Shouts N' Music

September 2, 2018

It's been a long hot summer with wildfires crossing our country. We Swedes have a tendency to complain about the weather, mostly we think it's too cold, but after this summer I think most of us welcome fall and the cooler air.

 

During the summer I've been working on a little bit of everything but mostly I've been focusing on sound. But before I go into that topic I'd like to present the milestone I’m currently working towards.

 

First public build

 

Before Christmas I like to release my first public developer build including:

 

  • One player mode.

  • One level, the tavern, featuring:

    • Windy rain

    • People drinking inside the tavern

    • Flies buzzing around a lantern.

  • An opponent dressed in white.

  • Basic movement.

  • Four different attacks and ways to parry them.

  • One death sequence.

  • Blood splatter.

  • One idle animation variation.

  • One MIDI song arranged with classical instruments, processed to sound like a vintage recording.

  • Sound effects, only normalized, not processed in any other way.

  • HUD including score and energy.

  • Camera shake.

This might not look like much, but for a one-man team, only working weekends and evenings it might even be too much.

 

Sound

 

If you've read my earlier posts you know I ordered an Arturia keyboard that happened to be broken on delivery. This caused a lot of annoyance and delayed my music production but now I've finally got all my gear set up.

 

 

 

The keyboard is an Arturia KeyLab 49 and the speakers Audioengine A2+. Included with the keyboard was a DAW called Ableton Live. I don't know if this software is good or bad, I just know that I couldn't get my head around it. Instead, I've chosen to work with Studio One Prime, which is a free but limited version of Studio One, and has a user interface I feel comfortable working in.

 

SFX

 

To create a feeling of being inside an old samurai movie I'm going to use sounds from various movies as basis for the sound effects. So while waiting for the new keyboard to arrive I've spent a few summer evenings extracting sounds. It's amazing how much panting, grunting and screaming there is in those old movies. After a while I had to skip the speakers and use my headphones instead, if I had kept using the the speakers I'm sure my neighbors would have thought I'd started some kind of torture dungeon and sent the police on me.

 

Something I hadn't thought of, but became apparent during this process was the fact that there is almost always a howling wind in the background of old Japanese action scenes. This of course made a lot of the sound useless.

 

Despite this unfortunate fact I now have quite an impressive collection of sounds including footsteps, screams, shouting, panting, growling, sword swooshes, sword clashes, and hits.

 

So far I've converted the sound effects to stereo, I've normalized them and cleaned them from as much noise as possible without distorting the sound I want to keep. For my first public developer build I consider them done, but before releasing a demo of the game I will process them further.

Music

 

When on vacation, visiting my father in my hometown of Boden, I borrowed his Yamaha keyboard and a few evenings later I had the main melody for the first game song ready. I call it “Ronin encounter” and this is the song that will be included in the first developer build.

 

I've not yet decided what style of music I want for the game. For a while I had my mind set on 8-bit music like the music made for the C64. It's a style of music that would sit well with the low-resolution retro graphics, but since I want the game to remind the player of old Japanese movies it might be better to use a musical style resembling the style found in those movies. Nothing is set in stone, but for now, I'll go with the latter.

 

The final product will include at least three different songs, one for the intro-screen, one for the highscore-screen and one or more for the gameplay. To make the music match the quality of the sound effects and also enhance the feeling of an old movie I'll give the song an old vintage sound. Sit back and enjoy a rough mix of the first gameplay song - "Ronin encounter", both in it's original and it's vintage sounding version.

 

If you wonder what instrument the strange "plucking" sound comes from, it's called "Shamisen" and is a Japanese three-stringed traditional instrument not unlike the western banjo. Shamisen is featured in many samurai-movies and often played by a geisha and sometimes accompanied by a man singing in a dark voice.

 

Shamisen played by a geisha.

 

Please let me know what you think about the music.

 

Next time - graphics!

 

Happy coding!

/jan.

 

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