If you didn’t make it to GDC this year here’s your chance to get a glimpse at what you missed.  At the GDC Vault you can now access 18 slides and one video for free, and that’s only the ones about audio. Creating Sound made it easy for you to get an overview of what’s available. Just click the images or the additional links to go straight to the goodies.


80,000 Lines, Three Lessons Learned

Speaker
Ariel Gross

Company
Volition, Inc.

Overview
There were over 80,000 lines of dialogue in Saints Row: The Third. Managing that many lines can be a daunting task for any audio team. Ariel Gross, senior audio designer at Volition, imparts three valuable lessons learned throughout his adventures with voice so that you can sidestep some costly traps and save yourself from needless heartburn. Attendees will learn about the amount of work that goes into having a large number of VO lines in an open world game and will take away loads of tips and data that they can apply to their own projects.


AI-driven Dynamic Dialog through Fuzzy Pattern Matching. Empower Your Writers!

Speaker
Elan Ruskin

Company
Valve Corporation

Overview
“Pills here!” “There’s a zombie behind you, Bill!” Characters that understand and remark on their circumstances add a lot to a game, but as state and dialog possibilities grow numerous, selecting one line out of thousands with an immense if/else script becomes daunting. This talk details Valve’s system for using hundreds of facts about the world in a fuzzy pattern match against a database of thousands of possible lines to create responsive, dynamic dialog in Left4Dead and other titles. We’ll show a simple, uniform mechanism for tracking thousands of facts and possibilities, allowing intelligent characters to remember history, cascade from special to general cases, and select the optimal dialog, script, behavior, or animation for every situation. Most importantly, a friendly interface provides writers creative freedom to make special cases, running gags, and track additional facts without forcing programmers to change thousands of lines of code.


Audio Boot Camp

Additional Slides #1 | Additional Slides #2

Speakers
Scott Selfon, Garry Taylor, Jason Graves, Martin Stig Andersen, Alistair Hirst, Sergio Pimentel, John Byrd, Bernard Rodrigue, Mike Caviezel

Company
Microsoft

Overview
Audio for games and other interactive entertainment has grown far beyond simple mash-ups of technical concepts with linear audio design techniques. Today’s games require responsive and dynamic musical scores; ambiences, sound effects and dialog that respond to player actions; immersive and accurate player-surrounding soundscapes; not to mention AI driven dynamic control of the overall mix.

The Audio Boot Camp offers an introduction to the wide array of topics that comprise the burgeoning game audio industry. Topics will cover technical, aesthetic, logistical, and business-oriented topics for the new interactive entertainment audio content creator. Focus this year in particular will be on dealing with the complexities of developing for such a range of devices, as well as non-traditional (and thus more divergent from linear media aesthetics) mobile, web, and social media (and making a living doing it). We’ll strike a balance between sound design, interactive scoring, dialogue, production, direction, tools, etc.


Authoring Soundscapes with User-generated Content and Automatic Audio Classification

Speaker
Jordi Janer

Company
Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, Europe

Overview
This presentation highlights an example of integration of state-of-the-art research on audio description into game audio production. We introduce an authoring tool that incorporates content-based classification of environmental sounds to retrieve samples from a user-contributed repository. Given a taxonomy based on ecological acoustics, we show how content-based audio classification, compared to text-only queries, might help sound designers when searching for environmental sounds.

We developed a real-time soundscape generation system with which we can validate the usability of the authoring tool. It allows to create a realistic and interactive soundscape with user-contributed sounds. The soundscape generation consists of a number of graph models, representing virtual acoustic sources, which control the sequencing of events (samples) using concatenative synthesis.


Build That Wall: Creating the Audio for Bastion

Separate Slides

Speaker
Darren Korb

Company
Supergiant Games

Overview
You don’t need a high-end recording studio and hordes of sound engineers to produce AAA quality audio for your game. How did a one-man audio team create the critically acclaimed music and sound for Supergiant Games’ Bastion on a shoestring budget? By recording in his closet…that’s how! Supergiant Games’ Audio Director and Composer, Darren Korb, will walk you through his development process; from creating Bastion’s eclectic “acoustic frontier trip-hop” soundtrack and haunting vocal melodies, to its innovative reactive narration and sound effects. Learn how to create high-production-value audio on an “Indie” budget, all by yourself, through the creative use of simple techniques!


Digital Orchestration for the Video Game Composer

Powerpoint

Speaker
Fletcher Beasley

Company
Fletcher Beasley Music

Overview
Recreating the sound of a symphony orchestra using only a sequencer and orchestral sample libraries presents a great challenge to the contemporary game composer. The latest orchestral sample libraries sound better than ever, but they still require considerable manipulation to convince a listener that they are hearing a real orchestra. It is imperative for the contemporary composer to be able to create sophisticated and realistic sounding mockups of his or her orchestral music. On many projects, the composer may not be given the budget to hire live musicians, yet still be required to produce a great sounding orchestral score. This sixty minute session will provide game composers with sequencing and mixing techniques that can be used to create realistic sounding orchestral pieces using their sequencers and sample libraries.


From Minsk to London

How to make a live orchestra production in Europe happen

Speaker
Pierre Langer

Company
Dynamedion

Overview
This lecture points out different possibilities to do professional live orchestra productions in Europe – from low cost sites like Minsk to world leading orchestras like the London Symphonic, with a closer look at 7 different orchestras, giving details on recording rooms, strengths and weaknesses of the ensemble and a comparison of price.

The session will have listening examples of virtual orchestra vs. live orchestra productions, showing the benefit but also the restraints of a live ensemble production. It explains different ways of production and “smart recording” approaches for maximum efficiency. Testimonials from known US composers point out positive and negative aspects of their experience with an orchestra production in Europe. This is a “no nonsense” talk about how to get the maximum out of your budget, naming all possibilities to optimize processes and giving an exact overview on things that can go wrong, did go wrong and will go wrong.


How To Ship a Game With Voices In 10 Languages? …On the Same Day? …And Keep It Consistent?

Powerpoint

Speaker
Alexandre Piché

Company
Ubisoft

Overview
Managing audio voices in up to 10 languages during a game development process can easily become a nightmare for voice designers and localization team. It’s even more difficult on an AAA game which contains more dialogs and barks needed to be recorded and translated. This can result in having around close to half a million versions of audio lines that you not only need to record but also to keep track of all the changes that happen frequently during the production.

This presentation will address 4 main challenges in the management of voices and how a dedicated tool can help them get through these challenges. This will be based on a concrete example of the success of a such tool in continuous development.


Journey vs Monaco: Music is Storytelling

Speaker
Austin Wintory

Company
Indepentent

Overview
Composer Austin Wintory compares the two radically different scores he completed in 2011: thatgamecompany’s Journey and Pocket Watch Games’ Monaco. Despite being different games with different goals and very different scores, the underlying philosophy for creating a musically meaningful experience was identical.

This talk explores how large scale and small scale structures were made in order to try and create narrative arcs and how reconciling adaptivity with musicality was handled. It will also explore the production process for each score, including a look at unused music and the evolutionary process the scores underwent. The lead designer for each game (Jenova Chen and Andy Schatz) will join Austin for the audience Q&A.


Orchestral Recording at Abbey Road for Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Speakers
Craig Duman, Inon Zur, John Kurlander

Company
Mulholland Scoring

Overview
Sound accounts for a very large part of the experience in games and this lecture is all about informing game audio professionals about a real world, step by step case of what it really takes to incorporate a live orchestra into their games production. The people involved in this lecture are the key people involved in pulling this all off and without their individual contributions the recording session could not have happened. In an industry where crunch is the norm and so many things go wrong, here is case where is all went right and fell into line. That’s something everyone can benefit from.


Racing Games: A Semi-Formal Sound Study

Speaker
Damian Kastbauer

Company
Lost Chocolate Lab

Overview
Games that center around driving cars are a unique genre and offers significant challenges for sound designers. Racing games and their fans share a closeness to the real world not found in many other genres — fans of racing games are almost always fans of cars, motorsports (either as fans or participants) or both. Some very crucial aspects of the driving experience in race car games are sonically-related; such as the roar of the engine or the hum of the tires right before they lose traction. These are key sounds that professional drivers are acutely attuned to in order to drive their fastest. Using examples from current-generation games for reference, we will break down the key elements that compose vehicle audio simulation and infer various implementations through comparison.


Real-time Sound Propagation in Video Games

Speaker
Jean-Francois Guay

Company
Ubisoft

Overview
One way to increase immersion of the player is to create a more realistic environment. For sound, that means adequately simulating the reflection, absorption and diffraction of the sound. This presentation will demonstrate a new lightweight method to compute sound propagation which focuses more on achievable high-quality results than finding exact calculations to correctly simulate a game’s 3D sound atmosphere. Our algorithm permits adequate simulation of obstruction and occlusion caused by game objects (diffraction and absorption), as well as propagation of sound in the environment (virtual direction and position of sound objects). This method has been used successfully in AAA titles at Ubisoft.


Spot the Difference: AAA vs Indie VO Techniques

Notes | Powerpoint

Speakers
Michael Csurics, David Gilbert

Company
Wadjet Eye Games

Overview
One dev is a AAA dialogue guru, the other – Indie adventure-game royalty. They are both passionate developers who focus on delivering top-shelf voice performances to their players. Watch as they discuss the finer points of producing voice performances from both extremes of the financial spectrum.


Squeeze Play: The State of Ady0 Cmprshn

Speaker
Scott Selfon

Company
Microsoft Corporation

Overview
Nearly all audio assets used in games today are compressed in some form — but what does that really mean acoustically? This session will provide an overview of the technology behind some of the most commonly used compression formats currently in use (across devices from mobile to console), with a focus on how these formats and their implementations impact the sounds they are compressing. We’ll also take a look at some more novel approaches currently in use to provide ever-greater space savings while presenting high fidelity and highly malleable sound effects, dialogue, and music. Content may still continue to feel the squeeze, but understanding how the squeezing happens allows for artists to wield these tools with increasingly efficiency and awareness, and perceived quality can continue to soar even as footprint is reduced.


The Art of Non-Music

Crime Shooter “Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days” and its Industrial Terror Ambience

Speaker
Mona Mur

Company
Mona Mur Musikproduktion

Overview
Experimental Sound Research in a AAA project: The action title “Kane & Lynch2: Dog Days” (IO Interactive/EIDOS) features an original score of psychological 21 ambient soundscapes instead of conventional ingame music. Over 300 minutes of abstract, disturbing and complex noise and ambient layers from various unusual sources create the desired “driving but opressive” atmosphere. “Normal” music only appears when anchored in the scene. “If we are successful, the audience will perceive this as a game without music, but with a strong sense of the mood in the environment”. (Karsten Lund, Game Director)
1. The background – Industrial Music in the early 80s
2. The mission – “Youtube”, “Reality 2.0″ : crime shooter “Kane & Lynch 2″ and its “Industrial Terror Ambience”
3. The art of noise – how to create a great variety of environmental non-music
4. The workflow – how to brief your external composer well
5. Ideal and reality – Resume


The Dynamic Audio of Vessel

Speaker
Leonard Paul

Company
Lotus Audio Corp.

Overview
This talk examines how the sounds were created for the independent 2D liquid physics puzzle game Vessel. All sounds were created using FMOD and Lua for the more complicated audio behaviors. Live examples will be shown from the game to show the modulation of parameters and the resulting sound. Pure Data and Open Sound Control were also utilized for rapid prototyping. Nearly all game events are physics-based triggers which require the audio design to reacts to rapid object dynamics generated by the game.

All sounds in the game were custom without the use of pre-existing sound effect libraries. Techniques of dynamic sound design will examine the methods of sequencing, layering, layered sequencing, spectral layering, effects parameter modulation, asymmetric loops and granulation. The overall goal for the audio was to create the illusion for the player where every drop of water is convincingly detailed.


The Emotional Puppeteer:

Uncovering the Musical Strings that Tie Our Hearts to Games

Powerpoint

Speakers
Marty O’Donnell, Brandi House

Company
Bungie

Overview
Music provokes powerful emotions like anticipation, excitement, serenity, terror and hope from the players of our games. That means composers may be the most clever puppeteers in the carnival. Even great composers can benefit from a clearer understanding of how these strings are attached or, in some cases, freakishly broken. In this talk we’ll illuminate powerful insights uncovered through user research about how people really feel in response to music in games. We will describe the methods we used and share the data we gathered using a variety of audio and video examples. Finally, you will be able to ask tough questions like “Does music make people feel heroic?” Why yes, it certainly does.


The Weight of the World

Creating Massive Destruction Audio for Red Faction: Armageddon

Speaker
Stephen Hodde

Company
Volition Inc.

Overview
This session will focus on the emotional goals, system design, content creation and overall challenges of Red Faction: Armageddon’s destruction gameplay through the lens of sound design. The scope of GeoMod 2.0′s destruction mechanic is unrivaled by any other game and represents an extreme and unique perspective for the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of physics-driven audio systems.


What we’ve Learned about Practical Audio by going to Disneyland

Speakers
Dwight Okahara, Chris Olander

Company
Insomniac Games

Overview
Practical audio is a great tool to use when immersing the player into your game’s audio environment. A trip to Disneyland inspired us to take a different approach at how we created and implemented some of the audio in Resistance 3. In this talk we will explore different facets of practical audio including sound design, music and mixing techniques to bring everything together. In addition to the creative point of view, we’ll walk you through some technical implementation for real world examples of how we accomplished this. Join Insomniac Games audio team members Dwight Okahara and Chris Olander as they take you on an E ticket audio adventure through a perennial fan favorite attraction.