This week's post will discuss the creative process for the second game soundtrack I created as a participant in the 2012 Global Game Jam through the Cleveland Game Developers organization. This project was a complete departure from my work on "A Short Tail" and was, in many ways, the most challenging of the four works I completed for the Jam. In this post-mortem I will describe the basic concept of the game, my experience as a collaborator with the development team, and the technical and artistic challenges of creating this soundtrack.
As promised, here is the second of five post-mortem posts related to the 2012 Global Game Jam. If you did not read the first entry in this series, I highly recommend that you do so to get some basic information about the 2012 GGJ and a rundown of the games and topics in this series. The next four posts will delve into the music composition process for each game I worked on over the GGJ weekend. The posts will be released in the general chronological order of project completion, though there was some overlap as I worked to complete each composition. When describing musical elements, I will attempt to be as clear as possible without getting overly technical. I will also try to provide links to further information when using some potentially unfamiliar musical vocabulary rather than attempting to clarify definitions in the body of the article.
So this is my first of hopefully many blog posts related to music, gaming, music for games and...you get the idea. My short term goal with this blog is twofold:
- research and present interesting content related to game music composition
- do so in a somewhat coherent and engaging manner on at least a bi-weekly basis.
If you know me, you also probably know that while I don't have a lot of compositon experience, I have been studying music most of my life. Since I began seriously writing music for game related projects in mid 2011, I have found it to be a completely thrilling experience. It is an amazing feeling to draw upon half a lifetime of musical training and channel it into a new creative medium. So, it seems fitting that my first post be a reflection on what may be the most challenging and validating experience I've had as a composer thus far - the 2012 Global Game Jam.
Updated on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 7:32PM by Sam
In the second part of our series on working with Curves in Unity, we'll start actually building some curves to see what we can do. These examples are not necessarily going to be things that you can immediately apply to game development (though it's not unlikely), rather these are an opportunity to become familiar with some core techniques for working with curves.
This is the first is a series of articles about some of the benefits , techniques, and challenges of using parametric curves in 3D games. The examples and code will be C# in Unity but the math is going to be universally applicable and most of the problems and solutions we'll look at in later entries easily extend to any 3D engine.
The Global Game Jam theme for 2012 was this image of the ouroborus:
Since I was helping to coordinate the Cleveland site for the Jam, I didn't want to saddle another group with a member who was potentially unavailable while they were doing administrative tasks during the weekend. As a result I ran with a team of one.
The theme image immediately conjured in my mind the idea of autophagy- a sort of ceremonial consuming of the self. During the Cleveland site's cross-group brainstorming we also saw a lot of motifs related to bleakness, futile repetition, Sisyphean tasks, and so on. I had also tinkered with some procedurally generated looping track structures in 2011 and wanted to revisit and formalize them.
(for logistical details, see here)
The Unity Workshop is going to take the form of building a game from scratch. All of the assets are going to be built and ready, but the linking and scripting will happen live in Unity. I'll talk through the process, including the reasons for programming approaches and some quirks you can expect from Unity when you work with C#.
We'll be projecting my screen onto a wall but I know from experience that trying to read code from a distance can be painful, so we will also have a GoTo Webinar set up- if you log into that on your laptop you'll be able to refer to your own personal screen if the projector is too far, blurry, or whatever.
Before the workshop we'll also be sending out a packet including the finished game, its fully assembled project directory, and the raw assets.
This is a workshop but you are not required (or even really expected) to get your hands wet here. Programming a game in a few hours is extremely difficult- I will only be able to do it because I've spent the last week and a half programming the game. I've read the back of the book and I know the spoilers, so I can skip a lot of the process.
If you want to just watch the process, take notes, and play around with the assembled project when you get home, that's great. You will probably think that I talk too much and need a haircut, but you'll get a lot out of the workshop. I hope.
If you want to follow along in Unity itself (an activity which is not required), you will want to download and install Unity 3.5 first since it's about 2 gigs of data and if you wait until you get to the workshop it's unlikely to finish before we're halfway done. You can get it at www.Unity3d.com. It runs fine on my 3 year old MacBook but as always your mileage may vary.
If you are comfortable working in C#, you're more than welcome to code along with me as I guide us through building the game but we aren't going to have time to debug individual scripting issues so I have to ask that you keep those until the end or follow-up with me after the workshop via email or carrier pigeon. If you do find that you get stuck, you'll already have a copy of finished scripts you can use as a reference (or temporary replacement).
Several people have asked me which approach will be more beneficial. It will vary by person, but I will tell you that if it were me, I would have Unity open (in a new, empty level of the finished project) but mostly be watching what was happening. Then if I saw something I wanted to try with the interface, I can switch into Unity to poke around but still have a sense of where the project as a whole is going.
It's definitely up to you.
We will have programmers, artists, musicians, and all sorts attending the workshop. I am trying to give everyone something, but there will be a fair amount of live programming going on. I chose that path because it will give me a chance to explain why certain development decisions got made. Game development is, ultimately, development. Developers will hopefully get something out of this, and I wanted to give the artists, musicians, writers, and whoever else the opportunity to see what considerations the "other side" has to deal with. Don't worry- there'll be plenty of work playing with lights, working with materials, and going over pipeline and drag-and-drop operations, too.
Relax, enjoy yourselves, have a good time, and remind me to repeat questions from the audience if I forget to.
The second part of the postmortem for Ludum Dare 21 game "Escape from Planet 21" talks about music and sound creation. It also looks at what worked and what didn't, the takeaway lessons, and has links to supporting files for those interested in tinkering.