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COMPUTER GAME – PROBLEMS OF GAME AUDIO

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					NORTH KARELIA UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES
Degree Programme in Communication




                             Tapio Liukkonen
COMPUTER GAME – PROBLEMS OF GAME AUDIO




  Thesis
  Autumn 2006
                                                    THESIS
                                                    Autumn 2006
                                                    Degree Programme in Communication
                                                    Länsikatu 15
                                                    FIN 80110 Joensuu
                                                    FINLAND
                                                    Tel. 358-50-595 0138


Author(s)
Paavo Tapio Liukkonen


Title
Computer Game – Problems of Game Audio
Commissioned by
North Karelia university Of Applied Sciences
Abstract
The aim of the thesis was to research how to improve computer game audio. However,
the thesis did not focus on the technical side of it. Instead, the focus was on co-operation
between the producing team and the sound designer. The aim of the thesis was to study
problems in game audio and find ways to avoid them. Furthermore, the thesis studied the
ways in which a sound designer can improve his own creativity.

The approach used in this thesis assumes that the readers have the basic knowledge of
digital sound and working methods. The purpose was to introduce game making process
and describe how sound belongs to it. This thesis did not concentrate on game music be-
cause that is its own special area. Instead, the focus is on other game audio working areas
such as sound effects and voice over.

There is not much literature on game sound but nevertheless, there are a few very good
books. Each of them has its own special area. Marks Aaron’s ”Game Audio” focuses on
business, contract and basic issues of game audio. George Sanger’s ”The Fat Man On
Game Audio” tells about the traditions of the game audio industry Alexander Brandon’s
”Audio For Games; Planning, Process, And Production” offers a comprehensive view on
game audio in the game making process.

The viewpoint taken in this thesis was to research and demonstrate the problems of game
audio and consider how a sound designer can use creativity to create a more interesting
atmosphere in the game. The topic was researched by studying source literature and inter-
viewing game audio professionals. The thesis also includes some concrete sound works
that the author of the thesis has done while working with the theoretical part of the thesis.
These samples support the theoretical part.

Language                                            Pages
Finnish                                             80
Keywords
Game audio, electronical game, sounddesign,
                                                   OPINNÄYTETYÖ
                                                   Syksy 2006

                                                   Viestinnän koulutusohjelma
                                                   Länsikatu 15
                                                   80110 Joensuu
                                                   p. (013) 260 6996


Tekijä(t)
Paavo Tapio Liukkonen

Nimeke
Tietokonepeli – Äänimaailman ongelmat

Toimeksiantaja
Pohjois- Karjalan Ammattikorkeakoulu
Tiivistelmä
Opinnäytetyössäni tutkin, miten tietokonepelien äänimaailmaa voisi parantaa. En keskity
tekniseen osaamiseen, vaan ryhmätyön ja äänisuunnittelijan luovan työn yhteisvaikutuk-
seen. Työni tarkoitus on tuoda esiin suurimmat peliääni ongelmat ja tutkia keinoja, millä
näiltä vältytään. Niiden lisäksi selvitän miten äänisuunnittelija voi kehittää luovuuttaan.

Lähestyn aihetta siten, että odotan lukijan ymmärtävän digitaalisen äänen peruskäsitteet ja
työskentelytavat. Tarkoituksenani on valaista pelintekoprosessia ja sitä miten ääni sijoit-
tuu tähän prosessiin. Työ ei käsittele pelimusiikkia, mutta se sivuaa aihetta hyvin pinta-
puolisesti. Pelimusiikin säveltäminen on oma taitonsa, josta voisi tehdä vaikka opinnäyte-
työn. Työssäni keskityn peliäänen muihin osa- alueisiin, joista tärkein aihe ovat ääniefek-
tit.

Varsinaista peliäänikirjallisuutta ei ole juuri, mutta markkinoilla on muutama erittäin hyvä
teos. Kukin niistä käsittelee asioita omasta näkökulmastaan. Marks Aaronin ”Game Au-
dio” keskittyy peliääneen yritys, sopimus ja peruskäsitteiden kautta. George Sangerin
”The Fat Man On Game Audio” avaa lukijan silmiä peliteollisuuden perinteisiin ja yleis-
luonteeseen omalla persoonallisellaan tavallaan. Alexander Brandonin ”Audio For Ga-
mes; Planning, Process, And Production” kertoo nimensä mukaisesti kokonaisvaltaisesti
äänityöskentelystä peliprojektissa.

Minun näkökulmani on tutkia ja havainnollistaa peliäänessä tapahtuvia virheitä sekä poh-
tia, kuinka luovuuden kehittämisellä päästään kohti parempaa äänimaailma. Tutkin aihet-
ta lähdekirjallisuuden ja ennen kaikkea alan ammattilaisten kautta. Heidän avullaan käsit-
telemäni aiheet ovat avautuneet uudella tavalla. Teoreettisen tutkimuksen tueksi liitän
konkreettisia peliäänitöitä, joita olen tehnyt opinnäytetyöni aikana.




Kieli                                               Sivuja
SUOMI                                               80
Asiasanat
Peliääni, elektroninen peli, äänisuunnittelija, äänimaailma
CONTENTS


1       INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................... 8


2       THE DEVELOPMENT OF ELECTRONIC GAME ................................. 9


2.1     First electronic games from 1940s to 1960s .................................................... 9
2.2     Arcade games and 1970s.................................................................................. 9
2.3     Console games and 1970-1990 ........................................................................ 10
2.4     Computer games and 1980s ............................................................................. 11
2.5     1990-2006 ........................................................................................................ 12


3       DEVELOPMENT OF GAME AUDIO......................................................... 13


3.1     1970-1980 ........................................................................................................ 13
3.2     1980-1990 ........................................................................................................ 14
3.3     1990-2000 ........................................................................................................ 15
3.4     2000s ................................................................................................................ 16


4       TOWARDS BETTER GAME AUDIO – PROBLEMS .............................. 18


4.1     General game audio problems.......................................................................... 18
4.2     Errors in audio programming ........................................................................... 20
4.3     Lack of creativity ............................................................................................. 20


5       PROCESS OF MAKING GAMES ............................................................... 21


5.1     General ............................................................................................................. 21
5.2     Preproduction ................................................................................................... 23
5.3     Production ........................................................................................................ 24
5.3.1   Making the different parts of the game ............................................................ 24
5.3.2   Platform and programming .............................................................................. 25
5.3.3   Milestones ........................................................................................................ 26
5.3.4   Tests and fixes .................................................................................................. 26
5.3.5     The ready product ............................................................................................ 26
5.4       Postmortem ...................................................................................................... 27


6         AUDIO IN GAME.......................................................................................... 28


6.1       Preproduction ................................................................................................... 28
6.2       Production ........................................................................................................ 30
6.3       Audio Postmortem ........................................................................................... 31


7         JOB DESCRIPTIONS OF SOUND DESIGNER AND AUDIO PRO-
          GRAMMER.................................................................................................... 32


7.1       Sound designer ................................................................................................. 32
7.2       Audio programmer ........................................................................................... 33


8         TOWARDS BETTER AUDIO ENVIRONMENT – SOLVING PROB-
          LEMS ............................................................................................................. 34


8.1       Avoiding repetition........................................................................................... 34
8.2       Original sound effects ...................................................................................... 35
8.3       Good dialogue .................................................................................................. 36
8.4       Music................................................................................................................ 37
8.5       Co-operation of sound designer and audio programmer.................................. 38
8.5.1     Audio programmer’s view of co-operation...................................................... 39
8.5.2     Sound designer’s view of co-operation............................................................ 40
8.5.3     Communication ................................................................................................ 40
8.5.4     Problems are solved with co-operation ............................................................ 42
8.5.4.1   Avoiding repetition........................................................................................... 43
8.5.4.2   Synchrone......................................................................................................... 44
8.5.4.3   Seamless loop................................................................................................... 45
8.5.4.4   A trigger and a zone ......................................................................................... 45
8.5.4.5   Sound organisation; sound bank and metafile.................................................. 46
9      PROBLEMS SOLVED– WHAT KIND OF IS A GOOD AUDIO ENVI-
       RONMENT? ................................................................................................... 48


9.1    The three communication forms of audio ........................................................ 49
9.2    Interactive ambience ........................................................................................ 49
9.3    Sound effects create an interactive audio environment.................................... 50
9.4    Interactive music .............................................................................................. 51


10     DEVELOPING CREATIVE AUDIO DESIGN........................................... 52


10.1   Active hearing .................................................................................................. 52
10.2   Breaking the routines ....................................................................................... 53
10.3   Deepening one’s knowledge ............................................................................ 54


11     THE LONG PROCESS TO THE FINAL RESULT – A BETTER AUDIO
       ENVIRONMENT ........................................................................................... 55


12     WALKING ORC ............................................................................................ 56


12.1   Version 1........................................................................................................... 56
12.2   Version 2........................................................................................................... 56
12.3   Version 3........................................................................................................... 57
12.4   Version 4........................................................................................................... 57


13     OPENFRAG AND BROKEN ALLIANCE GAME .................................... 59


13.1   Openfrag........................................................................................................... 59
13.2   Yake.................................................................................................................. 60
13.3   Differences between commercial games and open source code games ........... 60
13.4   Broken Alliance -game..................................................................................... 61
13.5   The team and communication .......................................................................... 61
13.6   Summary- all this in English............................................................................ 62
14         BROKEN ALLIANCE AUDIO WORK REPORT ..................................... 63


14.1       The beginning................................................................................................... 63
14.2       Recording ......................................................................................................... 63
14.2.1     Recording the sound effects ............................................................................. 64
14.2.1.1   Field recording ................................................................................................. 64
14.2.1.2   Studio recording ............................................................................................... 66
14.2.4     Recording voice-overs ..................................................................................... 67
14.3       Editing .............................................................................................................. 68
14.4       Mixing .............................................................................................................. 69
14.5       Audio programming ......................................................................................... 69
14.6       Observations and problems .............................................................................. 70
14.6.1     Observation 1 ................................................................................................... 70
14.6.2     Observation 2 ................................................................................................... 71
14.7       Personal development ...................................................................................... 71


15         CONCLUDING WORDS .............................................................................. 73


16         REFERENCES ............................................................................................... 74


           APPENDICES ................................................................................................ 78


           Appendix 1; concepts ....................................................................................... 78
           Appendix 2; CD 1 tracks.................................................................................. 79
           Appendix 3; CD 2 material .............................................................................. 80
                                                                                        8

1         INTRODUCTION



Originally I was supposed to do my thesis on postproduction of short film sound. How-
ever, the topic changed during the work. Through my big brother I did few sound effects
to an open source code game and once I went deeply into the matter, I had found a com-
pletely new perspective to my thesis.


Game audio was a new concept to me and I wanted to learn its secrets. This is a very inter-
esting topic for a thesis, since my studies thus far have covered nearly all of the most im-
portant categories of audio work, such as recording music, movie- and television audio, ra-
dio work and live audio. Now I faced a new, unknown world and a huge learning process,
of which I wanted to share a small part through my thesis.


As my topic I chose game audio and how it can be improved. I study the common prob-
lems of game audio and discuss how a sound designer can improve one’s creativity. By
studying these two aspects, my thesis can provide a novice sound designer with the tools
for personal development and making a more interesting audio environment.


The first part of my thesis introduces the development of electronic games on a general
level. Then the development of game audio up until today will be briefly covered. After
that I introduce the common problems related to game audio.


In the second part of my thesis I outline the whole process of making games. I also study
briefly the nature of the gaming industry and the development of the gaming markets. After
drawing an overall picture, I focus on solving the problems of game audio.


In the third and final part of this paper the results and the solutions will be presented.
The solutions are based on the references and my own conclusions. To support my ar-
guments I have included some concrete examples.
                                                                                       9

2         DEVELOPMENT OF ELECTRONIC GAME



There have been and there still are several different electronic games and devices designed
for these games. Regardless of the technical differences between the devices, their general
aim has always been to entertain the player through interaction.


2.1       First electronic games from 1940s to 1960s


Generally speaking the 1970s is regarded as the era of the electronic games when they
gained status in popular culture. However, the development began earlier. The earliest elec-
tronic game was born in 1947, when Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann used
eight vacuum tubes and several controllers to adjust the light visible in the CRT (Cathode
Ray Tube) monitor. The aim of the game was to hit a target with a missile. The inspiration
for the game was most probably the radar screens used in the Second World War. (Wikipe-
dia, History of computer and video games 2006.)


In 1958 A.S. Douglas demonstrated interaction between humans and computers with a
game called OXO. The game was played with EDSAC-computer, which used the CRT as
the monitor. A modern version of the game is available in the Internet. (Wikipedia, History
of computer and video games 2006.)


In the 1960s teams of one or few persons developed games in the universities, working in
their free time or in addition to their regular work. In 1961 a team of MIT students (among
other persons Steve Russell) programmed the game called Spacewar!. In the game two
players fight each other with space ships. Another big development took place in 1966,
when Ralph Baer created the videogame called Chase, which could be played with a regu-
lar television. (Wikipedia, History of computer and video games 2006.)




2.2       Arcade games and 1970s


Arcade games are devices that can be seen in shops and shopping centres. In big cities
there are arcade halls, where young people usually go to entertain themselves.
                                                                                       10

Arcade games were a major part of gaming industry in the 1970s. The very first arcade
games were too difficult to play and therefore they did not succeed. One such game was
Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney’s arcade version of Spacewar!. In 1972 Atari launched
the well-known game called Pong. It is a simple game of ping-pong, in which the aim is to
keep the ping-pong ball on the table by using the bats located at the heads of the table. The
game sold 19 000 pieces and so the raise of arcade games began.          (Huhtamo Erkki &
Kangas Sonja 2002, 51; Wikipedia, History of computer and video games 2006.)


The first game to reach a bigger audience was Taito’s Space Invader, created in 1978. In
the same year Atari launched the game called Asteroids. In the wake of these two games
was created Pac-Man, one of the most popular arcade games of the 1980s. Games that
were created later on and became popular included games such as Karate Champ and
Street Fighter. (Huhtamo Erkki & Kangas Sonja 2002, 60; Wikipedia, History of computer
and video games 2006.)


In the 1970s there existed a less visible but nevertheless important line of electronic game
development. Students in several universities created important games that did not become
great hits, but remained popular among smaller groups of players. In 1974, for example,
were introduced such games as Maze War and Spasim, which pioneered the branch of 3D-
first person shooter game. (Wikipedia, History of computer and video games 2006.)




2.3       Console games and 1970 - 1990


Console games are devices, which are connected to a television with a cable. The console
is the game engine and the television is the game screen, as computer’s monitor. The first
widely available console game Pong was launched in 1975. Earlier console games existed,
but they were more rudimentary. The special feature of Atari’s Pong was integrated circuit,
also known as silicon chip or semi-conductor. Integrated circuits have been the base of the
development of microelectronics until nowadays. (Huhtamo Erkki & Kangas Sonja 2002,
53.)


Right after this the game designers wanted the game consoles to be equipped with micro-
processors, which were used also in the arcade games. A new solution was Channel F, also
known as Video Entertainment System device, created by Fairchild Camera and Instru-
                                                                                    11

ments company. The device used pre-programmed cartridge based programs. This made it
possible for the consumer to separately purchase a game console and the games that one
wanted. (Huhtamo Erkki & Kangas Sonja 2002, 53.)


In 1985 Nintendo’s 8 -bit game console and Super Mario Bros game achieved a great
popularity. Due to this, Nintendo dominated the console markets well in to the 1990s be-
fore other companies were able to respond. The different gaming devices that came with
the Nintendo console became standard equipment in all consoles. (Wikipedia, History of
computer and video games 2006.)




2.4       Computer games and 1980s


Nowadays there is a computer in every household and the trade in computers and periph-
eral devices is huge. However, things have not been always like this. In the 1980s there
were attempts to label computers as children’s toys, because of the computer games. The
original idea was to market computers as utility products and not toys.


This label almost arrested the whole computer industry and led several companies to bank-
ruptcy. The companies that survived gained customers and soon computers were sold with
accelerating rate. The fact was that the computer became both a utility device and a toy.
The first game being considered as a computer game is the Spacewar! launched in the early
1960s. (Huhtamo Erkki & Kangas Sonja 2002, 58; Wikipedia, History of computer and
video games 2006.)


On the markets appeared also several computers that were meant for playing games. The
most popular ones were Commodore 64, Apple 2 and ZX Spectrum. Because of the com-
puters that were meant for playing games, the development of games became faster. Very
soon there were available more and more 3D-games and text adventures, in which the
commands were typed. The development of games led also to the development of technol-
ogy and with the new technological possibilities it was possible to present the consumer
with improvements in game colour and audio. (Wikipedia, History of computer and video
games 2006.)
                                                                                      12

2.5       1990 - 2006


In the 1980s the gaming industry was born. The 1990s lifted the industry on a completely
new level. Large sums were invested into creating games and to developing of the gaming
devices. Small games and game companies did not matter any more, because the investors
wanted big profits with small risks. Gaming industry was shifting towards mass markets.


New and more efficient computers, such as Game Boy, PlayStation- and Nintendo 64 game
consoles were introduced and they created new standards for gaming. The new devices en-
abled better graphics and audio. These devices paved the way to the game consoles of the
following decade. (Wikipedia, History of computer and video games 2006.)


Super Mario 64 created a new basis for 3D-games, PaRappa the Rapper spawned a wave of
music games and because of Nintendo 64’s Golden Eye 007 games with film licences be-
came general and so forth. 1990s changed the gaming industry to its current form. It was
no longer a small-time business, but it developed into a major industrial business where
competition is harsh and new innovations are more than necessary. (Wikipedia, History of
computer and video games 2006.)


Due to this fact the games in the 2000s either become a grand success or sink into oblivion.
Such games as Half-Life, Halo, Doom, Grand Theft Auto and the Sims and their sequels
are modern outstanding works of the gaming industry. The markets force the manufacturers
to compete with each other and so for instance Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft bring new
generation consoles to the markets. The rapid and explosive growth in number of com-
puters and speedy Internet connections create new forms of gaming, such as massive mul-
tiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) (Wikipedia, History of computer and
video games 2006.)
                                                                                       13

3          DEVELOPMENT OF GAME AUDIO



The new technical innovations and advanced game platforms have caused major reforms to
take place. Instead of old pixel images the visual appearance of games seems more and
more realistic. No more the games consist of just few levels, but the present games are big
entities, which provide the player with plenty of entertainment. Games do not only look
good, they also begin to sound good. The game audio does no longer consist of electronic
bleeps, but at best the game audio quality can be compared with film audio, which is used
to seek an experience greater than life itself.




3.1        1970 - 1980


In 1972 the legendary game Pong by Atari produced few electronically created single tone
bleep sounds. A ball moved back and forth on the court and when it hit a wall or a bat it re-
peated a sound. In 1975 Taito’s Gunfight produced single tone gunshots through amplifier.
(Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006. Marks Aaron 2001, 3.)


After very simple sounds Taito’s Space Invasion (1978) showed how simple solutions can
be effective in audio design. Aiming to create panic, the paranoid tempo of the soundtrack
got faster as the enemy spaceships closed in on the player’s ship. A year later also the
soundtrack of Atari’s Asteroids accelerated more and more as the intension in the game
grew. This time, however, there were also other sounds, such as laser gun sounds, asteroid
explosions and alien screams. (Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006.)


The first game to use speech was Major League Baseball game. Speech was created with a
computer. Now the player could hear comments such as ‘strike’, ‘ball’ and ’out’. This was
the first step towards the now common sports game audio environment, where crowd’s re-
actions, players’ comments and commentators’ commentary are everyday sounds.
(Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006.)
                                                                                      14

3.2       1980 - 1990


In 1979, Mattel presented their Intellivision gaming device, which offered a sound genera-
tor capable of three-part harmony. Atari answered back in 1982 with their 5200 platform
and a dedicated audio processor called Pokey. The Pokey chip used four separate channels,
which controlled the pitch, volume and distortion values of each, allowing a four-piece vir-
tual band to perform for the first time. (Marks Aaron 2001, 3.)


In 1980 Manufacturer Stern presented a shooting game called Berzerk. Its sound synthe-
sizer module was capable of producing commands that were the most recognisable sounds
produced during the golden age of arcade games. Among the sound were the lines: ”Get
humanoid!” and ”The humanoid must not escape!” The players enjoyed these taunts and
this feature has continued to exist throughout the decades. (Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of
Video Game Music 2006.)


In the early 1980s MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), which could play 16 notes
at a time, was developed for computers. It consisted of very small files, which told the de-
vice what sounds to play and when to play them. For this purpose a standard sound bank of
128 sounds was developed. At first the sounds were of very poor quality, but when the
technology developed, the quality of sound has improved so much that it is very hard for a
normal person to distinguish between a well produced MIDI sound and the real thing. The
problem with MIDI is that the quality of sound depends largely on the sound card manu-
facturer. Poor quality still sounds bad. (Marks Aaron 2001, 3.)


In 1985 the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) used five channels of mono-
phonic sound. NES’ Super Mario Bros game marked a new milestone for game audio. The
game offered continuously changing sound, which followed the events of the game. Music
and sound effects provided clues and guided player’s actions. For example, the player
knew by the sound when character’s immunity power ran out. Where Atari’s 5200 was a
pioneer in game audio improving, there Super Mario Bros led the way a new audio design.
(Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006. Aaron Marks 2001, 3.)


The next big step was taken in 1989 when NEC Turbo Grafx and Sega Genesis introduced
stereo output. Now music was cd-quality and it played the way it was meant to. Sega began
to promote the product with Michael Jackson and together they developed a game, which
                                                                                     15

combined Jackson´s music and his ideas for a game. (Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of
Video Game Music 2006. Marks Aaron 2001, 3.)




3.3       1990 - 2000


In 1991 Sega Genesis’ Joe Montana Sportstalk Football 2 further advanced the sports game
audio created in Major League Baseball game. In earlier games the commentary on the
match consisted of random shout, but this was the first time the commentator’s remarks
were based on the events happening on the field. (Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video
Game Music 2006.)


Atari Jaguar was launched in 1993. It provided 64-bit game console, when Sega and Pana-
sonic offered only 32-bit console. Atari Jaguar processed audio with 32-bit digital proces-
sor, which could handle cd-quality audio with stereo effects. (Gamespot; A Brief Timeline
of Video Game Music 2006.)


The composer of Final Fantasy VI, Uematsu, composed unforgettable music to the game in
1994. Game’s music followed the atmosphere of the game very skilfully and the fans of
game music have voted the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VI to be one of the best in the
world. (Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006.)


Nowadays audio design of games is influenced by movies, as was the case in Resident
Evil. The game borrows audio elements from the horror movies. These elements, such as
grandfather clock in the background and disgusting bone sounds of zombies, created a new
atmosphere for playing. (Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006.)


Music games conquered the markets in the late 90s. Rhythm game PaRappa the Rapper
(1997) and dance game Dance Dance Revolution were among the greatest hits. (Gamespot;
A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006.)
                                                                                       16

3.4       2000s


The first big success in the 2000s was Sony’s PlayStation 2. Its 128-bit Emotion Engine
CPU uses 48 audio channels and it has 2 MB of RAM memory for audio data. A large
number of Playstation 2 game consoles were sold worldwide. Although new consoles have
come to the markets, in the US only there are still approximately 60 million devices in use.
(Brandon Alexander 2005, 169. Gamespot; A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006.)


Due to the great and fast development of game consoles and computers in the 2000s tech-
nical competence of present and future devices is incredible in comparison to the old ones.
Present high quality game includes at least one hour of multichannel audio 44.1kHz/16-bit
music and at least 1 000 lines. The most used file formats are wav, ogg or mp3. (Brandon
Alexander; Game audio Integration 2006.)


Games such as Medal of Honor and Halo have contributed in creating milestones of mul-
tichannel audio. Those were the first games on DVD format to use multichannel audio.
One great advantage of DVD format is the great storage capacity. (Bridgett Rob; Holly-
wood Sound; Part Two 2006.)


5.1-system brought to games the same thing it brought to movies – a greater experience.
With subwoofer one can create an atmosphere, which is reflected in player’s body though
the player does not necessarily even hear the sounds. The rear speakers create illusion of
space and sounds of action can ‘fly’ over the player. The player can also observe things that
happen behind his/her back. The middle speaker produces the dialogue clearly at the same
time as the sounds of buildings exploding near by can be heard from the main speakers.


The gaming industry strives to sound the same as the movie industry. There are several
reasons for this, but one reason is games based on big box-office hits such as the Lord of
the Rings. The player expects the game graphics to mimic the things seen on the big screen
and the same kind of mimicry is expected from audio as well. Games just simply have to
sound like movies. Nowadays the producers of big movies and games want to use the
original cast of actors in the game as well. (Brandon Alexander; Game audio Integration
2006.)
Currently game audio professional has to keep up with the technical equipment and game
platforms and work within their limits. The devices develop constantly and new publishing
                                                                                     17

medias appear all the time. In certain fields, such as in the game audio of new computer
and console games, there are not that many technical limits that would prevent the sound
designer from doing whatever he or she wants. However, some problems still exist and will
continue to do so because people want to improve things all the time. One can do much
with the present technical qualities when one is aware of the problems ahead and is able to
deal with them properly.
                                                                                          18

4          TOWARDS BETTER GAME AUDIO – PROBLEMS


           ”Sound effects are an integral part of any game, equal in importance to art-
           work, music, and game play. Good sound effects create an impact which rounds
           out the entire gaming experience; without them, that experience would suffer.”
           (Marks Aaron 2001, 221.)


Game audio has many important roles in a game. It creates plausibility to the game’s char-
acters and world, no matter how imaginary they might be. It does not matter how techni-
cally sophisticated creation the character is; it does not startle that much in the actual game.
It is the audio that makes the character appear flesh and blood and helps the player to ex-
perience the character as a person. The audio also creates atmosphere and guides player’s
actions. Is a dark room scary as a picture? Not as such, but when one adds rattling chains,
rat’s squealing and possibly a branch scraping a window, the situation is completely differ-
ent.




4.1        General game audio problems


Game audio is interactive and it should be able to respond to player’s actions and impres-
sions. This is not always the case. Interactive world is a large whole, which consists of sev-
eral small parts. The audio goes through a long way from recording to the moment it
reaches player’s ears. During this process the audio can change to a very different form
from what was originally planned.


Repetition


One of the greatest problems of game audio is repetition (Aaron Marks, 13.2.2006). By
repetition I mean a phenomenon, where the player realises that the same sound is repeated
again and again. In the long run repetition starts to annoy the player. For example, when a
character fires a gun the same shot sound is repeated every single time. One cannot tell that
the sound is always the same if the gun is not used frequently, but things change if the
weapon is a machine gun. Then the exact same shot sound is repeated several times in a
row and this sounds unnatural.
                                                                                         19

Ready-made sound effects


Another great problem is in the use of ready-made sound effects. There exist several com-
panies that produce different sound effect libraries. For instance, there can be a science fic-
tion vehicle library, which contains sounds of 100 different ships and vehicles.


For different reasons, several games use these ready-made sound effect libraries. The prob-
lem is not that the sounds are of poor quality. The problem arises when there are simulta-
neously ten new science fiction games on the markets and all of them use the same ready-
made sound effects. The players very soon discover that all the sounds are familiar from
other games: the starfighter’s flight sounds exactly the same in two different games. Be-
fore long this starts to sound dull and the player becomes bored.


Bad dialogue


Bill Black (24.1.2006) states, that most sound effects and music as such are magnificent,
but the dialogue is awkward. The enjoyment comes to a sudden end if the script is bad.
Often the games contain awkward lines. Bad script is quickly written and it has not been
thoroughly made to fit the game concept. Smaller gamehouses do not necessarily even use
writers, but instead their production team simply writes their best ideas on paper. On the
other hand, the dialogue may be good, but it is ruined by poor voice acting. A story of a
great swordsman is not plausible if the actor sounds like a tired old man.


Not enough music


It has been estimated that the player spends approximately 60 hours playing the game he or
she has bought. Let’s imagine that the player plays the game continuously for two hours
and for the whole game there is only some 10 minutes of composed music. No matter how
good the music, it is more than certain that at some point it starts to annoy the player. In
this case there is simply too little music playing throughout the game, states Sami Hakala
(24.1.2006).
                                                                                       20

4.2        Errors in audio programming


           "Improper implementation of sound has to be the biggest "mistake". Creating
           great sound effects is only a small part of the process. If they aren’t programmed
           into the game with skill, it will totally degrade the sound designer’s efforts."
           (Marks Aaron, 13.2.2006.)


Although the sound designer had been able to create really good sound effects to the game,
everything can still go awry. A careless audio programmer can program the sounds incor-
rectly. For instance, sounds of footsteps can be too loud in comparison with the other
sounds of action. This kind of game audio does not work, if one can hear shooting and ex-
plosions all around. Nobody expects to hear footsteps in such situation, as if they played a
key role in the scene. Everyone wants to hear bullets whistling by, low frequent explosions
and other sounds of action. Game audio is meant for creating an atmosphere and guiding
player’s actions.




4.3        Lack of creativity


Nowadays a game can sound very good in the technical sense. The change in recording
technique from analogical to digital has made professional level equipment available to
virtually every person. No longer has one had to invest as much money to the sound
equipment as 20 years ago. Now one does not have to buy separately mixers, external ef-
fects and so forth. Reasonable sound can be produced with a computer that has a sound
program and a microphone that can be attached to the sound card.


Technical quality is not a problem, but how the sounds are created and planted in the game
as a working and interesting entity is. Inexperienced sound designer is not able to see the
big picture and is not able to complete his or her own ideas. Real sound design may be left
to the audio programmer.
                                                                                       21

5          PROCESS OF MAKING GAMES



5.1        General


The process of making games has developed far in the recent years. In the early years an
actual process did not exist, just enthusiastic game lovers who created new games. Due to
this, there was not a certain formula or a way of doing things within the game industry. In
the movie industry the situation is exactly the opposite: things are expected to go forth al-
ways the same way. This ‘away from formulas’ -approach of the gaming industry is due to
the different nature of the two industries.


Compared to the techniques the movie industry uses, it is of young age. The gaming indus-
try is even younger. The explosive development of computers has created a new format of
art and entertainment, as well as a new breed of artists and entertainers. It is obvious that
during the previous decades certain production concentrations (e.g. Hollywood) have cre-
ated certain criteria and boundaries for making movies. The gaming industry has originated
from sweatshops of one or few persons and thus, no formulas or patterns of action have
ever been created.


It must be also noted that the game designers are of very different nature than the people in
the movie industry. This may sound as a cliché, but how many persons within the movie
industry have spent time alone at home using their computer to complete a code rotating a
block to another position when a certain button is pushed. The process of making games
requires different perspective and outlining skills and especially firmness of character than
many other processes in the entertainment industry. On the average, the process of making
a game lasts from one to three years.


When the first actual hit products appeared, the gaming industry in its infancy began to at-
tract businessmen’s attention. They realised that computer games would potentially have
very large markets. On the average the costs of making a normal video or computer game
range from million to 50 million euros. For the first time the gaming industry began to
adapt the common patterns of any industrial activity.
                                                                                     22

These patterns included own unions and organisations for different types of professionals,
large advertisement campaigns, own specialists and so forth. (Wikipedia; Game Develop-
ment 2006.)


Currently the cash flow of gaming industry is bigger than the box office income of the
movie theatres in the United States. This proves that the games are no more a child’s play.
The games have created a new branch of industry and this has affected to the features of
the whole gaming industry. Now there are certain patterns of action also in the gaming in-
dustry, according to which industry’s professionals act. (Fenix Games Business Program,
Joensuu 2006.)


           "The working process resembles a lot of making movies. To a great extent, the
           tools are similar graphic- and 3D modelling programs. At first a plot, milieu,
           events and effects for the game are created. The company and the publisher co-
           operate closely." (Tekniikka ja Talous 2006.)


There is no way how one can tell an exact size of a team. The size of the team depends on
the type and nature of the game. Normally a company employs 20 to 40 persons. For ex-
ample, Finnish Remedy and Bugbear entertainment Oy are companies of such size. (Fenix
Games Business Program, Joensuu 2006.)


The team usually consist of the following persons:

   -   One or more producers for the whole project

   -   At least one game designer

   -   Artist(s)

   -   Programmer(s)

   -   Level designer(s)

   -   Audio team; sound effect designer and sound engineers

   -   Testers
   (Wikipedia; Computer and Video Game Industry 2006)
                                                                                       23

5.2          Preproduction

The idea


The process of making a game begins from an idea for a game. The number of ideas for
games is limited only by human imagination. It is a skill to rise above the mass. A hit game
can be, for instance, a new interesting version of an old game, new original idea or a prod-
uct based on a new innovation.

Conceptualising


Once the idea for a game has been selected, it is time for the conceptualisation phase. In
this phase an appearance of the characters is planned as well as the location and appear-
ance of the different scenes. Plans are usually handmade sketches of the characters and the
scenes of action. (Fenix Games Business Program, Joensuu 2006.)


When the idea for the game and conceptualisation are ready, the team must make a concep-
tualisation plan and a schedule. These two present in detail the idea and the schedule for
making the game. In most cases the plan is from 10 to 20 pages with several attached con-
cept sketch pages. The team can then use this plan to seek funding from different publish-
ers. Usually the game designer applies the funding. A publisher is a quarter, which funds
the game and is responsible for the game being published in time. Among the most well
known publishers are Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. (Fenix Games Business Program, Joen-
suu 2006.)


Demo


In most cases a demo of some sort is more than helpful when the team is seeking for a pub-
lisher. The demo can be a short clip of the events in the game. The demo does not have to
be honed to perfection, but it has to present explicitly what the team wants to do. The best
way to present the idea is to make a short playable demo, which everyone can try out on
their own. Companies starting their business usually experience many rejections at the be-
ginning. Things get easier when one idea has been successfully sold and carried out. The
team must also be willing to accept that the idea will be bought if it is revised in the man-
ner the publisher requires. (Fenix Games Business Program, Joensuu 2006. Wikipedia;
                                                                                         24

Game Development 2006.)


Jussi Laakkonen, business development manager at the Finnish Bugbear Entertainment Oy,
states that they have written a few page synopsis and developed a prototype or a demo to
support the synopsis. Bugbear has produced rally games, so their prototype is a simplified
version of the full game. A demo of a rally game can include only one track and five cars,
when the full game includes tens of cars and tracks. (Tekniikka ja Talous 2006.)




5.3       Production


When the publisher approves an idea for a game, the actual process of making the game
begins. Last modifications to the concept are made if needed. In the preproduction phase
the game is designed as a whole and all the technical solutions are discussed. Once the
preproduction phase ends, the production begins and the programmers start to write the
source code. Artists start to create graphics for the game with different programs. Audio
team starts to work on the sound effects and the composer starts to compose music for the
game. (Fenix Games Business Program, Joensuu 2006. Wikipedia; Game Development
2006.)




5.3.1     Making the different parts of the game


          "In practice the gameworld is built with 3D-modelling programs, such as
          3dMax or SoftImage. They are the same tools, which are used to make movies
          and advertisements. ", Laakkonen describes (Tekniikka ja Talous 2006).


In addition to graphics animation is needed. It is used to move the visible characters. The
animation is made with ’bones’, which are inserted with a special program in their right
place inside the 3D-character. For example, a set of needed bones is inserted inside a hu-
man character or, in other words, a skeleton of some sort is created. After this phase the
character is placed in an animation program where the movement of the bones in relation
to the other bones in certain actions are defined individually. (Xplay, Joensuu 2006.)
                                                                                       25

In the animation phase all the movements of all the characters are created. A swordsman,
for instance, can have 15 different moves. For each move a path is created and that path is
then programmed into certain commands. For example, for walking only two steps are cre-
ated. There is no need to create more, since by repetition the illusion of continuous walk
will be created. Then the walk is programmed in a way that, for instance, pressing the w-
key makes the character walk. When the w-key is released, the character stops. If the char-
acter is animated for running, it can be programmed so that when w-key and space bar are
simultaneously pressed the character will start running. Now the character can either walk
or run. All this is made possible with two different blocks of animation. (Xplay, Joensuu
2006.)




5.3.2     Platform and programming


A platform is a structural block based on any programming language, on which everything
in the game is constructed or programmed. The platforms are used in simple computer pro-
grams as well as computer games. Generally speaking there are three different platforms
for games. They are: console games, one-platform games and cross-platform games.
(Kamppuri Petteri 2003.)


Console games are easy for the programmers, since the platform is the same for all the us-
ers and there are no differences. If the game works in one device, it also works in the other
similar devices. One-platform games are bit more complicated. The game can be created
for PC and Windows XP. However, the users have different equipment compilations and
there is no standard. The situation is complicated also by the different update versions.
Cross-platform games are the most difficult to master. They function in several different
operating systems and equipments, such as in Macintosh and PC environments or with
Windows and Linux- operating systems. (Kamppuri Petteri 2003.)


The most important task of the programmer is the code, which guides the different ele-
ments of the game to function seamlessly together. These elements include graphics, music
and sound effects.
                                                                                       26

5.3.3   Milestones


In most commercial productions milestones are set right at the beginning of the production.
These are deadlines that mark the dates by when certain goals should be reached.
This is a controlled way to monitor the progress of the process of making the game. Most
publishers also pay salaries on those days and give off-days if the goals are reached. (Fenix
Games Business Program, Joensuu 2006. Wikipedia; Game Development 2006.)




5.3.4      Tests and fixes


After the first versions the game will be tested. The game is played and all the possible ac-
tions that player can perform are tested. In most cases errors, also known as bugs will be
revealed. There are different kinds of bugs, such as graphics dysfunctions. For instance,
the character can walk through a tree though this should not be possible. On the other hand,
the bug can be a more serious programming error and result in a program crash at some
point of the play.


A list of the bugs is made and they are fixed. This phase is repeated several times while the
team tries to reveal all the game’s bugs. Often some bugs remain in the more extensive
games, because all the bugs cannot be fixed due to the schedule or equipment updates af-
fecting the game appear on the markets. Nowadays publishers can share downloadable up-
date packages, which will fix the bug, on their Internet pages. (Mikrobitti 1999.)




5.3.5      The ready product


The game is ready when it has been sufficiently tested and found functional. After this its
journey continues to the end-users via different distribution channels. The most common
distribution channels for normal commercial games are big markets and mail order shops.
Other distribution channels, depending on the game in question, include the Internet, tele-
phone networks, digital television and so forth. (Fenix Games Business Program, Joensuu
2006. Wikipedia; Game Development 2006.)
                                                                                      27

5.4       Postmortem


In the gaming industry it is common to do a so-called postmortem for a game, or in other
words, a final report. In the report all the good and bad aspects of the development and the
ready product are discussed. This is very useful, because this way the process of making
games can be improved. On the other hand, the possible errors made in the first game can
be avoided in the making of the possible sequel. Very often companies make several se-
quels for successful games, because this is seen as beneficial concept. (Fenix Games Busi-
ness Program, Joensuu 2006. Game Developer Magazine 2006.)


Postmortem’s structure can be, for instance, as follows: the team will point out five aims,
issues or points, which went on without problems or better than was planned. Was a certain
part of programming much easier than first expected? Was the new technology better for
graphics or for audio? Was the new team member successful in joining the team? Next the
team will point out five issues that did not go as well as expected or failed completely.
Why did we run out of money? Were we not able to use the new technology efficiently?
Why there were so many bugs in the game? (Game Developer Magazine 2006.)


Above all, Postmortem must improve the process of making games. One must not cling to
widely known issues, but the particular project must always be seen as a unique process.
The aim of postmortem is to be critical and not to dress the situation up. In order to de-
velop, the team must be able to receive both good and bad feedback the way it was meant
to be. (Game Developer Magazine 2006.)
                                                                                       28

6           AUDIO IN GAME



Ideally, sound designer should be involved in the making process from the preproduction
phase. However, this is not always the case. There can be many reasons for this and de-
pending on the project it may be even unnecessary. Nevertheless, in the following section I
present the case so that audio has been taken into account from the preproduction phase. I
study which advantages this will grant.




6.1         Preproduction


The role of audio can have a great impact on the end result. During preproduction the
sound designer begins to sketch audio for the game. Will the game audio be created ac-
cording to a concept or will there be contrast? What must be taken into account in regard to
the target group? What do the markets require? What is the distribution channel? The more
questions the team and the sound designer come up with, the better the results. Well
planned is half done. Professional audio work can never begin straight away. It requires
planning.


At first the sound designer must know the technology that is used. What kind of platform
and sound engine is used for the game? When the information is there, we know what kind
of audio is possible. Is it, for example, mono, stereo or multitrack? These issues are impor-
tant to know in the preproduction phase. (Brandon Alexander 2005, 6-9. Marks Aaron
2001, 199.)


The essential information on the game idea and the concepts are more than useful in the
preproduction phase. With them one can design the game audio. Does the game require re-
alistic audio, cartoon audio or something completely different? These lines are drawn with
the lead designer. What are his or her preferences and impression of the game? After all,
the game is the lead designer’s and not the sound designer’s. Sound designer’s task is to
make good suggestions based on professional experience.
                                                                                       29

Usually the game developer provides the sound designer with a ”to-do-list”, which lists the
sounds needed in the game. In most cases this is a kind of “wish list” from the developer.
The sounds included in that list are more than often unnecessary for the game and the nec-
essary sounds are something else. The final sounds are formed through testing, so “the
wish list” does not necessarily work in the final version. Another common way is that the
game developer provides a functional game to the sound designer and asks him or her to
think which sounds are needed and which are not. (Marks Aaron 25.10.2006.)


Before the production begins, the production schedule must be ready. Without the schedule
it is impossible to organise the work. With the producer or the game designer the mile-
stones are set, when and where the sounds will be delivered, what kind of formats are
needed and so forth. In the worst case the sound production along with the whole game
production will be delayed if the sound designer does not know what should be ready, for
instance, by the fourth month of production. (Brandon Alexander 2005, 54 - 60.)


Sound designer can start work in the production phase when he or she is aware of afore-
mentioned things. Game idea with concept documentation and game audio development
discussions with the producer and/or the game designer help the sound designer to create
right sounds and music for the game. Technical information on the platform and sound en-
gine and the discussions with the sound programmer make it easier to design and deliver
the game sounds. Milestones help to organise one’s own work pace.


Before production there are also other things that can help. It is very important to create a
draft of the audio plan. It can include the recording equipment required for the production,
list of the sounds needed, budget, what has been recorded and been programmed to the
game already and so on. The contents of an audio plan depend much on the person creating
it. Everyone has a personal style best fitted to suit one’s own needs. (Brandon Alexander
2005, 2 – 22.)
                                                                                         30

6.2        Production


           "When the game starts to have visual items that make sound temporary sound
           effect and dialog sometimes music are created. They are called place holders"
           (Black Bill 24.1.2006.)


In the early stages of production it is good if the person responsible for the sound can pro-
vide other team members with temporary sound effects to help in the making of the game.
Without sounds it is hard to perceive game’s rhythm and the game as a whole. Temporary
sounds are so-called place holders. Usually these will not be used in the final version, but
they act only as a reference. The second advantage of the temporary sounds is that they can
have positive impact on the rest of the team so that their creative work is improved. This
lays basis for interacting within the team and can help the sound designer to get ideas from
other team members. One downside of the temporary sounds it that the rest of the team
may love them so much that they try to convince the sound designer to use them instead of
the final sounds. (Marks Aaron 25.10.2006).


After delivering a set of temporary sounds, there are three different categories that need to
be focused on. These are sound effects, voice-over and music. All three need different pro-
duction methods.


Sound effects can be created by recording in the field or by foley recording or by using
ready-made sound effect libraries. Recording in the field can be time-consuming, since one
has to search for the recordable targets. What makes working with foley easy is that one
can do everything in a studio. Ready-made sound effect libraries are easy to use, but one
should not rely only on them while producing audio for a game. The recording can begin
also in the preproduction phase, but this depends largely on the project. It is pointless to
begin the work on the audio if there is no funding. When the project is on a more solid
funding base, it makes more sense to start the work on the audio before the actual produc-
tion.


Recording voice-overs is very simple and quick. The simplest way is to do it in one speak-
booth with one microphone. One can do the actual recording the way one sees fit to. How-
ever, before recording the most important phase, the casting, has to take place. Depending
on the size of the project the casting is approved either by the producer, the casting director
                                                                                      31

or the sound designer. One should reserve enough time for casting, especially when the
game needs several actors. It is not always easy to find the right persons.


The minimum composition for composing and recording music for a game is one person
and one computer. At maximum several composers are needed and a symphony orchestra
will performer. The music is composed first and then played with midi or real instruments.
The music is recorded and then edited in an audio program.


The last production phase is the programming of the sounds into the game. This is done in
cooperation with the audio programme. The sounds are programmed in so that they will
serve the game as a whole in the best way possible. The sounds must work so that they do
not start to annoy the player. There are several ways to do this, but we will return to them
later on.




6.3 Audio Postmortem


As well as for the whole game, a postmortem can be held for the game audio. This is a very
useful practice, because every game is unique. Every platform and equipment has unique
demands and sound is affected very much by the construction of game’s other elements.
(Brandon Alexander 2005, 23 – 36.)
                                                                                       32

7         JOB DESCRIPTIONS OF SOUND DESIGNER AND AUDIO
          PROGRAMMER



In the process of making games each team member has to have the same goal throughout
the process. This goal is the final result or, in other words, the game. The game must be a
pleasant experience, offer challenges and entertainment to a player. Because of this, each
team member must be capable of understanding at least some aspects other team members’
work and what is the impact of their work on the final result. The most important element
in the process of making games is cooperation.


During the process cooperation between the sound designer and sound programmer is one
of the most important ones. The work of the two must overlap in order to make a good
soundtrack, which will unleash unforeseen powers while the game is played.




7.1       The sound designer


      "The sound designer creates the effects for each action that would logically have
      sound attached" (Black Bill 24.1.2006).


The sound designer is responsible for creating the audio track for the game and functional-
ity of the audio track as a part of the game. Creating of sound effects and other audio ele-
ments (e.g. music) consists of recording, sound editing and processing. With different re-
corders and programs the sounds, which support the events and actions of the game, are
created. For example, in a game where events happen in space in far future, sounds of
modern weapons would not be very effective. In such case the sounds are expected to be
somehow futuristic such as light sabre sounds in Star Wars movies and games.


In this case the functionality of the audio track refers to how the sound effects support the
game’s idea and how the audio track guides player’s actions in the game. Functional audio
track, for instance, could guide the player to jump to the bank of the road whenever he or
she hears that car is approaching.
                                                                                       33

The sound designer is also responsible for keeping things on schedule and organising the
work. Things must be kept on schedule and all the sounds must be organised in a con-
trolled way, to right categories and they must be named the right way. Simple sound_1.wav
file name does not help anyone, but the name footstep_1.wav just might.




7.2        The audio programmer


           "The audio programmer is the one who takes all the elements and fits them into
           the game, making the music interactive, attaching sound fx to different elements
           in the game (footsteps, guns, etc)." (Tymoschuk Jeff 21.2.2006.)


The audio programmer programs all the audio (music and sound effects) into the game. All
the audio elements must be functional in an interactive environment. In practice this means
that the effects are not repeated the same way all the time and the music is used efficiently
to create the right atmosphere. The gaming experience must be as realistic as possible. The
audio has to come from the right direction and the volume must be right. Far away sounds
cannot be played with the same volume as the sounds that are created closer to the player.


The audio programmer uses platform’s audio qualities, which he or she can use to program
the audio as he or she sees fit for different game events.


           ”The services provided by the audio interface can be divided to low-level, mid-
           level and high-level functionalities. Low-level functionalities are, for instance,
           basic sound playback functions (play, pause, stop) and adjusting audio volume
           and pan. Also 3D sound source location and speed can be located to the low-
           level functionalities. Mid-level functionalities include support for several audio
           file formats, loading of audio files and streaming playback of large audio files
           from disk and control of music segments. High-level functionalities are, for ex-
           ample, interpreting of the scripts guiding the audio features and applying the
           scripts to create audio environments.” (Vihtari Tomi 2005.)
                                                                                         34

8          TOWARDS BETTER AUDIO ENVIRONMENT – SOLVING
          PROBLEMS



When the games become more technically sophisticated and bigger entities, so must the
game designers develop in the same pace. Player’s expectations grow as the games become
better and better. Games must provide entertainment, problem solving and value for one’s
money. Due to this development, more attention must be paid also to game audio. With the
increasing potential of the new game consoles and computers and the attachable home
theatre equipment, movie quality audio tracks can be made.


However, the most important thing is not to develop magnificent technical performances
and innovations if the storytelling audio does not work. A poor audio environment cannot
be improved merely with technical features, but the creation of a good audio environment
is a result of a long-term commitment.




8.1        Avoiding repetition


The biggest problem of game audio, repetition, can be avoided in three ways. Firstly, by
the sound designer when the audio is on the way to its final form, secondly in the audio
programming phase and thirdly through cooperation of the two. In the following I study
the first phase and return to the latter phases later on in the audio programming section.


Best way to avoid repetition is to make several different variations of a sound. The more
there are different sound, the better. However, this is not possible in most cases, because
the games have a certain space capacity that depends on the format. Most of the space is
taken by the graphics and other game components. There is no standard amount of space
and in most cases it is necessary to make compromises: audio files must be packed or even
deleted and so forth.


The format and the game force the game audio within certain memory limits. Within these
limits it is up the sound designer to decide which sounds are those with multiple variations
and which are not. The sounds that are used the most in the game need most variations.
                                                                                       35

These sounds include footsteps. They are used constantly and it is more than certain that
the player will notice if they begin to repeat themselves. With only four variations there
should be enough variation so that the player will not be annoyed. Common practice is four
to six footstep variations.


It is also important to notice that the sounds are used to give feedback and confirm player’s
actions to him or her. In these cases the repetition does have such a great impact. For ex-
ample, sound of cocking a gun assures the player that the gun is loaded and ready for
shooting. (Sanger George 30.1.2006.)


One such great repeated audio element is in F.E.A.R. Game’s character can use the so-
called ‘bullet time’ mode, which slows down the world around. Every time this mode is
used, the player hears a low frequency ‘suction sound’. After this all the other sounds slow
down as well. Once the mode is changed, everything returns back to normal. An important
point is that in this case the same ‘suction sound’, which leads the character in the middle
of action, is repeated. All the other sounds, gunshots, yells and so forth, are parts of the
slowed action and they very seldom are exactly the same as in the normal mode. This
‘suction sound’ works well along the other sounds if used seldom, but it will become bor-
ing the minute the mode is switched back and forth multiple times in a short period of time.




8.2        Original sound effects


Extensive sound effect libraries provide good quality sounds, but as such they cannot pro-
vide original sounds to a game because they begin to repeat themselves if they are used in
several games. They become familiar to the players. With no changes these sound serve as
good temporary sounds. Sami Hakala (24.1.2006) states, that Audio Power Plant Oy uses
them always for this purpose.


           ”Most game sound designers depend very heavily on sound effects archives but
           the technique is not to use the sound as they are, but to modify, manipulate and
           blend the sounds these libraries have to offer” (Black Bill 24.1.2006).
                                                                                            36

When the making of the final sound effects begins, sound libraries help to create original
sounds. By modifying and blending one can create new sounds that have never been heard
before. For example, in the first Star Wars movies the sounds of T.I.E. fighters have been
modified from elephant’s trunk hoots.


If the budget and the schedule allow, the best option is to create own sounds as much as
possible. Recording different sounds in different environments can create completely new
sounds. Often the best sounds do not come from the real sources, but from completely dif-
ferent sources and usually the sounds are much easier to get from these other sources. For
example, combining of waving a leather glove and playing speeded up chicken sounds can
produce sound of bat’s flight. One interesting source of sounds is cooking. From kitchen
one can find most different gadgets that produce most different sounds. From foodstuffs
one can create anything from a punch in the face to an alien language.




8.3        Good dialogue


One thing that cannot be fixed with machines is humaneness and the angles it provides.
Voice actor’s role is very important. He or she must create the soul and voice of the charac-
ter, which then shape player’s impressions of the character. For instance, no one will be-
lieve that a hero from the Middle Ages would sound like a lifeless character whose lines
are repeated in a monotonic voice with no emotions whatsoever.


           ”Most voice actors are actual actors as well, and if you can make the character
           more real for them, and the situation that character’s in, the performance will
           often helped from it.” (Tymoschuk Jeff 21.2.2006).


The sound designer must direct the voice actor so that the actor knows what the sound de-
signer wants. The character must be given features of realistic person. For instance, it is
good for the actor to know character’s age, size, whether the character drags along or not,
does his or her breath wheeze or does the character stutter. The more the actor knows about
the physical qualities of the character, the easier it is for the actor to identify with the char-
acter. Usually such physical qualities affect the way a person speaks.
Dynamics of speech and intuition are also regulated by the situation in which the character
is. In the midst of a great battle one hardly speaks with soft voice. The situation is of great
                                                                                         37

importance to the actor. He or she can yell the lines in fear while running, or perhaps by
adding sound of heavy breathing to the taunts when the character is swinging a heavy
sword. Every action is reflected also in the speech.


           ”Collaborate with professional scriptwriters. Writers would jump at the oppor-
           tunity to write a couple of hundred lines of dialogue for some game characters.
           The results will definitely be worth of investment” (Bernstein Daniel; Creating
           an Interactive Audio Environment 1997).


Another thing that machines cannot fix is the text’s contents. If the lines are just "Die!" and
"Aaargh", it reveals a great negligence toward the game’s contents. This can of course
work too, if the game is designed that way and it clearly does not need anything else.
However, the gaming experience can be made more enjoyable with a good script as is the
case in movies. Good dialogue is especially important in games, which require the player
to concentrate for long periods of time. In action and shooting games very often the atti-
tude is more important than fine contents. But it must be noted that the attitude can also be
created through the script.




8.4        Music


On the average a player spends 60 hours playing one game. If some 10 minutes of music is
created to entertain the player for those 60 hours, even an audio track bigger than life does
not necessarily save the situation. The player will quickly get bored with the same repeti-
tive music.


A good solution is to compose more music. On the average a game contains some 60 to 90
minutes of music. Even this amount does not sufficiently cover the whole game without a
break. There is not one right way how to use music in a game, but certain good practices
exist. The most important thing is to use music in the places where it belongs. Also the mu-
sic does not have to be played all the time. The music can, for instance, set an atmosphere
for a brief moment. One good way to prevent the ‘dulling effect’ is to compose sequences
with appropriate lengths to certain important actions or events.
                                                                                       38

It is up to the composer to find the places where the music is needed in the game. On the
basis of these places, one must decide what kind of structure is used in the music. The
player expects to hear music at least in the following places: intro, end scenes, end credits
and menus. These scenes create an image of the game to the player and usually the scenes
are located so that the player is sure to see them. Music’s purpose is to entertain and pro-
vide a positive image of the game.


Clear places for music are cinematic scenes. They are so-called minimovies, which are
constructed in the same way as the real movies. They support the story and usually provide
background information or shed more light into the issues. The task of the music is to turn
these minimovies into movies bigger than life itself.


Music that is well-composed and well-programmed into the game is interactive. It supports
player’s choices, creates atmosphere or guides the player. For instance, the tempo of the
music becomes more intense if the character starts running. The music can also reflect the
emotions of winning and losing, or tie certain characters or scenes together with the same
themes. With background music one can create scenes where the player must concentrate
for a long time. Its purpose is to support the actions and create atmosphere, but not be
clear. It can be, among other things, the main theme played with slower tempo. (Marks
Aaron 2001, 188 – 193.)




8.5       Cooperation of sound designer and audio programmer


The greatest impact on the game audio comes from the co-operation between sound de-
signer and audio programmer. If the co-operation does not work, it is more than likely that
the game audio doesn’t work the best way either. A good sound designer may have done
his or her job very well: all the sounds are organised and well thought and both sounds and
music are of high quality. If the audio programmer does not know how to program them
into the game, all the good work might be wasted. On the other hand, the audio program-
mer may know his or her trade well, but the sound designer is not able to see how the pro-
gramming will work in the game.
                                                                                       39

8.5.1     Audio programmer’s view of co-operation


          "The sound designer needs to know the basic capabilities of the code base that
          the programmer is working in, such as if multiple sounds can be played at the
          same time? Can volume be adjusted by the programmer? What file format the
          sounds need to be in? etc." (Aurili Joseph 1.3.2006.)


Sound designer must understand what can be done with the audio code. Without this in-
formation he or she may be doing unnecessary work. Due to ignorance, he or she may de-
liver the audio files on wrong format and the audio files become useless. Different plat-
forms require different actions. Some platforms are able to perform only simple actions,
while others can be used to add echo, for instance.


          ”I don’t see much sense in requiring the sound designer to know any program-
          ming unless he is "in- house" and is available to be integrated into the pro-
          gramming process" (Temple Mark 1.3.2006.)


The sound designer must be aware of what can be done with audio programming. How-
ever, he or she does not have to go deeply into the subject, because it is unnecessary infor-
mation if the sound designer is not involved in some stage of programming.


The problem for smaller gamehouses is that it is hard for one or a few employees to focus
on every sector. In these cases the audio programming is usually the sector suffering the
most. Due to the tight schedules audio programming is paid the least attention, because the
first priority of a gamehouse is to produce a game that functions without a flaw and looks
good.


Because of this the game audio is programmed into the game in a relatively short period of
time. The situation is critical if the audio programmer does not know even the basics of au-
dio and is not able to listen the outcome with a critical attitude. In most cases people will
notice a poor sound either consciously or subconsciously, but are not able to tell how they
do that or what is wrong. Due to this, some programmers are satisfied if the actions in the
game produce at least some kind of sounds. They do not necessarily hear the negative as-
pects due to their other workload. They are not able to concentrate on the ’unessential’, but
are satisfied if the game functions the way they want and the sounds are audible.
                                                                                     40

8.5.2     Sound designer’s view of co-operation


          "As long as they have the ability to use their common sense when it comes to the
          sound, what sounds natural and what will be the most entertaining (and not irri-
          tating to a game player) then I consider myself in the presence of genius"
          (Marks Aaron 28.2.2006.)


Sound programmer has to be able to perceive the game audio from player’s viewpoint. He
or she has to be able to program the audio into the game so that it seems credible and
above all, is synchronous in the proper places. For example, a footstep sound must be
heard when the foot hits the ground, not a second later. A simple guideline for sound pro-
gramming is common sense. An audio that sounds good and works in a credible way to one
most likely works for the player as well.


          "He should have theoretical knowledge of sound theory, he should understand
          physical nature of sound and should be aware of modern digital standards, pro-
          tocols, sound data formats etc." (Zhukov Eugene 2.2006.)


In order to make her or his work easier the audio programmer should know the basic audio
theory, e.g. how humans sense shifts in volume and how different effects will affect a
sound.




8.5.3     Communication


          "Never never never guess what can and can not be done in audio program-
          ming.” (Black Bill 23.2.2006.)


The basic principle is that a sound designer does the creative work and describes what he
or she wants the game to sound like. Once this aim is achieved, the sound designer must
tell about his or her plans to the audio programmer. Then it is audio programmer’s job to
program the sounds into the game in the desired manner. The audio programmer must also
tell to the sound designer what can and cannot be done with audio programming and point
out the ideas that are impossible to carry out. It is vital to know if the sound engine can
produce echoes, Doppler Effect etc.
                                                                                          41



           "I think the most common mistakes are assumptions made on both sides about
           how the sounds are going to be implemented in the game, without discussing ex-
           actly what is needed by each side before the implementation stage" (Aurili Jo-
           seph 1.3.2006.)


The sound designer and the audio programmer must communicate and make decisions to-
gether throughout the project cycle. It is futile to just turn the matters over without making
the final decisions. Without clear definition of policies the development come to a halt and
things stop halfway, which leads to a greater workload in the end.


           ”Tell them what you want and let them be the computer programmer and let the
           sound designer be the artist" (Black Bill 23.2.2006.)


           "The one who has the final responsibility of game’s success. Naturally a wise
           person in charge uses the help of experts " (Hakala Sami 21.2.2006.)


The sound designer designs the audio environment and it is audio programmer’s task to
make the design possible. With clear role differentiation the work and achieving of the
common aim become easier. The person responsible for the making of the game hires and
assigns staff for each task. This way it is guaranteed that the expertise is where it is needed.
When both the sound designer and audio programmer can concentrate on their own tasks, a
situation where some sectors would receive less attention will be avoided.


           “do you really need it?”
           “can’t you implement another sound?”
           “the editor works better like that so I implement the feature as I like” (Pensato
           Davide, 30.3.2006.)


The questions present above do not further the development toward the shared aim, but
they slow down the progress and in the worst case can ruin everything. Both sides must
understand their tasks, but they must also be willing to be flexible when needed.
                                                                                      42

8.5.4       Problems are solved with co-operation


When the sound designer is aware of the basic technical matters and the audio programmer
knows what is wanted, begins the co-operation for solving the problems that emerge in the
game. Usually the problems occur in the programming phase, because then for the first
time it is seen how the sounds work together and how the audio code works.


Audio code is a code written with a programming language to play back the audio to the
player through different commands. There are several different audio codes and all sound
engines have their special functions.


Example 1. Audio code requests to load ping.wav sound and play it once without a loop
function.


            audio::ISource* mASource;
            audio::IListener* mAListener;
            audio::IWorld* mAWorld;


            mAWorld = getAudioSystem()->createWorld();


            audio:: SoundDataFile mASoundData = audio:: SoundDataFile ("ping.wav");
            mASource = mAWorld->createSource ();
            mAListener = mAWorld->createListener ();
            mASoundData.setLoopMode( mASoundData.SLM_LOOP_OFF );


            mASource->setSoundData(&mASoundData);
            mASource->play(); (Yake tutorials 2006.)
                                                                                        43

8.5.4.1   Avoiding repetition


Earlier on it was studied what a sound designer can do to avoid repetition. In the following
it is studied how the co-operation with an audio programmer can lead to good results.


          "In Blood Wake, a recent nautical combat game for the Xbox that I worked on,
          the "chain gun" sound presented a difficult problem. The player boat almost al-
          ways has at least one chain gun (and, depending on upgrades, as many as four
          chain guns) and the enemy boats often have them too. We needed to make a
          rapid-firing weapon sound that was powerful and impactful, could be listened to
          for extended periods without becoming irritating, and was able to support mul-
          tiple playback instances simultaneously. In addition, since the guns jammed up
          when fired for too long, the sound needed to be able to sputter out and stop.
          Loops would have to be too long to avoid sounding repetitious and thus would
          cause us memory problems, and it would have been tough to get the jammed-up
          sound with loops anyway. So we had to go with individual shot sounds and find
          some way to make them sound natural.


          Chris Hegstrom, the sound designer on the project, came up with a great solu-
          tion. First, he created individual gunshot sounds that had the kind of punch and
          power that I was looking for. He created two groups of shot sounds, player chain
          gun and enemy chain gun sounds, and made eight variations within each group.
          I then asked the audio programmer write a system that would call these sounds
          in a quasi-random order (it was random, but was weighted to be less likely to
          call the same sound twice in a row) and could adjust the playback rate. We also
          made adjustments to slightly randomize the pitch and volume, and to vary the
          timing of each shot so that it was almost, but not quite, perfectly regular. Then
          we added an additional layer of control: when more than one gun was firing, in-
          stead of calling another instance of the same system, we simply increased the
          rate of the shots and increased the pitch, volume, and time variations slightly.
          This avoided the horrible "flanging" problem caused by playing the same sound
          multiple times at very slightly different times and pitches. Hegstrom spent many
          painstaking days tweaking all the little values, but once he was done, he had
          created a very convincing multiple weapon sound." (Boyd Andrew; When
          Worlds Collide: Sound and Music in Film and Games 2003.)
                                                                                         44

Depending on the sound engine, even great miracles can be produced in programming. The
simplest way to avoid repetition is to write the code of a certain sound, for instance foot-
steps, so that it will play back the different variations in random order. In such case the
variations do not follow the order: Footstep_1.wav, Footstep_2.wav, Footstep_3.wav, Foot-
step_4.wav, Footstep_1.wav, Footstep_2.wav and so on. With random playback they could
appear, for example, in this order: Footstep_4.wav, Footstep_1.wav, Footstep_4.wav, Foot-
step_2.wav, Footstep_3.wav, Footstep_1.wav and so on.


With a more versatile sound engine one can, among other things, change sound frequency,
create echoes and other effects and pan the sound in multichannel audio system. With this
kind of system repetition can be avoided in a more extensive way. With code one can
change every other footstep sound so that it differs a bit from the previous one. For in-
stance, with pitch shift the sound can be adjusted to be a bit slower or faster. The sound de-
signer and the audio programmer have to think together which is the best solution. For ex-
ample, every second time the same footstep sound is played back, the code will shift to a
bit slower pitch and every fourth time to a bit faster pitch. The first and the third playback
time can remain the same as they were when the sounds were delivered. Thus, the footstep
sounds and their order are always different.




8.5.4.2    Synchrone


Synchrone means a sound, which is in the same pace with action that is connected to it. For
instance, when a foot hits the ground the sound has to come at the same time, or speech
must be synchronized with the lip movements. Without synchrone all audiovisual works
would appear chaotic. For this reason the synchrone is very important.


In games the sound program is to synchronize the sounds to their proper places. The sound
designer must deliver the audio files without any unnecessary ‘tails’. For example, if a
sound does not start from the very beginning of the audio file, the audio programmer is
forced to time the audio file to begin earlier than it should so that the sound will be syn-
chronised with the action. If all the audio files have tails of unequal length, things get even
more complicated. A tail in an audio file is useless audio, which just unnecessarily makes
the audio longer. For instance, in a gunshot sound there might be three seconds of silence
before the shot and after the shot we hear the shooter yelling for two seconds. ´Tailless’ au-
                                                                                         45

dio file contains only the necessary data. If there are unnecessary ‘tails’ in audio files, the
sound programmer has to check and synchronise the files one by one and this is a very
slow process. In order to find the right synchrone and to speed things up the sound de-
signer has to take this into consideration before he or she delivers the audio files to the au-
dio programmer. The sound must start from the beginning of the file and stop immediately
after the sound ends.




8.5.4.3    Seamless loop


A loop is a sound, which is played back continuously for a certain period of time. For ex-
ample, a ten-second forest ambience sound, which plays back over and over again seam-
lessly and without interruptions, is a loop. The advantage of using a loop is that it saves
memory space, because the audio file is not a very long one in temporal terms.


The sound designer must make the audio file so that the beginning and the end make a sen-
sible loop. For example, in a forest ambience a great shift in the sound volume between the
beginning and the end can cause a sound loop that does not work seamlessly. This is of
course okay if the loop is meant work that way. It is the audio programmer’s task to make
the loop work properly. The code must be able to play back the sound seamlessly. Even a
small unevenness in the loop will be spotted right away.




8.5.4.4    A trigger and a zone


Triggers are spots that are defined into the game map in the audio programming phase. In
the program they are coloured dots, which can be distributed to the desired places. The
triggers are places where it is defined if a sound is active or not. In practice a trigger is a
switch to turn sounds on and off, fade sounds in and out, continue the playback of an exist-
ing audio file, play a sound that occurs only once when the trigger is activated and so on.
(Brandon Alexander 2005, 178 – 179.)


Often sounds that are controlled with triggers are ambient sounds or effects, which do not
require placement in a 3D map. For example, you can place a trigger at the entrance to a
bridge and another one at the opposite end. In programming you can define that when the
                                                                                        46

first trigger is activated, a sound will be played back and when the second trigger is acti-
vated, the sound will stop. When the player steps to the entrance of the bridge, the trigger
activates a sound of howling wind and when the player activates the other trigger by leav-
ing the bridge the sound stops. In this case the triggers must be defined so that when the
player actives the same trigger twice in a row the sound will not be played back again. That
way one can avoid a situation where the wind keeps howling though the player turned back
crossing the bridge only halfway. (Brandon Alexander 2005, 178 – 179.)


A zone is meant for controlling large spaces. It functions with the same principle as a trig-
ger, but it is used to define a larger space in the game map for activating a sound. A zone is
an optional shape space with borders. With the zone one can, for instance, mark off a field
in the middle of a forest. In this case we define the field as a zone. Now there is not only
one particular spot that actives a sound, but the whole field will active the sound. This way
the audio programmer does not have to make and define triggers throughout the edges of
the field. A trigger is for small and exact spaces and zone is for big spaces. Thus, the zone
function is often used for ambient sounds. (Brandon Alexander 2005, 178 – 179.)


With creative use of the two one can create interesting audio environments. The sound de-
signer has to decide what the most sensible choice in each situation is and ask the audio
programmer to mark off the different triggers and zones. For example, with zone function
is marked off a castle yard playing back an ambient sound. Within the castle yard one
places several triggers for different sounds. At the ends of the gateway one can place trig-
gers for a bat flight sound. In the stairs leading to the top of the castle wall one can place
trigger for an eagle scream that will played back every fourth time the trigger is activated
and so on.




8.5.4.5      Sound organisation; sound bank and metafile


Gaming equipment and platforms have their technical limitations for playing the game au-
dio. PlayStation 2, for instance, has 2 MB of RAM memory for audio playback. In practice
this means that only 2 MB of audio can be played back simultaneously, which is not much.
For example, one uncompressed .wav mono audio file of a footstep can amount to 15 to 30
kB or one voice-over file from 50 to 200 kB. For PlayStation 2 audio files are usually
compressed to one quarter of the original .wav files. PlayStation 2 uses VAG format. These
                                                                                     47

actions do not help much, if one wants to do scenes with versatile audio. The memory runs
short very soon once one starts to add different footstep and ambient sounds. If the game
includes big group scenes or other scenes with lots of audio, the audio data memory is
bound to run short. There are two good ways to solve this sound organisation problem:
sound bank and metafile. (Brandon Alexander 2005, 168 - 170.)


Sound banks are files, which contain certain sound groups according to the needs of differ-
ent scenes. Audio code loads these sound banks to the audio memory according to the re-
quests made by the code. With this method all the sounds do not have to be loaded into the
RAM at once, because all the sounds do not have to be played back simultaneously. By or-
ganising the audio with the sound bank method the usage of RAM memory will be de-
creased. In metafile method all the sounds are in one big package from where they are
loaded into the memory. (Brandon Alexander 2005, 168 – 170.)


Sound bank and metafile methods have their own functions. Sound bank is more useful
with platforms that have a small amount of available RAM memory. Metafile is a better so-
lution if there’s much RAM available. For instance, PlayStation 2 games require sound
banks, where PC games can utilize equipment resources and features. (Brandon Alexander
2005, 168 - 170.)


Although there are equipment and platforms of different capacity, it does not mean that all
the players should be provided with the weakest option possible. The audio programmer
can define the priority of different sounds in the audio code. For example, gun shot sound
can be defined to be more important than woman’s scream heard in the background. This
way it is guaranteed that the more important sounds will be played back in case the audio
memory runs short. Although some of the sounds are not played back, the player will hear
all the essential sounds even if there is much action going on. (Brandon Alexander 2005,
169 – 174.)
                                                                                         48

9            PROBLEMS SOLVED – WHAT KIND OF IS A GOOD AUDIO
             ENVIRONMENT?



Most of the audio work is very technical labour. A person recording an audio must be able
to operate several different devices and control the recording process so that the results are
of high quality. An audio programmer must master several different programming codes
and understand the world of computers.


When the most common problems of game audio have been solved and the technical com-
petence is at its best, it does not automatically mean that the audio environment is of top
quality. A good audio environment can be created solely with technical competence, but
sound designer’s work is really an artistic and a creative process, of which results hope-
fully go unnoticed.


The sound designer’s most important task is to break loose from the technical aspects and
to be able to perceive the game’s world through player’s eyes. The most important issue is
to understand the player’s actions in the game and what leads to the certain actions. Then
we know much about the aims of the audio environment.


Interactivity means an event or an action, which makes some things to happen or change.
In a game an interactive audio environment has to react to player’s actions and vice versa.
For instance, if a loop of peaceful music plays in the background though the events change
from peaceful to threatening, that is not interactive. What is interactive is that the tempo of
the music intensifies if the player is escaping by a car or the player, hearing that the enemy
is calling in backup, knows that the enemy can be easily vanquished and takes action.
(Miller Mark; Producing Interactive Audio; Thoughts, Tools, and Techniques 1997.)


An interactive audio environment consists of certain parts. Roughly divided these parts are
speech, ambience, sound effects and music. All these have their special impacts in an inter-
active audio environment. In the following sections we study how these parts are integrated
to a game.
                                                                                         49

9.1        The three communication forms of audio


There are three forms of audio communication in games. These are direct communication,
indirect communication and environmental communication. Direct communication refers
to an audio, which is a result of an action. For example, an orc grunts when it is hit. The
audio directly communicates the results of the action to the player. (Bernstein Daniel; Cre-
ating an Interactive Audio Environment 1997.)


Indirect communication creates surprising audio elements to the game. Indirect communi-
cation can be a sound of heavy breathing when the character has run out of energy or a
shout of a non-playable character when it sees the player’s character. Indirect communica-
tion leads the story forward and makes the character react to the changes happening in the
environment. (Bernstein Daniel; Creating an Interactive Audio Environment 1997.)


Environmental communication refers to an audio that is created by the environment. When
the player’s character is bored, it can talk to oneself without referring to anything important
or the engine run of a formula car’s reflects the events at the pit stop. (Bernstein Daniel;
Creating an Interactive Audio Environment 1997.)




9.2        Interactive ambience


The aim of an ambient audio is to tell to the player essential and inessential information
about the environment. Ambience mainly consists of indirect and environmental communi-
cation. At its simplest an ambience track can be one looping forest sound or in a more
complex form it can be a one track made of several smaller sounds. (Bernstein Daniel;
Creating an Interactive Audio Environment 1997.)


Constructing an ambience track with indirect and environmental communication we can
create more interesting and above all more interactive audio environments. For example,
an ambience track of an enchanted forest can consist of looping forest hum. In addition,
with indirect communication one can construct different areas in the forest, which tell
things about the environment to the player. For instance, when the player wanders to a
dangerous zone in the forest, we begin to hear sounds of character breathing heavily, crows
cawing and tree trunks creaking. In the more safe zones the character whistles and small
                                                                                      50

birds twitter. (Bernstein Daniel; Creating an Interactive Audio Environment 1997.)




9.3       Sound effects create an interactive audio environment


Sound effects bear an important effect in an interactive audio environment. If they are well
designed and made, they bring to the game elements that help the player to identify with
the characters and actions. Sound effects can also be used to create situations which other-
wise would be impossible to do. The player can, for example, draw enemy’s attention by
hitting a steel pipe against the wall. This way the player has created a vocal chain of
events, which is one aim of an interactive audio environment.


The sound effects in the movies that have received sound effect awards bear certain simi-
larities. The functions of the sound effects in an interactive environment can be studied
through this approach:


1.        Sound effects are used to draw attention.
2.        The audio is bigger than life.
3.        Sound effects and music work together to draw attention.
4.        Complete silence exists very rarely. Usually there is an ambient sound playing
           in the background.
5.        Sound effects do not upstage dialogue.
6.        Sound effects do not upstage each other.
7.        Sound effects prepare the viewer for the things to come.
8.        Sound effects set us in the space ahead
9.        Sound effects warn us about the things to come
10.       In the movies they help to sense other senses (touch, taste, smell). For example,
          the phlegmy rattle of a person lying on a sickbed can almost be ’sensed’ in one’s
          own lungs.
11.        They create an alternate reality. (Prince Bobby; Tricks And Techniques for
          Sound Effect Design 1997.)


With sound effects one can give much valuable information to the player without the
player even noticing it. When sound effects are combined with images, the result is a com-
bination that will create very powerful images in the player. For instance, in a sword game
                                                                                        51

an image of a sword hitting a character is not a big deal without audio. By adding a typical
”whoosh” sound and a sound of a blade smashing against flesh we convey the desired
emotion and feeling of power to the player. Games that have good audio, such as Call of
Duty, Medal of Honor, Halo and Need For Speed all have one thing in common. In all
these games the audio is of good quality and above all, well suited to its purpose. Their
functionality in the games creates powerful images in the player and leads the story for-
ward in a plausible way. (Song Jiesang; Improving the Combat ”impact of Action Games”
28.4.2005. Marks Aaron 25.10.2006. Zhukov Eugene 18.10.2006.)




9.4       Interactive music


If implemented properly, music has its own power in the storytelling of game audio. The
aim of music, as other audio elements, is to tell the story. However, music has a great im-
pact on the player’s emotions.


Music works interactively if it is composed the right way. By composing different seg-
ments that are compatible, one can construct different situations in the programming phase.
For example, when the player moves from a peaceful situation to a more exciting one, mu-
sic can be constructed so that it changes with the situation. A peaceful situation can consist
of a simple rhythm section and a genial melody. When the situation changes, the genial
melody is dropped and the rhythm section is altered to a more hectic by adding, for in-
stance, an exciting base pattern to it. (Bernstein Daniel; Creating an Interactive Audio En-
vironment 1997.)
                                                                                       52

10        DEVELOPING CREATIVE AUDIO DESIGN



Creative audio design is not an inborn skill. It is a skill, which can be learned and devel-
oped throughout one’s life. Sound designer must find his or her own sources of creativity
and means for developing it, but there are certain ways of how to make things a bit easier.




10.1      Active hearing


          ”1. Hear 2. Repeat 3. Do by yourself” (Zhukov Eugene 18.10.2006.)


One good way to improve one’s skills is active hearing. Active hearing means a way of
hearing in which the heard material is analysed. An easy way is to focus on the smaller de-
tails and build a whole from these details. At first, for example, one can focus on certain
sound effects and analyse them. Why does a certain sound effect sound better in a certain
game than in another game of the same genre? How are the sound effects created? What
has been used as the source of the sound? The most important thing is to ask questions in
order to notice how and why a sound effect sounds the way it sounds.


After being able to control the smaller details one can construct bigger entities in one’s
mind by combining the smaller details. Then one has to study the whole concept. Why do
these sound effects work in this game? Do they support the story? By active hearing one
can see why some things work or do not work in one’s opinion. The sound designer deep-
ens his or her knowledge of the audio. This is to achieve a state in which the sound de-
signer can sketch different tried and found solutions.


After learning the process of analysing ready-made solutions, one can deepen the devel-
opment of creativity. When we understand how and why a sound is the way it is, the next
step is to think up new alternatives by asking questions such as: how would this sound if
this would be that way? What if the volume of that sound would be louder?


By using these two different methods we acquire two new tools. Firstly, we understand
things the way they are and secondly, we can distance ourselves from these things. One
                                                                                           53

important issue is also to learn to use these thoughts and ideas in practice. By active train-
ing one can create technical and artistic basis that grants one the basic knowledge and
skills for learning new things.




10.2       Breaking the routines


           ”Listen, listen, listen… And don´t be afraid to try some unexpected things.”
           (Tymoschuk Jeff 18.10.2006.)


Learned routines are good when they are used the right way. They can make the work
quicker, when one does not have to think why one does certain things. For example, how
you create a session into the audio editing program and how you import a new audio file or
how you place the microphone in front of the actor. A downside in the routines is the fact
that everything happens always the same way. In creative work this is an obstacle in the
way of the development of one’s creativity.


A sound designer must seek new ideas and thoughts. Every person has his or her own way
of feeding one’s creativity. For some people the way is to relax in nature, for others it is
looking at paintings. All means are good if they work. The most efficient way is to do
things the opposite way than one normally does or simply try the most insane and outra-
geous idea, which one has never before had the nerve to try. The new solutions may prove
to be better than the old tried and found ways. (Sanger George Alistair 2003, 229 – 237.)


           ”I did a cinematic once for Hulk game that had Hulk jumping out of a building,
           landing on busy city street and then running through traffic, causing mayhem
           and destruction. He landed beside a parked car… (Tymoschuk Jeff 18.10.2006.)


Jeff Tymoschuk worked with the Hulk example above. What is the reader’s first impres-
sion of the scene’s audio environment? Very likely it is a loud one. Cars driving by, brak-
ing, car crashes, screaming and so on. A sound designer could create big car crashes and
spine-chilling screams of horror for the scene, but there is also an alternate solution.


           …and I got idea of having the car alarm go off, which became my favorite sound
           moment in the scene, and got a big smile out of the producer. It´s often the de-
                                                                                     54

             tails that can make a scene work” (Tymoschuk Jeff 18.10.2006.)


With a simple idea we get much more additional value to the scene. Now the attention is
not drawn to the destruction itself, but when one repeating and loud sound stops, it draws
the attention to Hulk.




10.3         Deepening one’s knowledge


One of the most important abilities of a sound designer is to understand how sounds affect
people and how they react to sounds. Deeper understanding of these matters is helped by
knowledge of physics and understanding of acoustics. (Marks Aaron 25.10.2006.)


New innovations bring new devices, but despite of this the audio works on human mind
according to certain principles. For example, culture and environment have great impact.
All the people cannot know what a rainforest or a winter forest sound like if they have
never experienced it in the real world. They may have mental pictures, which are usually
created by the media, which in turn may is affected by other people’s imagination.


The audio itself and its impacts on humans can be studied. With constant learning, observ-
ing and studying a sound designer can deepen one’s knowledge on the audio and the world
surrounding it. The more a sound designer knows, the more tools he or she has for work on
the audio.
                                                                                      55

11        THE LONG PROCESS TO THE FINAL RESULT – A BETTER
          AUDIO ENVIRONMENT



The player does not hear the fine moments, sacrifices and contributions that have been a
part of the creation of the game. For the player a game is just a game and if it is not a
pleasant experience, it simply is a poor game. The sound designer is as much responsible
for the player’s impressions of the game as the rest of the developing team. By no means is
the audio the most important part of a game, but properly implemented it is an important
element supporting the idea of the game.


Audio work as a process may be a long and hard one, but it can also be rewarding and fun.
Above all, audio design of a game must be approached with certain professionalism no
matter how simple the game. By professionalism I do not mean stiff upper lip but rather
meeting the agreements and the schedule. If a good audio environment is wanted as the re-
sult, it also means work, creativity, communication skills and most of all co-operation. Co-
operation is the resource for making games.


One does not born to be a sound designer, but grows to be a one. Through experience one
gains more confidence and new ideas that can be used to develop completely new material.
Through experience one can face the problems of game audio as challenges and not prob-
lems. Certain patterns of action for handling issues quickly and smoothly will develop.
One does not come to a complete stop when facing problems but begins to search new so-
lutions to the problems on one’s own or within the team.
                                                                                        56

12           WALKING ORC



In this section I discuss the ‘walking orc’ demo, which has four different audio versions.
The demo is a simple loop of a walking orc. The aim of this demo is to illustrate and study
how audio work can be improved together with the coder. The four demos do not cover all
the errors in audio work but only a part of them. However, the different demos illustrate
quite well how an audio can ruin a gaming experience or how a game can be enriched by
the audio.




12.1         Version 1


The first version illustrates a poor game audio environment. No special resources have
been put in this audio, but only one ambient track and five footstep sounds have been
added. This audio does not create any kind of atmosphere for the player. The atmosphere is
very monotonic and it does not encourage acting in the game’s environment. (Appendix
CD 2; Version 1)




12.2         Version 2


In the second version two ambient tracks, which bring variation, have been added. The
biggest problem is that these tracks do not loop seamlessly. Between the ambient tracks
one can hear a clear pause. In the demo this creates a twitchy feeling and it breaks the illu-
sion of a continuous audio environment. (Appendix CD 2; Version 2)


More audio dimensions have been given to the orc character. Now the player hears how
orc’s leather clothes squeak and this makes it the character appear more realistic. However,
in this version the too high volume level of the squeaking sound breaks the illusion of real-
ity. Now the squeaking plays the main role in the audio though it has no concrete main
value. (Appendix CD 2; Version 2)
                                                                                        57

12.3       Version 3


The third version is a bit more advanced than the previous versions. An effort to give more
depth to the characters and environment in regards to audio has been made. On the ambient
track there is a sound of a single bird, but the sound volume is unreasonably high. That
breaks the continuity of the ambient track. The sound is also frequently played back and
this will start to irritate the player. (Appendix CD 2; Version 3)


In this version the characters have been given more personality by adding sounds of
breathing. Now the character’s personality does not lie solely on the basis of the taunts,
which are controlled by the player. However, there is nothing new in this and only one
variation exists. In certain cases this might work. On the other hand, this might also be a
problem especially if a certain taunt is such that the players want to repeat it all the time.
Once more we are in a situation where the player does not want use a certain taunt for the
thousandth time because no matter how good it is, the audio starts to irritate the player.
(Appendix CD 2; Version 3)


Taunts and breathing sounds add plausibility, but in this version the volume is too high,
which makes the sounds separate grunts. The sounds do not seem to fit the character they
are meant to fit. (Appendix CD 2; Version 3)




12.4       Version 4


The final version illustrates how and with what means the audio environment can be en-
riched. To avoid repetition, several audio files have been programmed into the each action
of the demo’s orc character. For example, there are five different pieces of orc grunts and
footstep sounds. (Appendix CD 2; Version 4)


Attention is paid to the ambient track. Into the track there have been programmed three dif-
ferent continuous stereo audio files, which are supported by individual bird and bat sounds
and several wind murmur sounds. They are played back on random time spans, which have
been programmed to be between 3 and 15 seconds. There are individual sounds for grassy
and rocky surfaces and they are activated when the orc steps on them the first time. (Ap-
pendix CD 2; Version 4)
                                                                                         58



Now external sounds have been added to the characters in order to support the characters
themselves. By adding fly buzzing, an image of a filthy and stinking orc with flies flying
around its body is conveyed to the player. The idea is a very simple one, but it makes the
character to appear a bit more realistic. (Appendix CD 2; Version 4)


There are three different kinds of taunts so that the player will not get bored too quickly.
(Appendix CD 2; Taunts). Also a surprise is included. A music track has been programmed
into the first taunt use. When a taunt is used for the first time, sinister music will start to
play immediately, but it will not be played a second time. This way repetition is avoided,
but in regards to audio something new is created for the player. (Appendix CD 2; Full
Version).
                                                                                       59

13        OPENFRAG AND BROKEN ALLIANCE GAME


In this section the aim is to describe the project I am participating and to explain what the
project structure is and what kind of is the game making ideology of the project.




13.1      Openfrag


The aim of Openfrag is not to construct new super game engines, but it simply aims to de-
velop a playable game with the tools available. The goal of this cooperation is to create
computer games according to the principles of open source code. The content of the game
is to be freely modified or modded. Openfrag utilises the Yake engine. It is a platform that
gathers all the needed modules under the engine. Such modules include, for instance, a 3D
engine and an audio engine. With Openfrag and Yake one can construct games by using the
features of these platforms without having to make the corresponding parts oneself.


          "In the context of this report “modding” refers to the participatory practice
          where amateurs modify and extend commercially released games with their own
          creations. Accordingly, a “modder” is the amateur hobbyist participating in the
          craft of modding. In the processes of learning the craft, creating custom content
          and sharing their creations with other gamers, modders employ the resources of
          multifaceted collaborative online networks. Some of these networks are purely
          utilitarian, some of them more social in nature. Together they form “modding
          scenes”. Each game has its own modding scene, but modders are by no means
          confined to modding just one game. The skills learned modding one game are
          often transferable to modding other games as well." (Laukkanen Tero, Modding
          Scenes - Introduction to user-created content in computer gaming, 2005.)


Openfrag and Yake include, among other things, the following: physics, audio, graphics,
graphic platform (GUI) and network. A mod contains mod-specific things such as 3D mod-
els, scripts, modified interface, mod-specific program codes, audio and so on. (Openfrag
Wikipedia 25.9.2006.)
                                                                                       60

13.2        Yake


Yake is a cross-platform game engine. It is of very young age and developing all the time,
which is the principal idea behind the engine. It can be very efficiently utilised for games.
(Kaiser Stephan; What Is Yake 23.6.2005.)


Cross-platform software functions in different equipments and operating systems either
without modifications or with slight modifications. (Wikipedia; Cross- platform
28.10.2006.)




13.3        Differences between commercial games and open source code games


By commercial games I mean the so-called ‘normal’ games, which have been manufac-
tured to be completely finished products. The consumers can get these games by buying
them from a store, with a magazine or in the form of Internet games.


What makes an open source code game different from a closed source game is the fact that
the first mentioned will never be a finished product in a sense, but it can be developed at
all times. The process of making an open source code game does not have as tight dead-
lines or big expectations as a commercial game, which also could be called a closed source
code game. The source code of closed source code games is not available, when the situa-
tion with the open source code games, as the name implies, is quite the contrary. An open
source code enables development and modification of the game regardless of the original
creators.


The difference between a commercial (closed) and an open source code can be illustrated
with a hamburger meal metaphor: commercial game equals a ready-made meal ordered in a
hamburger chain restaurant and an open source code game equals a homemade hamburger
meal for which one has purchased the ingredients from a store and prepared the meal at
home.
                                                                                      61

13.4      Broken Alliance - game


Broken Alliance is a working title for an Internet game, which is developed by the Open-
frag community. It takes place in the Middle Ages and the central characters are humans
and orcs. At the moment the framework indicates that the game will be a so-called FPS-
game.


          "FPS-game (First person shooter) is a computer game where the angle of view
          is through the eyes of the player’s character. Typically the view also includes a
          hand wielding a weapon, which is used to shoot the enemies and other objects in
          the game." (Wikipedia; FPS-peli 2006.)


In the Openfrag community there has been discussions indicating that in the future the
game will include several different modes, such as deathmatch and flag stealing. In death-
match mode the aim is to eliminate as many enemies as possible within a certain time
frame. In flag stealing the aim is to steal the flag of the other team and secure own team
flag at the same time.




13.5      The team and communication


The central members of the Broken Alliance team are from the Netherlands, Moldova and
USA. Altogether about 30 people all around the world have participated in the game de-
velopment process and at the moment 10 to 15 of those people are actively involved.


Core team:
Project leaders: Geert Schoots and Wilbert van de Ridder (the Netherlands)
Lead programmers: Sander Bisschops (the Netherlands) and Stanislav Ionascu (Moldova)
Lead audio: Ted Strother (USA).


Discussion between the team members takes place in the community’s Internet forum, but
also through IRC. This instant real time message channel enables game development dis-
cussions with the persons in charge of the project.
                                                                                         62

13.6       Summary- all this in English


To illustrate the previous chapters we can use a formula 1 car as an example. The frame of
the formula car and the engine are the foundations of a formula car. This foundation in
Broken Alliance is the Yake platform. When one adds different components, such as audio
and graphics, one can construct the desired game. In a formula car the correspondent com-
ponents would include such things as a steering wheel, tires and mirrors.


Now you have a finished formula car, but what if it starts to rain and you want it to work in
such weather as well? You must change the tires to a different set or, in other words, mod-
ify the car to suit your needs. It is not easy to change tires with ordinary tools, so you want
an easier way. You get hydraulic and other equipment in the pit stop and these help you to
complete the task. In the Yake platform, the Openfrag is such additional equipment, which
makes it easier to create a FPS -game.


The team chiefs Geert Schoots and Wilbert van de Ridder control the team. Car designers
are Sander Bisschops and Stanislav Ionascu. They are responsible for the functionality of
the car. Other team members take care of the vehicle maintenance details within their own
special sector. Someone is responsible for the tires and someone else for the cleanness of
the mirrors.
                                                                                      63

14         BROKEN ALLIANCE AUDIO WORK REPORT



14.1       The beginning


I joined the Broken Alliance project with the help of my big brother. He has followed the
development of the game for quite a while. The game was making good progress and now
it needed few sound effects for a demo version. At first I did few footstep sounds.


Once the things started to make progress and my interest in the project grew, I became fas-
cinated by game audio and the project in question. This made it possible for me to learn
new things and at the same time leave my mark on the game that people could play for free
once it is ready.


At first it was hard to tell what the others wanted and whether they liked the sounds I made
for them. Openfrag.com pages naturally provide a discussion forum, but communication
through the forum seems to be really slow and feedback is almost non-existent. I tried to
also to communicate via email, but that did not result in nearly any progress.


At the same time I was wondering in what format the sounds should be delivered. Once I
studied the reference material, more and more questions came up. Should I pack the sounds
somehow? Should there be different mixes? What must be in stereo? What about echo? All
the things appeared odd and new. Before this project I had recorded music, done sounds for
short films, made radio documents and radio plays. I felt that I knew how to make sounds,
but this time the forum was a strange one to me. I have played computer games, but I have
never had to really think what it is like to work on the sounds in a computer game.




14.2       Recording


I began to work on the sound effects very early by my own will, but also because the team
asked me to do so. For this purpose I collected all the possible concept material (Appendix
1; concepts) that was available and asked from the team what they would need. I asked
them to come up with a list of the needed sounds. I categorised the sounds to their own
                                                                                        64

groups and though in which categories I needed to take into account different surfaces and
seasons. For instance, in footstep sounds there might be many surfaces; snow, grass, gravel
and so on.


In recording preparation is important because it will make the recording quicker if all the
equipment is at hand right away and there is no need to search for it in the recording situa-
tion. It is advisable to think in advance how the different sound can be created and make a
list of all the needed things and issues that need to be taken into account. I brought all the
equipment that I needed on a certain day and all the possible concepts with observational
remarks to the studio.


In recording I used our school’s equipment. The recording equipment in the studio con-
sisted of Apple’s Macintosh G5 computer, Digidesign 002 and different Sennheiser’s and
Neumann’s microphones. In the field recording I used Sennheiser’s MKH 418s P48 stereo
microphone and Tascam’s DAT- or Fostex PD-4 recorder. The recordings have taken place
within a long time span. The estimated starting time was autumn 2005 and the last re-
cording was made in autumn 2006.




14.2.1        Recording the sound effects


14.2.1.1      Field recording


Most of the footsteps have been recorded in the field. I searched several different surfaces
to cover all the possible locations of the game. In most cases I recorded the sounds in two
different ways. Firstly, I walked and held the microphone toward my feet. Secondly, I
placed the microphone to its stand and walked in place in front of the microphone. That
way I could decide in the postproduction phase, which sounded more natural or better for
the game. In the recording phase it is not that hard to switch from one recording technique
to another.


I tried to record footsteps on several surfaces that were similar but sounded different or
tried to record the sounds of the same surface in a different way. For instance, recording
the footsteps on the bog I searched for different spots. In real life a wet bog hole sounds
nice, but when it is recorded it does not sound as good as a bit sturdier base of moss. This
                                                                                        65

way, with a little effort, one can record several different variations, of which one can later
on choose the most suitable one. (Appendix CD 1: track 2-3)


Sennheiser’s MKH 418s P48 stereo microphone is very useful for ambient recordings. It
creates a well-sounding stereo image by using m/s technology. With M/S technology the
audio is recorded with two channels; left (M) and right (S). In the editing phase three audio
tracks are created. Left channel (M) is panned to the middle and sound volume is dropped
3 dbs. Right channel (S) is duplicated. After that it is panned to the left and right. The
switch of one channel is turned. Now we have a stereo image that sounds natural. For M/S
stereo there are also plug-ins, which allow you to skip the aforementioned actions.


In ambient recordings the most important thing is to get pure audio. Especially in the case
of Broken Alliance sounds of cars and other such things would ruin the illusion of the
events taking place in the Middle Ages. The biggest problem in ambient recordings was re-
cording forest ambiences. It was the time when the ever so lovely Finnish mosquitoes were
rampant all over the place. When a mosquito flies into the microphone it ruins the re-
cording in process. A mosquito did not sound like a mosquito anymore, but it rather resem-
bled a helicopter blanketing out all the other sounds. I solved this problem by adding sev-
eral smoky mosquito repellents to the microphone’s wind shelter. After that the micro-
phone looked like a decorated Christmas tree, but recording was much easier. (Appendix
CD 1; track 4)


In the field recording the focus is on footstep and ambient audios. In addition to these I re-
corded most varying rumbles, squeaking hinges, tool sounds and all the other possible
sounds, which could be used to create audio images of the Middle Ages. I used everything
that rumbled and was heavy as much as possible. For instance, for the horse wagons I re-
corded a squeaking loom, a milk pushcart, a sawhorse and rumbling logs. (Appendix CD 1;
track 5)


Definitely the most challenging task is to record animal sounds. I recorded sounds of
horses for one short film and I used the same material also in this project. Animals are un-
predictable and there is no way to control them. Most of the animal sounds can be done
with foley, but generally I want to try to record the sounds of the real source whenever it is
possible.
                                                                                        66

For the horse sounds I visited several local stables. In all the places I was told that the
horses would make a noise and that I was more than sure to get all the material I needed.
This was absolutely untrue. The new person astonished the horses and they were cautious
of the microphone. Some horses even ran away. Finally I made a discovery: two horses in
heat. Fortunately they were more interested in other things than me and I was able to re-
cord their sounds. Unfortunately I also got a load of manure on my face when the horses
kicked the ground during their intimate moment. In any case, the most important thing was
that the audio turned out good. (Appendix CD 1; track 6)




14.2.1.2 Studio recording


Approximately half of the sound effects have been recorded in the studio. This enables a
more pure recording of the more quiet sounds and the whole recording process is more
peaceful and controlled. Before one enters a studio there has to be a plan what will be done
and what equipment is needed. This saves time and once everything is available right
away, one can concentrate on the essential, or in other words, the recording.


In the studio I used many different objects to create sounds. The equipment included,
among other things, different clothes and fabrics, shoes, long strips of wood, bricks, gravel,
metal objects and so forth. Some of the objects I found from my own home, some I had to
search for a long time in the immediate surroundings and go to a lot of trouble. For exam-
ple, for the sound of a sword I had recorded forks, knives and cheese slicers of all shapes
and sizes. After several experiments, I was not completely satisfied with the results so I de-
cided to do something completely different. In most cases the sound of the real thing is not
the best alternative, but now I decided to try it. I called to the person responsible for the
props of Joensuu municipal theatre and asked if they had any swords I could borrow. It was
worthwhile to ask since they had just got new forged swords, which recently had been used
in a play. They promised that I could use the swords for a couple of days. I got the swords
the next day and the results were pleasing. I did the clashing and drawing sounds with the
real swords, but the different lashes I did with long strips of wood (Appendix CD 1; tracks
7 - 11)


One does not always have to go through a lot of trouble to find the needed objects to make
great and functional effects. For instance, bow sounds have been created with a rubber
                                                                                       67

band, a ruler, a long electric tube, some electric wire and a leather belt. By twisting and
squeezing the electric wire and the leather belt I created the sound of drawing a bowstring.
The sound of loosening the bowstring was created with several rubber band snaps. With
the electric tube I created the sound of an arrow whizzing in the air. In recording the sound
I used two microphones, which were about a meter away from each other. I stood a length
of the electric tube in front of the microphones. This way the two microphones and I
formed a triangle. Then I switched on the recording and started to wave the tube back and
forth in front of the microphones. I created the sound of the arrow hit with the ruler. I put
the ruler on the edge of the table so that it was halfway over the edge. After that I pushed
the end of the ruler down and then loosened it so that it began to beat fast. I repeated the
action several times. The vibration intensity changes depending on how large portion of the
ruler is hanging over the edge. (Appendix CD 1; tracks 12-16)




14.2.4     Recording voice-overs


As the planning of the Broken Alliance progressed, I asked for suggestions of what kind of
taunts we would like to have in the first playable version. In practice we divided the four
characters between the group members and they had to come up with the taunts for each
character. At the end we gathered all the suggestion and made sure that there was not any
overlapping between the taunts.


Then I began to search for the actors. I wanted the knight to sound like a noble hero and
through an amateur theatre I found Jarkko Heikkinen. Fortunately he also majored in Eng-
lish, so his pronunciation was plausible. From the start I knew who would play the orc’s
part. I chose my classmate Simo Sinkkonen for that role, because he is a heavy band
singer. He is able to change his voice to a scary growling and for him pronouncing English
was not a problem since he also sings in English. I asked another classmate, Juuso Larpi, to
play the dwarf’s role. He is not an actor, but he also is not shy of the microphone.


For the recording I built an acousticised booth. I used movable screens, which I lined with
acoustic boards. On the floor I placed mats and acoustic screens. This I did so that I could
record the sounds as dry as possible without the studio’s reflections.
                                                                                         68

The recordings of voice-overs went rather painlessly. The actors came to the studio one at
the time. I told what kind of characters I wanted them to play and showed few character
concept sketches. Then we started recording. I asked the actor to repeat one line for 4 to 6
times and if extra takes were not needed, we moved to the next line. Before the recordings
I had included some observations to the list of taunts and that helped me to direct the ac-
tors. I had, for instance, described the situation for which a certain taunt was meant. This
way the actor could add fear into his voice if the aim of the taunt was to call in back-up etc.
(Appendix CD 1; tracks 17 - 18)




14.3       Editing


In the editing phase I tried to arrange the Pro Tools -sessions so that I could keep them in
order the easiest way possible. The most sensible thing to do is to categorise the sounds
and arrange the working sessions according to the categories. One can arrange different
sessions for weapons, footsteps and ambiences. This way the material is easier to control
when the amount of it increases.


After the recordings I transferred the materials to the specific category sessions. Studio re-
cording sessions were separate, because I had taken this into account already in the re-
cording phase. For the field recording material I made sessions according to the sounds.
When the need arose I transferred this material also to the studio sessions.


In editing I cleaned the sounds. In other words, I deleted the unnecessary from the material.
Then I started the actual work on the sound effects. I created more audio tracks to the ses-
sions so that I could use several sounds to build a bigger whole, or a sound effect.


The ‘sword cutting meat’ –sounds, among others, have been created by combining several
sounds. In order to create a splashy sound to the blow, they contain sounds of handling
salad leaves and banging of a watermelon with a fist. However, this does not create an im-
age of a blow with a heavy sword. Therefore I added a metallic clank from the sword
sounds. Even then the sound did not appear to be a powerful and damaging blow. It was an
insignificant sound without power. During the field recording I had recorded sounds of foot
stepping on lots of dry branches and cones, which made a nice cracking sound. I imported
these sounds to the session. I used limiter to give them more power. After that I added
                                                                                       69

them to the sword blow sounds. Now the blows sounded the way I wanted. They had
power and a feeling that the sword blow does actual damage. (Appendix CD 1; track 11)




14.4      Mixing


Once I had edited the sounds I did master copies. This I did because I decided to transfer
the complete sound effects as stereo and mono files to the master sessions. The master ses-
sions are categorised in a similar manner than the editing sessions. This makes it easier to
work and organise the material. In the editing sessions there can be even tens of tracks, but
in the master sessions there is in principle only one track with the master audio files. In
practice, if I wanted to create a new variation of two complete sound effects I added a sec-
ond track. To work on these variations I added a master track that I used to insert eq, com-
pressor and limiter plug-ins.


Delivering the sounds to the Openfrag team was easy. The sounds were uploaded to the
Openfrag fileserver from where the team could download the sounds and use them when-
ever they wished to do so.




14.5      Audio programming


Openfrag uses OpenAL audio program. It is a cross-platform 3D audio interface, which
can be used to create games and other software that processes audio. In practice this means
that the game can be played, for instance, with Windows or Linux though they are two dif-
ferent operating systems. It also enabled stereo or 5.1. audio. One can create illusions of
space with OpenAL’s echo-, Doppler-, and other functions. It all depends on how the audio
programmer wants to program these functions.


There are several different audio interfaces or audio-APIs (Application programming inter-
faces) and different game platforms may have their own versions. Each API is different and
it is treated in a different way in the code. (OpenAL, 2006.)
                                                                                      70

14.6       The observations and problems


14.6.1     Observation 1


Making an open source code game is an interesting and instructive experience. The biggest
problem is that ready material is not created continuously, because the makers of the game
are not involved in the project fulltime. Everyone has big plans and talks about making
great games that will change the world. The makers do some things first and then decide to
build the whole game staring from the engine, believing that they can do better than any-
one else before them. There is nothing wrong with that, but the fact remains that making a
finished product from scratch requires lots of motivated people or several person years. In
most cases people working on a project get frustrated and making the game becomes a pro-
ject lasting an eternity. There exists a sad number of this kind of projects all around the
world.


There have been moments of regression also in the Openfrag project, but despite of this the
core team has remained functional. At times the team has lacked clear aim and the distribu-
tion of work to several people has not gone as well as expected. Many times the work has
been left to individuals and eventually the burden grows too heavy. Although this is only a
hobby to people, the sensible thing would be to establish milestones. This way the aims
would be easier to reach once all know what they are expected to do.


At the moment the Openfrag probably lives the most active time of its lifespan, because
more people have joined the team due to advertising. Despite of this there are certain times
when time or motivation is lacking, but that is understandable since nobody is paid to do
the work. Nevertheless, the work on the first playable demo version takes continuous steps
forward.
                                                                                          71

14.6.2     Observation 2


I joined my first game audio project without any knowledge of how things are done. At
first I was very excited while making the sounds, but I very soon discovered that there is
no point to do audio for a game that does not exist. Everyone has ideas of what sounds are
needed for the game. For instance, different clashing sounds of object are needed. It is
probably all true, but there are problems when one starts to work on the sounds. At that the
point there is no information of what kind of clashing sounds are needed and on what sur-
faces or which objects clash. Soon enough the project becomes mission impossible if one
tries to record all the possible sounds of all the possible objects clashing on all the possible
surfaces. The most important thing is to know what one is doing and organise the work ac-
cordingly. From this experience I have learned that I started the work on the sounds too
early, since there was nothing ready in the project. Not even a simple demo.


With clear scheduling, concepts and a demo the audio team can organise the work much
more efficiently. If the aforementioned things are lacking, the work is just aimless and un-
specific action. When the basic things are in order the working can consist of simple work-
ing and problem solving and not worrying of how things are developing.




14.7       Personal development


During the Broken Alliance project and my thesis, my audio working skills have developed
immensely. I have learned to organise things in my own way and I am able to meet the
deadlines and above all, know how long it takes to do certain things.


However, the most important sign of development is that I have learned a new way of lis-
tening the material I have recorded. Earlier I saw it important that the gauges of the re-
cording equipment maintained a certain level and I managed to record the sounds immedi-
ately. Now I realise that one has to know how to listen the right way. The recorded sound
must be appropriate and of good quality. In the gauges the audio may seem okay, but if the
audio does not sound rich or there is noise in the background, then it is not a very good au-
dio. This kind of a thin sound cannot make powerful, clear or any other kind of sounds.
The recorded sound must be a good one even before the work on it has begun. One cannot
make a good sound out of a poor sound no matter how good and expensive the equipment.
                                                                                        72

For this reason enough time and effort has to be put into recording a good audio when it is
necessary.


I have also learned to better understand how I can create interesting sounds. In my opinion
I listen to sounds according to the images that they create to me. For example, when I was
creating the sound of a bow I realised that a rubber band and a ruler create sounds that re-
semble a bow. During my studies and work I have also learned much about the secrets of
postproduction. Now I know how I am able to use, for instance, different effects. With this
experience I am able to understand how I can change the sounds coming from a rubber
band and a ruler to appear like a bow.


In my opinion, I am very skilled in recording, editing and organising work. The most im-
portant area that needs to be improved is the audio design itself. It is an area, which I feel
is improving now that all the other areas are in order. I am aware of what needs to be done
to develop myself and this helps me to achieve my aims. I strongly believe that my thesis
has given me a set of new tools for achieving this aims.
                                                                                       73

15         CONCLUDING WORDS



Writing my thesis has taken longer than is usually expected, longer than there is time re-
served for it or the number of study points one gets for the thesis. For several reasons this
process has lasted over a year. I could have written my thesis based solely on the practical
part of my thesis, but I wanted to dig into the matter. I am very happy that I did. I am not
particularly concerned about my graduation documents or the fact that I did additional
work. Above all, I see that in the end of my studies I got a completely new perspective,
which I was not aware of earlier, on audio work.


The learning process has been a huge one. The work on the Openfrag project has brought
new friends and the project itself has been most interesting and it has been nice to partici-
pate in it. I have also made mistakes during the project, but I have learned from them.
When I wrote my thesis I dug into the matter itself. I read the most important books in the
market; I searched for information from the Internet and interviewed the professionals. The
learning process has been so grand that it cannot be compared to my actual studies.


The professionals from all around the world that I interview during the writing of my thesis
have been most helpful. I was surprised of the warm and friendly atmosphere present
among the professionals of the game audio. They are busy, but nevertheless managed to
help and guide me in issues that certainly are self-evident truths to them. Many thanks be-
long also to the Openfrag team. They have been very helpful and I owe them much, so I
will help them with the game audio also from this point forward. In principle, that was the
starting point for all this. Many thanks go also to my actors and teachers.


At the end of the day I am very pleased with myself and I hope that my work will be useful
to the reader or act as a source for inspiration. I also hope that this learning process has
some impact on my future. I once more thank all the people that have helped me: thank
you.
                                                                                  74

16           REFERENCES



Literature


Brandon Alexander 2005, Audio For Games; Planning, Process and Production, New Rid-
ers.


Huhtamo Erkki & Kangas Sonja (toim.) 2002, Mariosofia- Elektronisten pelien kulttuuri,
Tampere: Tammer paino. Gaudeamus.


Marks Aaron 2001, The Complete Guide to Game Audio; For Composers, Musicians,
Sound designers, and Game Developers. USA, CMP Books.


Sanger George Alistair 2004, The Fat Man on Game Audio: Tasty Morsels of Sonic Good-
ness, New Riders Publishing.


Interviews


Aurili Joseph, Game Programmer 1.3.2006.


Black Bill, Sound Designer, Casting and Dialog Director. Bill Black Audio Video
24.1.2006, 23.2.2006 and 30.10.2006.


Hakala Sami, Producers, Composer and Sound Designer, Äänivoimala (Audio Power
Plant) 24.1.2006 and 21.2.2006


Marks Aaron, Composer/Sound Designer. On Your Mark Music Productions 13.2.2006,
28.2.2006 ja 25.10.2006.


Pensato Davide, Audio Director, DP Studios- Game audio consulting and services
30.3.2006.


Sanger George Alistair, Composer and Sound Designer, “Audio Guy”. 30.1.2006.
Temple Mark, Game Designer, Programmer and Producer 3.3.2006.
                                                                                          75

Tymoschuk Jeff, Composer 21.2.2006 and 17.10.2006.


Zhukov Eugene, Composer, arranger, sound FX designer. Abyss Lights Studio. 26.2.2006
and 18.10.2006.


Events


Carelian Xplay 06, Outokummun pelitalon esittelypiste 16.-18.6.2006. Joensuun Areena.


Fenix Games Business Program, lecturers Panu Mustonen and Ilmo Lounasmaa, training
event 29.-30.9.2006. Joensuu.


Internet


Bernstein Daniel 11.11.1997, Creating an Interactive Audio Environment. Gamasutra.
<www.gamasutra.com/features/19971114/bernstein_01.htm>


Boyd Andrew 4.2.2003. When Worlds collide: Sound And Music in Film and Games. Ga-
masutra. <www.gamasutra.com/features/20030204/boyd_02.shtml>


Bridgett     Rob     30.9.2005,      Hollywood          sound:     Part     two.     Gamasutra.
<www.gamasutra.com/features/20050930/bridgett_01.shtml>


Brandon       Alexander       1.3.2006,          Game      Audio      Integration.   Mixonline.
<http://mixonline.com/newmedia/newformats/audio_new_face_audio/index.html>


Game Developer Magazine 2004, Postmortems. <www.gdmag.com/postmort.htm>


Kaiser             Stephan;               What            Is              Yake       23.6.2005.
<www.yake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18&Itemid=30>


Kamppuri Petteri 8.12.2003. Peliohjelmointi ja ohjelmistotuotantoprosessi. Helsingin yli-
opisto, tietojenkäsittelytieteenlaitos.
<http://209.85.129.104/search?q=cache:gaAPiJszroQJ:www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/vihavain/s03/s
em/tekstit/kamppuri_peliohjelmointi.pdf+pelin+tekeminen&hl=fi&gl=fi&ct=clnk&cd=2>
                                                                                       76



Kauppinen Jukka O., Mikrobitti 6-7/1999, Bugi, jatkoa. Sanoma Magazines Finland Oy.
<www.mikrobitti.fi/nettijatkot/1999/06/bugi/>


Laukkanen Tero, Modding Scenes - Introduction to user-created content in computer gam-
ing, 2005. Tampereen yliopisto. <http://tampub.uta.fi/index.php?tiedot=102>


Leino Raili 26.5.2005, Pelinteko on tiimityötä. Tekniikka ja talous.
<www.tekniikkatalous.fi/doc.ot?f_id=736023>


McDonald Glenn: A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music 2006. Gamespot <games-
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Miller Mark; Producing Interactive Audio; Thoughts, Tools, and Techniques 15.10.1997.
Gamasutra. <www.gamasutra.com/features/19971114/miller_01.htm>


OpenAl, 2006
<http://www.openal.org/openal_webstf/downloads/OpenAL_Programmers_Guide_US_Let
ter.pdf>


OpenFrag Wiki 25.9.2006 <http://wiki.openfrag.org/index.php?title=Ofwhatis>


Prince Bobby 1.6.1997, Tricks and Techniques for Sound Effect Design. Gamasutra.
<www.gamasutra.com/features/19960819/prince_01.htm>


Song Jiesang 28.4.2005, Improving the Combat ”Impact” of Action Games. Gamasutra.
<www.gamasutra.com/features/20050428/sang_02.shtml>


Vihtari Tomi 14.4.2005. Pelien ääniohjelmointi. Helsingin yliopisto, tietojenkäsittelytieteen
laitos.
<www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/vihavain/k05/sem/esitelmat/vihtari_pelien_aaniohjelmointi_lopullin
en.doc>


Wikipedia;      Computer        And       Video       Game        Industry      28.10.2006.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_industry#History>
                                                                                   77

Wikipedia; Cross- platform 28.10.2006. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-platform>


Wikipedia; FPS-peli 2.10.2006. <http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/FPS-peli>


Wikipedia; Game Development 29.10.2006.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_development>


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<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_computer_and_video_games>


Yake 2006, Tutorials.
<www.yake.org/wiki/doku.php?id=tutorials:beginners:yap_2._3d_sound&s=audio>
                                78

                           Appendix 1


BROKEN ALLIANCE CONCEPTS
                                   79

                              Appendix 2


CD 1 TRACKS


1. Bat
2. Footsteps; wet bog
3. Footsteps; hay bog
4. Forest ambience
5. Wagons
6. Horse
7. Sword
8. Sword draw
9. Sword lash
10. Sword blow
11. Sword clashes armour
12. Bow
13. Drawing the bowstring
14. Loosening the bowstring
15. Arrow flies
16. Arrow hits
17. Orc’s taunts
18. Knight’s taunts
                                    80

                              Appendix 3


CD 2 MATERIAL


1. Video clip; Version 1
2. Video clip; Version 2
3. Video clip; Version 3
4. Video clip; Version 4
5. Video clip; Full Version
6. Video clip; Taunts

				
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