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Topic: a brief presentation

TomatoEddie
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Joined: 2017-11-13, 18:28
Posts: 12
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2017-11-13, 22:09
hello, Almighty All,

as a newcomer to the game as well as to the forum, i shall restrain from any suggestions or critics i might have about the game mechanics and interface. in due time — after playing it for a while (the longer, the better), i might have some constructive input.
one thing i observed at the top of my 42 years in life, though: computer games are often moddable; hence, if someone isn't satisfied with the way "Widelands" behave, is there the possibility of adding changes or Mods to it?

i'm on an iMac i5 (2011) running OS X 10.11.6 and have Windows XP and 10 as virtual OS.

professionally, i'm chiefly a music composer (a classical composer specialised in small ensembles and solo pieces, a film scorer working mostly in documentaries, and siding as a recording studio co-owner) who until 2016 doubled as a university assistant professor (University of Victoria's School of Music — Victoria, BC, Canada). eventually, i develop databases (SQL and FileMaker Pro) for some of my studio's projects. as for academic training, i'm a:
• BMus Berklee College of Music (Film Scoring and Music Production & Engineering);
• BSc Full Sail (digital audio and studio desigining);
• MMus University of Victoria (20th Century Counterpoint).

* * * * * * *

since my areas of expertise are audio and music, these are the fields i shall focus this (first) thread.

compositionally, i understand Widelands' music and sound effects are above average — especially for a media (game) offered to the public as free of charge.
music, the way i learned, helps to communicate or to establish the personal, abstract, and empirical. for these reasons, unless it is used as a mean to an end (e.g. a programmatic piece of music supporting an action sequence/scene), it should not be the main focus of any media. quite the opposite: music should be evocative, airy, rather than concrete and present.

i'm presently listening to the OGG files (ingame_00 to ingame_22, plus intro_00 and menu_00); i believe their productions could be polished — therefore improved — if;

they all complied to the same musical genre: i realized there are several genres in use — medieval music, Arab, Egyptian, perhaps even Greek? —, which makes this aspect of the game a bit confusing.
as a rule of thumb, only one or two musical genres describing one of the game's diegesis facets should be used — i.e. which era:Medieval? Classical? Belle-Époque?; which quality: Fantastic? Realistic?; which culture: German? French? North American? Sumerian? — the reason why most 21st-Century games work with highly specialised music producers and composers. take the "Civilization" franchise as an example: it focus its music on the player's chosen culture and (sometimes) epoch; SkyRim, on the other hand, centres only on the game's era. both games have battle music, but these also abide to the above factors;

their orchestrations and performances were not too mechanical: despite the inherent beauty of each music cue listened, they all have a similar mechanised quality, as if external keyboards (especially samplers) were used, and not much attention was paid to the parts' (instruments') performances.
sample libraries — quite expensive ones, for that matter — are often used for doubling real instruments; yet, the latter are frequently used, for they establish a humaneness hard to achieve only with Digital Audio Workstations, digital sample players, and sample libraries. nonetheless, it is possible to do so, if the music professional has an appropriate knowledge of what s/he is doing and how each instrument performs/sounds;

there wasn't an overuse of reverb and their mixes were less aggressive: most music cues i listened have an excessive use of reverb or echo, especially on its solo instrument. for the past twenty years or so, the use of reverberation has been replaced by real spatialisation — the instruments, through the use of audio Impulse Responses, are for example spatially placed in a symphonic formation.

as a comparative example, below is the sketch of a main title i wrote for a Documentary back in 2007/2008. no real instruments but the piano were used in this production. all i had was Apple Logic Studio Pro v.7.5 for my DAW; a symphonic strings library entitled "Sonic Implants Symphonic String Collection;" "Peter Siedlaczek's Complete Orchestral Collection" providing the woodwinds, french horn, harp, and percussion parts; and all running through Native Instruments' Kontakt v.3.5 as a digital sample player. several instances of IRs (Impulse Responses) were used to establish each instrument's spatial position (a mid-sized recording studio; mine, actually), for the parts were distributed around the piano — the only real instrument, ergo the spatial reference.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBWvMDPkXkI

hope you enjoyed it. :-)

i believe the gaming experience can be drastically improved when aspects of its music and sound spatialisation are taken into deep consideration.
if you peeps need any help in such matters, please feel free to ask. meanwhile, i'll get to know Widelands better by playing it. :-)

wish you all the best,


E.

Edited: 2017-11-13, 22:47
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TomatoEddie
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2017-11-13, 22:33
in tempo:
just found out the "Widelands Developer Documentation" wiki, so my question is already answered. :-)

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kaputtnik
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Joined: 2013-02-18, 20:48
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Posted at: 2017-11-13, 23:03

Hi TomatoEddie and welcome to our forums face-smile.png

You may better checkout the page About Audio face-smile.png

as a rule of thumb, only one or two musical styles describing one of the game's diegesis facets should be used

I think the music fit very well into the widelands range of tribes and terrains. A rule of thumb is just a rule of thumb, but one has to look at the overall circumstances. Playing the Barbarian tribe on a desert terrain surely does not fit with an Empire fanfare. But as soon the barbarian tribe come in battle with the Empire tribe the empire fanfares do fit. There is currently no code (AFAIK) which join the played tribe with a specific music. This could maybe implemented, but i think it is not worthwhile.

Nevertheless music developers are always welcome face-smile.png


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TomatoEddie
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Joined: 2017-11-13, 18:28
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2017-11-13, 23:58
hello, Kaputtnik,

> Hi TomatoEddie and welcome to our forums :-)

i thank you for being accepted and welcomed. :-)

> You may better checkout the "AboutAudio | page About Audio" :-)

i'd actually read some of the "About Audio" threads before i found the "Game Suggestions" page. yet — and please: if you believe this thread should be there, i'll gladly repost it.

> I think the music fit very well into the widelands range of tribes and terrains. A rule of thumb is just a rule of thumb, but one has to look at the overall circumstances. Playing the Barbarian tribe on a desert terrain surely does not fit with an Empire fanfare. But as soon the barbarian tribe come in battle with the Empire tribe the empire fanfares do fit. There is currently no code (AFAIK) which join the played tribe with a specific music. This could maybe implemented, but i think it is not worthwhile.

:-) A "Rule of Thumb" is a broadly accurate guide based on experience (or practice) rather than theory. film scoring changed a lot throughout the decades; for example: a score such as the original 1960's Bernard Herrmann's "Psycho" — a Masterpiece — wouldn't fit in most contemporary movies, especially if from Hollywood, and perhaps for being a Masterpiece.
if you listen to both versions, 1960 and 1998, you'll recognise the music, even though is the same score and recording, is much less contundent in the recent version; the sound effects track (shower, foot noises, etc.), however, is a lot louder:

• 1960 "Psycho" Shower Scene, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQLfWZ3qPvU
• 1998 "Psycho" Shower Scene, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIy7K-8oEI4

i wouldn't make such rules :-); in the above example, the 1960's version brings an edge to the sequence that the 1998's lacks. to work in this medium, though, one has to understand, to accept, and to play by them. further: if you like the way the music sounds, that's what truly matters. :-) :-)

> Nevertheless music developers are always welcome :-)

i truly thank you, Kaputtnik;
wish you the very best.


Eddie
Edited: 2017-11-14, 00:00
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Tinker
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Joined: 2014-09-12, 10:53
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Posted at: 2017-11-14, 10:04

With reference to your question about mods. While there is no modding system in place, yet, it is possible to change lots of aspects of an individual installation. Modifying a few lua files can produce a totally different game experience, often players who change their settings will feed the changes back into the development system so the game evolves.

Fairly soon there may a new tribe in the main game, currently only playable by adding the files in what may be an unintuitive way for none technical users, I have several changes I am working on in my own setup, once I find out how bazaar works without using all my limited bandwidwidth I will be offering the changes to the community.

On the music side, trying not to be to negative, I always turn off music on any game and for that matter I try to strip music from movies. I love music as an artform in its own right but do not want it to interfere with other things I am doing, like playing a game or watching a film. Just my problem, I know I am in the minority.


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GunChleoc
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Joined: 2013-10-07, 15:56
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Posted at: 2017-11-14, 10:18

Yes, modding is possible, but only on the main data files - I really would like to have a modding system where you can just drop your files into a folder. This will take a long time to finish though.

I have also contemplated having some common and some tribe-specific tracks. This would need the following:

  • Somebody qualified curating our current music
  • More music tracks so they won't suddenly get too repetitive
  • Implementation into the engine - this could be implemented pretty easily per filename

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SirVer
Joined: 2009-02-19, 15:18
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Posted at: 2017-11-14, 20:22

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBWvMDPkXkI

This is beautiful music, thanks for sharing.

I have no time at all, but I need to take a second to write down my vision of the Widelands music from the very beginning. There it was unfeasible - too resource intensive, and then it never came to pass because we didn't have a committed music person with the matching skillset. And I think I never really put it into prose. So here goes nothing:

One of my favorite games is the Secret of Monkey Island II - a point-and-click adventure game. One thing that it did amazingly well was the soundscape. It was sparse in most places, but layers of the music were fading in and out as you moved through the game. The engine it was build on was iMuse which was custom to the Lucas games of old. It has many features, but the two that I thought were marvelous and build a rich experience were these:

  • Depending on where you were in a screen, various voices were tuned in or out. I vividly remember one scene: you rowing through a swamp in a coffin, and the closer you got to the center of the swamp the more eerie layers of music were added (Demo on Youtube). Granted, graphics and MIDI sounds have not aged well, but back then it was amazingly immersive.
  • Depending on where you were in a scene, the music would gradually change in style by ending one voice and starting another. (Demo on youtube).

I always wondered if not something similar could be done for Widelands. I imagine a musical theme that starts very light and gets gradually more complete with voices as the number of buildings on screen grow. Maybe even as you scroll around when you see more farms it has a different timbre than when you see wood production. When you are attacked, some militaristic drums could be layered in.

One way to implement would be to just have many voices independently as .ogg files and mix them on the fly according to the logic. Maybe also some transitions to seamlessly end voices at certain points, so that fading would not be required. It all should be very subtle, but could be super cool.

TomatoEddie, maybe you can take this idea and run with it - create a sample of this idea and present it and we can discuss if this is something we want to pursue. But in general, giving the Widelands music a more unifying sound and identity would be awesome (in my opinion). Chuck did something of that sort for the graphics when he unified the style of the buildings into a consistent whole.


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TomatoEddie
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Joined: 2017-11-13, 18:28
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2017-11-16, 08:58

Mrs. or Mr. Tinker,

first and above all, i thank for your input. i believe that musically we are both adherents of purism; i too prefer to listen to music for itself. not being neither critical nor negative about film scoring — there are extraordinary composers working in this field — yet i perceive there's a musical similarity among most of the films being produced for the past decade or so. for this reason i used Bernard Herrmann as a reference; he was predominantly a serious composer who bestowed his impressive talent and knowledge first to radio shows (he composed and conducted for several weekly dramas from 1935 till the early Sixties), then to movies. few are aware he had a prolific presence as a concert composer as well, having written, orchestrated, and conducted over twenty-five pieces.

With reference to your question about mods. While there is no modding system in place, yet, it is possible to change lots of aspects of an individual installation. Modifying a few lua files can produce a totally different game experience, often players who change their settings will feed the changes back into the development system so the game evolves.

i know a tiny bit about Lua. about five years ago, i was invited to participate in a project for children game; the chief audio reference the development team had was Sid Meier's Civilization V, which is based on Lua scripting language. one striking facet of its sound, especially Sound Fx and ambiences, is that it changes its position around the stereo spectrum according to the player's position on the world. also, different geographic regions triggers different ambiences, according to its climate. such changes are quite subtle — i could distinguish them only by using a professional headphone — but they are there, and their presence makes the gaming experience more pleasurable, for it gives the player the impression things are always moving and developing. unfortunately, the project itself did not evolve face-smile.png , mainly due to its excessive final costs.

Fairly soon there may a new tribe in the main game, currently only playable by adding the files in what may be an unintuitive way for none technical users, I have several changes I am working on in my own setup, once I find out how bazaar works without using all my limited bandwidth I will be offering the changes to the community.

i'm beginning to get acquainted with Widelands; the first impression i had refers to its complexity. it's a true Turn-Based Strategy game; one that demands a lot of thinking from its players — the reason sound should not be an interfering element.

i thank you again for your words, Tinker, and wish you a wonderful Thursday.

cheers.

Edited: 2017-11-17, 00:18
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TomatoEddie
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2017-11-16, 10:10
hello, GunChleoc,

i hope this finds you well.

> I have also contemplated having some common and some tribe-specific tracks. This would need the following:

> * Somebody qualified curating our current music
> * More music tracks so they won't suddenly get too repetitive
> * Implementation into the engine - this could be implemented pretty easily per filename

as for article one, i deem it as utterly necessary.
to my experience, the development of a game requires (at minimum) the following audio roles:
• Producer (or Curator)
• Sound Designer/Editor
• Composer/Orchestrator
• Sound Engineer
• Sound Developer
it would not be the best context to have a composer curate his own work, though; s/he would be just too partial to it. in this sense, an emotional distance is essential. nonetheless nowadays, especially in the production of "Indie" games, the composer often doubles as Sound Engineer and Sound Designer/Editor; in these situations, his work is always evaluated by the creative team — at times even the beta-testers.

about item number two: if the musical theme is well composed while intuitive — ergo "strong" —, it allows for derivations: the same theme played with differing orchestrations, using different rhythms and mixes (e.g. one being the whole orchestration, another with only two instruments, and so forth). on the other hand: if a theme isn't strong enough — and this qualification is rather personal and empirical — then it tends to become repetitive after a while, hence boring.

the third point will be discussed on my next reply, since it mingles to SirVer's text.

i wish you a great Thursday;
thanks for your message.
Edited: 2017-11-17, 00:18
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TomatoEddie
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2017-11-16, 11:11
hello, Mrs. or Mr. SirVer,

hope my words will find you well and serene.

> This is beautiful music, thanks for sharing.

i thank you deeply for your words, and am glad you liked it.

> I have no time at all, but I need to take a second to write down my vision of the Widelands music from the very beginning. There it was unfeasible - too resource intensive, and then it never came to pass because we didn't have a committed music person with the matching skillset. And I think I never really put it into prose. So here goes nothing:

> One of my favorite games is the "Secret of Monkey Island II" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_Island_2:_LeChuck%27s_Revenge) - a point-and-click adventure game. One thing that it did amazingly well was the soundscape. It was sparse in most places, but layers of the music were fading in and out as you moved through the game. The engine it was build on was iMuse (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMUSE) which was custom to the Lucas games of old. It has many features, but the two that I thought were marvelous and build a rich experience were these:
> - Depending on where you were in a screen, various voices were tuned in or out. I vividly remember one scene: you rowing through a swamp in a coffin, and the closer you got to the center of the swamp the more eerie layers of music were added ((https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XuClagw6IQ)). Granted, graphics and MIDI sounds have not aged well, but back then it was amazingly immersive.
> - Depending on where you were in a scene, the music would gradually change in style by ending one voice and starting another. ( Demo on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N41TEcjcvM) ).

i remember reading about the iMuse project at the time; it was exactly as you described it. i never really played "Secret of Monkey Island II;" because i have been a Mac user since the middle Eighties (i was about 10 yo when i got my first Mac 512), the universe of PC gaming was quite restricted.
the way i’m fond of games, though, i'm sure it was the best that could've happened.
:-)

> I always wondered if not something similar could be done for Widelands. I imagine a musical theme that starts very light and gets gradually more complete with voices as the number of buildings on screen grow. Maybe even as you scroll around when you see more farms it has a different timbre than when you see wood production. When you are attacked, some militaristic drums could be layered in.
> One way to implement would be to just have many voices independently as .ogg files and mix them on the fly according to the logic. Maybe also some transitions to seamlessly end voices at certain points, so that fading would not be required. It all should be very subtle, but could be super cool.

it surely can be done; for the Lua project i was involved back in 2012/13, i began experimenting with the Miles Sound System; our idea then was to give the child-player the utmost 3D audio sensorial experience possible. hence sound effects, voice over, and music would be mixed on the fly as the gamer discovered different things throughout her/his experience; birds flying from left to right would chirp in the same direction; a scared ladybug running away from the player would have its little legs audio-synched while the latter faded away.
i believe something similar may be reached with Lua itself: game events triggering pre-mixed instruments so, when some structure is build, an audio effect is played and a cello or french horn phrase is added to the music, etc. such phrase would already be recorded and playing along with the other audible instruments, but its level would be set at zero. Lua would "open" it — make it audible — only after some event was triggered.
this is also a great idea to make the music less repetitive; if it loops throughout the game but Lua changes its audible instruments, then at each loop or two the music sounds differently, even though it is the same theme and recording.
now: on a negative side. more audio files translates as a "heavier" game for downloading and even playing, for more will be required from the audio board and CPU. but the benefits are substantial!

> TomatoEddie, maybe you can take this idea and run with it - create a sample of this idea and present it and we can discuss if this is something we want to pursue. But in general, giving the Widelands music a more unifying sound and identity would be awesome (in my opinion). Chuck did something of that sort for the graphics when he unified the style of the buildings into a consistent whole.

it will be good to illustrate the potential of the recordings i listened. there are nice and solid compositions amongst Widelands' music; presently, they either sound too aggressive or too “old” for todays games' music aesthetics. so, if the original composers allow me, i’ll choose one piece and begin the process of re-orchestrating and re-recording it. when ready, in a week or so (i believe and hope, for time is truly short), i’ll have it uploaded to my Google Drive and share its link for the Team’s — your — appreciation.
if liked, then we may begin thinking about gradually doing the same to all music cues, and begin coding your idea.

my real (birth) name is Eduardo — a mixture of Brazilian and Italian (father and mother) — although most people call me Eddie. :-)

thanks once again for your message; i hope i hear from you soon.

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