Hey, everyone! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and my work has included the musical scores for top games on all sorts of popular gaming platforms, from handhelds and mobile, all the way up to the latest consoles and PCs. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of video game music composition for virtual reality. I had the pleasure of presenting a lecture on Music in Virtual Reality (pictured left) at the most recent Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
By virtue of all the experiences I’ve had recently creating music for VR, I’ve become keenly aware of the importance of sound fidelity in VR. If the experience doesn’t sound real, it loses the chance to actually feel like a fully-convincing, thoroughly awesome virtual reality experience. With that in mind, I’ve been writing periodic articles about new technologies in connection with headphones for VR.
Hi! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and today let’s spend a little time discussing the allure of composing music for virtual reality. There are a lot of reasons why we video game composers might be excited about creating music for VR games. The technology of immersive virtual experiences has the potential to offer an intensity of emotional involvement transcending most other forms of entertainment. What game music composer wouldn’t be inspired by that? However, it’s tough to be inspired by something we may not have experienced yet. Becoming a VR gamer can be a fantastic rush, but the financial barriers to entry can be pretty high. The top VR headsets and gear require a VR-ready computer, and purchasing the computer and the VR hardware together can easily exceed two thousand dollars. While there are lower-cost VR options (such as headsets designed to work with mobile phones), the virtual experience provided by these economical VR systems can offer only a fraction of the spectacle delivered by the high-end models. If we want to take our first steps into a dazzling virtual world, but we don’t have a bucket of cash on hand, what do we do?
Last year while working on the music of the Dragon Front virtual reality game for Oculus Rift (as pictured above), I gave a lot of consideration to the listening environment in which VR gamers would be hearing my video game music. Since then I’ve served as the video game composer for several more virtual reality games (which will be released in the next few months). I’ve also written a number of articles on this subject in order to share what I’ve learned with other game composers. Last September I devoted two articles to a discussion of audio headphones designed specifically for the demands of virtual reality applications. You can read those here:
As a video game composer, I’ve been working in my studio composing music for quite a few virtual reality projects lately (as pictured above), so I’ve been thinking a lot about issues related to audio in the VR environment. Those issues include how gamers experience the audio content through various headphone models. In this article, I thought we’d take a look at three newly-announced headphone models that are targeting the VR marketplace, and see what new technologies are being proposed to facilitate the best and most awesome VR audio experiences. So, let’s get started!
When I’m not at work in my studio making music for games, I like to keep up with new developments in the field of interactive entertainment, and I’ll often share what I learn here in these articles. Virtual reality is an awesome subject for study for a video game composer, and several of my recent projects have been in the world of VR. Since I’m sure that most of us are curious about what’s coming next in virtual reality, I’ve decided to devote this article to a collection of educational resources. I’ve made a point of keeping our focus general here, with the intent of understanding the role of audio in VR and the best resources available to audio folks. As a component of the VR soundscape, our music must fit into the entire matrix of aural elements, so we’ll spend this article learning about what goes into making expert sound for a virtual reality experience. Let’s start with a few articles that discuss methods and techniques for VR audio practitioners.
The Game Developers Conference is always an awesome opportunity for game audio experts to learn and share experiences. I’ve given presentations at GDC for a few years now, and I’m always excited to hear about what’s new and notable in game audio. This year, the hot topic was virtual reality. In fact, the subject received its own dedicated sub-conference that took place concurrently with the main GDC show. The VRDC (Virtual Reality Developers Conference) didn’t focus particularly on the audio and music side of VR, but there were a couple of notable talks on that subject. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing VR game music takeaways from those two talks. Along the way, I’ll also share some of my related experience as the composer of the music of the Dragon Front VR game for the Oculus Rift (pictured above).
Where should video game music be in a VR game? Should it feel like it exists inside the VR world, weaving itself into the immersive 3D atmosphere surrounding the player? Or should it feel like it’s somehow outside of the VR environment and is instead coasting on top of the experience, being conveyed directly to the player? The former approach suggests a spacious and expansive musical soundscape, and the latter would feel much closer and more personal. Is one of these approaches more effective in VR than the other? Which choice is best?
Welcome back to this three article series that’s bringing together the ideas that were discussed in five different GDC 2017 audio talks about interactive music! These five speakers explored discoveries they’d made while creating interactivity in the music of their own game projects. We’re looking at these ideas side-by-side to broaden our viewpoint and gain a sense of the “bigger picture” when it comes to the leading-edge thinking for music interactivity in games. We’ve been looking at five interactive music systems discussed in these five GDC 2017 presentations:
In the first article, we examined the basic nature of these interactive systems. In the second article, we contemplated why those systems were used, with some of the inherent pros and cons of each system discussed in turn. So now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of tools and tips for working with such interactive music systems. If you haven’t read parts one and two of this series, please go do so now and then come back: