Greetings, everyone. I'm currently composing the soundtrack to an online RPG done in the "classic" style (think Commodore 64 - sprite based characters, etc.). It is a fun project and up to this point I had been composing everything in General MIDI - predominantly for size constraints.
However, the developers would now like to offer 2 forms of the client - one for those with low-bandwidth connections (using GM sounds), and one for those with high-bandwidth connections (using audio files).
This is an exciting development for me because it will really give me a chance to practice my skills and generate some good quality material in a production environment. But it will also increase my workload by a good margin...
I have a few questions I'd like to ask of anyone who has worked on a similar project.
a) I'm leaning towards OGG Vorbis as the encoding method for the audio. Given that we have virtually no budget (I'm working pro-bono for the most part), not having to pay for an MP3 license is a plus. And I've read that OGG has lower resource requirements than MP3 decoding. Recommendations or suggestions here are welcome.
b) I'm composing the tracks in GM first to ensure that they sound the best they can for the low-bandwidth folks, then building out the audio tracks using sample libraries, etc. from the foundation of those GM files for the high-bandwidth client. I think this is a sensible way of doing this, but I'm not sure if there may be a more "efficient" way of going about it, since I am almost doubling my workload by agreeing to create two versions of each track. Recommendations or suggestions here are welcome.
c) When the project is complete, I'd like to copyright these works. What is the best way to go about it? Send all the recordings in on one CD and list it as a compilation? Recommendations or suggestions here are welcome.
Thanks in advance for any assistance or guidance. I feel fortunate to have this place as a resource in the early stages of my career.
Ogg is the way to go imo, sounds and loops better than mp3, and if you're gonna do the GM and the audio tracks, making the GM first seems reasonable
Anyway, as you already know, it is gonna be like doing 2 projects instead of one, adapting the GM files with libraries and rendering them with the appropiate fx is a considerable amount of work. Maybe you should raise your fee or wait for another opportunnity to make good audio tracks
Well, I'm already committed to this project, and it isn't like developers are beating down my door to offer me paying work.
So as much as I'd like to "charge more" for what I'm doing, it simply isn't going to happen with this project. I'm doing this for the experience, and the (limited) exposure it might bring, and to build up my library of "demo" tracks. I don't plan on completely re-orchestrating/re-arranging the GM tracks when I render them as audio. I'll likely spend only 1-2 additional hours on each track to flesh them out using my sample libraries and soft-synths.
But certainly - if this was a paying gig, I would be asking for more money. But as nearly anyone on this board can attest to, you can't get a paying gig without experience. And you can't get experience in the industry unless you a) know someone who's willing to give you an "in" b) get really, really lucky or c) work your butt off for indie developers for little or no pay until your work is actually noticed and your resume has evidence of actual development experience.
For me, option A has proven fruitless, as my friends in the industry have shown little support thus far and option B is completely out of my control. Option C is the only way that I can actually "control" my future in this industry, and I'm doing the best to make that work for me - even if it means working for free for awhile. I realize that on some level (and I'm quoting Mr. Marks here) this "dilutes" the value of what we do as composers, but the sheer number of would-be-game-composers trying to get into the game now makes it nigh impossible to get a paying gig without a healthy portfolio and some extensive experience in the industry.
Thanks for your feedback, though - I appreciate it!
As far as the compression goes, I agree with using og files. I've been using them for the last several projects with great success and sound. Looping works seamlessly with them as well, a huge plus.
For copyrights, I always send in a compilation cd to the Library of Congress. Haven't had any problems, and you should get confirmation in about 3 months depending on their workload.
Sounds like you're going about the digital file creation the right way. There aren't really any shortcuts, but you do have the compositions already done, so refining the sample libraries and tweaking the MIDI files to work with them shouldn't double the time. You have the hard part out of the way, this portion should be fun. Also you really get the chance to hear the music closer to what you intended.
... Also you really get the chance to hear the music closer to what you intended.
Thanks for the tips, Tim. The only problem I see with the creation of the GM files first is that I'm limited by the GM sound pallette and to only 16 tracks. Whereas, if I'm using my sample libraries, I might think, "the sound I'm REALLY looking for is that Stormdrum patch!" - and there may be no decent GM equivalent. That is the main obstacle I'm running into now...But as you said - it is a lot more fun to actually get to flesh out these pieces and hear them as they are meant to be heard!