|Richie Nieto's Blog|
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The latest game I worked on for EA has been officially announced at the Tokyo Game Show. It's called "My Garden" and it will be released for the 3DS, the upcoming new platform from Nintendo.
I was fortunate to be chosen to compose all the music and design all the sound for this game, and am very pleased with the results. According to EA's website, it will be released in North America and Europe in the Spring of 2011.
As a few of you know, I just returned from a four-week stint at EA Salt Lake in Utah. I was contracted to help out on their upcoming game, Littlest Pet Shop 3: Biggest Stars. What made this special for me is that not only have I been working as a composer and sound designer on this game for the past few months, but I also have been working with the same people on several other projects for over two years now, and I finally got a chance to put faces to the names.
It is a bit weird working with a team only through the phone, email, FTP and DropBox, and then years later getting to shake their hands and have a conversation like most people do. I can say that in most of the cases, my expectations were exceeded -- they turned out to be way cooler in person.
In retrospect, the awesome thing to me was being able to jump in and really get my hands dirty, sharing the same stress and collaborating to fix the same issues, while dealing with assets I know intimately because I created them months before. To say this was a fantastic learning experience for me would be a gross understatement, as most freelancers usually have no first-hand experience of physically being right in the middle of the action and the interpersonal dynamics that you need to adapt to in order to work as a single unit. Likewise, most in-house personnel can't imagine the focus and levels of abstraction that remote outsourcers have to muster to be able to deliver great material in time, while being isolated from the team.
So, if you ever have a chance to do this, don't think twice about it. It will definitely blow your mind, and you'll have a whole new appreciation for both sides of the interactive coin.
Cold evening, snowing a bit, but still a bunch of us made it to the first Toronto Hang of 2010. The Rogue is as reliable as ever, and inexpensive (I paid $13 for dinner and a couple of fountain drinks).
I want to thank Ryan, Joel, Peggy, Mike, Vlad, Jacob and Zarnoosh for making it. We found out that our camp is divided when it comes to enjoying "Dragon Age: Origins", and I appear to be the one person who doesn't like "Resident Evil 5" (I just hate the controls - can't run and shoot? Ridiculous!). And a Toronto online team for "Left 4 Dead 2" may be brewing.
On a more "serious" side, a few of us are going to get together to put the recently released Unreal Dev Kit through its paces, doing a mod as a side project. It should be a lot of fun.
And here are a few pictures...
Peggy Ju and Jacob.
Ryan Henwood, Richie Nieto, Mike Daykin and Joel Walsh.
Vlad Romanov and Ryan Henwood.
Joel and Peggy play an iPhone game.
I recently wrote an article for Shockwave-Sound.com on cleaning up noisy production dialogue for film and television. I know that some of you do sound work on film shorts on the side, so maybe this article could be helpful.
Even as game dialogue and voiceover are recorded in a studio, I've run into less-than-pristine studio recordings as well a few times and have had to clean them up a bit. And, as I have explained on a couple of other forums, judicious use of the tips detailed in the article can also greatly minimize reverberation, so perhaps that cool but roomy sound you recorded may still be usable.
I just got an article published on Shockwave-Sound.Com. It's basically some pointers on how to deal with real paying clients for the first time (or second), to improve the chances of a smooth project, and getting called back for others.
The article is meant to be useful for any kind of novice music contractor doing paid media work (commercials, TV shows, video games, etc.) and being a bit nervous about it. While some points in there may seem to be driven by common sense, the number of times many of us fumbled them when we were starting out is staggering.
Hopefully the piece will help out someone here, and maybe stir a couple of ideas of their own as well.
Hi all, another shameless plug here. Got a few games I worked on coming out this Fall, so feel free to pick them up for yourselves or your kids. They are really good and sound AWESOME ;-)
Oct 20 - "Littlest Pet Shop Friends" (EA) - Wii/DS/PC
Oct 20 - "Marvel Super Hero Squad" (THQ/Marvel) - Wii/DS/PSP/PS2
Oct 26 - "Nerf 2: N-Strike Elite" (EA) - Wii
Nov 24 - "James Cameron's AVATAR: The Game" (Ubisoft) - PS3/360/Wii/DS/PC
There is also an unannounced game from EA which I'll post about once I can, and several songs I mixed and co-authored for the upcoming Rock Band Network, including Jonathan Coulton's "Creepy Doll".
I finally had a chance to play some games again this weekend and was reminded of a topic that I wanted to blog about for a while.
The ability of an audio engine to attach audio files to an NPC and move them in the stereo/surround field accordingly is fantastic. It lets us know where enemies, threats and friendlies are, and it makes the experience much more realistic.
But when we get to a cinematic, that same feature actually detracts from the experience. Either in a cinematic controlled by the engine in real time or a Quicktime event playing a file previously mixed by a human, some rules that have been established by many decades of audiovisual entertainment are being broken, and not to good effect, in my opinion.
There is a practice in games to pan dialogue to each character's mouth on the screen, so in a shot with two characters having a conversation, their lines are slightly or drastically panned left and right, respective to the position of each character. This attracts attention to the sound instead of the content, and it breaks the flow of the story.
If you listen to any film by, say, Pixar or any other major studio, you'll notice that all story-relevant dialogue (not walla or incidental lines) is dead centre in the stereo/surround field, except sometimes when a character is off-screen. It doesn't matter if the characters are on the left and right side respectively, the dialogue plays in the centre. That way we the audience completely focus on what it's being said, not where it's coming from.
Some may say, "well, games are not movies", but when there is narrative happening and we can't control our character, they do become movies. Once gameplay kicks back in, the rules change again.
The solution for Quicktime events is obvious -- just mix the relevant dialogue dead centre. For engine-mixed audio, I would imagine that a snapshot that constrains divergence parameters for the relevant audio files would do the trick. I'm no expert in audio middleware, but I would be very surprised if that functionality didn't exist or couldn't be created in the popular software apps out there.
Had another Hang last night. The weather was horrible - very rainy and still a bit chilly, so I was glad to see most of us put the effort into making it.
We had a few new faces, both of recent members and of hopefully soon-to-be members. Toronto Hang veterans included Ryan Henwood, Mike Daykin and myself.
Longtime member Drasko Vucevic dropped by for the first time, and he offered quite a bit of great insight into the interactive audio business. We're very glad to have him join the Toronto Hang scene.
I would like to officially welcome new members Adam Axbey and Peggy Ju, and to thank them for joining us last night. I hope to see you in all future Hangs.
From left to right: Richie Nieto, Peggy Ju, Vladislov Rominov, Mike Daykin, Adam Axbey, Ryan Henwood, Paula Anderson and Drasko Vucevic.
Just wanted to link here to a great article I just read on Gamasutra, written by fellow GANG'er Jesse Harlin.
Having too much work seems like a great problem to have, especially when one is a contractor and has been through a dry patch, but coping with crazy levels of stress and eventually burning out is definitely not fun either.
This article caught my eye because it's looking more and more like April is going to be when the tide comes in for me, and it's a big wave - the surfing competition kind. That's if nothing comes out right away from the networking and self-promotion at GDC.
Whenever I start counting the hours until my deadline in absolute time and not normal work time, that's a sign that I'm stretching myself a bit too thin (for example, it's Tuesday and I need to deliver this by Friday at noon, so I have exactly 75.5 hours to meet my deadline - at two hours average per sound effect, that's almost 38 sound effects), so being careful to avoid getting to that point is important to me right now.
Anyway, I hope you find this as informative as I have. Thanks, Jesse!