At HKU University of the Arts Utrecht we offer a four year course on audio design for games and interaction. In the first seven weeks of the third year, students are challenged to implement their newly created sound and music into Unity‘s tech demo Angry Bots. For most students, this means a first experience with hacking, programming and coding.
Archive for Adaptive
A golden oldie that was pending for quite some time in my drafts posts…
Videos of designers explaining their interactive music systems in games are not quite abundantly available. In the case of Crysis 2 (2011), the composers have explained their way of working, collaborating and more. Especially the large amount of interactive material – 5 hours!  – made this a monster job.
In this short sneak peek video, Jesse James Allen explains three basic technical models for incorporating adaptive music in games: trigger path (also horizontal resequencing), vertical mix (also vertical reorchestration) and runtime remix (a fresh term). Nice to know how it’s done at EA.
[Thanks at DutchGameMusic for the pointer]
I found some theory about interactive, adaptive, nonlinear game music that hasn’t been posted on Captivating Sound yet. It’s an oldie from 2011 by Than van Nispen tot Pannerden, Sander Huiberts, Sebastiaan Donders and Stan Koch.
Interactive music, in e.g. video games, often tends to be complex both in the creative and the technological part. Video games, that have any interactivity connected to the music, often have simplistic music and music technology. The sounding results vary greatly in quality, both in musical aesthetics and in interactive meaningfulness.
One of the interactive music strategies available is horizontal re-sequencing. In this paper experiences with a simple nonlinear music player (the nln-player), using this strategy, are being presented.
van Nispen tot Pannerden, T., Huiberts, S., Donders, S., & Koch, S. 2011, The nln-player: A system for nonlinear music in games. Paper presented at Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 2011, University of Huddersfield, England.
If you’re into adaptive/interactive music, you should definitely check out the Biophilia app by Björk. This ‘full-length app-album’ is an interesting application in which studio-produced music, music apps and visual art meet.
Today is the official release of the alpha version with all the music tracks that can be bought from the free main (mother) app. The beta was published earlier this year.
At the Utrecht School of the Arts, the adaptive music systems research group investigates the design of music for non-linear contexts. Post-graduates that conducted research in this group have formed a company – GreenCouch – and recently they’ve sent me an example movie of one of their projects.
The example movie contains an explanation of the music system used in the Xbox-game Shortburst. It’s pretty self explanatory and shows the flexible system in real-time.
The description of the video:
“cell-based music”, or “horizontal resequencing” in a browser-based, simple, nln-player, with the music for the Xbox-game Shortburst.
This same framework was used for the implementation of the interactive music in XNA5 for an Xbox game, Shortburst.
Yesterdag Richard and I gave a keynote at the Music Summit of Festival of Games in Utrecht. After visiting many international conferences on audio for games, it’s great to meet all the local peers and professionals. At the bottom of this page, you can find a link to the slides and a special link page.
By the way, it was a great venue, featuring a truly wonderful performance installation by Matthias Oostrik. See the two pictures below I made before the summit started:
See a slideshow below the break.
In 2007, I supervised an internship for the Adaptive Music Systems Research group under Jan IJzermans. The group  researched adaptive sound design and composition for games and developed the Adeptive toolkit, which helps composing in nonlinear settings.
To make things clear: we’re not talking about composing a song from the beginning to the end (linear music); the composer makes a large amount of musical ‘cells’ and the system selects new cells based on the rules of the composer (nonlinear music). Such an approach can be highly suitable for games, that mostly have a nonlinear character, as the music is able to correspond with the narrative or the presupposed experience of the player. And at least, we’re preventing the repetitive background track that drives players crazy.