Plogue Chipsounds Gameboy DMG Wave Channel Tutorial

gbA while ago I had some requests for how to use the DMG wave table in Plogue Chipsounds. I just finally got around to putting it together. Although its hard to get the exact same sounds you can get in LsDj when it comes to using the wave channel, you can get a pretty good approximation.

Many of the cool sounds you get out of LsDj come from the start and end point and speed settings for filtering. These help you get those “blarg” (that’s what I call them) sounds and some of the really noisy, buzzy Gameboy sounds that have come to define its sound.

Chipsounds doesn’t have the start/end/speed setup like LsDj but you can get the same effect using the wave sequencer. Here’s a few settings to get you started. If you haven’t learned the wave table in Chipsounds, read this first.

Select the DMG-CPU preset and the Wave channel of course. Pick a Wave Channel preset to start with. We will customize it later.

Set PMode to one fo the following options:

  • PWM – A more subtle pulse modulation effect.
  • PWM+Copy – This causes the distorted “blarg” sound and is the most in-your-face modulation.
  • Modulo – More subtle, almost gives you an Atari SID sound.
  • Seek – Turns the modulation into an arpeggio-like effect.
  • Trunc – Another subtle effect.

blarg

The next step is to build a Wave sequencer table that turns the PWM ratio up or down. This is CC2, as you can see in the photo, you can increase it in small steps with a very fast speed to get some smooth sounds.

Youc an also use CC29 to change the Pmode mid-table as well as VPOS (CC28) to further change the effect.

The wave channel setup greatly effects the sound. The more you squish down your wave, the more you will hear the effects. Here are some examples:

 

 

The “Blarg” Mouth Sound

A very flat wave shape. Wave table increases the PWM Ration by 5 in 1/96th increments.

blarg

Jagged Lead – Often hear in Chipocrite and Bit Shifter’s stuff.

Wave Shape is rather jagged and odd. PWM Ratio moves up and down mostly in 1/48th increments. You can turn on looping for a real fun sound with this one.

bitshifter

Trashy Bass – this is a very distorted and fun one.

CC28 VPos starts at 1 and PWM Ratio climbs, VPOS jumps to 127 after a few increments increasing the distorted sound and giving it a slower attack feeling.

trash

Squirt – A real subtle one I like.

Same as Trashy but using modulo instead of PWM+Copy for the PMode. A bouncy fun Atari-like sound.

squirt

Hope that helps. Just experiment from here and you can get some really epic sounds out of this module.

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Studio Dustmop Releases NES Cartridge Star Versus

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.44.29 PMA while back we did an article about the first video games of all time. Studio Dustmop just released a authentic NES cartridge that mimics one of these early games “SpaceWar!”. While the price is a bit steep, the gameplay video shows a promising and exciting 1 and 2-player game modes, complete with modifications and various arenas with different features. One arena even seems to have some slick faux multiparalax scrolling! The in-game tunes don’t disappoint either. Its definitely a nostalgic rush just seeing the demo so far.  I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a copy as soon as possible. You can purchase your own copy here.

8-bit Mac Terminal Email Client

Just another little retro-fitting experiment here. By using some terminal settings plus Alpine, I am now checking my email in style.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.15.36 AMLike most linux/unix things, there’s about 10 ways to do anything. Here’s a the simple way:

1. Install Mac Ports

2. Follow these instructions to install alpine and connect it to your account (example shows gmail). Thanks to Kenneth Anguish.

3. Modify the terminal settings to use the font of you choice, colors and transparency. I used Ocean settings with some transparency added and the emulogic font that looks like the NES letters.

Giant NES Controller

(also that is me)Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 6.43.31 AM

Cheerful Ghost and Wick Release Starship Rubicon with Beatscribe OST

starship_rubiconOSTEver wish Asteroids had more comprehensive and immersive gameplay qualities? If you have, than look no further than Starship Rubicon. Cheerful Ghost and Wick have released the massive expansion to the original Rubicon today for a steal price of just $10. A Linux version is coming soon. Imagine playing Asteroids in a large environment where there are other ships to interact with, mission objectives and a customizable ship a la FTL.

The soundtrack for Starship Rubicon is a complete remake of the original three tracks I did almost two years ago for the original Rubicon. It’s now been expanded to a full soundtrack including some bonus remix tracks from the chiptune scene, Inverse Phase and sleepytimejesse. Some of the tracks here I composed over 10 years ago and was saving for the perfect game. Rubicon has proven to be worth of the music. It’s not the simplest game ever, but the slight learning curve is worth the in-depth and exciting gameplay. Grab the soundtrack on bandcamp today!

Coca Cola Brings Back SURGE via Amazon

surgeFor the first time ever, Coke has brought back a discontinued product. In the 90’s, when you needed some Soda that would keep you up all night but didn’t want Cola flavor, there was SURGE. It was a caffeine-filled Mountain-Dew type citrus soda that quickly gained a cult following.

This is also the first time Coke has exclusively distributed a drink via eCommerce. Amazon is the only place to get it right now. For me drinking SURGE was always related to my early days learning to programming and playing SNES. I had to order at least one 16oz can, and it lived up to the nostalgia in my head. I embarked on a crazy programming marathon immediately after followed by a 2 hours workout, so, yeah, it has caffeine.

I must sleep now.

Plogue Chipsounds Wave Table Tutorial

Plogue Chipsounds is one of the best tools for making retro-chiptune style sounds. However, the wave table configuration is sometimes a bit confusing to learn. Here’s a quick video to show you the basics on how to do it. It’s not very different from Famitracker or the LsDj table setup. This tutorial will show you how to make some Megaman-style sounds.

Applying Scrum Methodology to Composing Soundtracks

Recently, I was thinking of some of the problems I had in the early days of composing and noticed an interesting paradigm between how modern companies develop software and the practices I’d adopted when creating music for clients.

 

Years ago, software developers did their work in a straight line. A client wanted a system and you started building it from the ground up, not stopping until it was near completion. Then, you showed it to the client, tested it and usually had to go back and change a ton of things since the client wasn’t really sure what they were asking for or you misinterpreted it.

 

To resolve this problem the Agile Scrum process was created to solve some important problems with the traditional method. This idea was developed in the 80’s but in the early 2000’s it really started to become adopted on a large scale by many companies. I’m going to keep it very high-level here (developers aren’t my main audience, I think?). The aim was to cut down in the vicious cycle of developing done without any communication to the end user and then going back and redoing it when the end user didn’t like it. It also addresses how teams plan and deliver things.

scrum

One of the most important pieces is incremental delivery. This is something I’ve adopted into my music composition process when working for a third party. Much like the traditional developer, my early soundtracks were seen and heard only by me until completion. Then, when the client got the finished product, they usually said, “this part is too long”, “we don’t like this instrument”, etc.

 

In the Scrum methodology, you have a “sprint” which is a set of time to complete a unit of work. A unit of work is something you can show the client at the end of the sprint. This way the client knows what on earth you’re billing him for and you also can be more sure the client will like the finished product. This is exactly what I do with a soundtrack now. Here’s my sprints:

 

  1. Initial sound of the album – I create a few 30 second demos, not properly mixed, some default oZone mastering on it and send them to the client. I usually make them loops so they can try them in game. From here, we determine if they like where things are going or if I’ve misinterpreted their directions and suggested feeling.

 

  1. Short Drafts of Each Track – If the soundtrack will be 10 songs in total, I make 10 30-45 second looping tracks displaying how I envision each track based on their direction. I usually try to include at least 2 dynamic shifts in this short period of time so that they can envision how the final version would sound. This could be more than one sprint depending on the amount of tracks needed.

 

  1. Final Drafts – Once the client is happy with the short drafts, I develop all of these short unmixed and unmastered demos into complete tracks based on the duration the client has requested. At this point they have their last chance to weigh in on instrument changes, tempos and other factors that play into the mixing and mastering phase. This section may be many sprints if it’s a very large job.

 

  1. Mixing and Mastering – Now we do our mixing and mastering and create finished products. We know we are safe doing this now since the client has confirmed everything up until now, what we send them in the end will only be slightly different from what they heard in the “Final Drafts” stage.

 

  1. Final Preview and Delivery – Once we have them all mixed, I send an archive file of mp3 versions for the client to listen to one last time. Then, if they’re satisfied, I send them the formats they’ve requested, raw WAV files and any stems if they needed them.

 

The great thing is that this is a great way to break up a large contract into multiple payments. Any completion of a sprint is a good place for an incremental payment.

 

Here’s a few tips for working with this mindset:

 

  1. Save everything! – Don’t think a song is done when you’re done with it. Save each draft you make. If you make 3 versions with a different lead instrument, save three projects so you wont have to remember what it is later. Once, when I used a hardware synth to make an early version, I didn’t write down the settings, and I could never quite capture the same sound later on for the final. Keep track of everything.

 

  1. Be Organized – It’s totally worth the time to move things into folders, save backups and make spreadsheets of where things are. If you don’t, you will forget something at some point.

 

  1. Communicate – Make sure you’re client understands this process. One important thing is that they realize your first drafts are not final projects. They need to remember that it’s just to get a mood or feeling to start with.

 

What are your methods for composing?

No memory

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Take an emulation pilgrimage and try out the first four video games

From the early days of computing, games were always an interesting idea with potential. The cost of operating early mainframes was so high that formal games weren’t really a possibility, and the idea that they could be a profitable medium was probably unheard of!

However, there were some early academic projects that we can easily consider games in their proper form. The really cool thing I hope to highlight here is how these early experiments form the basis for the first generation if arcade games and computer games. If alway been under the impression that pong and joust were among the first games, by there is way more history leading up to those games.

The term video game could apply to many things, but for this article, we are gonna look at anything that had graphics of some form. I’m not counting anything that is text-based, or just a electronic version of a board game. These don’t represent the interactivity of a video game as we use the term. This rules out early chess, tic tac toe and text choose your own adventure games.

Tennis for two

IMG_4177.JPG
Features: physics for bouncing ball, two player interaction
Released: 1958
Granddaddy of: Pong, breakout, tennis games
Emulate it: http://www.gamersquarter.com/tennisfortwo/

Tennis for two utilized code that was meant for calculating missile trajectories on an analog computer to make a two player tennis game. The coolest thing is how they hijacked an oscilloscope to be the games display and graphics. This would be like rigging your car stereo’s station display screen to display a game of pong. This game sets up future physics based games like pong and breakout.

Mouse in the Maze

IMG_4178.JPG

Features: graphical maze, overhead mapping, tiles, user designed levels, path finding ai
Released: 1959
Granddaddy of: Pacman, Gauntlet, Zelda
Emulate it: http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/bits/MIT/tx-0/mouse/

While it could be argued that this isn’t a game, since there is no way to “win” per se, Mouse in the Maze represents a stepping stone for path finding ai and level design. In the game, you draw a maze with light pen and place bits of cheese. Then a computer controlled mouse heads out to find them. You have to admit, it even looks like Pacman a little bit.

Space War!

IMG_4179.JPG

Features: realistic physics, gravity, space battles, collision detection
Released: 1962
Granddaddy of: Asteroids
Emulate it: http://spacewar.oversigma.com

Space War is arguably the first space shooter. It even “looks” like a classic video game, except it comes on a sweet circular monitor. You can see lots of familiar concepts here: space battle, collision detection, ai, gravity simulation and more. It also had many game modes, a feature now common to almost any genre.

Magnavox Odyssey console

IMG_4180.JPG
Features: controlled, standardized console that reads cartridge games
Released: 1972
Grandady of: Nintendo entertainment system, NES Zapper, joysticks and virtually every other modern console
Emulate it: http://www.zophar.net/odyssey2.html

Here’s where pong finally appears…Nope, that’s not some early model Atari, it’s the only game console you could have bought when Led Zeppelin was the biggest band in the world. While it mostly had simple black and white sports games, it pioneered standardized controls and game formats, and even the light gun if nes fame.

Investigating this had certainly raised my level of knowledge and appreciation for the field of game development. Enjoy!