Interactive Scoring for Games

This was another class that I wished I enjoyed more. The course author (and instructor) was very detailed and quite thorough, offering many fantastic examples and insights throughout the term. Yet the course just had too much information covered in too little time. In addition to the course materials, required reading, discussions, and assignments, there were many rather technical exercises due each week. Also, on two occasions there were two assignments due in one week, in addition to all the other work previously mentioned. It felt unecessarily stressful and short-sighted. (I left my feedback about all this in the course survey.)

Perhaps the most useful thing I can say that I gained from this class is that it helped me to know that I have no burning desire to score video games.

Here’s what we covered in the twelve weeks:

Week 1 – “Video Games: The Industry”, Sep 26th – Oct 2nd
Their Uniqueness, and Musical Considerations, Introduction, Meet and Greet, The Video Games Industry, Types of Video Game Companies, Games Platforms, Quiz 1.1: The Video Games Industry, The Uniqueness of Video Games: Length and Repeatability, The Uniqueness of Video Games: Level of Engagement, The Uniqueness of Video Games: Variability and Game Mechanics, Quiz 1.2: The Uniqueness of Video Games Compared with Linear Media, The Structure of a Video Game, Workshop: The Structure of a Video Game, Game Music Aesthetics, Quiz 1.3: Game Music Aesthetics, Melodic and Thematic Development in Video Games, 14 Video Game Themes You Should Know, Discussion 1.1: Game of the Week—Chime, Assignment 1: Compose Themes to Represent Characters or Locations, Recap

Week 2 – “Interactive Music Overview and Analysis—the Video Game Composer’s Toolbox”, Oct 1st – Oct 7th
Introduction, Synchronization in Video Games, Events for Synchronization, Using Interactive Music Techniques, Mapping Control-Inputs to the Score: What is Controlling the Playback of the Music?, Discussion 2.1: Spotting and Identifying Control-Inputs, The Composer’s Toolbox, Horizontal Re-Sequencing, Vertical Remixing (Dynamic Mixing), DSP (Effects), Musical Stingers, Instrumental and Arrangement Alteration, Tempo Alteration, Harmonic Approach, Melodic Adaptation, and Note Manipulation, Randomization, Discussion 2.2: Interactive Music in Video Games, Game Genres and Demographic Considerations, Music Development in Video Games, Instrumentation and Orchestration, Development, Arrangement, Pacing, and Tempo, Dynamics, 5 Quick Tips for Making Your Work Sound More Professional, Introduction to Using Crossfading to Transition Between Musical Cues, Discussion 2.3: Game of the Week—Ori and the Blind Forest, Assignment 2: Extend Your Music Themes, Recap

Week 3 – “Spotting the Game, Game Technology, and Music Loops”, Oct 8th – Oct 14th
Introduction, Spotting the Game, The Music Asset List, Discussion 3.1: Spotting the Game and the Music Asset List, Software Used to Build Games: Game Development Engines, Software Used to Build Games: Audio Middleware, Quiz 3.1: Game Development Engines and Middleware, Introduction to Unity, Windows and Regions in Unity, Discussion 3.2: Building a 3D Game in Unity, Creating Seamless Music Loops, Audio File Formats and Compression, Quiz 3.2: Audio File Formats and Compression, Discussion 3.3: GDC Presentation—Assassin’s Creed III Music Score: Redefining Musical Standards for the AC Brand, Assignment 3: Creating Music Loops, Recap

Week 4 – “Interactive Music Composition: Horizontal Resequencing and Musical Transitions”, Oct 15th – Oct 21st
Introduction, Horizontal Resequencing, Crossfading Scores, Crossfading Scores and Starting Points, Discussion 4.1: Alternate Starting Points, Synchronized Crossfading Scores, Discussion 4.2: Crossfading Between Two Music Loops in Unity, Composing Bridge Transitions, Exiting the First Piece of Music, Beginning the Next Piece of Music, Using a Sound Effect as a Transition, Discussion 4.3: Horizontal Resequencing, Writing Transitions and Stingers, Discussion 4.4: GDC Presentation—The Gothic Horror Music of Bloodborne, Assignment 4: Writing Transitions, Recap

Week 5 – “Interactive Music Composition Using Vertical Remixing (Layering)”, Oct 22nd – Oct 28th
Introduction, Vertical Remixing (Layering), More on Layering, Quiz 5.1: Vertical Remixing and Horizontal Resequencing, Composing Using Vertical Remixing, Composing Using Vertical Remixing, Challenges with Vertical Remixing, Discussion 5.1: Composing for Vertical Remixing, Synchronized vs Non-Synchronized Layers, Stylistic Approaches to Game Music Using Layered Scores, SFX and Instrument Design, Discussion 5.2: GDC Presentation—The Art of Noise: Incorporating Aleatoric Techniques in Your Scores, Assignment 5: Composing for Vertical Remixing, Recap

Week 6 – “Using Stingers, and Implementation of Layered Music Scores in Unity”, Oct 29th – Nov 4th
Introduction, Composing Musical Stingers, Discussion 6.1: Musical Stingers, Discussion 6.2: Implementing a Vertical Remixing Score within Unity, Unity’s Audio Mixers, Discussion 6.3: Adding Stingers into Your Unity Project, Comparing Horizontal Resequencing with Vertical Remixing, The Concept of Musical Interruption, Eastern and Western Scoring Approaches to Video Games, Storytelling Through Event to Event Based Scoring Using Stingers and Overlaps, Discussion 6.4: GDC Presentation—Making Full Use of Orchestral Colors in Interactive Music, Assignment 6: Creating Your Musical Stingers, Recap

Week 7 – “Interactive Music Composition: Horizontal Sequencing Using Branching”, Nov 5th – Nov 11th
Introduction, Branching Scores, Branching on the Measure Start or on a Specific Beat, Discussion 7.1: Branching from Different Intensity Levels, Architecture of Branching Based Scores, Discussion 7.2: Composing for Horizontal Resequencing, Composing Techniques for Branching Based Scores, Unify Your Intensity Levels, Harmony and Development Implications, Phrase Lengths, Production and Editing Techniques for Branching Based Scores Part 1, Production and Editing Techniques for Branching Based Scores Part 2, Exercise 7.1: Interactive Music and Stingers in Video Games, Assignment 7: Creating a Branching Composition, Recap

Week 8 – “Introduction to Audio Middleware Using Audiokinetic’s Wwise Software”, Nov 12th – Nov 18th
Introduction, What is Audio Middleware?, Considerations When Using Audio Middleware, Advantages and Disadvantages of Audio Middleware, Quiz 8.1: Audio Middleware Fundamentals, Audio Middleware Feature Sets for Video Game Composers, Discussion 8.1: Musical Stingers for Your Branching Project, Using Wwise for Interactive Scores: Wwise Fundamental Building Blocks for Music, WAV Files, Tracks, Segments, Playlists, Switch Containers, Wwise Communication with the Game Engine, Advanced Looping Features within Wwise, Discussion 8.2: Setting Up Your First Wwise Branching Project, Discussion 8.3: GDC Presentation—Watch Dogs: Hacking it to 11, Assignment 8: Branching and Stingers within Wwise, Recap

Week 9 – “Using Unity with Audio Middleware: Advanced Middleware Functionality in Wwise”, Nov 19th – Nov 25th
Introduction, Transitions within Wwise, Adjusting the Timing of When the Music Transition Occurs, The Type of Edit Between the Cues, Transition Segments, Discussion 9.1: Implementing Your Transition Project in Wwise, Working with Audio Middleware Inside a Game Development Platform (Wwise and Unity), Wwise Events, Game Syncs, and the SoundCaster Window, Exporting SoundBanks from Wwise, Discussion 9.2: Creating Events, Using the SoundCaster Window, and Generating a SoundBank within Wwise, Setting Up Unity to Work with Wwise, Discussion 9.3: Developing a Creative Framework for a Project (Introduction to the Final Project), Assignment 9: Connecting All the Pieces Together (Unity and Wwise Integration), Recap

Week 10 – “Working in the Industry, Pricing Your Work, and Creating Demo Reels”, Nov 26th – Dec 2nd
Introduction, Introducing Vertical Remixing (Layering) within Wwise, Discussion 10.1: Implementing Your Layered Project, Working in the Games Industry, Skills Required to Be a Composer in the Game Industry, What to Charge?, The Most that the Client Can Afford, The Value of Music, and the Psychology of Bidding Music, Not All Music Costs the Same, À la Carte Pricing Versus Project Fees, Would You Like Fries with that Shake?, A Note about Revisions, Assignment 10.1: Create a Realistic Estimate for a Project, Sales and Marketing: Finding Your Audience, Demo Reels to Showcase Your Work, Discussion 10.2: The Composer Website, Assignment 10.2: Final Project, Recap

Week 11 – “Game Development Teams, Career Development, and Advanced Features in Wwise”, Dec 3rd – Dec 9th
Introduction, Working with a Game Development Team, Quiz 11.1: Working with a Game Development Team, Wwise Export Settings and Compression, Discussion 11.1: Exporting Soundbanks with Custom Compression Settings, Getting Everybody in Sync with One Another (Version Control Software), Common Version Control Software Used by Game Developers, Where Do Composers and Sound Designers Fit Into These Systems?, Sound Design Features within Wwise, MIDI and Instrument Design in Wwise, Negotiating Tactics, Paths to Becoming a Successful Composer, What Does 9:00 a.m. Look Like When You Are a Composer?, Discussion 11.2: GDC Presentation—Why You Didn’t Get the Gig, Assignment 11: Final Project (Continuation), Recap

Week 12 – “Advanced Interactive Music Scores, Larger Projects, and Where to Go Next”, Dec 10th – Dec 16th
Introduction, What Have You Learned?, Discussion 12.1: What Are Your Next Steps?, Advanced Interactive Music Scores and Design, Advanced Skills: Real Time Mixing for Games, Approaching Larger Projects, What’s Next: Finding Resources and Inspiration Beyond the Course, Unity: Building the Game with Wwise Assets, Video Demo Reel, Assignment 12.1: Create a Video Demo Reel, Assignment 12.2: Final Project (Ending), Recap