Classic Halloween VGM (Back by Popular Demand!)

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Last year I did a series of posts about classic video game music that’s perfect for the night of fright, and since you guys enjoyed that, I thought I’d bring back some favorite tracks from that series:

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Castlevania Symphony of the Night – “Abandoned Pit” (1997)

Developed as an action roleplaying game for consoles, Castlevania Symphony of the Night focuses on the story of Dracula’s son Alucard, and his struggle to destroy his father. This slow and hypnotic composition proceeds in a stately triple meter while creatures of the night weave their voices into the serenade.

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Resident Evil Code: Veronica – “The Suspended Doll” (2000)

As the fourth game in the Resident Evil series, this game had players fighting mutated monsters on a prison island, all set to grim music such as the track below. At times this track may make you think of John Carpenter’s theme to the movie Halloween, while other moments take on a bit of gothic grandeur with the introduction of a cathedral organ.

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Arcanum – “Dungeons” (2001)

There’s nothing like a slimy dungeon to invoke those feelings of horror that are so complimentary to the Halloween season. Fortunately, the Arcanum roleplaying game has multiple dungeons, some crawling with the undead. This track, written entirely for string quartet, captures the mood in a horrifically elegant way.

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Evil Dead: Hail to the King – “Menu Screen Music” (2000)

Sometimes, only a strong dose of demonic Latin will make a Halloween music experience complete. This track delivers. Evil Dead: Hail to the King continues the survival horror adventures of Ash Williams, the star of the Evil Dead franchise in video games and on the silver screen.

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Xenogears – “Omen” (1998)

Dungeons are great for finding creepy music for Halloween. Luckily, a lot of roleplaying games have creepy dungeons. This track was written for dungeon-exploring in the Xenogears sci-fi roleplaying game. The track features a constant low suspense tone, with harp and bells weaving a hypnotic pattern while metallic impacts punctuate the gloom.

 

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I hope everybody has a delightfully frightful Halloween!!  And if you have a favorite Halloween tune from a classic video game, please let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear it!

Audio Engineering Society Convention 2014

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I was honored to serve as a speaker this year at the Audio Engineering Society Convention!  The event took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from October 9th to the 12th — here are a few photos from the event:

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My speech was titled “Effective Interactive Music Systems: The Nuts and Bolts of Dynamic Musical Content.”  My speech expanded on some ideas that were explored in my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music.  The great audience were really kind and appreciative, and they asked lots of interesting questions!

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I had to take a photo of the sign that was outside the door to the presentation room where I gave my speech.

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This was my AES convention badge.  It had an AES presenter ribbon!  I was so proud.  🙂

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Stopped to take a quick photo in the lobby outside of the convention expo floor before going in.

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Since the Alto Music store has met my needs many times, I had to pay their booth a visit.

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This massive black balloon hung over the exhibit floor, urging AES attendees to “Mix the Masters.”  Seems like a sensible request for a crowd full of audio engineers.

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The amiable guy giving the thumbs-up sign is Noland Anderson of PostProduction.com.  He and his production partner did a video interview with me for their web site (the interview will be posted to the site soon).  Thanks, guys!  It was great fun.

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I could not call myself a true Pro Tools user without stopping at the Avid booth to gawk at the new Pro Tools toys.

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The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences had a nice booth, including information about their Grammy U initiative designed to help young aspiring audio professionals make their way into the recording industry.

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On display – some microphone solutions for drum kits.

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Big honking mixing consoles were absolutely everywhere on the exhibit floor.

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I could not neglect to say hello to the RCA dog.

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Emerging from the exhibit floor again, I took a walk down the AES red carpet.

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Finally, I couldn’t leave without a souvenir!  I’ll wear my AES hat with pride!  Thanks very much, Audio Engineering Society.  It was tremendous fun, and I look forward to next year, when AES will hold its convention in New York City.

GameSoundCon 2014

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I just got back from speaking at GameSoundCon, and it was a fantastic conference this year!  So great to see everyone, and the enthusiasm for game audio was infectious!  I thought I’d share a few photos from the event:

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Here, I’m giving my speech, “Advanced Composition Techniques for Adaptive Systems.”  Really enjoyed sharing my experiences with interactive music to such an appreciative audience.  The room was packed — standing room only!

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I had the pleasure to meet Matthew Thompson, music and voice lecturer at the University of Michigan, and he asked me to sign his copy of my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music.  It was great to meet so many readers of my book, and I’m glad to hear that it’s proving to be a helpful resource.

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It was fun meeting Evan Yanagida after my speech.  What a great photo of him!  Really nice guy.

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This is the front entrance to the Millennium Biltmore hotel, where GameSoundCon took place.

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Here’s the ultra-grand entrance hallway that led to the presentation rooms.

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I had to get a photo that included the incredibly fancy ceilings in the presentation rooms.

GameSoundCon-EaselWell, I’m sad that the conference is over – it was a great experience!  To everyone who I met during the conference, thanks so much for being so kind and generous with your ideas and enthusiasm for game audio!  In my next blog I’ll be posting some photos documenting my adventure as a speaker at the Audio Engineering Society Convention, which took place immediately after GameSoundCon ended at the Los Angeles Convention Center (Oct. 9-12).

 

Hey, Big Spender! (Games Versus Movies)

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Since GameSoundCon is starting up tomorrow, I thought I’d direct your attention to an article written by GameSoundCon founder Brian Schmidt about the difference between the money raked in by the video game industry and the motion picture industry.  While it has been reported that games bring in more money than films, according to Brian Schmidt’s article, the figures for the game industry are distorted by the inclusion of hardware sales.  In fact, because film tickets are generally much cheaper than game sales, a blockbuster film must sell tickets to many more people in order to take in the same amount of money that a console game could earn through far fewer sales.

Reading this article on the GameSoundCon site, I found myself thinking about the idea of premium purchases.  What kind of psychological conditions need to exist in order for a customer to become a big spender — i.e. to opt to spend more money?  With a console video game, we are clearly looking at a premium purchase — these games can be up to 50 dollars or more.  Does the willingness to spend reflect on the depth and diversity of the experience?  Games typically outlast films in terms of their long-term entertainment value. Is this the reason why the top-tier console games are able to sustain their premium pricing?

The motion picture industry has made attempts to introduce premium pricing into its business model.  From luxurious theaters with reclining seats, to motion simulators with weather effects and smell-o-vision, to 3D formats, motion picture companies have been repeatedly urging movie-goers to part with larger sums in exchange for enhanced experiences, but success rates have been very limited or are rapidly on the decline.  Console video games, however, have been successfully charging premium prices for many years.

What I find interesting, though, is what happens when these two entertainment juggernauts start reducing their prices.  While movie theaters had dug in their heels for many years and refused to offer discounts, there is currently an initiative underway by the National Association of Theatre Owners for discount tickets to be offered in selected locations on off-nights.  While experimental and limited in scope, the trial period should be revealing in terms of whether discounts will lure movie-goers back to the theaters with more frequency.  In the world of video games, however, the discount experiment is fully underway in the form of the iTunes App Store, XBox Live Indie Store, the PlayStation Network Minis Store, Google Play, the Facebook App Center, and many other online retailers that offer games for drastically reduced prices.  If the movie industry hopes that discounted tickets will lure more people into theaters, then I wonder — have discounted games captured more casual gamers and turned them into frequent players/purchasers?

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In 2010, Reuters reported that free games had lured players successfully into gaming, converting them into paying customers.  However, in 2014 the optimism had waned as an industry analyst at the NPD Group warned that PC gamers, accustomed to receiving discounts, were now expecting all games to be very inexpensive.  Currently, XBox Live Gold members enjoy steep discounts with the “Deals With Gold” program, and PlayStation Network Plus members get their games at up to 75% off.

In contrast, however, the Gartner’s forecast for worldwide gaming revenues in the coming two years has estimated that mobile, console and PC games will see dramatic increases in their earnings. This seems to be good news for gaming — discounts for some game products may not have taken the luster away from the big-ticket games.  Our industry currently enjoys the benefits of a wider array of offerings that can be priced accordingly, whereas the motion picture industry continues to be saddled with a fairly uniform pricing structure that has been difficult for them to challenge and adjust.