Day 126 – Flight Devblog 2! Pretty Tree.

Hey guys! Peet worked on amplifying the visual effects in our game.

This is the first look at the beautiful Sakura Tree islands that the player starts the game in. We enabled shadows, added in occlusion, and a little bit of blur effect into our game.

On Peet’s Stream, we worked on upgrading our visuals. you can watch the VOD here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/332234815

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 9.34.40 PMScreen Shot 2018-11-05 at 9.34.24 PM

Concept Sketch for Portal Crystals Bird Statue PortalConcept art for utilizing Crystals for activating Bird Statues and the Birds Statue model realized! We’re excited to show you what these bird statues do.

That’s it for today. Thanks for tuning in!

– Daniel

Dev Blog – Flight, How it all started.

Hey guys! Time flies away!

It’s been about a month since the Music Game Jam has ended! Flight won #2 place out of 100 entries, my programmer and I were very excited at your reactions and wanted to make this into a full game. Along the way, our awesome concept artist and 3D modeler, Peet joined in and lent us a needed hand.

I’ve been working on the story, gameplay mechanics as well as production scope & task management for the past 4 weeks. Although planning is important, I believe that I planned TOO MUCH for the game before I realized that the scope became huge and I needed to tone it back down. I cut out unnecessary stories, mechanics and cutscenes that made the game clunky. Everyone on the team let out a sigh of relief.

Then today, I saw this post by one of our gracious reviewers a month back:

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I guess I should have listened. Lesson learned! Haha.

We have officially started production again. Peet has been drawing up some great concept art for upcoming models. This is just a sneak peek…

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Now, about how the game started!

FThis game started off from a mechanic that I noticed in Marty’s game. In his game, the player can hop on a broomstick for fun and fly around the sky. I noticed a lot of potential in that and thought about building a music-themed game around it. We quickly came up with a prototype where a brown stick was flying through the air. It wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but we were happy that 25% of the game was done already.

Marty was an incredibly quick programmer. Whenever I had an idea, I would tell it to him, and he would iterate in mere minutes. We sat through a whole day until midnight, just developing the game and making it polished. We added in birds that would follow the player when sung to. I revisited Blender and created really basic models of the bird and floating islands.

Flight - Bird model in BlenderScreen Shot 2018-11-04 at 10.42.46 PM.png

I think I spent about an hour total on the bird and its animation. I dedicated 1-2 days on creating the models.

Flight has adaptive music. You might have guessed how I did it – it was through Wwise! Without Wwise, I wouldn’t have been able to implement the music system on my own, let alone even have the courage to create this project.

Wwise

Wwise’s powerful Adaptive Music system allowed me to create chunks of music, loop them and smoothly transition from one chunk to another depending on how many birds the player has collected!

Both Marty and I were students, busy with school, other projects and life in general. We had a very limited budget and time to work on this game. Because of that, we had to work with our limitations. By sticking to a simple design of using only a mouse to play, we were able to make a simple, but a polished feeling game in 2 weeks.

That is the origin of Flight. I’ll talk tomorrow more about mechanics and what we’re currently making! I can’t wait to show it to you guys. Have a good night!

-Daniel

Using Git Terminal to update Source Control

Here’s another note to myself, as well as for others who may just be using Git through the terminal for the first time.

Git is the original source control of Github Desktop application, except that it makes you look a lot like a hacker when you’re using it. Oh, and Pull & Push makes more sense now: You PUSH your changes into the master branch, and you PULL your changes from the master branch into your local repo.

Let’s say that you modified your project slightly on your project, and you’re wanting to commit it, merge it and push it into the master.

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Get to your destination. In this particular project, I need to get into where my project was saved, and where Terminal is referring to this project from. Documents -> Beachcomber -> Beachcomber. I can do this by typing into terminal:Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 6.25.55 PMcd documents” ->  “cd beachcomber” -> “cd beachcomber
  3. Type “git status” to check out what’s going on in your current project.Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 6.28.52 PM.png
  4. Whoa! That’s a lot of red. But don’t worry! That means that your changes are simply not yet committed yet. The instruction says to type “git add file” to update what I want to be committed, and “git rm file” to remove what I don’t want to be committed.Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 6.30.06 PM.png
  5. Here is a quick tip for committing these files. By using the “*” star, you can include all files that share similar names. Right now, I see a lot of Beachcomber_WwiseProject/GeneratedSoundBanks… files. Even though they’re all ending in different file formats, a lot of them share the same name up to that point. So I can type in “git add Beachcomber_WwiseProject/GeneratedSoundBanks/*” Notice the star at the end there. It’s very important and will save you lots of time. BEWARE though, if you’re adding or removing files, using * will add or remove ALL files that share the same naming convention, and might accidentally add or remove files that you didn’t want. ALWAYS read over all of the files before using the *.
  6. You see all these .meta files? They are generated but don’t necessarily need to go into your master branch. Simply ignore them. Don’t try to remove them.Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 6.43.35 PM
  7. Once you are done with your adds, type in “git commit -m “message”“. Make sure to type in the message, otherwise, you won’t be able to commit. Don’t forget the space between the -m and message.Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 6.58.07 PM
  8. Now that you’ve committed, you’re ready to push out the changes into the master branch. Go ahead and type “git push”. When you do it, the terminal will ask you for an RSA key. Your programmer should know this. Type it in, and watch as you merge your stuff into the master branch.screenshot

And that’s it! You have successfully added your changes to the master branch.

5 Takeaways from GSC 2018!

Game Sound Conference 2018 is over, and all of us headed back with hearts refueled with passion and support from the game audio community. As I was writing down my notes on to my laptop, I organized these 5 takeaways that I will be applying to my life to make myself a better-prepared composer. Let’s begin.

  1. Do Checklists Right – Instead of saying “I have to write 3 minutes of music” and being overwhelmed, it’s much satisfying to use a checkbox system to divide and conquer.  Don’t use a large paper to make your checklist. Stay with sticky notes! Ever notice how when you say “I’m going to get this done in 2 days”, you get it done in 2 days, but when you say “I’m going to get this done in 1 day”, you get it done just as well? Getting it done is important. Set up time boundaries.
  2. SERIOUSLY take a break every hour – We hear this so often, but we ignore it, thinking that it doesn’t apply to us. Until last week when I started to notice my body aching and feeling weak after working for a long time. Every 1 hour I sit on the chair, take a break by walking around and drink water. Stretching also helps a lot. Whatever you do, take a break every hour. Ignoring this important rule will cause much stress and harm to your body.
  3. Make it a point to fix my posture – Although 2 days of walking around were tiring, when I woke up this morning, I felt more refreshed than ever. I thought about why and realized it’s because walking around and meeting people forced me to keep a good posture throughout the conference. I realized when I got back that I used to have a terrible posture, sitting indoors all day in front of my desk. I set up reminders throughout the day to tell me to straight up my back and keep my head straight instead of leaning too forward.
  4. Put your phone away – I used to keep my phone face down on my desk. I had tabs of Facebook and YouTube open as I work. I was focused only half of the time, and somedays when it got really bad, I would go on a YouTube spree until I realized the whole day had gone wasted. It’s important to cut off the sources of these distractions completely. Battling against distractions is a key step in becoming a game composer. Studies show that putting your phone in another room helps to stay clear of distractions. “What about the important gigs that I might get through my emails? Or emergency phone calls that await me?” The busiest, most important industry veterans are putting their phones away at the kitchens. As full-time composers, they believe that hours of uninterrupted, working hours is much more important than checking on their phone and becoming distracted. What excuse do we have? Facebook can wait.
  5. Perfectionism is a curse – Don’t be a perfectionist. It’s not a virtue, but rather a curse! You and I will never get things done. Take your above average and ship it, (80% of what you believe) and make sure to stay with your schedules and time boundaries you set up for yourself (If you said, I gotta get it done in 3 hours, ship it after 3 hours. No more.)

These are my top five takeaways from this Game Sound Con. I want to challenge others to reflect and list their top 5 takeaways. Let’s keep it up and share how we did next year!

Helpful Logic Pro Sound Design Tip – Remove Silence from Audio Regions

Hello everyone! I just discovered this nifty sound design trick on accident and wanted to share this with you guys.

Remove silence from Audio Regions is a trick you can use to immediately separate your recordings so that it’s easy and ready for layering. I know that this is what I’m going to be doing every time I am doing sound design from now on!

  1. Open the Browser and select the audio file you wish to remove silence from.

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2. Right Click on the audio file. Select “Remove Silence from Audio Region”, or press the hotkey mentioned on your Logic Pro.Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 1.07.34 PM (2)

3. This brings up this nifty little window. Here you can let Logic know the threshold for your volume and what you consider a ‘silence’. It even politely asks how long it takes before it’s considered as ‘silent’. After setting your preferences, press the blue Okay button.Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 1.07.40 PM (2)

4. Select Yes. Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 1.07.44 PM (2)

5. BAM. Just like that, we were able to take all Silence out of the audio region. Saves tens of hours of going through each transient to figure out which clip I want to use! No more cutting.Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 1.07.48 PM (2)

Hope you found this useful. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks regarding game audio!

~Daniel

How to Fix GitHub Merge conflicts!

We are all monkeys before GitHub. That’s why it’s important to let the Programmer teach you how to do this first, before you mess with the Master branch!

  1. While on Master branch, Open the Repository in your Terminal. (GitHub desktop application, Repo-> open in Terminal).
  2. If there are any changes to your current branch, commit it.
  3. If there are any scenes that I do want to make sure to have a backup of, “save scene as” and save it under a different name, so that we can replace it later on.
  4. Type “git status”
  5. I received this status: “Last login: Mon Oct 1 10:54:29 on ttys001 Daniels-MBP-2:Project-Lunchbox DanielKim$ git status On branch master Your branch is up-to-date with ‘origin/master’. nothing to commit, working tree clean Daniels-MBP-2:Project-Lunchbox DanielKim$”
  6. Type “git merge”
  7. I received this message: “Daniels-MBP-2:Project-Lunchbox DanielKim$ git merge origin/PEET-loves-GIT-V2 warning: Cannot merge binary files: Project Lunchbox/Assets/ALL SCENES/Map_Level2.unity (HEAD vs. origin/PEET-loves-GIT-V2) Auto-merging Project Lunchbox/Assets/ALL SCENES/Map_Level2.unity CONFLICT (content): Merge conflict in Project Lunchbox/Assets/ALL SCENES/Map_Level2.unity Automatic merge failed; fix conflicts and then commit the result. Daniels-MBP-2:Project-Lunchbox DanielKim$”
  8. Type “git checkout –theirs “Project Lunchbox”/Assets/”ALL SCENES”/Map_Level2.unity” This is basically the point where you know their stuff is important and you want to merge it into the master – but thats okay because you still have your stuff in the saved as scene.
  9. Type “git commit -a”. A Giant text blog pops up, it looks like Vim or Vi program.
  10. Type “:q” and hit enter. This colon is important.
  11. type “git push”.
  12. At this point, the github website will say that the merge has been successfully completed.
  13. Check your new scenes in master. Fix any problems and port them over into your backup scene. Once you’re done, replace the old scene with the new one by saving the scene with the same name and forcing it to replace.
  14. You’re done!

Videogame Composers: How to quickly Start from Blank

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You’re tasked with writing a music track for a level. Where would you start?

Starting work from a blank piece of paper may feel like one of the hardest things for composers. At the start of writing every piece, you doubt yourself with every melodic ideas and chord progression choices you’ve made, and until you’ve spent hours and hours working on the piece to get to that “point” where you finally feel confident in what you’re writing.

I find it easier and faster to that point if I can ask myself these 5 questions.

1. Gameplay?

That’s right. We as game composers need our music to serve the overall gameplay. So, what is the gameplay like? Are there any specific mechanics that may decide how you write this music out?

For example, the game Food Drive is a high-score based game. It runs on time, and can also track how well the player is performing throughout the game. Based on these gameplay elements, I can immediately eliminate the need for writing 2 minute of looping music, but instead think about how the music will evolve based on the time left. In this case, writing small bits of musical phrases that will transition from one to another is better. Designing this layout ahead of time saved me hours of precious time.

2. Emotion?

Music plays a vital role in creating emotion for the player, along with the visuals of the game. If you start out the composition process by defining a specific emotion that can be defined by a couple of adjectives, such as ‘Warm’, ‘Chilly’, ‘Grandiose’, or ‘Heartbreaking’, you are already saving yourself a lot of time by unconsciously swaying into another emotion down the line.

3. Instrumentation?

Start out the piece with very small list of instrumentation. Usually it’s best to keep musical ideas big and list of instruments small, down to 8 and 12 at maximum. By defining what instruments you want to use in your piece, you can stop yourself from adding a harmonica into your epic trailer down the line. Doesn’t mean that it’s bad to experiment with new instruments, but beware of how much time it can cost you.

4. Melody?

Melody is the single most powerful weapon you have as a composer. It is a single line that gets absorbed into your players’ heads as they play the game and listen to your music, and keep them coming back for more. You can work on your melody before you even sit down on your desk. While you’re doing chores, like washing dishes or vacuuming the floor, hum to yourself a melody after considering all of the three mentioned above. If you want to up your melody game, try listening to a lot of Mario games and pay attention to why its so memorable. Easily singable, interesting rhythms, constantly moving melodic line, dominant chordal notes on down beats, chromatic decorations, room to breathe.

It’s like a fun puzzle piece to starting your piece from a strong melody. Write 1-2 measures worth of simple phrase, then try stretching it out, or doubling its speed. Take one of the intervals and use it for the bridge section, or take 3 notes and transpose them up, or reverse their order in order to make something more interesting. It’s little things like that that contain similarity to one simple phrase of melody that our ears LOVE.

5. Chord Progressions?

Chord Progression supports your melody. You may want to try expanding beyond your original chord progression that you had in mind. I-IV-V-I is okay, but what about secondary dominants? 9th, 11th and 13th chords? How about inversions? What about transposing your piece half way through? Depending on what chords you use, your piece can sound great or impossible to stop coming back to.

 

That’s it for today. Now it’s time for me to go write a track for a level. Thanks for reading!

Love,

Daniel