I am working on a new DS game and have never written music or sound for this platform. I use macs and use Logic Pro. I have been asked if I can create tracked music...such as .mod files. Is this some kind of sound generator or engine? Is this like midi? Any advice or help or links would be huge help. thanks.
From surfing around it seems that the DS uses good old wave files disguised as raw files, and with only 4MB of RAM, you may need to chop your audio signal down a lot through the bit and sample rates (see here and there).
But if you're using tracking, you may not even be using your standard tools. You can read up on tracker sequencing over at wikipedia.
So i guess my question is.....can i build my music in Logic? Are there plugins for these trackers? Seems like they are mostly for PC. Any help on actually building these files would be sweet......are these stand alone apps?
1. No you can't write the music in a sequencer. Trackers are their own format of music. You need to use something like modplug tracker - there's possibly a mac version, if not you'll need a Windows based PC.
2. It's a very steep learning curve working with trackers - not only do you need to learn how to use the software, but composition, mixing and knowing which effects are supported takes a lot of time (hope you have a good amount of time to play around).
3. You'll also need to learn about re-sampling + EQing for DS + byte boundaries for source files (ask for their documentation on the engine).
How much time do you have to complete the contract?
You can download the demo, and try it out. Trackers are a bit of a different way of working with audio composing than audio sequencers. There are also some helpful wikipedia tuts on renoise on the net, and the app isnt that expensive. In my opinion Renoise has one of the better looking tracker GUI's out there.
Do not check out Renoise, it's irrelevant regarding the DS. It won't allow you to save as .mod/.xm/.s3m.
Using tracker music on the DS is... Retarded, I'm afraid. When dev read the documentations they will see that Nintendo provides an audio system for the DS that you can use with your favorite sequencer (but PC only, but you can still connect it to a Mac via midi).
Nitro Sound Maker is what I'm talking about. You will need a hardware kit that costs $800+ if you want to check your work on the actual DS, your client will be able to order it from www.warioworld.com.
Nitro Sound Maker will allow you to create patches yourself (from wav/aif) and banks that contains those patches. Then you can import midi files that you created with your favorite sequencer in it and combine all of that into files that the DS will know how to use.
You've been told NOT to wotk with Nitro ? Then I think the programmers are f-ing amateurs. No matter what engine they use for their game, the Nintendo provided lib to play Nitro files will work and will be implemented quickly and easily. That is, if they remove their own hands from their butts and just RTFM.
I's easy for a mis-informed programmer to think that to go with .mod/xm/s3m is the easiest way to play music on the DS, but in fact it's not. You have to make or find a player or engine for those, Nitro is played by the DS natively, no need to buy/make an engine. Plus most (competent) composers today don't know how to work with mod/xm/s3m and the learning curve is so long and hard that it's a lot better for everyone to just get Nitro running (which can be tricky at first I admit), if they want the thing to sound descent.
Back in the days of the N64/Game Boy and even the Game Cube, Nintendo's tools were so lame and horrible that indeed using Fastracker in DOS was a lo more convenient (yes, I'm looking at you Musyx). So I can understand why some developers would still be on the idea that you're better off with your own stuff than with what they provide, but reading the docs for DS and Wii and playing around a bit will convince you that this is not true anymore.
Ok, Nintendo's tools for DS and Wii are far from state of the art and not the easiest to get at first, but at least they work well now and allow you to really take advantage of the hardware, optimize your work well for it, and compose music using the sequencer of your choice as lng as you can export to General Midi.
Die XM, die.
(I've been using Protracker on the Amiga than Fasttracker 2 on the PC for almost 15 years, so I know how loved those trackers are by lots of people, but let's face it, they're entirely obslete, even when it comes to making music on limited memory on the DS).
Long ago I had to do midi to XM conversions. It is a pain. I used Mid2Xm, an old software with an interface that I found not pleasant at all to use. But hey, it's free.
The thing is, this is going to work, but the result will likely be horrible. It will work ok for the drums, but any kind of chords or accoustic/organic parts and instruments will greatly suffer the xm conversion.
You should take great care of limiting the polyphony of your midi channels before conversion to XM, do not use program changes (Mid2Xm will ask you to assign midi channels to one or more XM channel, but an XM channel is actually not at all like a midi channel, it's a physical voice that is entirely monophonic). Being fluent with XM I found that it was easier in the end to just re-track everything from ear, or at least make the conversion with Mid2Xm (carefully configured for each piece) and then do heavy enhancements to the resulting XM by hand.
Oh, and you have of course to prepare samples for the xm to use in place of the patches that you had on each midi channel in your original midi.
I don't know if since all that time there has been a newer or better alternative to Mid2Xm, but I doubt so.
You're kidding right? I've not yet been able to squeeze a track out of midi and samples the same way I can in an XM - obsolete, no many developers still use them. There just isn't enough granularity in Midi under Nitro to do some of the tricks to make 8 channels sound like 16.
However if you're talking about using the music in creative ways - then Nitro has more flexibility over XM.
I've also done some midi to XM conversion in the past - it is not a clean process. I spent just as much time converting other composers music from console to XM than if I had written the music from scratch. Unless you know what you're writing in Midi specifically to convert to XM it's a pain.
P.S. u at GDC this year? Last time we met was after that VGLive thingie - we were crammed into that underground sushi sauna - but damn the food was good.