As you may (or may have not) noticed I’ve been a little less active here on my site for a month or so. Whilst I’ve been working on a number of projects I’m also in the process of moving, and anyone who has had the pleasure of buying / selling a house will know how much work is involved! Suffice to say – I’ve not had much time for blog writing so I’m postponing any future waffling until the house move is complete and I’m all set up again.
Whilst it is super-stressful I’m very excited about the move, which will allow me to empty my storage space and move all my studio gear into one big attic room. I’ll finally have the DX7 on hand for those moments when you just HAVE to frequency modulate.
Thanks for bearing with me and I’ll see you in 2018!*
* (interestingly ‘Rollerball’ is set in 2018 and any cult 70s / 80s cinema fans should definitely check it out to see whats in store for us next year…)
If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’ve been working on DATA labs for around a year now – the level serves as a testing ground for new ideas, blueprints and personal development and it’s been lots of fun to work on!
Recently I’ve been creating audio log entries for the level, so the player can find out a little bit of backstory about the labs and what goes on there, as well as letting me indulge in some fun blueprints. The idea evolved from a simple playback system to a fully functioning cassette player, and whilst I’d like to expand it further I feel it’s probably a little beyond the scope of this project at the moment. Here’s how it works…
Essentially you can click on items to interact when them in DATA labs – clicking on the cassette player once plays the tape, again pauses it, clicking again plays from where you left off. You can leave it running or turn it off at any time or let it play until the end. Once the tape has reached the end, it will automatically shut off. A final click lets you rewind the tape and the whole system starts again. A red LED illuminates whenever the cassette is in play mode.
A lot of the ideas here are not mind blowing of course, they seem pretty simple in fact..! However, not coming from a game design or programming background means I often find that even simple tasks take up a fair amount of my dwindling brain power, so it took a number of iterations to come up with the blueprint you see below.
This basically sets a number of variables in motion so that the blueprint knows what to do when you click on it – namely whether it’s playing, paused, stopped (complete) or rewinding.
The next stage handles the system for play / pause functionality, which turned out to be quite a frustrating process for me! At first, my system could only handle a few play / pause run-throughs before it got confused and either started from the beginning or stopped completely! As usual, a branch node came to the rescue with an attached ‘is playing’ variable and the rest is history. It’s worth noting I’m using FMOD audio events for this blueprint, and a useful tip is the ‘On Event Stopped’ node you can use in conjunction with them – here it handles the auto-stop function of the cassette recorder.
The final section of the blueprint is the sweet, easy-icing on the cake and simply toggles the red ‘active’ LED on and off in accordance with play state. Phew!
I’ll be adding some actual recordings to all the players in the level soon, so people don’t have to listen to me repeating “THIS IS A TEST” over and over again.. but it does the job for now. Any suggestions for the system would of course be appreciated and I hope this has been a useful read for folks. If you’ve got a question let me know!
A big thank you to Warren Marshall for the excellent retro-models you can see in the level – check out his Twitter for more!
I realise it’s been some time since I posted here (two months truth be told!) however I’ve been keeping busy working on a couple of freelance contracts. This doesn’t mean that I’ve neglected my portfolio projects (Lake Lodge / DATA Labs / Digital Dark Age) and I’ve spent some time researching and developing my knowledge of blueprints to aid in their development in my spare time.
In particular I’ve been looking into creating custom occlusion blueprints for FMOD (which I’ll get into more depth about at a later date) and some of the ways in which FMOD integrates with Unreal in a musically interesting fashion!
As you can see the text and ‘coloured blobs’ are timed to the music, or more accurately the tempo and time signature of the attached audio event in FMOD. This can be useful for a whole range of things (rhythm games in particular) although I plan on using this feature in my DATA Labs level to add some extra interest in the basement labs.
As you can see below the FMOD component has it’s own ‘On Timeline Beat’ event which automatically outputs information about tempo, beats, bars etc and can be used to trigger anything you like really! As my boogie loop is in 4/4 I’ve used the beat output and a switch with beats 1 – 4 to toggle visibility of the coloured blobs and boogie text render.
Another useful function I’ve been playing about with lately is the ‘On Event Stopped’ event that can be called from any FMOD audio component. The screenshot below is taken from my DATA Labs level where I’m using it to turn off a cassette player once the recording on the tape has reached it’s end. (I’ll be posting about this soon as well!)
This is really only just scratching the surface of what you can achieve when combining the functionality of FMOD and Unreal in blueprints, but I hope it highlights a couple of ideas and provides some inspiration for your own projects. If you’ve got any questions etc please feel free to drop me a message over on Twitter.
Hi folks! As usual, probably a little longer than intended since the last blog post but I’ve been updating the site and various other pages across the interwebs…
This is just a brief post to let everyone know about my new ‘Inspired by’ series of compositions that I’ll be uploading as and when I can, focussing on music I’ve written thats been inspired by a particular game, film or maybe even just artwork.
First up, two pieces I wrote after playing the wonderfully crafted ‘Firewatch’ developed by Campo Santo, one of my favourite games! It’s been such a huge inspiration in my work, both in game audio and in composition. I hope you enjoy them.
If you’ve been following progress with ‘Digital Dark Age’ you’ll know that I’ve recently completed my degree in music production with Futureworks here in Manchester, where I’ve been studying since September last year (after doing the first two years of my course online). It’s been a pretty hectic year to be quite honest, especially when factoring in freelance projects and portfolio work into the mix, but really enjoyable nonetheless, and I’ve met some super talented folk along the way!
Last week I showcased my digital wares at their annual degree show and it was fantastic to see a lot of the other students work on display. It can be a little insular when you’re constantly working on your own projects (not to mention being in dark studios all the time) so I took the chance to chat with folks and see what they’ve been up to!
One thing that really stood out to me was the overall quality of the work, particularly in the areas of animation, 3D art and environment design (although that being said it’s much easier to showcase this than audio / video in that kind of environment). Some of the final projects and portfolio pieces really made an impact and showed just how many creative and talented people attend Futureworks, even though they’re not always that good at blowing their own trumpets! I thought I’d drop a few links below to some of the folks I chatted to and would highly recommend checking out their work…
Posts have slowed a little on here recently as I’ve been working on a number of freelance projects, however I have recently updated my Cartrdge page to include my latest portfolio work. If you’ve not heard of Cartrdge before I’d suggest having a nosey at some of the developers, artists etc that are currently using the platform as there are some hugely talented folks indeed. You can find my page HERE including updates for Lake Lodge & DATA Labs.
You may already be aware of the self indulgent 1980s influenced electronic boogie that is my alter-ego ‘DATAStream’ – it’s pretty much what I get up to when I’m not working on freelance projects and something I’ve been enjoying for a few years now. I’m currently working towards an LP release in the summer and ‘Night Walk’ is taken from said release. Enjoy!
Last weekend I spent a little bit of time getting to know my new stereo shotgun from Zoom, the SGH-6. It’s designed to work with a few of their portable recorders (in my case the H5) and is fairly reasonably priced as you can grab one for less than £100.00. It also includes a windshield which is a necessity if you’re going to be near even the faintest of breezes!
I spent the day recording various outdoor sounds, ambiences and random things I found but wanted to provide a quick test of the microphones mid / side capabilities whilst I had a few minutes today. In this example I’ve used a recording from May Beck, a small rocky stream that winds its way through a rather picturesque Yorkshire valley.
I downloaded the mid / side decoder that Zoom make to accompany their range of portable recorders and microphones, which is available for free from their site here and used this inside Adobe Audition to decode the recordings afterwards. As you can hear above I provided three examples exporting mid / side, mid and side mixes.
It’s a simple tool to use, and if you have one of their recorders then it certainly makes sense although there are obviously plenty of other plugins and ways of decoding mid / side recordings.
For less than £100.00 I’ve been really impressed so far with the SGH-6 – both using it in stereo, mono and mid / side modes (it’s worth pointing out you have to specially select this mode prior to recording using the menu function rocker switch). The windshield is well made and really makes a difference, although for stronger gusts you’d need something a bit heftier! With all things considered it has definitely been a most welcome, inexpensive addition to my kit. I’ll try and post some more examples over the next few weeks.
Two weeks ago I launched my third year major project ‘Digital Dark Age’ – a playable concept album created in Unreal Engine. Since then I’ve been working to compile all the aspects of the projects production into an archive for the submission deadline on the 21st April but I wanted to write a quick post to outline a few thoughts from the launch event and some points for development in the future.
Firstly, I had underestimated just how much work was necessary to complete everything I had in mind, but conversely I ended up creating more content than I had initially planned! My original proposal and concept for the level seemed ambitious but achievable, and this has remained true throughout the projects duration however there were many aspects of DDA’s production that I spent a lot longer on than intended. This included:
– Graphics / Artwork design and production (flyers, posters, in-game artwork, logos and MORE!)
– Animations and GIFs (in-game footage, logo and text animations)
– Social media promotion – I thought it would be good experience trying to promote a project like this as I plan to develop the idea (and similar projects) in the future.
The amount of content I had created didn’t really hit home until I started going through all the project’s folders but hopefully it will form a comprehensive archive that really showcases the work I’ve put into Digital Dark Age. So what now? The day after the launch event I was quite useless, tired and just needed a bit of a break mentally from the project but I’m very pleased with how it went. A number of folks came and tried the level and I got some fantastic feedback from people which has definitely inspired me to continue development of the level in the future.
After I’ve got my assignment all finished and handed in I’m going to focus on a few aspects of the level I know I want to develop:
– Optimising the level so it plays on less powerful computers
– Adding more interactive props at each point in the level
– Work on the overall audio mix and output volume
– Including additional vox-pops and audio commentary
– Adding main menu options for controlling graphics / audio settings
– Fixing a number of small bugs in the level’s mechanics
I feel that there is significant scope for Digital Dark Age, both as a learning project for me and an interactive learning environment focussing on the issues of digital preservation, sustainability and our digital heritage. I’d like to thank everyone that came down to the launch event and that’s offered feedback and thoughts after playing the level, both in person and online. I’ll be posting a final project overview style blog post close to my deadline in a couple of weeks. In the meantime feel free to download Digital Dark Age v.1.0 HERE (Windows only at the moment I’m afraid!) and have a listen to the soundtrack.
Hi folks! A welcome break from ‘Digital Dark Age’ I’m sure for any readers of this blog – moving onto a project I’ve been working on for some time with Massive Galaxy studios, based in Portugal. I’ve composed a number of pieces of music for the game, including the title theme which you’ll be able to hear in the forthcoming trailer. For now, here’s a selection of some music from the various scenes and levels in-game.