Monday, 8 December 2008

sixense motion controller

Not sure if people have seen this before but I thought I would post a link to it anyway as it looks to be rather good!
Its a fully 3D controller using a position and orientation tracking system that seems to put the Wii remote to shame.
The controller should give a greatly higher degree of interactivity and the gestural controls that would be possible using sixense are quite exciting!
If it takes off it could be used in many aspects of gaming and interactive music.
I don't reckon much to the sounds on the tech demos though lol!

Check it...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Interactive Music

Interactive music can be related to various terms such as adaptive, reactive and dynamic. Karen Collins describes dynamic music to cover interactive and adaptive music.
The main idea is to support the gameplay / action and communicate the story and emotions of the game so that the music will react with the narrative, game environment, non player characters as well as react or interact to player actions and decisions.
Doing this successful can be very tricky due to the non-linearity of games making the length of gameplay sections undefinable and the exact decisions a player makes upredictable. Ideally an interactive music system will be able to adapt to the undefined events that occur in a game as well as the varying parameters that occur such as health and status. On top of this the music needs to be interesting and maintain musical integrity, as well as serving the interactive needs of the game.

I decided to look at 'No One Lives Forever 2' and try describe / illustrate how the interactive music sytem works.
It seems to be mainly based around horizontal re-sequencing with some elements of varying layers the level shown below has 3 modules for various intesities of gameplay -
  • A continual module that contains various layers but is pretty much a loop, this plays when you are in the level but not interacting with anything
  • An alert module which raises the tension when you are spotted by an enemy
  • A combat module that is triggered when you engage in a fight with an enemy
Each module will probably have defined points when it can transition into another module and when a transition occurs it will wait until it gets to one of these points. This helps to maintain the musical integrity but in turn doesn't always support the action perfectly.
There seems to be some transition sections that only occur when a transition takes place. There is very little cross fading between sections as the musica has been written with phrases that can switch between modules and enter transition phrases nicely.
The continual module plays until you either alarm the enemy of your presence or fully engage in battle. When alarmed of your presence the music will transition from continual to alert at the next transition point then do one of the following;
  • If you are not physically in view of the enemy the alert music will play for a length of time then go back to continual.
  • If you kill the enemy before a certain period of time the music will transition back to continual or play a short phrase and go back to continual
  • If you are in view of the enemy but do not kill them before a certain time has passed then the combat music will commence
When you are engaged in combat the combat music will generally play until all enemies in range have been killed then transition at the next transition point back to continual or sometimes alert. The combat music sometimes continues even though there isnt an enemy within close range. I can only guess this is to do with some kind of alert parameter.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Kinetic algorithms - Skate

The kinetic algorithm I have chosen to look at is the turning mechanism in the skateboarding game 'Skate'.
When you are travelling at a fair pace in the game and use the analogue stick to turn the skater left or right the sound of the skateboard changes slightly depending on how much you turn.
When this happens the sound seems to get louder and possibly some change in pitch. There may also be some kind of filter going on, possibly a low pass filter.

The amount the sound changes seems to be directly related to how much movement is applied to the analogue stick but it also seems to be affected by the variable of how fast the skater is going.
The variable of what terrain the skater is on may also affect how the sound changes when the player turns the skater.
If the skater is going under a certain speed or the amount of turn applied is not above a certain threshold then there seems to be very little or no sound at all so maybe the algorithm only functions when the speed or turning amounts are above certain values.

The best example of this is at 7:15

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

SoundSeed - A New Hope

My blog this week is not quite a new innovative use of interactive audio, more a new innovative tool for interactive audio.

SoundSeed has very recently been announced by Audiokinetic and it certainly seems to be an innovative way get more varied sound from very little memory useage. Thus giving the ability to creatively push the limits of game audio.

SoundSeed is a family of sound generators, developed by Audiokinetic, that can generate unlimited variations of a single sample using DSP technology.
There will be different modules for SoundSeed based on different types of sounds, the first to be released is Impact. This module deals with impact sounds such as footsteps, sword clangs etc.
It works as a plug-in for Wwise although is actually split into two parts- a stand alone modeler and a plug-in.
This is because the workings of SoundSeed Impact is based around analyzing the sound file and splitting it into two parts- a residual sound and a parametric model.

The modeler analyzes the 'resonant modes' of the sound and extracts this data in order to output a parametric model that can recreate the original and also be modified to create variations of the original sound.
The modeler also outputs the residual sound which is the original sound but with all the resonant values removed.

The Wwise plug-in part of SoundSeed Impact uses the modified parametric model in conjunction with the residual sound to produce a completely different sound!

What's also exciting is that SoundSeed can control parameters of the sound based on game elements such as physics or artificial intelligence!!
It also has a function to control the quality of a sound meaning you can modify the runtime CPU usage based on the importance of a sound or the distance of the source from the listener.

Here is one of the only examples available from Audiokinetic of what SoundSeed Impact can do;

Not quite as impressive as one might of thought but I'm sure the actual implementation of it will produce some great results and game developers Realtime Worlds are using the system in their most recent game APB.
Realtime Worlds report that they are really happy with SoundSeed Impact so far and it is delivering on the promise of reducing the memory footprint.

Info from;

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sound Propagation

Sound propagation is how sound waves spread from where they are emitted and how they react with the environment they are located in and any other connected environments which have different properties.

The propagation of a sound mainly refers to how it is reflected, refracted and attenuated by the environment and the objects around it. These elements of propagation affect the characteristics of a sound and the better we can emulate these elements of propagation in computer games, the more realistic and immersive the games will become.

This diagram from <> gives a basic illustration of the phenomena involved with sound wave propagation.

From study of sound propagation I have become particularly interested in interference, refraction and diffraction of sounds when relating to occlusions, obstructions and exclusions.
Also how this affects environments adjacent to eachother and the transitions between them.

This is because it can help to provide such better gameplay in relation to;
  • Player feedback
  • Reinforcing the visuals
  • Environment/ player interaction

The overall outcome is vastly increased gameplay and immersion.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Audiokinetic reveals SoundSeed, Impact

More advanced tools for creating varied and ultimately more interesting sound for games.... sounds exciting!!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Next-Gen Audio

A nice thorough look at next-gen audio from Alexander Brandon!

Non-repetitive sound design - Crysis

Crysis is a great example of non-repetitive sound design, this is true for the ambience/ sound effects as well as the music.
For a start there were 3500 sound events used, nearly 15000 individual sound files, all in all taking up 1.7GB on the DVD disc!
To create a non repetitive ambience the sound designers have done much more than randomise timing, pitch and velocity of sounds. They have marked across the map for sounds, overlapping areas and placing them inside each other as well as prioritising sounds based upon the location of the player. To add realism on top of fighting repetition the ambience has been given dynamic behaviour, for example a bird sound ends when gunshots are fired. Pretty sweet!
The music is very cinematic and succeeds in being non-repetitive. The sound designers apparently used a system of nodes. I assume this links in with the varying levels of intensity in the score to produce arrangements of music that will be slightly different every time you are in action of a defined intensity.
Also worth noting is that even though the music was designed to crossfade seamlessly, they still covered the transitions with sound effects wherever possible so not to jar the player. I find this to be a really cool idea, I think it's an inventive way of dealing with transitions.

The Gamasutra post about the Crysis audio team speaking at the GDC this year is definitely worth a look