Master's research project.

edited in General
Hi everyone.

I'm here to introduce myself. My name is Tim and I am doing my Masters in music this year focusing on game music, broaching such topics as the function of music in games comparative to film music as well as the different functions of music in AAA titles, Indy titles and Hobbyist works.

I met a few people at the Global Game Jam and they told me to put up a little intro here and come meet everyone at the next bi weekly meeting.

Just to give you guys an idea I am looking to collaborate with people who might be in the process of creating a game currently as well as possibly creating a demo of a game that illustrates a more integral function of sound and music into the mechanics of the game. Some grand ideas but that is why I just want to meet some people and start from there.

As well as creating a musically sound set of compositions I want to use this portfolio to illustrate different functions of game music and to showcase my ability to compose for many different styles of games as well as explore different approaches to creating game music, so I want to attempt to make the example material as multifaceted as possible.

If anyone is interested in being involved or has a project that needs music/sound let me know and I could work it into my portfolio.

Thanks a lot.

Tim Harbour
Thanked by 2hanli edg3


  • Howdy captain
  • Hi Tim, welcome! :)
  • How do you feel about dubstep?
  • Hey, welcome, do you maybe have a soundcloud or some online samples of your work we can listen to?
  • Hi Tim,

    I'm currently supervising an MA along very similar lines. It may be useful for you two to talk about your work and share resources. If you would like to drop me a line on my Wits address ( we could chat about it. Who is supervising you? It may be nice for me to get in contact with them as well.


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    Hi Tim! Musical games are AWESOME :) I'm sure you know of games like Bad Hotel, Super Hexagon and even way back there's one where you use your keyboard and hold it like a guitar and play guitar hero style - they're really the cutting edge of indie :) Good luck with your hunt and if I ever level up enough to be useful in something like that I'll definitely give you a shout :)
  • Hi everyone. Thanks for the responses :P ... I dunno if "do I like dubstep" is a trick question :P but that would be a no.

    As for my current work. I have a variety of current work but the ones that you would be interested in are in sheet music format (sibelius files) that play back only currently as Midi, which doesn't really do the compositions justice. Other compositions are have are more band/electronic related which aren't as well suited to showcase my composition in the gaming/film composition syles.

    As part of my my thesis I am findings ways to represent the midi better so soon I will have some the compositions in a more listen able format.

    Hanli thanks for your response, I will be in contact with your shortly. My supervisor is Chris Letcher, he said he was to be in contact with some people from digital arts himself, so you might know him.

    Anyway again thank for the replies. I will attempt to get my old portfolio up here for listening shortly.

    Thanks everyone


  • lol. Punkweasel works on a game called "BROFORCE". So his inquiry about whether you like Dubstep can be taken as utterly sincere.

    Looking forward to hearing your portfolio.

    btw. Have you heard the game "Proteus" ?
  • Ah ok, I thought I was being tested :P

    Well everyone know's what dubstep is and as I said I am not the hugest fan of it but I have made some in my time and have a lot of friends who have created quite a bit of dubstep so it is not an unfimiliar genre to me, tbh I used to like it a lot more before the radio started killing it :P If it was a genuine question on whether I would be able to make dubstep then that would be a yes, but is not a genre I listen to a lot.

    I have in fact heard of Proteus. I'm a Steam addict so I saw this pop up over the last week, looks like a very interesting game and definitely amazing music. Why do you ask?
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    I asked about Proteus because I felt the music in that game (and the sound effects that are effectively part of the music) played a core role, and an interesting role. I felt the music changed the experience of the game in a way that music for film could not have achieved.

    I saw one player chase a frog for 15 min because he liked the frog sound (and the frog was leading him to another prettier frog with a prettier sound)

    And that seemed like something you'd be interested in :) (it's certainly something I find fascinating)
    Thanked by 1hanli
  • That is extremely interesting. I was intending on buying Proteus anyway but now it seems it could be a very modern example of what I want to explore in my thesis. :D I will check it out very soon!
  • Another recent Indie success that does some awesome stuff with music is Fez - I strongly suggest taking a look at how Disasterpiece's compositions are rearranged on the fly in order to construct unique arrangements according to what the player is doing/seeing, rather like in Proteus (although not quite as synaesthetic).
    Thanked by 1hanli
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    The music level in FEZ is phenomenal!
    Thanked by 1raxter
  • lol the classic dubstep question :D Disasterpeace is great. If you use a spectrograph, you can see hidden images embedded in some of his songs :)
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    @Nick_W Wow those spectrographs are rad.

    @Tim_Harbour Your research sounds really cool.Looking forward to hear some game music from you soon :)
    I've been really enjoying C418's compositions. His album "one", if you haven't heard it, has an awesome blend of piano/orchestral pieces with chiptunes.
  • Creepy spectogram stuff :D I like.

    Thanks for all the references to listen to guys, I appreciate the input :D Going on a listening binge now!
  • I think Punkweasel was planning to follow up the "classic dubstep question" with something along the lines of "Could you make dubstep out of the sound of machine-gun fire and explosions, because that's what we really want".
  • ah :D upload the sounds and il have a go :D or you can mail them to
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    That the same Tim from tv iv dogs? God the Internet is a small place...

    Anyways,some good games references using sound as a primary mechanic ( with added dubstep for thread winning awesome )
    (moar dubstep ;) )

    Beat Sneak Bandit
  • I am the same Tim. :) The internet is indeed a tiny, tiny place :P. And I think I know who you are as well from my brief encounter with this forum. :D

    Thanks for the video links! Appreciate it. I know Audiosurf but haven't heard of Beat Sneak Bandit. Will check it out now!

  • @dislekcia would Fez's music be relatable to Dear Ester where they segmented the sound track so that the player could explore at her own pace while the soundtrack has a continuous flow and suites the area that the player is currently in?

    Also welcome Tim! Please excuse me addressing dis in your thread I am trying to pump him for opinion goodness ;)
  • Ha, cool! Don't think we met, but I did listen to Tv IV Dogs back when Granville introduced me to it. :P Back before he decided to go look like a paedophile.

    Welcome! :)
  • No worries Karuji, the topics you are discussing are very important things I will be discussing in my thesis so talk away...I'm going to be stealing of this soon :P But seriously, any discussion based around game soundtracks and their functions is also what this thread is about.

    Haha good ol' Granville, I miss his weird 2nd hand dress sense :P Miss that guy

  • Hi Tim ... Name is Shamie (the dude) in the Rush shirt form last night) ... was awesome meeting you.
  • On Tims recommendation I looked up Boulez () in terms of interesting composing technique. Our conversation got me thinking about music in games in general and I realized something. We have not progressed very far in music compared to visuals.

    In most games the music serves the purpose of an audio background. It is also static. The music plays (or loops) during the level. This is equivalent to a sky box for graphics. It is there but never changes. Some games do have music triggers placed in the game world that change the loop that plays. This is like a slide show going from one picture to the next. There are very few games that make use of contextual music switches. Combat music plays while in combat. It picks up tempo if your health drops low, or if the boss is about to die. I then fades to victory music (hopefully) and back to level music when done.
    All of these are still slide show type experiences. We fade between different compositions.

    In graphics we have bone or skin animation. You start with a model and animations/poses created by an artist. In the game itself we can interpolate between the different poses as the situation demands (fade a run into a jump).
    Would it not be interesting if we could transform composed music using "bones" for different situations?

    Of course one of the tricky bits is that what we are used to from movies, is that the music foreshadows the action. In a game that is very dynamic the music might constantly lag behind the action. Perhaps we need some concept of "action momentum" in a game that can help us determine the likely music needed in the near future.
    Another way to hide the lag would be to change the scale of interactivity. Don't track the ship on the screen, but rather the ratio of damage dealt to damage taken.

    Talking to Tim made me think of possibilities beyond simple music loops for games beyond what we call "music games"
  • All you music types should watch this FMOD video about music sequencing. Fmod is used in a lot in AAA games - and allows you to create parameters you can programatically control from the game. Gives you a very wide canvas to paint your music with.
  • The FMOD tutorial kind kind of shows the limitations of our music systems in games. Make no mistake it is very powerful and leads to a much better audio experience than just a loop running in the background. However, it still follows the "slide show" way of thinking. I have several loops that get played under certain circumstances. The visual equivalent is a dynamic slide show.
    Pushing the technical boundaries could mean modifying the music itself.
  • ah wow, thanks for the link ^^ been looking for something like this :D
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    @DeepFreez but if you think about it, thats the same as the bone animation example you gave. Each animation is "rasterized" loop produced by an artist. The animation chosen follows the same "dyanamic slideshow" model, choose which one to present based on actions with blends (crossfades) between different animations.

    The thing about FMOD is it lets you parametrize anything, so you if you choose to use something more granular than a loop, it is perfectly possible to do so. Is also perfectly possible to track things like "Ships ratio of damage". FMOD allows you expose whatever parameters you choose, and thus control what ever you want from code. The only limit is creativity applying the tools. For instance you could have loops of the same measure with different instrumentation, and the blend between then accordingly.

    But I get what you are saying, you think there should be more causality between action and music. Something (requiring technical innovation) like beat matching and dynamic time stretching (while preserving pitch), so the pace of the music can blend to match the pace of your action. At an extreme there is no reason you couldn't program a synth engine into the game and dynamically play whatever compositional elements you want. This is similar to how 8bit consoles worked, which couldn't even dream of the memory budget for audio samples. Bear in mind nothing comes for free though. In a game where music isn't the primary mechanic, you're fighting for a very small slice of the memory and cpu budget (no SPU unfortunately).

  • @TheFuntastic I will admit that I have never given much thought to the music bits, mostly because the platforms I have been using are too limited, but that's probably just an excuse :p
    I suspect its well worth my time exploring FMOD and similar as the current state of the art.

    But if we are dreaming up new things, yes, my thinking is in the realm of using a synthesizer to generate the music.
    I see some parallels in the way graphics developed.
    We started off with text adventures with no graphics or some ASCII graphics ( for a modern continuation of that)
    Then we got the old Magnetic Scrolls type adventure games that had a static image associated with a location, just for pretties. This is like having a loop running in a level, just for pretties.
    Finally we got some nice sprite based games, some of them quite impressive too. Lots of moving bits, but the bits were each a hand drawn image with multiple frames to make it animate smoothly. This is more or less what FMOD in the tut above offers.
    Enter the era of 3d. The moving bits become transformable in basic ways (scale, rotate translate) but animation is done by transforming parts of a model, or by replacing the model with one in a different pose. In music terms this would mean the ability to transform your loops in some relevant ways. Like you mention, changing the pitch or tempo to fit the situation better.
    Note that for graphics, the emergence of 3d was accompanied by the growth of the GPU in a nice feedback loop. More GPU meant more 3D requiring more GPU... On the other hand, sound hardware does not appear to have evolved in the same direction.
    Another note is that the way graphics are created changed. A model is required that can be used by an engine. A hand drawn image does not cut it any more. Birth of the technical artist.
    Current graphics generally make use of skinning. At the core of this concept is the fact that the model and animation are separated. This allows the engine to do funkystuff(tm) to the model (rag dolls) aside from just blending different animations or bits of animations together.
    For game music the equivalent might be something like this: A score is created in a special way by a technical composer. This score is transformable to suit the needs of the game engine synthesizer. Imagine being able to smoothly transition from a travel theme to a fight theme without needing a transition loop or doing a simple cut or cross fade. Hardware assisted of course :)
    But this is of course just dreaming.
  • Sho this thread just took off....nice :D I definitely gonna check out the FMOD thing, but I'm glad Deepfrev took our conversation to heart, my thesis is evolving every week and at the moment my main focus is going to be dealing with the term "dynamic" and how this term is applied to games and how we can address the loss of immersion if this "dynamic" style of music isn't present. Essentially I want to attempt to create a new theory or rule set for working on games in this fashion....Still a work in progress but getting there :D What you guys are talking about is great though cos these are thing I need to address so I might even start a seperate thread in a few days for that topic alone. I get what Funtastic is saying about file size but I think that is something very important to address as well.....this is gonna be an interesting one!

    In other news, If anyone is interested I've been working on some chiptunes lately since it is a big part of game music for me (not the only part but a part I haven't delved into much yet)

    So there is my recent finished track, check it out, leave some comments. :D

  • edited
    You'll also want to check out sound designer Jeff Schmidt's Adaptive Audio with FMOD:
  • Got a brand new tune up on my soundcloud. I was inspired while playing Mark of the Ninja and was looking to create some ambient/industrial weird ass tunes.

    It does end abruptly. Apologies...working on it :P

    also got some old tunes up on my soundcloud which are more for just interesting compositional experiments, some of them are a bit raw but have a listen if you feel so inclined.

    Also will try get my 4th year composition pieces up, I'm just trying to get a disc of the stuff.

    Sweet, thanks peeps!

    I know peeps are probably getting bored of me posting here but I'm persistent so.......

    These are just tiny little bits I've done for games recently, a little menu/intro theme for a dungeon, nothing fancy just made in Milky Tracker, also two really brief "game win" and "game lose" clips for an adventure platformer styles games.

    Tiny update but I'm just getting in the habit :P

    Thanks guys

    Great meet by the way last night, really enjoyed it!
    Thanked by 1hanli
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