Archive for the ‘Audio&Games’ Category

Me playing Control

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

in 4K on PS5, amazed at that light on concrete while the toilet door doesn’t squeak out nor does it slam with appropriate sound cues.

Big Switch

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

Pros of building your own game engine:

– It’s yours, no licensing issues ever

– It’s completely, exactly what you need for your game

– It’s probably extremely well optimized

Cons of building your own game engine:

– Maintenance

– Maintenance

– Maintenance

And that’s why one of the last big game developer with its own custom game engine, is giving up to use Unreal 5 for their next game.

Capcom –a company making its own game engines for 30+ years– also switched to Unreal not so long ago.

The funny thing is, while building next games, those companies might still feel like they should have used their custom stuff! But considering how *insanely* complex a robust game engine can be—especially when you think about all the platforms to support, now and in the future—, having Unreal support and other developers to share issues with is an absolute YASSS for everyone involved.

It’s a big shift for game development. Unreal is becoming the default tool akin to cameras on movie sets. Which is a great thing because designers have been desperately wanting this for twenty years.

Are custom engines dead? Not quite yet. Noita, Nintendo games. Those game are made with highly customized engines and those games are unique, in many ways. They have their own feel and that’s really, really something you want to achieve when making video games.

Can you afford it, though? The list of people who can is shrinking.

Epic x Bandcamp

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Interesting.

Why would Epic do that? They have enormous platforms with Fortnite and the Unreal game toolchain. They did deals with the music industry –concerts with millions in Epic’s metaverse- but I bet the majors were too slow for a software company. Plus, the majors are risk averse which is the opposite of game development. Just not the same mindset.

Enters Bandcamp. Bandcamp has been doing its thing since the beginning and I’ve always loved the platform. Tons of great, diverse music, but also (probably) tons of legal issues with sampling. Because they’ve been small, the copyright holders never went at the indie company. The indie company grew and is quite popular these days, attracting eyes.

So Epic x Bandcamp makes sense. Epic gets to promote ready-to-roll indie artists in their metaverse, and legally and financially protect Bandcamp. They also now own an unlimited amount of music for any of their products, ala Sketchfab. This is pretty great for streamers (and Bandcamp artists).

The possibilities for virality –the mother of all filthy profits these days- through crossovers are definitely huge.

Now as usual with monopolies and powerful companies, there’s a risk for Epic to misbehave and abuse their position. For now though, we can’t say much.

My bandcamp page.

Entertainment saturation server side

Monday, February 14th, 2022

There Are Too Many Video Games. And too much entertainment.

Over 30 new games per day, just on Steam. Around 60,000 new songs on Spotify per day. What is happening? The usual: bottom 90% scraps around and the top 1% swims in wealth to the point of finding amusing and interesting to create artificial scarcity.

The huge problems with games is that they’re the worst work/profit ratio of any creative endeavor: you can compose a great song in one hour. You can’t produce a good game in a year.

This leads me to the good old Systems VS Narrative debate. It’s an old debate in video games, but it’s starting to describe a lot what’s going on in the economy at large: we live in systems and people want to force narratives on them. Which doesn’t work. The solution is to modify those systems and make them work for a better output.

Example: people love the narrative of unions protecting employees and love to push the idea in tech: “get unions!” they will yell. But the system we are in, 2000s capitalism, doesn’t allow unions. It’s a done deal. For unions to work you need leverage to bargain, you need tangibles. The world of tech and game development are full of intangibles, from which tech to use to which market to aim. It’s bet over gamble over “I hope this works out”, times a random amount of luck. This is not a situation where you can call for unions! Yet people love the idea that we are still in 1912, working for Henry Ford. Just form a union, and you will be fine! Sadly, this is not reality.

Interestingly, the same people who want unions will –in CA, a relatively chill state- vote against Uber drivers becoming Uber employees because they don’t want their Uber costs to skyrocket. Because that’s how the system (capitalism) works: it delivers value, spits out profit, and churns out bodies. Even when voters have the option to change the lives of thousands, they vote in favor of the system that allows them to get cheap(er) Uber trips. To hell with unions and decent compensation right? I don’t think people are horrible, they just don’t want to be accountable because the systems are complex and you can always find a way to think about a problem to make you feel like it’s not yours (“Uber has to be a side gig, I don’t care!”). Which I always find funny because well, we are indeed in this together. More now than ever before.

Anyway would you write stories, build video games, compose music, edit movies, skate and do all kinds of creative stuff that makes you feel alive, you need a support system. The more you do, the steadier the support has to be. Obviously to make great games, which takes years, the support needs to be very resilient.

Universal Basic Income, y’all. That’s not a narrative. That’s a system fix that would work. 100%.

Reflection on content

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Netflix proves the point for MS buying Acti-Blizz; if you don’t own fantastic content, you won’t last.

Netflix knew this and has been cranking up production for years now. But nothing has come close to movies or TV shows that were developed for YEARS. It’s not just about production money and 4K cameras. Now Netflix is raising their prices and losing shows they don’t own. Netflix is feeling the heat in 2022.

Disney knew this. Just their Pixar catalog alone is able to convince me to pay for their subscription service. HBO knows this too and that’s why they don’t want people to binge their stuff. They want people to respect that content, rightfully so.

You need genuine, good, not-specifically-designed-to-chart content for your platforms. Period.

Microsoft knows this too and I would even argue that the reason they dropped the mobile market is to go after juicy content —from Minecraft to Zenimax— while not getting sued for monopoly. Owning content over controlling hardware >>>>

It’s all about who has rich, tasty, prone to spin-off IPs. Nintendo knows this too.

Interestingly, it’s always been like that. The thing is creating those premium IPs is still random, costly sorcery so, it’s easier to buy them.

MS Blizz

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Dang.

For the people in the back who don’t read about the history of video games, and who don’t understand why Bobby Kotick is still there, here’s a  hint (and more here):

“How could the business press not love him? He turned a $440,000 investment into a $4.5 billion company in 25 years.”

And just sold it for $70 billion. Activision filed for bankruptcy in 1991 with Bobby at the top. Of COURSE business people love that man. He’s been excellent at his job.

Now yes, I know. But when we’re talking about money and that amount, you  already know that characters and toxic culture don’t matter then. Look at Apple.

Anyway, on the Microsoft side, wow. They’re not joking around and it makes sense: the only way for game subscriptions to work is to have so many lucrative IPs that whatever happens, —a game being a complete financial bust— nothing can really go down. It’s simply too big.

I think by buying Blizzard they just achieved that. That Game Pass thing just became ultra attractive to many.

But even bigger is the fact that they own eyeballs, metaverse-ready kids: from Minecraft to Spyro to Call of Duty to Doom and Halo, with a plethora of indie games on the side and Candy Crush with mom? All for one subscription? For any device?

No one will leave that MS Metaverse. It’s too good of a deal.

SFII Audio

Monday, January 17th, 2022

Great article on Street Fighter II’s low level audio.

Trivia: How does Street Fighter accelerates playback speed when a round situation becomes critical (contestant low health). It doesn’t. These are hard-coded separate music tracks.

My whole life I thought SFII audio engine being “MIDI”-based meant that they could simply increase the tempo/accelerate playback for the low health part.

*pikachu face*

On the other hand, it totally makes sense: tons of stuff are hard-coded in games. Tons.

The bottom line in game development is always, if you can make it a dumb asset instead of using precious CPU cycles to do your thing, please fucking do so.

De_Dust II

Monday, January 17th, 2022


The light grey is where you operate; green, where you spawn, red, what you aim/protect.

THIS MAP RIGHT HERE SIR

It’s called Dust II. It’s one of the most amazing piece of architecture in games. Designed by David Johnston, released in 2001, it basically never changed.

That’s ridiculous.

To make one of the most perfectly balanced video game map ever made, played by millions, recording billions of hours on it, still one of the favorite of professional players???? And he ACED it on the first try???? And he made it for FREE????

dlfkjgldfksjgldfkjgsdfigozj I can’t.

2000s internet culture was giving left and right.

(Counter-Strike, my review)

Lefty Gamer

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

I was looking at John Carmack’s Meta Connect keynote and in his notes, talking about VR, he has this:

-Customization for left-handed players

YASSSS PLEASE OMGWTFBBQ

Developers have completely dropped the ball on us lefties. Outside OG games like Counter Strike, there are no first person action game that respects lefties by giving us the option to switch to our favorite hand.

None.

Could a game service have my lefty settings saved so that every new first person action game would be left-handed for me? Because I will never be right-handed in my life. It sure is a basic, probably trivial thing to do, right?

It has never been done to this day. To this day!

Software engineers will just “you’re the minority so you don’t exist” themselves out of working on not so fancy challenges that are really important, like accessibility.

Left-handedness is an accessibility challenge and it’s non-negotiable in VR: it has to exist, and be good. Which means it has to be taken holistically. John Carmack being on the case sure makes me feel hopeful.

It should have been integrated as an option in games fifteen years ago at least, though.

Playful Production Process

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

My good friend Richard has a book out!

Learn how to achieve a happier and healthier game development process by connecting the creative aspects of game design with techniques for effective project management.

Award-winning game designer Richard Lemarchand (Uncharted series) shares lessons he’s learned over the course of his 20+ year career creating videogames. This book covers the videogame production process from start to finish, giving the reader strategies to plan appropriately and avoid the uncontrolled overwork known as “crunch”.

Game design is at the forefront of production, any production. Game development is so convoluted and almost unique each time a game is created that processes to achieve a vision while not dying doing so, are very much appreciated!  Those resources are rare.

Richard has the knowledge, experience and talent to write it all down and I can’t wait to read it.

You can preorder here.