Archive for year: 2012
Ever wondered what sounds a ninja pig makes? You fool! A ninja pig makes NO sound!!! But the app does! Check out three of the cues (title, summary and game over themes) below and go grab the app!
See more screen shots, read about the game’s features and get the app here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ninja-pig/id494580003?mt=8
I’ve made this song FREE in celebration of the great comments and feedback I got on this track at the GDC Demo Derby – Music panel! So go download people! For a limited time only! Share the love!!! (Oh…. god… no, put your pants back on…. not THAT kind of love!)
Madsen Studios LLC will be at this year’s GDC out in San Fransisco. If you’re going to be out there – hit me up! Also one of my pieces will be played at the GANG Demo Derby panel. GDC is always an exciting and rewarding time! If you need audio, I’m always interested so let’s chat!
Take It Easy!, a new puzzler app developed by Zabu Studio Inc, has just gone live on the iTunes App store. With three game modes and a chilled out, relaxed mood this is a simple, yet surprisingly addictive and thought-provoking game that’ll provide endless hours of fun. Madsen Studios LLC did all of the music and most of the sound design for the app. Check out the trailer below:
I’ll be joining Erya on stage to help promote CFC (Cops Fighting Cancer) this coming Saturday Feb. 25th. Show starts at 7PM. Come hear some great music, enjoy yummy drinks and food and support this great cause! To hear some of the music we’ll be playing jump on over to: http://www.eryamusic.com/fr_home.cfm
I’m very happy to announce that BrainCandy’s Fray is going on pre-order. Madsen Studios LLC helped provided sound design for both the GDC 2011 Announcement trailer as well as for some of the actual gameplay. Their website, http://www.fray-game.com/, has tons of media and more info about the game. This is a very talented team which I’m thrilled to be working with – so check out the website!
“Spira Solaris casts you as the rider of the demon. Your goal is to drive the demon to the brink of insanity, to make it destroy itself.” This is the description of our project for this year’s Global Game Jam – an event where you create a full game in 48 hours. It was a blast! I worked on this with the great folks at Glass Bottom Games. Wanna play the game:
If you like it – please leave a comment. The song is free to download. Put it on your iPod and go jogging. Or meditate. Or jog while you meditate…. just keep your eyes open!
Many of my articles have focused on how best to network, promote yourself, negotiate and interact with potential clients. In this article I’m going to share a few pointers to help after you’ve landed the job. As with anything, nothing is a fix-all solution so always take these suggestions with a grain of salt. Carefully evaluate each situation, each client and if one of these tips seems to be a good fit then by all means use it! So let’s get right to it:
Don’t begin work until you have something to work to.
Sounds like simple common sense, doesn’t it? But in my experience it’s been rather surprising how often less(er) experienced clients expect me to begin work right away without any art or visual references. Usually more experienced teams already understand that audio is one of the last elements to be placed into a video game. Less experienced teams, however, tend to get excited and also not be aware of the common and more effective pipeline. Even for more simplistic sounds (like a generic button click) if a game isn’t there yet, so much can change during the production cycle that any sounds created early on could end up not fitting or matching the game’s vibe and feel. So if a team doesn’t have anything ready for you to work to – they’re not ready for audio yet.
Balance your workload – especially when extra tasks pop up.
Several times I’ve had clients expect me to capture video of the game when it was never part of the assigned tasks set up in the contract. These clients didn’t offer any kind of payment for my time or use of my equipment. Instead of getting upset or simply saying “no” I told them I would be happy to assist but we’d need to first figure out an appropriate cost for this extra service and the time it would take. Every time I’ve used this approach the team, which previously was too busy to capture video or didn’t have the needed tools, suddenly had the time and resources to provide those videos. So remember – unless a task is specified in the contract, it is extra work and as such you could require additional payment.
In some situations you can choose to take on some extra tasks to help the team out – which can really help your reputation with the team! This is usually when your work load is very light and you don’t have other projects also demanding your time. But be careful. Always explain if you’re making a concession. Something as simple as “well I usually charge for X but I had some extra time and wanted to help the team out.” The key here is balance. Don’t allow a team to repeatedly throw extra tasks at you which were not set up in the contract without added pay for your time and efforts but don’t nickel and dime your clients to death either. It’s a fine line but remember: it’s YOUR choice.
“Just play the game and create sounds from watching the game.”
While more rare, I’ve had a few clients give me a build of their game and expect me to just play it and then make sounds or music to that game build. When I asked for animations to “score” directly to they tell me to just play the game. I’ve even had a few clients push back after I explained my workflow process (placing animations directly in my DAW and creating sounds directly to that file). What usually convinces the client is this simple question: Do you want the sounds of the game to be estimates and guesses are do you want your sounds to be precisely synced to all animations?
Not all feedback is useful feedback.
I once had a client give me one-word feedback for about 20-25 sounds I had delivered: “Rework.” I explained that with that kind of vague feedback, I didn’t have enough information to know what direction or changes needed to happen. I didn’t know what the team didn’t like, I didn’t know what the team did like. It didn’t even specify what sounds needed to be reworked. After asking for more detailed feedback I found out there was only one sound they wanted reworked and the changes requested were minimal. The initial feedback was so vague, it gave me nothing to work with. Don’t accept vague feedback like this or you’ll end up running in circles and wasting a good deal of time. Asking for specific feedback isn’t challenging or rude when done in the right way. It shows how invested you are in making sure the sounds are the perfect fit for the game.
Iteration for the sake of iteration is crap.
I once worked on a team where the culture was to iterate just to see what would happen – without any clear goal or direction. In my frank and honest opinion it was a crappy attempt to cover up a clear lack of vision on the project. So teams just started iterating and making content, remaking content, scrapping content, going back to previous content, creating new content all in the name of iteration. And it was crap.
I’m ALL for iterating and adding polish to make something better. To achieve that end goal. To push the limits. But if a team wants you to iterate just to see “what happens” or “what comes out” then inform them that it raises audio costs and slows down the production time table as you’re stuck iterating on level 4 over and over again. Side note: this is why I have a revision limit on my rates. If a client feels they can have unlimited revisions at no extra cost then, by God, they’re going to use them! So make sure your rates allot for those situations where you’re drafting 15 versions of a game theme and explain those costs and limitations upfront to the client.
Play the game when mixing/implementing audio but push for alternate testing methods as well.
Once I was trying to test a sound I had created in a client’s build of their video game. The certain sound was on a stage that was so buggy and the game event so rare that it literally took me an hour to just hear the sound. Once! Then I made the needed changes and still had to fight the game to make that sound event happen again. It ended up taking much more time than it should have and made me quite frustrated. For those harder, more rare game events push for an alternate testing method. Perhaps a virtual soundboard of some sort or slash commands (if it is similar to a MMO-type game). Anything that can help you speed up mixing/implementation time. Some clients will push back on this but if you charge for your mixing/implementation time (which you should) then this can help speed up these tasks and lower the cost to that client. This is usually enough rationale to help convince the client that it is worth their energy and time.
Setting the right expectations.
As with many things in business, this is all about setting the right expectations and then fulfilling them. Even exceeding them. Explain to your clients what you need and why. Show them how by providing these items it will help you do a better job for them, make their product’s audio that much better and help you keep audio costs down and on schedule. So the final tip is really all about communication. I strive to have fluid, frequent communication with all of my clients and I have yet to hear a single complaint about it. The better you communicate, the better everyone understands their tasks, their roles and the needs of the project.
Get out there and make some noise!