Archive for the ‘Game Audio’ Category

Cogswell College is a 2014 Global Game Jam Host Site

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Eating pizza and waiting for the Opening Presentation at GGJ 2013

Cogswell College is pleased to once again serve as a host site for the Global Game Jam. The College’s involvement with the annual event began with the first sponsored Game Jam in 2009.

DATE: January 24 – 26, 2014

TIME: 6:00PM on Friday and wrapping up at 3:00PM on Sunday

PLACE: Cogswell College, 1175 Bordeaux Dr, Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Registration required

COST: $10 students (with college email address); $20 Cogswell Alumni and $40 general public

INCLUDED with registration: Pizza on Friday evening, continental breakfast on Saturday and Sunday and snacks and coffee throughout the weekend.

The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event taking place around the world at physical locations. Think of it as a hackathon focused on game development. It is the growth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, we could come together, be creative, share experiences and express ourselves in a multitude of ways using video games – it is very universal.

REGISTER now for an action-packed weekend of game development and networking!

Don't miss the fun!

Panel Discussion on Tips for Being a Successful Game Audio Contractor

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Interested in getting into the Game Audio field? This video in GameSause from the Casual Connect Conference offers an in-depth look at the business by four industry panelists and moderator, Aaron Walz.

Aaron Walz owns Walz Music & Sound. He recently scored the top-ranking Facebook adventure, Ravenwood Fair and has received several awards for his audio work including “Best Game” at the Independent Game Festival and Game Tunnel’s “Best Sound” as well as being nominated for “Best Game Audio” by GDC Online.

Panelists include:

  • Rich Vreeland (also known as Disasterpeace), an award-winning freelance composer and sound designer based in Berkeley, CA, with a focus in producing and directing dynamic sound treatments for games.
  • Barry Dowsett who created original audio content for an array of cool projects for developers and publishers such as Activision, Popcap, Electronic Arts, THQ/Dreamworks, F9, Eidos, Gree, Playdom, Griptonite, Microsoft Game Studios, iWin, Disney Interactive, Google and many more.
  • Dren McDonald is an experienced game audio composer, sound designer and audio director with over 30 shipped titles.
  • Nick Thomas began his career as lead Engineer/Mixer for Sony Music artists, including Destiny’s Child, Celine Dion, Carlos Santana, Jessica Simpson, Michael Jackson and Ricky Martin. In 2003, Nick joined with Kane Minkus to open SomaTone Interactive and has spent the last 10 years producing the highest quality audio and art content for Gaming.

During the video these five share their experiences working on game audio, the challenges they’ve faced and tips for advancing in the industry.

What is your biggest take-away from the discussion?

What Does the Game Design Manager Say?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Screen shot from the video.

At Cogswell College we focus on learning by doing. While we don’t ignore the theory and principles behind a process, we don’t feel the learning is complete until you’ve actually undertaken a project and put the new skills to use.

The Fall Semester ‘Project Management’ class had to break up into teams and then develop promotional materials that would introduce people to one of Cogswell’s majors. The goal of the mid-term project’s assignment was for the collateral developed to interest people in becoming students at Cogswell. In order to successfully complete the project, students had to organize, assign tasks, set up a timetable, deliver the project and then evaluate their results.

“I wanted the finished piece to show the pride they take in their education, why they are excited about what they are doing and what they are about as students,” said Albert Chen, faculty for the class. “The assignment definitely reinforced the skills they learned during the class.”

This short video highlighting Cogswell’s Digital Media Management degree program and its Game Design & Business Modeling major was completed in two weeks by a team of six students. The students who worked on the project are: Vincent Velo, Andrew Traxler, Eric Tran, Frank Maddox, Oleksandra Keehl and Halsey Herms.

Considerations for Creative Audio Field Recording

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Richard Gould

Complete with field recording examples, in this article in Designing Sound, Sound Designer, Richard Gould, discusses the five creative considerations he employs when approaching field recording sessions. He says examining these considerations in light of work in progress, “have helped me consider the vast possibilities when I’m creating and capturing sounds.”

The five considerations he discusses are:

  1. Additive/Subtractive
  2. Shifting Perspective
  3. Context
  4. Technique
  5. Elemental

Gould also talks about the four developmental stages his inner-ear went to become a better field recorder:

  1. Listening for interesting sounds in relation to context
  2. Listening for interesting aspects of a sound, regardless of context
  3. Listening whilst considering the possibilities and later altering sounds to make them interesting
  4. Conceptualizing interesting sounds in my head and creating the conditions to replicate that sound

He explains his creative philosophy as follows, “I find that the more I approach field recording as an art form, with elements of improvisation and performance, the more rewarding the process becomes.”

Which of these considerations do you think will be helpful in your sound design work?

About Richard Gould

Hailing from England, Richard Gould studied sound and music in the United States at Berklee College of Music, focusing on audio for film and games. He has worked on numerous indie game and film titles in a number of capacities and loves to explore the ways in which music and sound can tell stories. Richard Co-Founded the Berklee Sound Design Network and Hexany Audio, an audio post-production company.

Rational Game Design Handbook

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The introduction to this article in Gamasutra by Luke McMillian sets the tone for the piece. “When a sound engineer is given the task of recording a particular sound, they rely on a set of tools such as microphones and preamps to take a less than ideal input signal and ‘shape’ this input to what they desire. What we hear as consumer is the product of many hours of fine tuning and tweaking to reach the ideal outcome. Games are no different.

Their designers test and fine tune their product until they have crafted what they believe to be the most ideal player experience. The difference for a game designer is that the method of achieving this ideal player experience doesn’t come in the form of a tangible, standardized device.”

This in-depth comparison between the work of a sound designer and a game designer covers a lot of territory including using noise to stifle competition and the different types of noise used to do this – action noise, rules noise, feedback noise and model noise – and strategies for applying noise.

The piece also mentions Cogswell grad, Steve Swink, for offering “one of the best ways of thinking of games in terms of representational layers, versus mechanics. Swink does this by visualizing how Street Fighter is merely a collection of moving rectangles tied to mathematical formulae BUT represented visually in a way that provides the player with context.”

How will you use sound in your next game project?

Puzzle Game Project Class Gets Underway

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

In a recent Skype call on a large monitor at the front of the classroom, George Gagnon, Founder of Prairie Rainbow Company, met with students and faculty for an introductory session to clarify parameters for the project and to present the concepts the two student teams developed in a 48 hour turnaround.

The eleven students enrolled in the class were divided into two teams and tasked with creating a video game version of the Rainbow Squares table top game. Rainbow Squares is a puzzle game designed for elementary, secondary or adult learners to use as an individual or group learning tool. The game consists of six squares, each made up of three different rainbow-colored pieces. Each of these pieces can be used to form other squares using two, four, five or six pieces or can be used to learn addition and fractions.

“Rainbow Math Models are designed to engage students and let them learn through the method that is best for them,” said George. “Feelings learners get to build a physical model, image learners can create a visual model, while language learners have the chance to hear, read, or write a number model,” added George.  “I think by offering Rainbow Squares as a virtual learning tool, more students will have access to the learning method that works for them.”

After students introduced themselves, a representative from each team outlined the concepts they were considering for the game design.

The Red Team started with general ideas and then branched out. They thought it was important for the video game to represent the physical game since the product has been so successful. The team’s goal is to make students want to play the game over and over. They also discussed implementing different levels for different shapes such as one level to focus on manipulating squares, another for pentagons and another for triangles. Other ideas involved creating a limited moves mode or an addition mode with each block being assigned a numerical value. The team would also like to explore a multiplayer option.

The Blue Team first wanted to know if George would prefer a more structural approach to presenting the concepts of addition and fractions or would he consider a more spatial representation of the math concepts through graphs or perhaps as weights on a scale. Would he like the final game to be more session-based play or individual play? If he would like a more structural approach to teaching the concepts, then they are thinking about a more traditional approach with something like Tetris.

“I love the creativity the teams have put into the process. I’m excited about what I’ve heard today and can’t wait to see the finished products,” said George.

The Rise of Social Media for Musicians

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Your music matters and you want to get it in front on an appreciative audience but often that is easier said than done because you need to find your audience or it needs to find you. Social media is making your job a lot simpler.

The great thing about promoting your music through social media channels is that the cost is low or free – and free is good for a musician just starting out.

Almost everyone has heard about Facebook and Twitter – which with time and effort can help you build your fan base – but what other social media platforms should you consider?

Music Clout offers some handy tips.

What other social media tools do you use to get your music out to the world?

Other sites that may be helpful:

Social Media Secrets for Musicians

Social Media for Musicians: 10 Musts for Social Media Marketing

An Interview with Nathan Brenholdt on Being a Sound Engineer for SCEA

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Nathan Brenholdt (Cogswell College class of 1996) holds a BS in Music Engineering Technology and is a Sr. Sound Designer, Sony Computer Entertainment America

1.    Company name, your job title, a brief description of your job responsibilities and how long you have worked there.

I am a Senior Sound Designer at Sony Computer Entertainment America.  I have been here for 16 years.

2.    Can you give an example of what you might do on a ‘typical’ day?

A typical day is spent planning, recording, creating, editing, implementing, and reviewing sounds for our games.

3.    Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?

It was many years ago, but I was most surprised that my initial title was “Multimedia Specialist”, and that I received at home a generic form letter from HR saying they received my resume, and would get back to me if any positions became available – almost 2 years after I had started working at Sony!

4.    Describe your piece of the production cycle. How does what you do move the project forward?

I generally start early in the production cycle, talking with the creative director and producers about roughly what they are looking for from sound.  Often times, they really don’t know, and can only answer some basic questions about the overall game design.  Usually the type of game and overall look of the game suggest the direction of sound.  From there, I will meet with the audio programmer to design the audio engine and naming conventions.  Our design tools often don’t cover every aspect of sound, so we need additional support for things like debug displays, additional interactive audio parameter tweakers, implementation tools, and formulas for how sound travels through the environment.  Then it’s time to put together some of the main sounds, and get feedback on the overall audio design.  And the rest of the game is usually an iteration process: creating, implementing, reviewing, and tweaking the sounds, dialog, and music.  A fast iteration time is important because of the large number of changes that are made during the development cycle.

5.    How big is the team you are part of for a typical project? What kind of interaction do you have with other team members?

The basic in-game sound effects team is often still fairly small, sometimes as few as 2 or 3 people.  But those numbers can grow quickly if the game is large, or a lot of original content is required.  And once you add dialog, music, and post-production, a lot more people become involved.  A lot of additional work will get contracted out if the people aren’t required for the full project:  Foley, dialog, post-production, music sessions, editing, testing…  The numbers might jump into the hundreds, once you credit everyone involved with the audio in some way.

6.    What projects have you worked on in the past?

I have been most involved with the franchises: Twisted Metal, Syphon Filter, SOCOM: US Navy SEALs, God of War, and Uncharted.  I did a lot of work for the SOCOM games, and really enjoyed going out with the Navy many times over the years, recording their vehicles and weapons.  But with each new game and each new hardware platform come a new set of challenges, which is fun.  Also, games aren’t like movies.  The games are extremely dynamic and you have to plan for so many possibilities with a limited set of sounds and memory.

7.    What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Being able to do something that I enjoy that stays fun, challenging, and new.

8.    What advice would you give students preparing for a career like yours?

I would learn as much as you can, especially on the math, science, and engineering side.  Combine different fields.  You’ll open a lot of doors if your artistic side comes together with computer programming, scripting, engineering, business, or production.  Create your own projects.  Get involved with groups.  Apply for internships.  Measure your work against professionals or direct competition.

9.    QUOTE about how Cogswell helped prepare you for this career?

Cogswell was a great place to combine my passions for sound, music, computers and electronics.

10.  What qualities does someone need to have to be successful in this field?

The engineering, math, scripting, and project management side can be just as important as the creative side.  It’s important to be able to communicate well and adapt to changes.  And of course be able to create high-quality sounds for games!