My account of the GGJ written for Gamedevelopers.ie - http://gamedevelopers.ie/experiences-of-a-first-global-game-jam/
The annual Global Game Jam took place from the 29th to the 31st of January, 2016 with over 36,000 jammers, 632 jam sites, 93 countries, and over 6860 games made worldwide, this is the biggest Game Jam to date! This year’s jam theme was “Ritual”. We asked a first time attendee Damien Walsh to tell us about his experiences at the Griffith College/Microsoft event.
he idea of the jam is to develop a playable game/demo over the course of 48 hours based on a specific theme. Designers, developers and artists form teams and brainstorm on the first evening to come up with their game idea, some had very large teams with whiteboards and diagrams, some sat around and talked through their ideas while graphic artist started drawing character ideas on their drawing tablets, and some…they just developed entire games themselves!
Check out the artwork below by local artist Paul Conway (@doomcube and http://www.doomcube.com/).
Eoin Carroll said “This year’s Global Game Jam (GGJ) was a great success. The Griffith College and Microsoft site was host to 140 jammers from across the country. This was the largest site in Ireland in the history of the Global Game Jam. This group produced a total of 31 games, which is an amazing achievement. You can check out all of the games from this year’s jam here.
The jammers were a mix of seasoned GGJ alumni and brand new game developers. This lead to an eclectic mix of games and game genres for the jam. There was several VR based games as well as games that had nontraditional controllers, like the sphero robot.
One of my favorite things about the GGJ is that you really see the full range of game genres. Of course there were the action styled games that had 3d graphics and allowed experienced developers to play with the theme of the event, but we also had some wonderful interactive fiction games. Having grown up reading “choose your own adventure” books, these styles of games always have a special place in my heart. I also feel that they allow non-programmers to create something in the weekend without spending most of the event watching YouTube tutorials.
While the event is definitely an endurance event the spirits were high for the whole weekend. Everyone seemed to accept and work with the constraints of the event. I did my best to keep the group fed, we had great support from Apache Pizza, Subway and Broderick’s Brothers which meant that the jammers could stay on site and work away without wondering about where they are getting lunch, etc. Microsoft continued their fantastic support of the event by providing a wonderful venue that is big enough to hold all of our jammers.”
As an audio guy going to my first game jam, I didn’t really know what to expect, and what would be expected of me. The key thing is to get in with a team early, understand the key game concepts, create your own audio design document with a list of music, sfx and dialogue needed and get to work. In all likelihood the audio will be one of the last aspects added to the game, and the more options you have available when asked, the better it is for the game.
I worked on a game called “Pentagram of Synchronisation” with game designer Richard Fahy as a sound designer, and Gareth Ebbs who wrote the music. The game is a story about a sad boy playing with ritualistic magic who has his consciousness reach a parallel universe where things quite aren’t what they seem. You can download the game here.
It was a great experience and I will definitely be attending the GGJ next year, and other jams that may come up in Ireland in the interim.
Yesterday I travelled to London to my first Game Music Connect Conference. Game Music Connect was created by multi-award winning composer James Hannigan (Harry Potter, Command and Conquer, Dead Space, Transformers Universe) and acclaimed audio director & composer John Broomhall to celebrate the amazing music behind video games and the extraordinary talent behind it. The conference was created to get composers together to network, offer new perspectives on music and the business and help guide the newer and aspiring composers down the path of success.
James Hannigan - (Harry Potter, Command and Conquer, Dead Space, Transformers Universe)
Garry Schyman - (BioShock, Destroy All Humans, Dante's Inferno)
Richard Jacques - (James Bond, Mass Effect, Little Big Planet)
Jessica Curry - (Dear Esther, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs)
Jason Graves - (Tomb Raider, Dead Space, Star Trek: Legacy)
Olivier Deriviere - (Assassins Creed IV, Remember Me, Alone in the Dark)
David Housden - (Volume, Thomas Was Alone)
Steve Schnur - (President of EA Music)
David Alexander (CEO of COOL Music group and Composer. Two Souls, Halo 4)
Simon Ashby - (Audiokinetic)
Evolution of Music in Games
It was really great to have an insight into how music has evolved in games and also where it is going. From the first 8-bit chip music to the Orchestral pieces of today game music has evolved massively. I believe this is down to composers working hard with game developers to find a way they can work with this interactive medium to create the best experience possible for the player.
James began by showing us an integration program that he had written for the game Republic which helped to trigger different audio files based on where the game was going, for example; if it's a calm scene moving to action the program will trigger another music event to play. For a game composer before the development of sound engine tools they often had to work with the game developer to create some sort of trigger system to ensure the music reacts to the gameplay and offers the game player a more involved experience as oppose to someone watching a movie who has no involvement in whats going on.
Richard showed us how, in one instance he had a spread sheet with two thousand lines, each line represented a bar of music he'd written with four columns to indicate the level of intensity of the scene. In this instance Richard had to break down his music into bars in order for it to work correctly in game, an extremely time consuming job, but in order for it to work this was necessary.
With the need for a more defined way of working with music in game, a company called Audiokinetic created a platform called Wwise, an interactive sound engine for games. Simon discussed how composers can now have a more strategic approach to writing for game. The images below show some examples of how music in a game may be structured from a simple layering of looped music to build tension, to more complex branching similar to an IF function in Excel...if character A does this...then trigger this etc..
From reading this I'm sure it seems that the actual art of composing, going to a studio and recording great musicians playing and improvising is very far removed, but it's not. Composition for game still needs to be that, a composition, pieces of music that provoke an emotion within the game player....and then you chop it up into little bits so it works in the game!!
Olivier spoke more on the compositional aspects and how he would go about breaking things into some kind of structure for a game. The image below is how he looked at scoring the game Assassins Creed IV.
In a game like this you're writing to moods and functions as opposed to following a specific scene. So each piece of music has to have aspects such as reward, you've won a battle, the music changes and makes you feel happier perhaps! In some instances the player is looking for feedback after doing a task...that too needs to be reflected by some change within the music.
I could keep going, but there's an awful lot to talk about so maybe I'll do another blog on other aspects of game music at a later date. In terms of the future of game music, it's looking bright, to be a composer in the industry you need to understand all of the aspects of the technology you're working with, understand games, and most important of all write original interesting music that differentiates you from all the other new composers leaving college with a degree in Game Composition. Games are on their way to being and even bigger form of medium than film in my opinion, with the Oculus Rift 3D gaming experience, and people having the ability to sit on their chair with a headset on and feel like they're driving an F1 car who knows where it will go...
I'll leave you with some music from the BioShock Infinite soundtrack written by Gary Schyman.
When I was commissioned to compose & produce the music for the RTÉ Junior show Ard RÍ, and received the scripts, I was excited with the theme and style I was asked to write for.
Ard RÍ is the story of four kids from Dublin who happen upon the stone circle, which brings them back to the time of the Vikings, and the adventures they have along the way.
Out of all the pieces the most interesting to write was the "Battle Theme". I wasn't asked to write for one specific scene, rather a number of different battles. I decided on a thematic approach with a few key motifs. The piece itself is written from the early morning until the end of the battle. There is a general unease and sadness throughout the piece with tubular bells and dissonance in the chords marking and increasing the tension before battle. I have also signified the march into battle with snare drum rolls and a build on a previous motif. The main battle begins with a stand off where the bells ring and the battle drums are hit, and then it all kicks off as they say! The final part signifies the sadness after battle and the end to the day.
You can take a listen to the Battle Theme below.
After many years of buying and selling guitar pedals, trying out new effects and generally not being happy with certain sounds I decided to get together with some of my friends and build a kit pedal, namely a Tremulous Lune clone.
We purchased the kit from www.Musikding.com and when all was delivered went to work on making the pedals. To make the pedal a little more individual I decided to go for a coloured aluminium die cast enclosure, which meant some drilling was needed....
After the enclosure was drilled it was onto the board...
And then to the tricky messy part, the wiring...
It took around 6 hours to make the pedal, but after all the work was done, and a little help from a friend on a few stray wires it was done, and the Shaker Maker was born! Next pedal on the agenda is a clone of the Zvex Fuzz Factory!