an AI Goliath, who will continue to attack until you’re dead. You cannot attack back, but only defend the onslaught from the attacker. To make this more complex, we intended to implement a feature whereby the block key is randomised periodically. Sadly the AI and this panic key switch didn’t make it into the prototype in full form, but that was our intention. There was also some weird camera zoom stuff going on that we didn’t get quite right. We used the name ‘mortal combat’ as our working title, a play on the classic game title (and mortality) and it stuck. Here’s a little bit of gameplay:

Sound wise, it was pretty fun. I’ve not done anything like the street-fighter style sound before, and I was really excited to try it out. I’ve been playing a ton of Super Smash Bros. with my flatmates recently, and I really love the fat sample-based sound they used for attacks. I really wanted to make some ridiculously oversized smashes and stuff for the attack sounds. I also wanted to explore the use of non-literal sounds to make it all a bit more fun.
The main element is the huge punches: these are built from a lot of different things. I made some punch sounds a while back so I pulled them from my library and crushed them up. I also mixed in a gunshot and some metal scrapes to give the sound a bit more character. I also put a number of kick drums in, as well as a super low bass stinger to give it a lot more depth (i’ve only recently realised how important low end stuff is in sound design). I implemented in FMOD, and I layered into some ‘audience reaction’ type stuff (a la smash bros) under the main punch, and turned the probability right down so it only played a small percentage of the time. It sounded super fun, sadly we scrapped FMOD implementation for everything other than the music (due mainly to time constraints) so sounds just went in as audio files.
I did make quite a cool stinger for the game start, again consisting of elements of the punch, a low end boom and some cool metal ‘shings’. I would’ve loved to have done some cool mortal kombat esq announcer VO to go in, but sadly we didn’t have time. I also made basic foley for all of the characters, footsteps, jump/land, and a crouch sound for the player character. I also made a sweet little ‘ouch’ sound for the attack impacts, that I smashed through some bit crushers to get an authentic lo-fi sound.

The other thing I made that i’m really pleased with was some cool chiptune music for the level. I’ve been really into making 8-bit chiptune type stuff recently, and hoping to explore it more in the future. I made this cool fighty loop of music, it’s got some nice bass stuff going on, a nice beat and some cool lead stuff too. It was implemented with FMOD, as it had some looping logic that’d be a pain to do in Unity.

All the sounds are below:

and the loop of music I made can be heard here:

and that’s the lot for the meantime! my dissertation deadline looms, and the end of my degree isn’t that far away either, so expect some cool stuff in the very near future.

Thanks for reading!

-Barney

http://barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

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Hours 37 – 40: Art / Games / Hack Gamejam at The National Video Game Arcade

Hours 33 – 37: IR Recording Part 2 – Disused Quarry

Hello friends! I’m back again, this time writing up some more IR recordings from earlier in the week.

For this IR recording session, I walked down to an old disused quarry, which is on the outskirts of my city. It’s a pretty huge space and it’s very impressive to walk around. It looks ace and I was aware that it had a huge cliff face, which I thought would probably give some cool reverb responses. I wasn’t wrong.

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It made for a fantastic IR recording location, and produced that typical ‘slapback’ type of sound when excited with a balloon. It’d be a perfect location to record guns i’d imagine, although it’s technically public land (so probably not). I did however rock up with my usual recording setup, a matched pair of 414’s in the mid/side configuration (on a stereo bar) going into the sound devices 633, and monitored with a pair of KRK headphones. The sound was good, a nice stereo spread (much like the IR’s from my last post) and it captured a nice sonic picture of the space. It was a windy day, and being so wide and flat, there was a lot of wind battering the mics. I did use the dead kittens again, but unfortunately there was still some problems with low end wind interference, which I think was to be expected. I’m thinking about building some kind of homemade blimp to use over the stereo bar – hopefully something that means I can still use the large diaphragm condensers.

Annoyingly I had trouble with the mid/side – for the first time, actually. Usually i’ve been quite diligent with checking that the mics are in the correct polar patterns, but stupidly this time that thought passed me by. I realised half way through the session that the front facing mic was on figure-8, and the mic on the side was in cardioid. It was very annoying – I quickly changed them to the correct setup, and retraced my steps to the cool sounding places, and re-recorded the balloon pop.

The recordings themselves are good, despite the noise. I’ve experimented a little with them as IR’s, and the results are, well, interesting. Essentially, unlike reverb, the large open space has created almost a delay effect. This sounds very cool when lit up with a balloon (or a gunshot, for example), but when applied to anything else, it just creates a quieter duplicate seconds after the transient. This will be a cool IR to play with in some scenarios – and definitely a great sound design tool – but I don’t think it’ll work perfectly with all sounds. When I release the IR library hopefully some other people may find some cool uses for them.

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I began facing the cliff-face, and popping the balloons from various distances. I found that the closer to the cliff-face itself, the less the slapback effect occurred in the sound. Below is a recording from this position, with the balloon roughly 5 meters from the wall – quite close. As you can hear, it’s very punchy and very tight. This’d be a perfect IR to liven up some exterior player or weapon foley, for example, when used subtly. Again, as with the previous IR recordings, this was captured without a limiter – so the sample recording is loud. Please be aware of this when listening. Its also worth mentioning that I haven’t done any processing other than the mid/side encoding – and the wind and low end noise will be taken out when the IR is properly edited.

Next I moved in a little further, and into a section that was indented slightly. This, again, created more of a tight decay, much like the first example. Annoyingly the ground all around this area was very boggy, and some parts were almost swamp-like. I guess there’s probably not a lot of drainage on such a flat plane of land.

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I think this’d be a great tight reverb to use to excite any outdoor sounds, without the fear of drowning them in an artificially huge sounding IR. At this point there were a couple of guys who turned up behind me, on quadbikes, and were riding around the quarry. They didn’t interfere with me at all, other than their engines being in the background of my recording. I was actually very tempted to ask them if I could record their quadbikes’ engines, but I decided against it. At any rate, some kind of low EQ work would be good to take out the rumble of the engines – but this’ll be done when I come to edit the IR’s properly. Again, this is a loud recording.

And lastly, I managed to capture the ‘slapback’ delay thing as I moved into a more rounded area, which had cliffs on both sides.

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I’m pretty impressed with how these turned out. You can hear the solid slapback delay, and I think the mid/side captured it very well. Irritatingly however, on the second pop, there was a large group of birds at the top of the cliffs to one side: while they did fly away when I actually popped the balloon, they did chirp a bit during the actual transient, so hopefully that will be something I can look at when editing. As you can hear, traffic had picked up a bit, as it was about 5pm: this will also be taken out during the editing process. As usual, all of these samples are raw from the recorder.

So that’s the lot for the meantime! i’m planning to do some more cool IR recording sessions in the near future, stay tuned for that.

Thanks for reading!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 33 – 37: IR Recording Part 2 – Disused Quarry