MIDI for the Game Music Composer: Wwise 2014.1

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MIDI seems to be making a comeback.

At least, that was my impression a couple of months ago when I attended the audio track of the Game Developers Conference.  Setting a new record for attendance, GDC hosted over 24,000 game industry pros who flocked to San Francisco’s Moscone Center in March for a full week of presentations, tutorials, panels, awards shows, press conferences and a vibrant exposition floor filled with new tech and new ideas. As one of those 24,000 attendees, I enjoyed meeting up with lots of my fellow game audio folks, and I paid special attention to the presentations focusing on game audio. Amongst the tech talks and post-mortems, I noticed a lot of buzz about a subject that used to be labeled as very old-school: MIDI.

This was particularly emphasized by all the excitement surrounding the new MIDI capabilities in the Wwise middleware. In October of 2014, Wwise released its most recent version (2014.1) which introduced a number of enhanced features, including “MIDI support for interactive music and virtual instruments (Sampler and Synth).” Wwise now allows the incorporation of MIDI that triggers either a built-in sound library in Wwise or a user-created one. Since I talk about the future of MIDI game music in my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, and since this has become a subject of such avid interest in our community, I thought I’d do some research on this newest version of Wwise and post a few resources that could come in handy for any of us interested in embarking in a MIDI game music project using Wwise 2014.1.

The first is a video produced by Damian Kastbauer, technical audio lead at PopCap games and the producer and host of the now-famous Game Audio Podcast series.  This video was released in April of 2014, and included a preview of the then-forthcoming MIDI and synthesizer features of the new Wwise middleware tool.  In this video, Damian takes us through the newest version of the “Project Adventure” tutorial prepared by Audiokinetic, makers of Wwise.  In the process, he gives us a great, user-friendly introduction to the MIDI capabilities of Wwise.

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The next videos were produced by Berrak Nil Boya, a composer and contributing editor to the Designing Sound website.  In these videos, Berrak has taken us through some of the more advanced applications of the MIDI capabilities of Wwise, starting with the procedure for routing MIDI data directly into Wwise from more traditional MIDI sequencer software such as that found in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) application.  This process would allow a composer to work within more traditional music software and then directly route the MIDI output into Wwise.  Berrak takes us through the process in this two-part video tutorial:

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Finally, Berrak Nil Boya has created a video tutorial on the integration of Wwise into Unity 5, using MIDI.  Her explanation of the preparation of a soundbank and the association of MIDI note events with game events is very interesting, and provides a nicely practical application of the MIDI capability of Wwise.

A Composer’s Guide to Game Music wins National Indie Excellence Book Award

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I have some good news to share this week!  My book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, has been selected as a winner of this year’s National Indie Excellence Book Award!

Now in its ninth year, the National Indie Excellence Book Awards recognizes outstanding achievement in books from independent publishers, including scholarly and university presses.  A Composer’s Guide to Game Music won the National Indie Excellence Book Award this year for the genre of Performing Arts (Film, Theater, Dance & Music).  Many thanks to the judging panel of the National Indie Excellence Book Awards for this honor!

This is the third award presented to A Composer’s Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press).  To date, the book has also won a Global Music Award for an exceptional book in the field of music, and an Annual Game Music Award from Game Music Online in the category of “Best Publication.”

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The Global Music Awards presented a Gold Medal Award of Excellence as a GMA Book Award to A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, which was judged as exceptional in the field of music.

 

The staff of accomplished music journalists of Game Music Online has presented awards in many categories that acknowledge the diversity and range of the video game music genre.

The staff of accomplished music journalists of Game Music Online presented a “Best Publication” award to A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, acknowledging its “accessible yet deep insight into the process of making game music.”

 

Game Music Middleware, Part 3: Fabric

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Welcome back to my series of blogs that collect some tutorial resources about game music middleware for the game music composer.  I had initially intended to publish two blog entries on this subject, focusing on the most popular audio middleware solutions: Wwise and FMOD.  However, since the Fabric audio middleware has been making such a splash in the game audio community, I thought I’d extend this series to include it.  If you’d like to read the first two blog entries in this series, you can find them here:

Game Music Middleware, Part 1: Wwise

Game Music Middleware, Part 2: FMOD

Fabric is developed by Tazman Audio for the Unity game engine (which enables game development for consoles, PCs, mobile devices such as iOS and Android, and games designed to run within a web browser).  Here’s a Unity game engine overview produced by Unity Technologies:

The Fabric middleware is designed to expand the audio capabilities of the Unity game engine.  The complete product manual for the Fabric middleware is available online.  The video tutorials that I’m featuring below were created by two game audio professionals who have very generously walked us through the use of the software.  If you’d like a more nuts-and-bolts overview of the software features of Fabric, you can find it here.

The first video was shot in 2013 during the Konsoll game development conference in Norway, and gives an overview of the general use of Fabric in game audio. The speaker, Jory Prum, is an accomplished game audio professional whose game credits include The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Broken Age, SimCity 4, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and many more.

Making a great sounding Unity game using Fabric

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In the next two-part video tutorial, composer Anastasia Devana has expanded on her previous instructional videos about FMOD Studio, focusing now on recreating the same music implementation strategies and techniques using the Fabric middleware in Unity.  Anastasia Devana is an award-winning composer whose game credits include the recently released puzzle game Synergy and the upcoming roleplaying game Anima – Gate of Memories.

Fabric and Unity: Adaptive Music in Angry Bots – Part 1

Fabric and Unity: Adaptive Music in Angry Bots – Part 2

Game Music Composers in the Top 300 (Classic FM)

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Classic FM is the only 100% classical music radio station in the UK.  Every year, they hold a poll to select Britain’s favorite pieces of classical music, listing the top 300 selections on their web site.  Over 100,000 people voted in this year’s poll. The final results include music from video games – 11 out of the 300 compositions are pieces of video game music, including three pieces that won places in the top 20.  To celebrate, I’ve gathered together some YouTube videos presenting the famous video game music that was voted into the top 300 in Classic FM’s poll.  I hope you enjoy it!

#9. Final Fantasy Series (Nobuo Uematsu)

#11. The Elder Scrolls Series (Jeremy Soule)

#13. Banjo-Kazooie (Grant Kirkhope)

#30. Kingdom Hearts (Yoko Shimomura)

#41. Viva Piñata (Grant Kirkhope)

#53. World of Warcraft (Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Jason Hayes, Tracy Bush, et. al.)

#59. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Grant Kirkhope)

#84. The Legend of Zelda Series (Koji Kondo)

#118. Blue Dragon (Nobuo Uematsu)

#163. Starcraft II (Glen Stafford)

#244. Halo Series (Martin O’Donnell)