Digital Dark Age: Level Design

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted some progress on my third year major project ‘Digital Dark Age’ but I’m happy to say things are well under way. Last week I began work on the level design in Unreal which will house the interactive, playable version of the concept album.

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In terms of level design it’s quite simple as you can see, the player spawns at the end of a long section of platform suspended inside the ‘digital void’ with the title logo overhead, progressing through the levels by traversing along the platform to hear each new piece of music. There will be information points located in the ‘middle’ of each of the songs, although how the player moves will affect the mix and arrangement of each piece of music.

As you can see above I still have lots of work to do, however the level design is relatively quick compared to the scripting and event creation in FMOD, which uses a number of triggers and blueprints to create the dynamic music system for the level.


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The FMOD project in development. This screenshot shows the cue / event for the first song to be heard in the level ‘Digital Dark Age’. Note the logic tracks and parameters for controlling the arrangement and audio mix.


I’ll post some more videos with sound soon, and will be developing the level itself to include the 5 points of interest for each song on the album. Stay tuned!


DATACompiler 2000 – An FM-noise-making-machine

So if you’ve ready this brief blog before you’ll know that I made a Reaktor synth called ‘Cyberdyne’ as part of my sound design module at Point Blank. Since then I’ve been working on another synth based on a similar concept although I also had an idea for a set of ‘Lab Machine’ type sound generators, the first being the DATACompiler 2000.

Technically it’s an FM synthesizer, however it has virtually no playability… so it’s not all that practical for general day-to-day music making duties. It IS however capable of producing some super fantastic FM textures and is mostly intended to help with sound design work and similar (that’s what I plan on using it for anyway!)

Here’s an early screenshot of DATACompiler 2000

DATACompiler early version

At this point it’s almost possible to tell what some of the controls do, however as you’ll see in the latest version I remedy that so you’re going to have to work out what function they have! I like keeping things interesting.

DATACompiler graphic

Here is the front ‘plate’ of DATACompiler in an early mockup. I created this in Photoshop using a screenshot of the Reaktor ensemble as a guide.

One thing I wanted to do with this synth (which wasn’t present on Cyberdyne) was to create custom buttons and faders as controls – to help keep the aesthetic consistent. Don’t get me wrong – the default controls from Reaktor are pretty nice but they’re just a little bit too clean for my liking. The latest screenshot is shown below – with custom buttons / sliders and a wealth of gizmos including dual scopes to monitor the audio output and provide some eye candy! I adjusted the main logo to use an LCD style display – although I’m not 100% happy with this yet. I am pleased however with all the sliders and two ‘programming’ knobs.

nearly complete

I’ll be posting a demo of the ensemble soon with a download link for anyone who is interested in making some FM noise!