Megaman Inspired Venture Kid Features Norrin Radd’s Last ModPlug NES Soundtrack

Matt Creamer aka Norrin Radd has is without a doubt one of the masters of NES composition. With amazing NES albums like Melodia de Infinita and Anomaly and his unique style and mastery of the 2A03, he is the perfect choice for a iOS game soundtrack that tries to pay homage to the classic Megaman series.

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Venture Kid feels like an NES game from the opening cinematic scenes. Every tone and sound is authentic and the game itself mostly sticks to the limitations of the NES, with the exception of some multi-paralax scrolling backgrounds and modern “achievement” style awards.

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Matt says this is his last NES album using ModPlug, which he uses for its ability to slightly detune the pulses, a trick that adds some cool shine to the standard NES tones. Like much of his work, there is a bit of a middle-eastern scale vibe and its mostly apparent in the pyramid level. Perhaps the games only shortcoming is you don’t get to select a stage. It feels like Megaman in every other way but that. The stages are filled with secrets and places to use weapons, but you have to go at them in order. All things considered though, its as close to an NES experience you can get on your iPhone and I highly recommend it.

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BDI Software Releases Three Awesome iOS and Android Games with Beatscribe Music

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 8.04.58 PMOne of the great things about being a freelance composer, is you get to work with people from all over the world and all types of games. I was commissioned to do a couple of fun 16-bit style arcade songs a few months ago for BDI Software and now their sweet games are hitting the shelves.

War of the Coins, Satoshi Puzzle and Spin of the Coins are all fairly involved multiplayer card game endeavors that have an interesting thing in common, they teach you about online currencies such as AltCoin and BitCoin.

Pick up these fun games today for both Android or iOS.

War of the Coins [iOs] [android]

Satoshi Puzzle [iOs] [android]

Spin of the Coins [iOs] [android]

Gazapper Games releases Solar Rush with Beatscribe Sounds

IMG_4369.JPGGazapper Games continues outputting awesome android games based on classic zx spectrum titles. Their latest one is based on Transversion. It’s a great space game that tests your reflexes. It seems simple at first but this simple strategy title’s difficulty escalates quickly.

Gazapper Games’ titles are rooted in the retro gaming style of the early generation of consoles, but they wanted to take the music a bit forward from the spectrum with some Genesis style 16-bit vibes. Get it today!

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.

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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?

Tutorial: Recreating the Quick Man Song With Plogue Chipsounds

I love watching waves...

I love watching waves…

Plogue Chipsounds is one of the most comprehensive and powerful sound modules for creating classic game console chip sounds. However, if it’s interface might not be the most obvious and intuitive when you first start to use it.

Why would you want to use an Audio Unit/VST instead of the actual hardware or a tracker? Well, for adding some quick chip sounds to an existing song or remixing a classic song, it’s super useful to have everything happening in MIDI. You can speed things up, transpose them and make changes without having to spend time outside of your main DAWS. Whenever I want some Nintendo triangle bass, I go straight to chipsounds!

The Quick man track is one of the most amazing classic NES songs ever. It’s just buzzing with electrical goodness and really makes the intense Quickman level even more amazing. In just a few minutes, you can create a pretty accurate sound in Chipsounds.

I have to say that I really love the respect that the author of Chipsounds has for the classic chips. Chipsounds conforms to what the chip its emulating could actually do and won’t let you play ten notes on the NES chip. This helps keep things accurate. The tool is definitely worth the cost and I’ll be covering some of the other features in later tutorials. I also love their statement about “preserving endangered chip species”; there are some amazing sounding chips from obscure systems which create some amazing classic sounds. Definitely worth looking into to expand your sound repertoire.

In the tutorial, I use some DMC samples from the original Nintendo which you can download here. Thanks to 8bitpeoples and Null Sleep for the DMC samples.