After a year, I have completed my Honours Project. Today I recorded my original score, functioning within Fmod Studio, then edited that with the original gameplay video I chose and exported it.
Fmod Studio running with my score:
The video depicts my original score for the piece of gameplay, which I also recorded, in Tomb Raider (2013) working within Fmod Studio so that it’s a piece of dynamic game audio. The Tomb Raider footage is to make you pretend that it’s working with an actual game, rather than a recording, like the gameplay actually is.
The method of creating dynamic game audio that I used is called ‘Horizontal Re-Sequencing’ and was my preferred method as it’s one of the easiest methods to create game audio and one of the ones I found the most research and writing on.
Horizontal Re-sequencing involves a piece of music being split into smaller sections, or ‘cues’, that can be played in middleware, such as Fmod Studio, to then be looped and marked with makers and transition regions so that it can seamlessly play along with a piece of gameplay. (Phillips, 2014.) Usually, the music will have to be composed in the same time signature (in this instance it was 120 beats per minute) and the same key. This is because, if a cue was moving to another, it would sound jarring and sudden if it wasn’t within the same key, which would prevent people feeling the flow of immersion from the gameplay, which is one of the main points of game audio being dynamic or interactive.
Also, by composing your music within the same BPM, it’s easier to edit it within Fmod Studio as Fmod parameters can be set by beats per bar upon the ruler on the ‘timeline’. If it wasn’t within the same time signature, that would make the editing process extremely difficult. This method was also used when scoring Red Dead Redemption Composed by by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, it was written entirely in the scale of A minor and in 130 beats per minute.
The aim of my project has changed drastically from first semester. Originally, it was to: critically analyze the use dynamic audio in modern action/adventure games in order to develop a framework of creating dynamic audio that can be implemented to a piece of gameplay. This project would involve three main objectives in order to be achieved; the selection of action/adventure game titles to be played and studied in order to see the ways in which the composers approach and create their own dynamic audio. The studying of these games would involve transcribing the music and relating that to the triggers and in-game events that occur with it.
This was when I assumed that I’d easily grasp how to work Fmod Studio, however, with my purely creative background, I found it a much more difficult task and by the end, I was only able to learn the absolute basics. However, I personally feel that’s still a great accomplishment, especially when I think of my background being mainly in the study of singing.
My aim of my project then became: to critically analyze the use dynamic audio in games in order to develop dynamic audio that can be implemented to a piece of gameplay. This project would involve two main objectives in order to be achieved; the study and analysis of existing theories and written works on dynamic audio and by interviewing game composers who are currently creating it.
The videos above are the result of reading written works on game audio and dynamic game audio, by talking to and interviewing other composers and by researching how to use middleware, such as Fmod Studio.
Despite my project not having the same outcome as I had imagined, I’m still happy and proud of the work I’ve done. While at Abertay, I felt like I wouldn’t succeed at all as most of the other students were familiar with middleware like Fmod and how to use it despite not being composers. I felt like I was completely inexperienced and that I shouldn’t be doing an honours degree at all.
I always felt that my composing skills weren’t up to scratch, and that anything I did compose I really did not want to show at a graduate showcase for fellow students and those in the industry to see. However, upon just putting myself out there and acknowledging that yes, there are gaps in my knowledge, yes, I still have a long way to go and yes, I find learning new software to do with music an extremely difficult and daunting process, I just went for it.
Originally, I wanted to compose for an actual piece of gameplay from an actual game. But with having to commute from Edinburgh and while having a part time job and my deteriorating health in the last year, I knew that wasn’t possible. Then, I wanted to compose to 3 pieces of gameplay from different games, Tomb Raider, Uncharted and The Last of Us. However, this was when I was under the assumption that I’d get to grips with Fmod in semester one, but that didn’t pan out either. Instead I composed to one piece of gameplay from Tomb Raider, and only understood the basics of one method of creating dynamic audio within it.
Though that may not seem like an accomplishment to others, it’s one to me. Upon first downloading Fmod, I never thought I’d understand it at all. But now, I could again compose original music and implement it into Fmod. Infact, after university, I want to continue my Fmod studies as I know that being able to advertise myself as a composer who can work middleware will make me more hirable for game projects in the future, also, as I love game audio so much, I love to learn everything I can about it.
By running my own original score in Fmod Studio and creating a piece of dynamic audio, I believe I have shown a good approach to research and development. I talked to and learned from those currently within the industry as I was determined to understand what’s really important about game audio and that the fact that it can be dynamic.
I have gone from being ashamed to show my work at the graduate showcase to being proud, and the fact that I want to carry on learning about Fmod, is all I could of asked for as a result of all the years work as it’ll help me becoming the best game composer that I can be.