segunda-feira, 11 de julho de 2011

[Audio and Games] An overview by Leonard J. Paul

Leonard J. Paul is a composer and sound designer for games that on the last fifteen years worked for companies such as Electronic Arts, Backbone Entertainment and Rockstar. EA's NBA Jam, NHL11, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, NBA Live '95 and the indie award-winning title Retro City Rampage were some of the games that he worked on.

He was the Keynote Speaker in the AES 2011 Brazil conference and referred some important topics about audio and games:

Sound Design needs to concern with
Creativity :: Design, style, recording, synthesis, editing, compositing, mastering
Technical :: Define how the sound reacts to physics & environment to select or generate the sounds to trigger, where to store!
Production :: Purchase libraries, recording schedule, code schedule for complex real-time sounds such as engines and crowds

Game Audio has four areas
Like film and television, game audio contains music, speech and sound effects. But games also require interactivity and real-time effects applied to the audio. When this occurs, game audio moves further away from its roots in linear media.

Samples and Synthesis need to coexist
Samples can be looped several times so that we can audio-reproduce an ambient with frogs and flies for example (this is a very primitive ambient, if we don't add some random variables this will sound very repetitive).
When we are playing a car game where the car can skid in an unpredictable way we need to generate audio in real-time based on rules and behaviors. The best way to do it is using samples and synthesis together to give a cleaner sound with full harmonics, this is called Procedural Sound Design.

Audio is always last
Normally a sound designer will be pressed by the game development team for storage space & CPU. "Often the most interesting audio possibilities require too much CPU horsepower, so a balance must be struck". L. J. Paul says then that if the audio team can demonstrate the prototype to the rest of the team early in development cycle, they can lobby for more resources before decisions are set.

Pure Data is a great tool to prototype audio for games
"Pure Data (and its ilk) are interpreted languages which avoid the time spent recompiling when changes are made. They also allow the user to modify parameters and behaviors while the patch is running. This real-time feedback loop between modification and audition makes prototyping very rapid. However, nothing is perfect and there are a number of significant drawbacks which can cause problems during prototyping. One of the main problems with a modular programming environment such as Pure Data is that the order of operations, which one often takes for granted in a more procedural language such as C++, can become quite difficult with larger patches."

Game audio needs to sound real
"With game audio platforms supporting audio resolutions similar to film, the question is no longer if we can produce audio which sounds good, but whether we can produce audio which reacts well and sounds good in all of the different states that the game player might trigger."


References:
[Leonard J. Paul website] http://www.videogameaudio.com/
[AES 2011 - Video Game Audio (presentation.pdf)] http://videogameaudio.com/A4V-Feb2011/Audio4Visuals-London-VideoGameAudio-LPaul-5Feb11.pdf
[AES 2011 - Video Game Audio (presentation.mp4)] http://www.videogameaudio.com/AES-May2011/VideoGameAudio-BrazilAES-May2011 LeonardJPaul.mp4
[Gamasutra - Audio Prototyping with Pure Data by Leonard J. Paul] http://www.gamasutra.com/resource_guide/20030528/paul_01.shtml

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