0 A.D. Audio Development I signed on as Sound Designer for this Historical RTS currently in production at WildFireGames called 0 A.D. ("zero ay-dee") in March of 2005.
If this is your first time here, you can start at the beginning, and then work your way forward though the archive links. -------------------------------------------------------
Friday, March 11, 2005
And so it begins!
This is a roundup of some of the preliminary thinking that I had been doing with regards to pulling the audio side of this project together.

The initial challenge was laying the foundation for managing the audio assets, and charting a straight path to audio implementation for the programming department.
(I say challenge with a smile, as I head deep into the recesses of my organizational mind...mwuahahahaa!!!)

First off I talked with the audio programmer about some of the work he had done with regards to the OPENAL audio engine. He helped nail down some of the basic specs and requirements as well as the flexibilities. His insight into the deep levels of the audio code will prove to be invaluable in the future, and I look forward to working with him more to sort out the details.

Next I needed to start with a naming standard to work with, so I probed the Programming Dept. Head for a quick tip on how they like it down in code world. What came out of that was an attempt to give everything a name comprised of a [xxx_xxx_##] designation for each sound clip reference. At the very least this gives me a chance to organize things in the spreadsheet in the short term, but hopefully we will nail down the macro level of the naming standard that will carry through to the coding.

The other cool thing that came out of that talk was the idea of 'play lists' that could be randomized.
Ahh, sweet randomness how you will solve all of my woes of overworked audio and often heard audio cues.
I'm hoping to randomize a fair share of things to keep the sounds fresh and spry in a world so full of life, and I see this as an easy win.

The potential for sharing various sounds across multiple sound groups has become desirable, and I'll try to illustrate what I might be thinking with an example:

One of the actions in the game is to collect resources for building houses and weapons in order to build your empire.

Foresting is used to collect wood to build houses and ships, a worker is assigned to a plot that has tree's on it and goes to town de-foresting until all the tree's are gone.

Instead of having a single loop that starts with the action, I'm proposing:
1. Random loop selected from the [tree_chop__##] "play list" that would play immediately.
2. Random loop selected from the [tree_creak_##] "play list" that would play after a random pause from the start of action of betweeen 5-10 seconds.
3. Randomly play sounds from [group_lumbering_##] "playlist" that would include any other sounds in a defined "lumbering" group, potentially: [fire_crackling_##], [gather_leaves_##], etc. to help fill in ambience of the event.(occasional blacksmithing sound, or vocal asset tied to the action of Foresting)

The furthering of this idea may be to have EACH foresting location emanating these sounds, panned in relation to their locations on the map.

If you can imagine the cacophony of a dozen foresters hacking away at a forest with randomized sounds emanating from each of their locations across the map.
Merzbow would likely be proud. (hmmm...I should also think about a way to limit it to X # of entities on screen at a time)

Something that has been thrown around a bit is the idea of randomizing the pitch of the sound clip to give even more variability to the sound.
This sounds like it would work in some applications within certain ranges, and as long as those parameters are specifiable we should be able to play with that a bit.
(i.e. randomizing the pitch on each instance of wood chopping would sound great in the above mentioned scenario as long as it wasn’t pitched too high/low)

Sharing sounds will be an important factor, along with pitch shift, frequency and bit rate conversion all in an attempt to try and keep the total audio size budget on track. (re: small)

Needless to say it involves a multiple tabbed Excel spreadsheet (draft example) with a maddening amount of variables in order to communicate effectively to the programmers, as well as the future team of audio specialists, what we are trying to accomplish.
I envision looking to the spreadsheet to get a grip on who is working on what, what sounds are finished, what sounds are implemented by programming, etc. (I'm also hoping to use it to cook rotisserie chicken!)

That said, the concepts aren't fully realized, and will require much discussion to sort out the further details.

Next time, we'll look at some of the good discussion that came out of these initial ideas.


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