DEVLOG #41 – Trailer Designer!

Long time no see… Hi Ascenderians, Citrine here.­­­­­

As a Sound Designer, I’ll tell you that the sound designing progress on Ascender is almost done. I just have to make some sound effect for ending scene & retouch background music for ending to the credit title. But, over the development process, sometimes the programmer still give me some input related the audio. Because he is the one who plays Ascender every day on his Unity project, so I think he would understand if there something are less cool both in terms of art or audio.

Here some of my todo list :

  • Ending scene
  • Camera moving up
  • Glow SFX
  • Ocean walking, jump & land
  • Ocean transform
  • Charging SFX
  • Audio ending transition

So,  while completing some audio work, Rubi The Producer told me to make a trailer for Ascender. From sound designer to be trailer maker, hmm, Trailer Designer! lol. Well, to be honest, I was not too great in terms of making a trailer but I’ll try my best. 😀

This time, I’ll make a different trailer from the previous one that I made for Steam Greenlight trailer. The previous trailer is telling more about the arrival of Ocean to the GOA civilization. While the new trailer, I would emphasize to the friendship between Ocean and Sky,  so we can understand the motivation of why Sky want to fight for Ocean. Here is my draft for ‘brand new’ trailer.

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Less obvious? lol, it’s just little sneak peak for Ascender’s Trailer. I’m still working on it probably until next week or the end of June. Asap.

Sorry gtg I have to finish this ‘hopefully awesome’ trailer.

Citrine out. 😀

 

nb: Thanks to Moldovite has given me the idea for this trailer & help me make a draft.

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DEVLOG#29 – Perfect Fifth: Power of Beauty

Hey hey it’s me again, the music composer. Zircon’s the name, I think. I don’t really know what I wanna talk about right now, so I’ll just talk about whatever I’m doing right now. Good luck reading this.

 

Well things are kinda rough right now. Aside from being an <sarcastictone>awesome music composer</sarcastictone>, I have these other annoying responsibilities in my life as well. In fact, most of the team does. Well some of us are full-timer, but the rest have another job for a living. Lecturers, teachers, librarian, even college students are doing their best managing their time. Me? Not so much. Lately my focus is too unevenly-divided. I still come to the studio, ideas for music still come to my head, but I have these other things and projects I can’t stop thinking about. To be honest I’m kinda jealous of the other who manage to focus 100% to whatever they’re doing lol.

 

Oh I mentioned about ideas, didn’t I. I’ve been experimenting recently. Mostly about instruments, some about music ideas, and some about technical things. Since I’m still struggling to find what I want to talk about right now, maybe I’ll talk about those.

 

You see, the songs I’ve made so far don’t really have much variation for the instruments. I mostly use strings, harp, flute, percussion, and some guitar riffs for quest songs. All songs you hear in the alpha version only have those. Of course I did make plan for the future that contains more than those, but I still think there’s something missing. Shortly we’ll release beta version and there will be more area you can explore, which means more songs too. I think there are like 4 or five more songs, I forget. But the thing is, the atmosphere for the new songs more or less is similar to the songs you’ve already heard in the alpha version. At least to me anyway. People in the team haven’t said anything so far, so maybe it’s just me. But still, I’m not satisfied. That’s why I started experimenting on new instruments.

 

Dolopo in the alpha version has not fully revealed. There are more areas you can explore in Dolopo when the beta version is released. There are different songs when you walk in certain areas, and these are what I’ve been experimenting on. One song I’m really satisfied with is the song for government area (yes, there’s a government area in a game about quadruple amputee blonde girl and a bipedal Roomba). In this song I only use three instruments, flute, viola, and harpsichord. If you have watched some movies where there are kings and evil kings and dragons and castle and stuffs, chances are you’ve heard what harpsichords sound like. They look like pianos, but sound thinner and more trebly.

Inverted key color is not mandatory

I always wanted to do something with the harpsichord just because I think it sounds really beautiful. For the government area I wanted the song to have a bit medieval feeling in it, so I was sure this instrument was what I just needed.

 

Now let’s move on to the music itself. I use dorian mode for this song with a LOT of fifth harmony. This type of harmony is what you get when you combine a note with the note that is four notes away in the scale. For example, let’s say you have a C major scale, which consists of the following notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.

The last C is not mandatory

If you played an F note and wanted to add the fifth harmony of it, just count to four from F. So from F it would be G-A-B-C. So the fifth harmony for F note in C major scale is C. Play both of them together, and you get the fifth harmony. There are a lot of these pairs. You can combine one note with another that is one note away, or two, 3, 4, and so on and so forth. Usually what you hear in the radio or MTV (wait, does MTV even play music anymore?) just use the third harmony, which is two notes away. This is fine and I use them a lot too, but fifth harmony works much more beautifully for this kind of song.

 

The fifth harmony is also known as the perfect fifth. It’s the most “stable” and “colorless” out of all the harmonies, hence the name. If you play guitar and people often struggle to read the logo of your favorite bands, you’re probably already familiar about the term “power chords”. You know, that chord when you only play two string (usually the 6th and 5th or the 5th and 4th) and mute the rest?

Pink beard is not mandatory

Yeah, that’s an application of the perfect fifth as well. If you play it, it will still sound like the root note, albeit “bigger” sound is achieved. It doesn’t color the sound in a certain way. It’s just “perfect”.

 

Well, I think it’s enough for now. Other songs in the beta version are pretty much just old ideas I had, so this is the “newest” one I’ve made. For beta version, that is. Of course there are more to come, but I think you can only hear them in the full version, so be sure to check it out when it’s released. That’s it folks, you can close this now. You really need to finish those assignments you left hours ago. Good luck and be happy, okay? ❤

DEVLOG#17 – Character & NPC Sound Effect

Hello Ascenderians!

It’s me again, Citrine, Sound Designer from GameChanger Team. I’m so happy to see you read our blog until now.

So far, Ascender the Game has expanded from prototype version, to Alpha Version.

(you can get the alpha version here)

It has been sooo many features added to our beloved game, like the Rune, skills, character, cutscene, background paralax, and also the NPC. This time i will talking about Character & NPC Sound Effect.

First of all, did you know the difference between Character & NPC?

We know that Character is someone / something that we controlled in a game. NPC is different with Character. NPC (Non-Player Character) sometimes known as a non-playable character is any character that is not controlled by a player, this usually means a character controlled by the computer through artificial intelligence.

In Ascender the game, we control Sky as a character. Sky is a robot, so when I want to make sound effects for Sky, I had to make the sound as similar as possible to the sound of the robot movement.

Usually I create the sound effect from Fruity Loops Studio software & edit that sound in Audacity. Fruity loops has many great music & sound. So, I took one tune from FL and bring it to Audacity  to get a great sound.

When I need a sound but not available in FL Studio, i usually record my own sound effect with simple equpment or I’ll go to the website that provides many sound effect for free license. Emmm, but to be honest I don’t like the way to find free sound from the website. So, even though I usually look for free sounds, I still combine that free sound with other sounds, so I produce a new sound. In other words, I can produce a new sound from 3 pieces free sound. Sometimes I also combine a free sound with the sound of my own record.

I will give you an example of sound effects that I use for some NPCs in Ascender The Game.

Meowl is a combine of Cat and Owl. So, i combine the sound of cat & owl here, but the sound of an owl is dominate here, because the main shape of Meowl’s body is a bird.

And Gnallo , is a combine of Gnawer and Armadillo. They are a rodent animal, so i imagine that they have many teeth, so it sounded like it lol. I don’t know what to say..lol

Hmm, just happy playing and enjoy the sound. Cheers 🙂

DEVLOG#11 – Yapping about the music

‘Sup.

Zircon here. And no, it’s not my real name. It’s a code-name thingy one of our producer created. Yeah kinda silly I know, but whatever. In this blog I’ll be yapping about random bullshit nobody cares about, about my life, my favorite pair of jeans, and POSSIBLY something related to the game. Nah just kidding, I’ll be talking entirely about my life obviously.

So basically I’m the sound designer for the game. More specifically, I’m the one responsible for music composition, production, design, and everything related to those beautiful melodies you’ll hear in the final version of the game. That’s the plan anyway. Here in the team we’ve got two sound designers. The other (whose code-name thingy escapes me at the moment) will be responsible for other sounds such as SFXs and ambiences. He used to help in making the music and modifying my songs, but now it’s just me.

Moving on, let’s talk about the game itself, shall we? If you’ve read the other devlogs from our producer and script writer, you probably know by now that there are 8 main areas in the game. The idea is that for each area there will be a song, and the song itself will be modified to fit any other sub-area in it. The current total is 40 songs which I’ll have to finish by the end of the year. Woohoo.

The game is about the journey of a sentient Frisbee finding stuff for its female amputee friend so that the friend can conquer the world. Nothing screams “walking hockey puck“ more than the sound of a flute and an orchestra, obviously. Everybody knows that. In fact, the music for this game will have a lot of that. It’s essential to capture that beautiful and traditional sound the producers want from me.

We currently are working on the starter bundle for Game Developer Gathering Prime in Bandung next week, so it’s kinda busy right now. Busier than the usual day, I mean. In the bundle, there are some cool things you’ll get if you happen to be coming next week, and one of those things is a music CD. With 10 songs in it, the CD contains 5 themes from our past products, and the rest will be included in the final version of the game itself. Pretty exciting, eh? *awkward laugh*

Well, since this is my first time writing in this devlog thingy and I don’t know what I should write about, so I think I’m gonna talk about those 5 songs. The web developer said I can write as much as I like, so might as well writing about those things I’ve always wanted to talk about anyway. To be honest I don’t talk too much about music in my life because there aren’t too many musical nerds I know. Not saying that I’m a musical nerd myself, but when you live in place where people around you consider “Dream Theater” as a musical genre, knowing the differences between major and minor is enough to make you look like frickin’ Nikola Tesla. The five songs I’ll be talking about are called Metallic Knight, The City Beneath, Calming the Qualms, Forgotten Lullaby, and Reinforcement.

First on the track list is the theme song, Metallic Knight. The idea of the song is an imagery of the entrance to a new world, followed by the sound of a journey in said world. I split this song into two movements, creatively named as the Entrance and the Journey. For the Entrance, I put some traditional Celtic music flavor, topped with strings and English horns for the mystical sound. Also I believe I put a harp there, because it’s beautiful and everyone needs a little bit of harp in their life. For the second movement, it’s a more upbeat version of the Entrance melody, with timpani, cymbals, trombones, and other marching stuffs. Essentially this song is my depiction of what the whole game will be.

Next, The City Beneath. This is probably the most fun song I’ve ever make for this game and also my own personal favorite. Being the song for the biggest and main city in the game, I needed to make a song that is welcoming, not boring after 3 seconds, and as neutral as possible without altering one particular mood of the listener. The idea is simple, or should I say WAS simple; to modulate the root key from major to minor, and then modulate it to major again. It ended up being the most complex song out of the game so far. Well, theoretically anyway. The song starts off in F Mixolydian, modulating to F Aeolian for 1 bar and then to Mixolydian again. The second verse is my favorite part. The song modulates entirely to F Mixolydian b6, or as some people might call it, the “Hindu” scale, which comes from the fact that this scale is usually used in traditional Hindu and Buddhist music and/or chants. After that, it modulates again for a bar to F Aeolian before entering the chorus, which is also in F Aeolian. The tempo of the song is Andante, so yeah it’s very calming. The bells and the flute help a lot for the graceful sound of the underground city.

After that we have Calming the Qualms. This one is actually the evolved version of the first song I made for this game. The first version sounds too much like an ancient Chinese music, and while sounding like Chinese music is not bad at all, I just don’t think it fits the atmosphere of the game. So I changed some of the notes from minor pentatonic to major and now the team loves it. I don’t really understand why though, I mean it’s probably the simplest song I’ve made so far. The song is in Bb major with 4/4 time signature, verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, and without any other variation at all. There are harp, glockenspiel, and bells in it though, so it really is calming (hence the name. Ha! I’m a genuis!). I personally don’t like it that much, but whatever. I hope the player will love it too.

Forgotten Lullaby is the evil ghastly defective twin brother of the previous song. My producer said that for the area this song is played, it needs to be pretty creepy. Well that only means one thing: The Whole Tone scale. This scale is so creepy, that I’ve heard a story that this scale was banned in some churches in the past because it was believed to be able to summon the Satan. Yeah that’s right. They actually believed that by playing a melody constructed with this scale, you’d be able to make a crack on the Earth which went through the hell and summoning Lucifer Himself. If that’s not your definition of what the word “badass” is, I don’t know what is. Google it yourself, I’m not kidding. Well it might be true though, because making the scale sounds good requires you to sell your soul to the Devil. Hahahaha, just kidding. It’ll never sound good regardless. Nevertheless, it’s really fun to mess with this scale. I’ve accidentally used it in one of my own song, and I was like, “wtf is that? That’s awesome!” In this song itself I use it at the last verse before the loop occurs (oh btw the songs in the bundle have an ending, but in the game I’ll take it away so it can be looped) to leave the creepy impression in the player’s head. The song contains some key changes. It starts at Eb minor with some chromatic notes in the melody and chromatically descending chord progression, then modulating to F# minor, Db minor, and back to Eb. The key changes 6 times I think. Unfortunately, no crack to hell was made in the making of this song.

Finally we’ve got Reinforcement. Making this song really felt nostalgic. This is something I’d make back in the middle school, when my playlist contains songs from Iwrestledabearonce to Panic! At the Disco. This was the phase when I’d arrange a church song to a technical death metal song, put a little Bossa Nova before changing the time signature. You know, fun times. This song is the theme for the forging area, so it HAS to be a metal song. Throughout the whole song I just play some generic drop D guitar riffs, but I also put another influences here and there. In the intro I put some strings over the riffs, because that’s the main theme of the game. In the verse I take the strings away, put some metallic percussion, and palm mute the riffs so it sounds pretty heavy. There’s a blues sounding flute melody mid-verse as well. For the pre-chorus, I decided to put marimba and fill it with melody in D Javanese pentatonic scale. No, it’s not a typo. Not Japanese. Javanese pentatonic scale, the scale mainly used in traditional Javanese and Balinese music, is what I use (fun fact: did you know that Bali is actually an island in Indonesia and not the other way around? Yeah, crazy right?). The Japanese pentatonic scale, or the Hirajoshi, does sound really similar to the Javanese pentatonic scale though (the locals call it “Pelog”). They differ only by one note, which is the 4th note. In Hirajoshi the interval between the 3rd and the 4th is two whole tones (in western musical system of course) while in Pelog it’s just one. So the formula (if you “translate” them from diatonic major scale) is 1-3-4-6-7 vs 1-3-4-5-7. I hope that makes sense because to be honest I’m not really fond with this kind of things. Well anyway, after the pre-chorus I put another bars of riffs, change the pre-chorus riff a little with another marimba melody on top of it before hitting the outro. I like to think this song as what Willie Adler (the guitarist from Lamb of God) would make if he drank too much rice wine from Bali at a small village in Solo while playing Crash Bandicoot.

I think that’s pretty much everything about the songs so far. There’s more to come, so stay tuned. The game will be out sooner or later. You should check it out when it’s released. It’s cool and fun if you’re into brain teaser and exploration kinda game. And if you aren’t just check it out anyway, because my songs are in it. I don’t know why that’s important and relevant, but seriously you should check it out. Well, that’s it. It’s kinda fun writing about random things you love. You should do it yourself, because I think if you manage to read until this paragraph then you must be bored as hell. Either that or you just skipped the entire thing. Anyway, thank you so much for being here. You’re awesome and I love you ❤

DEVLOG#06 – Audio Development

Hi Ascenderians!

I am Citrine, the sound designer of GameChanger Team. GameChanger Team have 2 persons on audio department, Zircon who focused on music composing & I focused on sound effect, mixing & finishing touch to all audio on Ascender The Game.

So, first of all, I will tell you about what we believed about music. We believe that music in game will give you different experience of gaming. Player will get better experience when playing a game with good audio, rather than without audio.

On the other side, I saw that most game developers neglected music in game development, and left it until the very end. I really disagree with that decision. Therefore, I undertake the development of the audio from the beginning, alongside the development of the game.

What I do first is to make the BGM & sound effect for the prototype of Ascender The Game.

 

Ruby, our Producer, chose ‘Himalaya’ as the overall concept of Ascender The Game. I then researched on the ‘Himalaya’ music, about what instruments are used in ‘Himalaya’ music.

I chose flute, violin and cello as a basic instrument for our theme song and added some Celtics instruments like harp, drum, trumpet and trombone to make our song more majestic.

This is our theme song for now. It’s not final, we will add choir like angel’s voice to this song, to make it more emotional.

 

That’s it for today, next time I will give you sound effect compilation of Ascender The Game.

Adiós.