Video Game Audio Posts

Integrating Music into Video Games with Wwise

Integrating Music into Video Games with Wwise

audiokinetic wise video game audio integration

Brock talking Wwise

Integrating dynamic music into video games was our latest AES student body presentation. CRAS instructor Brock spent a couple hours with us going over Audiokinetic’s Wwise Thursday night as one of our free extracurricular classes. Wwise is a middleware software that provides an audio pipeline solution for video games. Wwise is used in roughly 40% of the video game market, along side other softwares such as Fmod and Unity.

Our Cycle 9 curriculum is where CRAS students are first introduced into Game Audio integration. For the scope of our curriculum, the Game Audio classes cover how to integrate sound effects into video games through the use of Wwise. Students are able to experiment with the skills they have gained up to this point in the program by creating and recording their own sound effects, and them integrating them into the Cube demo provided to them with the Wwise software.

Virtually every video game has music integrated into it. Music provides an emotion, a theme, and having the visuals of a game supported by effects and soundtracks enhances the gaming experience exponentially.

Designing a music score for a video game can be a challenge though. As opposed to movies, where the film progresses from beginning to end at a constant rate, video games offer the freedom for the player to change the experience at their will. In some cases, the music may need to repeat for extended periods of time, without changing. Or, in other cases, the music will need to change to a completely different composition based on a player’s actions in the game, such as dying or completing a level.

Audiokinetic’s Wwise software allows audio engineers the ability to use triggers found in the game’s code to be used to adapt the dynamic musical score. It can be configured to randomize musical pieces, or change to different entire musical libraries, all based upon what happens in the game, in real time.

Wwise is one of the most popular and powerful softwares available for this sort of sound effects and music integration into video games. Many games use this Wwise middleware, including:

  • Alien: Isolation
  • Angry Birds Trilogy
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Batman: Arkham Night and Arkham Origins
  • Bayonetta
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Borderlands
  • Destiny
  • Dishonored
  • DMC: Devil May Cry
  • Grid Autosport
  • Guitar Hero Live
  • Halo 5
  • Killing Floor 2
  • Metal Gear Solid V
  • Payday 2
  • Peggle
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • Rocket League
  • Rocksmith
  • Saint’s Row IV
  • Sim City
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • The Witcher 3
  • Titanfall
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5

In the following video, Brock gives an incredible rundown on how to integrate dynamic music into video games using the Wwise software. Check it out!

Full video of the entire event yet to come…

 

How Big Is Game Audio Anyway?

Sound for video games is an often overlooked aspect of the audio engineering world. With the first video games, there wasn’t a whole lot of sound involved. Maybe a beep here, a squeak there to support what was happening on the screen, but it wasn’t a whole lot more than a last minute add-on. Eventually games started incorporating more audio, and I would bet that almost any gamer can recall the 8 bit Super Mario Bros theme song by heart.

Audio is Fun & Games for CRAS Grad Eliot Connors

CRAS is excited to share an update on Eliot Connors and his adventures in game audio engineering!

Game Audio Engineer Eliot Connors

Eliot Connors in his edit suite at Soundelux DMG

CRAS Graduate — Eliot Connors, Sound Designer, Voice Over Editor, and Implementer

Update!

Eliot was nominated and won a Golden Reel Award in 2013 for:

Best Sound Editing – Computer Interactive Entertainment for the game Baiohazâdo 6 (Resident Evil 6)

He is also nominated for another Golden Reel Award in 2014 for:

Best Sound Editing – Computer Interactive Entertainment for the game The Last of Us

Game Audio Spotlight – The Last of Us

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Every day, gaming culture expands more and more into the mainstream markets. For a long time video games were considered children’s toys, or hobbies for geeks. While some of that may ring true, we have an entire generation of people who have grown up being raised by the controller. While controversial in some areas, video games can improve critical thinking, as well and hand-eye coordination. As the technology of the video game and computer realms is constantly improving, where drawing the line between reality and a game is blurring, more and more people are converting to being “gamers”.

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One of the biggest selling points of a game, aside from pleasing graphical delivery and solid gameplay, is the sound. Especially when we are evolving into a realm where video games make entire worlds, with their own unique cultures, events and timelines, great sound design is a must to provide a truly immersive and unique experience. So that means someone has to make and record the audio, right? The game industry is booming, and proof of that happened in this last week – PS3 exclusive game The Last Of Us outperformed the newest Superman movie Man of Steel in overall sales on opening weekend. A UK-based source MCV claims that The Last Of US grossed nearly $20 million on it’s first two days out, while Man of Steel brought in closer to $5 million. Worldwide charts aren’t so black and white, with Man of Steel reportedly bringing in $121 million in its opening week, while The Last Of Us sold 1.3 million copies worldwide. With an average PS3 game costing around $60, that brings total sales for the first week of the game to over $78 million, which is no paltry offering.

Granted, these are just numbers, and obviously a $60 game can more quickly bring in revenue than a $10 movie ticket, but we can clearly see a demand for high quality gaming. More and more people are getting into gaming, and having a high quality sound track, as well as a well polished game, will convince many non-gamers that dropping $60 on a game for a lot of replayability is actually quite reasonable.

 

The Last Of Us is quite a standout game. Cashing in on the ever growing popularity of zombies and survival horror, a la The Walking Dead, this game puts you in the near distant future, where a fungal infection has terrorized society. Based on the Cordyceps genus of parasitic mushroom that take over the host’s body that they infect, this game is certainly terrifying in many aspects. Lack of ammunition, no safe places, and a constant two sided battle between the infected and the police force trying to eradicate the plague all present a tough but enthralling experience.

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The game boasts beautiful graphics, and has received numerous high ratings from every game reviewer. This is based on the gameplay, the story line, the graphics, and certainly not the least important – the audio. Since this game is a very cinematic piece, with a ton of character acting, where they recorded every detail with a motion capture setup, they needed to have a great score, sound effects and voiceovers. There really isn’t a whole lot different in the production workflow of a game like this in comparison to how movies are made – lots of green screens, motion capture, ADR [Actor Dialogue Replacement], the works. And to make a game believable, you have to make sure that it sounds believable.

The sound team for The Last Of Us is headed up by Phil Kovats, who has had many accolades doing sound design for other works such as Uncharted 2 and God of War. In this article, Kyle Lemmon of KillScreenDaily.com speaks with Phil about what it took to make this game incredible from the sound design aspect of it. He goes into great depth on how they did a ton of field recording to get true to life foley sounds, covers how important it is to have a balance between silence and intensity in the audio production, and outlines how modern technology has afforded them a lot of creativity in this modern work.

I also found a great video on what it looks like behind the board of an ADR session. We can see Pro Tools running, with two voice actors in the studio. They are also using an Avid C|24 control surface, which the Conservatory has two of, and provides in depth usage and testing of throughout its curriculum. Just like movie post production, foley and ADR work, the artists have a screen and are watching the game as it progresses and they record their lines that way. By separating the motion capture recording from the voice over recording, you can get much more powerful performances in both of those areas.

Game Audio Spotlight: Bethesda’s New “The Evil Within”

Scheduled to be released in 2014 for PC, as well as current and next-gen consoles, Bethesda’s new game “The Evil Within” looks like one of the most frightening games ever to be released. While there currently isn’t a whole lot of information available, the game will be produced by Shinji Mikami, who has done work in the Resident Evil line of games in the past.

My team and I are committed to creating an exciting new franchise, providing fans the perfect blend of horror and action. – Shinji Mikami

Bethesda’s recent history includes critically acclaimed Skyrim, as well as the futurific Dishonored. We should have more information next week on the details of this new game, however they have released a two minute trailer to spark some interest. What I found particularly interesting about this new trailer, aside from the raw terror that it produces with the visuals, is how well the sound was designed. You’ll want to slap on a good pair of headphones, or have a nice set of speakers to truly enjoy it atmosphere they created. Rumbling bass that fills but doesn’t take over the mood, as well as excellent use of panning and disintegrating delays make this a very exciting listen, and hopefully the game will stay true to this introductory design.

You can check out the trailer here: