Mlog 6 – Raid on the Digital Catacombs   Leave a comment

I managed to make something new this week! Huzzah!

This piece was almost entirely made in Max 6 using a random beat generator I’ve been building. It takes a folder of samples and randomly chooses one of them 16 times (or any other number of times you might choose), assigning random volumes, panning, and pitch to them. You can then adjust a delay unit, comb filter, and other filter to apply universally and adjust on the fly. There’s a bunch more intricacies, but it might be more worthwhile for you to just see a couple of pictures of it.

Here’s the “presentation mode” version…

Screenshot 2013-10-14 16.13.24

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and here’s some of the messy innards.

Screenshot 2013-10-14 16.14.03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very fun to make! I’m still trying to consider what other parameters and/or effects I can add to it. Some way to save patterns would be cool. Also Rewire integration. And/or Soundflower. The possibilities are endless! (as is often the case in Max)

Anyways, I took a bunch of loops I generated and played with and layered them and arranged them in Logic. The only other thing I did in Logic was adjust some volumes and fades and apply some light compression. Enjoy the results!

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Posted 14 October 2013 by jonbash in Mlog, Music

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Mlog 5 – Out of Time   Leave a comment

Yes, I’m double-dipping again. Next week I won’t, and that’s a promise (that I now have to keep since I committed to it in public…)!

This is menu music from a game I’ve been working on with some very talented folks in Seattle. I’ve been really stoked on all of it since I started working on it, so I wanted to share a little tidbit since the game is still in some pretty early stages of development. Once it’s released I’ll probably compiled the tracks into a soundtrack.

This particular track prominently features a melody that will act as a leitmotif of sorts throughout the soundtrack, symbolizing the protagonist’s rebellious struggle against the oppressive regime in his dystopian sci-fi world. It also serves to set the tone and pallette of the game’s musical landscape with its retro style synthesizers and sequences, although most of the in-game music will be much faster, intense, and upbeat.

As another little potentially interesting tidbit… We’re going to try doing a little bit of dual-track level-music crossfading ala FTL, where in one part of the level, one version of the music will play, but when you transition to a different section of the level, it will crossfade into an alternate version of the music (like with FTL’s explore vs. battle versions of music).

Here’s an extra sneak peak of some of the other music in the game, as well!

 

Mlog 4 – Memory   Leave a comment

This was something I wrote and recorded relatively quickly, partially by necessity and partially to give it a sort of raw feel. I am not a pianist, let alone a skilled one, and this was played live into Logic, hence the lack of tempo consistency. I kind of like it though; much more so than if I would have programmed it. It’s obviously simpler and more repetitive than what I usually write, with some obvious Philip Glass influence, and I had to fight my instincts to let that slide. I think it’s, at the very least, a good exercise to write music that goes against your instincts every now and then.

As the description will tell you, this was written as diegetic music (sourced from in-universe; in this case the characters are listening to it in their apartment in the background) for a short horror film being produced for the upcoming Bleedingham horror film festival in Bellingham, WA. I know, maybe it’s double-dipping… but I was working on that score all day today, and I didn’t want to give any of the more revealing music in the movie, even though I REALLY wanted to because I’m really excited for it. If you want to see the movie (and you should, along with others from the area), go to Bleedingham on October 26th at the Pickford Film Center!

Posted 30 September 2013 by jonbash in Mlog

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Mlog 3 – On the Shores of Orion   Leave a comment

Another week, another little piece of music. With this one I used a number of sounds I collected on my honeymoon, including some wind chimes, the ferry dock on the way to Orcas Island, shaking a box of matches… can’t remember what else. I also experimented a bit more learning some of Logic’s synths, which was pretty fun. Hope it’s at least mildly enjoyable!

I ordered an East West collection of orchestral sample libraries, so pretty soon here you might start hearing some of that in these weekly pieces! They’ll also come in handy on some of the film projects I’m going to be involved with in the coming months…!

Mlog 2 – Hackers’ Night Out   Leave a comment

The second entry in the not-very-long-running series has arrived. This one is quite different, I think, from the last one.

This one was forged in Reason 7. Whenever I talk to people about Reason, they seem to tend to see it as a ‘fun toy’ or ‘good for getting ideas down’ or ‘a great synth rack.’ While it still needs quite a bit of audio editing features to be worthy of standing with the great DAWs of Logic Pro and even Reaper, it’s become rather capable as a composition, recording, and mixing tool. I’ve actually been using it almost exclusively to make the music for the game I’m working on right now, and for what I’m doing I haven’t run into any snags so far. Obviously it has some major limitations, but for certain styles it’s honestly perfect for me.

This track started as some experimentation with the Dr. OctoRex instrument, which seems to be primarily for hip-hop-tinged drum sampling/looping and the like, so I really haven’t made much use of it since I much prefer to compose my own drum beats. But I decided to take a sample from outside of Reason and stick it in there and compose some beats from the automatically transient-chopped loop taken from the intro of “Leyendecker” by Battles.

From there I basically went nuts. Some 3:2, some automation improv freakout, sidechaining and parallel processing, modulating chords… all sorts of fun. Considering the separate “scenes” depicted, it’s a little more difficult to imagine this working in a game setting, but I think the title depicts some of the general mood it conveys. Hope you enjoy it!

*(As a possibly interesting sidenote, I recently decided to give a trial of Ableton Suite a shot again… and for some reason I just cannot get into. I really want to like it, and I love some of the little things about it. But for some reason making music on it is just extremely difficult for me. I was actually planning on composing Mlog #3 in it, but I just hit a compositional wall. So it’s back to Logic Pro for next week, I think!)

Posted 16 September 2013 by jonbash in Mlog, Music

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Mlog #1   Leave a comment

So I’ve started a weekly series where I’m going to write a short piece of music and post it up here every week. Er, that’s about it. Most of the time I’ll probably be imagining it as for a video game, since part of the purpose of this is to have a portfolio of music to play for people that I want to write music for.

The first entry in the series is an ambient track I made with Logic Pro X. I started by playing one chord on my guitar and putting a bunch of effects on it, then transposing that chord a bunch. Then I awkwardly played a software shaker and hi-hat on my keyboard to make for a weird, soft percussion pattern to give a semblance of the slow tempo, adding some pads and going from there. I regret to say that the keyboard sounds were slightly-tweaked presets. I wanted to tweak them a little more, but man, Sculpture (a Logic instrument) is a beast to try to figure out. Going to need to watch some tutorials on that one of these days.

In any case, the end result is something slow and atmospheric that I imagined being good background music for a dark, misty forest or a cave or some other archetypical RPG setting. I hope you enjoy.

Posted 6 September 2013 by jonbash in Games, Mlog, Music

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PAX 2013: a Bashful Recap (HA, HA, GET IT)   Leave a comment

This year was my first PAX, and in a year full of good times, this was certainly a highlight. I went to quite a few panels, although not as many as I initially intended; I ended up spending more time than I anticipated just wandering the expo hall and admiring the games I saw. I’ll talk briefly about a few highlights.

Panels

I went to a few different panels that were centered around game development or entering the game industry, and for the most part they were, at the very least, interesting, and at most extraordinarily helpful in setting my mind on the right track. It’s honestly difficult to remember the specifics of what I heard where and who said what, but the general sentiment I got was inspiring. I heard from a lot of developers who had worked hard, failed, worked harder, failed again, and finally succeeded in fulfilling their dreams of working on their own personal, independent projects.

I think my favorite thing I heard from these panels, still was one simple piece of advice. I can’t remember who said it, but the words certainly stuck with me: “Create more than you consume.” It made me step back and re-evaluate my work ethic as of late and inspired me to push forward into the world of writing music for games.

One panel I do remember quite well was one about the development of games that tell personal stories. We heard from three development teams: Neverending Nightmares, a psychological horror game inspired by the lead developer’s experiences with depression and OCD-related intrusive thoughts and images, That Dragon, Cancer, a sort of interactive storybook about the developer’s experiences with his 4-year-old son’s terminal brain cancer, and March, an abstract allegorical first person platformer about the developer’s break up with his girlfriend. All of them had such profound and interesting things to say about how games can share these human experiences with people in ways that nothing else can, and it helped me remember my favorite things about the whole medium, about why games have been so important to me my whole life since I first played games like Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, and Metal Gear Solid. Things have only gotten better since then in games, and I know that they’ll only continue to get better.

I also went to two feminist-centered panels. One was a ranking of the best female characters in games (which was pretty entertaining, a little silly, but the panelists’ heads were in the right place and it was certainly valuable), the other a panel about the gender issues in games and the world of gaming. The latter was actually quite good, talking about issues in journalism, in related forums, in development, and in games themselves. In the wake of all the BS that tends to come from the Penny Arcade leadership, it was wonderful to see some feminist light shining through.

Unfortunately, at another panel that I purposely avoided that featured the aforementioned PA leadership, some still-scabbing wounds were reopened (he said that “pulling the dickwolves merch [arguably the only right thing he did in that whole debacle] was a mistake”), and a lot of people were really disappointed (myself included). I hope that PAX can become a more inclusive environment, especially for women and LGBT folks. I think feminist-centered panels can be a big part of that, although more and more of that community is outright boycotting PAX (and for good reason). I remain cautiously optimistic, though.

Games

I also played a lot of games at PAX (surprise, surprise). Neverending Nightmares was a haunting and extremely interesting experience, and I sincerely hope it gets its funding (which you can help with at their Kickstarter page!). That Dragon, Cancer was downright upsetting to play. Those two games shared a booth, and both set the tone of their games very well. The former put black cloth around two small desks with chairs and computers, isolating the player from the busy expo hall around them and getting them into the story. The latter placed idyllic photos of the developer’s family and a homey lamp. It all made for a touching experience, and honestly I’m tearing up a little bit thinking about it.

Other games I saw included Against the Wall, Catering to Birds, The Stanley Parable, Always Sometimes Monsters, Mew-Genics… the list really goes on.

I was also inspired to buy Ridiculous Fishing, Badland, and Papers, Please (into which I’ve unfortunately already sunk 12 hours) after seeing them at their booths. There are other games that are on my list now as well, but it might take me a tad longer to get to them, seeing as I already have quite the backlog of games (and work) going.

I also got a chance to try out the Oculus Rift, at last. It was a world of fun, to say the least. A bit nauseating, but totally awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing how that influences the gaming world going forward.

Talking to People

Honestly just talking to people, mostly developers, was my favorite part of PAX, I think. Hearing their stories was, to reuse a tired old word, simply inspiring. The creators of the aforementioned games, Neverending Nightmares and That Dragon Cancer, Tommy Refenes of Team Meat, Vlambeer of Ridiculous Fishing and much more, the sound designer of Badland (on whom I tragically cannot find anything on the internet about; the sound design for that game is really impressive), Ryan Ike, composer for Gunpoint (super cool and nice guy, writes awesome music, more about him in a sec…), the developer of Against the Wall, of The Stanley Parable

I also, at last, got to meet somewhat of a hero of mine (although it’s slightly embarassing to admit) and a superstar of sorts in the indie game music world: Danny Baranowsky. He was ridiculously nice and had a lot of great words of advice for the aspiring games composer. Talking with him has even further inspired me to do whatever it takes to become a full-time games composer. Ryan Ike, another composer, also told me about a thing he does called “Microjam” where he posts a new little piece of music every week. So I think I’m going to start doing something similar.

The Mlog

Starting next week, I’ll be posting a new piece of music every week here and on Soundcloud. Occasionally the music might go to use somewhere else (VR Trainers, films, games…), and occasionally I might compile some of the music into an album. We’ll see where it goes! I’m excited, and I hope whoever reads this will be too.

In any case, that’s about all for now; until next time…

Posted 4 September 2013 by jonbash in Games, Music

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