In the run-up to this month’s reverb theme, former contributor Damian Kastbauer suggested we re-run this article he put together discussing the game Crackdown for XBOX. The article may be two years old, but the content remains undeniably relevant. Never one to ignore good suggestions, here we are…
One area that has been gaining ground since the early days of EAX on the PC platform, and more recently it’s omnipresence in audio middleware toolsets, is Reverb. With the ability to enhance the sounds playing back in the game with reverberant information from the surrounding space, you can effectively communicate to the player a truer approximation of “being there” and help to further immerse them in the game world. While we often take Reverb for granted in our everyday life as something that helps us position ourselves in a space (the cavernous echo of an airport, the openness of a forest), it is something that is continually giving us feedback on our surroundings, and thus a critical part of the way we experience the world.
This is an interview with our guest poster for November – Ariel Gross, Audio Director of game development studio Volition Inc, which produces such PC and console titles as the Saint’s Row and Red Faction series. Check out Ariel’s introduction post, and his blog ‘I Feel Like a Fraud and So Can You!‘
Can you tell us a little about how you got into audio, and your audio career in the games industry so far?
My dad brought home a Roland MT-32 in like, 1988. He wanted to hear Sierra games in all their glory, but he also liked to compose music as a hobby. So, we would play Space Quest and then crack open Cakewalk for DOS and compose little songs for fun. I’d been playing piano with him for a long time, and he’d always had a couple of synths, but I remember being blown away at the fidelity and variety of instruments on the MT-32. This is when I started fantasizing in earnest about being a professional musician of some sort. I would play some giant chords with a string patch and then bow for the applause in my head. Just one chord, then a bow. Over and over. I had a pretty good bow by the time I was 10.
ambiances, plural; ambiences, plural
- The character and atmosphere of a place
– the relaxed ambience of the cocktail lounge is popular with guests
- Background noise added to a musical recording to give the impression that it was recorded live
Wherever you may be reading this article, stop whatever you are doing, and listen to your environment. What do you hear? Tempting as it may be to declare ‘nothing’, the complex cacophony of the world around you is being combined, and fused together in your environment to create the sound of a specific location. The sound of your immediate surroundings is being pulled from all manner of sources such as electrical hums, water pipes, passing traffic, neighbours, the weather and even local wildlife. As indistinct these may be from your perspective, these sounds are still making their way, however faint, into your room, heavily filtered and being reverberated around and off your furnishings to distort them beyond recognition and delivered to your ear as a nondescript, intangible ‘room tone’. Its such a slight sound that many people simply don’t hear it. They hear ‘silence’ (Probably because they haven’t tried to make any recordings there!)
With the rise in popularity of sound design, and game audio as a career choice among audio engineers, there is a growing call for formal training and education courses that will prepare prospective professionals accordingly. Last week, I posted this open call for students to enrol in the School of Video Game Audio. The co-founder of the School, Leonard J. Paul, has been kind enough to take some time and answer some questions on the school, and its content and goals.
Can you give us a little background about yourself, and the school?
I’ve been involved in video games off and on since 1994. I originally started out in programming but these days I work on composition, sound design and implementation for video games. I work a bit in film as well and was the composer the “The Corporation” which is the highest-grossing Canadian documentary film in history. For the past ten years I’ve been working on video game audio education while continuing to work in games. For the last few years I’m concentrated on working with indie titles such as Retro City Rampage and Vessel by Strange Loop Games.
The idea of the school has been around for a while from conversations Gordon and I were having a few years back. It seemed that there was a service missing for people that wanted some guidance on learning game audio but didn’t have the time to attend a school or didn’t have any schools available nearby. I enjoy giving lectures internationally and have repeatedly found that there is an amazing growth of the gaming industry around the world but it is often difficult for people to learn from veterans in the field. By making the school online and by trying to keep the costs reasonable it helps make our knowledge available to a large range of students that wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity otherwise.
The first online school for learning how to create professional audio for video games has just announced that it is accepting applications for its first course from July to August 2012.
The application deadline of Friday June 29, 2012 is rapidly approaching and is limited to ten students, so make sure to have a look at the details on their application page at: http://School.VideoGameAudio.com/apply
- Learn how to make a professional demo reel in Audiokinetic’s Wwise and become more employable in the industry
- Work at your own pace through the course material with assistance from the instructor, Leonard J. Paul
- Course consists of videos, reading assignments, mini-projects and short tests that can be done at your own pace
- Suited for anyone with a strong audio background wishing to expand their knowledge and skills in the game audio industry
- 8 weeks of instructional materials at 10+ hours per week for $225 CAD which includes the $25 application fee
- No additional costs to purchase required books or other materials
- One top project from each class will chosen to receive 50% off the cost of the course and will be featured on the site
“It’s the first really solid and accessible game audio learning solution to be available worldwide, which will help any and everyone who wish to express themselves through this discipline.” – Francisco, student involved in the beta of the course