For those who are curious, here are the slides from my Boston Post-Mortem presentation last week. It was a conscious affectation to only capitalize the first word of every heading, and I now regret it, but I’m too lazy to go back and change them all. Also, I’m sorry the font size changes so much from slide to slide. (For more on EndWar audio in prose version, check out this EndWar audio page I put up a while back.)
The talk focused mainly on the audio deployment mechanisms we developed for the game, since I think that was some of the most innovative and fun work we did, and hopefully also the most portable to other projects people may be working on. I spent about half of the time going into some detail about our music system, which I feel was one of EndWar’s key audio innovations. It’s a little tricky to share the music demo I did (mocked up in Max/MSP) online, but I found some gameplay footage on YouTube that showcases the same set of music in the final game. (Music composed by Alistair Hirst and Matt Ragan of Omni Audio!)
It’s actually an instant replay of an online match on PS3. This means that, unlike the actual game, the player is controlling the camera movement here. This provides a good opportunity to hear how the music evolves, depending on what’s going on. There are a few sounds that seem to come out of nowhere; they would normally accompany interface events, but in replay mode, the interface is suppressed. Note also the guitar squeals that indicate you or your enemy has lost a unit (depending on the squeal).
Here’s another video of actual gameplay footage on the Xbox.
Note that the volume periodically ducks down quite suddenly; that’s because this person is using the game’s voice command feature to control his or her troops. When you pull the trigger to talk, other sound ducks down for clarity, but of course in this excerpt, you don’t hear the player talking, hence the dropouts.
This video goes from the little intro movie to the main menu music to the loading music to some actual gameplay. The loading music in particular illustrates our music system’s scalability, as this was done with just a few kilobytes of audio data in memory, algorithmically permutated, nothing streaming. Feel free to search for other gameplay excerpts on YouTube, too.
Anyway, the talk went really well, with a big turnout, an attentive crowd, and a lot of interesting conversations afterwards. Thanks to Darius for inviting me to share my work, and thanks to everyone who attended!