As an artist I released my new track "Nostalgia [Dub Chill Edit]" yesterday. Today I found the time to create seamless loops and music hits of the track and released it as a Level Kit under Imphenzia Soundtrack. This means that the music is available for non-exclusive licensing at a ridiculously low prices for indie game developers.
The easiest way to check out all the loops and music hits is to visit the Nostalgia Dubstep Level Kit page where you can listen to all the stuff in high quality. You'll find a full length theme track (4:09 in duration), 7 seamless loops, and 3 music hits. It's all available individually so you only need to license the ones you want to use - not the entire level kit.
The music is suitable for futuristic games and games with attitude.
Arm For Battle (Loop) is a heroic orchestral loop portraying hope and preparation in a battle scenario.
What else did I do today?
Even though I am on paternity leave things are quite hectic at the moment - but in a good way. I drop my son off at daycare at 08:45 in the mornings and then I have some time to spare for my projects until 13:30 when I pick him up again. He is only spending short periods of time there still as he just started last week but it's still a bit heartbreaking leaving him in the morning as he bursts into tears as I leave him. My wife is taking care of our new baby girl most of the time so I can spend the 4 hours on my projects most days. Today was an exception though, I had to spend 2 hours searching for my wallet (which I had apparently left behind at the daycare center) and another 2 hours cleaning my car.... so no time for my projects during the day today.
3DS Max and Unity
I'm also spending some time in 3DS Max learning some low polygon modelling. I am making a little space game so I can learn both 3DS Max and Unity3D properly because I plan to make the sequel to the yet unreleased game "Performa Cars" using Unity's powerful 3D engine. I will still make the game very much 2D looking because my passion is top-down racing.
Our local motocross track is open on Wednesday evenings (as well as weekends) so today I spend 3 hours there practicing. I rid my Kawasaki KXF 450 (2008 model) and it went fairly well until blisters in my left palm put an end to the session. I'll have to figure out a way to tape it up for the weekend. My goal is to ride twice a week all year around. In the winter I put on spiked ice tires and I actually prefer to ride in the winter because the grip is amazing... and I don't overheat as much as I do in the summer =)
Modern Warfare 2
I also managed to squeeze in a two hour session of playing Modern Warfare 2 with a mate of mine tonight.
Plan for the coming weeks
My plan for Imphenzia Projects during the coming weeks include:
If you are looking for totally free sound effects, you may be in the right place. If you are looking for free sound effects of explosions, laser weapons, and alarms you have definitely come to the right place!
My library of sound effects currently contains 96 free effects (25 alarm effects, 35 explosions, and 36 laser effects.) You can preview and download all the effects as WAV files (16bit 44.1KHz Stereo), Vorbis OGG files (encoded at the bitrates 128kbps and 64kbps), and MP3 files (encoded at VBR 190kbps.)
To make browsing easier you can click on this link to browse the sound effect library with only the free ones visible =)
Following the launch of the revamped website, Imphenzia Soundtrack is currently my main priority. I tend to switch focus between Imphenzia Music (my trance music), Imphenzia Soundtrack, and Imphenzia Games depending on where I find most motivation at any given time.
The first half of this year I put a lot of effort into Imphenzia Music by rebuilding the entire web site from scratch, creating a new web shop, introducing Full Access feature, releasing new singles, releasing the Chillout album, introducing all my music to digital stores and Spotify. I also made the decision to allow full length streaming of ALL my tracks (previously high quality streaming was only allowing the first two minutes.) I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do because since then the number of Full Access users have dropped and now one person every other month opts for (the low end of) Full Access. I will keep things as they are, but I think the lack of interest in downloading my music is one of the reasons why my motivation has switched to Imphenzia Sountrack at the moment. Not to worry, it'll shift back at some stage =)
There is a hole in my virtual studio
I've purchased quite a few great music products over the past few of years, and my current virtual studio consists of the following:
I'm fairly happy with this list of software but there is one gigantic hole. For trance I don't feel I need anything more than Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1 at the moment - it's such a competent set of instruments for that purpose.
For Imphenzia Soundtrack, on the other hand, I am missing an instrument or library for soundscape textures, glitches, and futuristic grunge style sounds.
I've done some online searching today and I found Native Instruments Abysnth 5 which I think will fill this hole perfectly. Absynth comes with 1800 presets and a, what seems to be an amazing, morph feature that will allow the creation of totally unique sounds. I've been looking at the demo videos and listened to the sample tracks and all I have to do now is to decide whether I should by the boxed DVD version or the digital download version. If I get the digital version I'll have it straight away but I've got boxed versions for Nexus, Cubase, and the Complete Composer's edition (featuring all the large sample libraries) so it would be nice to have the cyan colored Abynth 5 box in that collection. Both the digital download and boxed version is €179 (including shipping) so I'm leaning towards the box after all. My PayPal account is missing $25 so I'll wait to see if any non-exclusive licenses go so I can place the order.
Good hardware for the gigantic sample libraries
The only music hardware I use nowadays is my 88-key Roland FP-7 stage piano as master midi keyboard and to play improvisation to come up with new ideas. Some will find it amusing, but I use the Asus motherboard sound card. I down-mix all the audio without it ever touching the sound card so it serves no purpose to get another one. In fact, I've got a Creamware Pulsar 2 DSP sound card that I bought for £2000 - but it's old now and they didn't bother to release any Windows 7 drivers for it... But again, I don't need it =)
If you found this post because you are looking for a computer with a lot of memory to run the EastWest libraries - I can confirm that my current computer handles it beautifully:
Asus P6X58D-E Motherboard
24 GB RAM using 2 x Corsair 12GB (3 kit) DDR3 1600MHz/CL9/DOMINATOR
Intel Core i7 3.06GHz Quad 8MB Cache Processor
Corsair AX 850W PSU
Crucial RealSSD 256GB (for the sound libraries, they consist of over 177'000 files)
Corsair SSD Force Series 120GB (for Windows 7 x64 Ultimate
It's now 1:55 am and I have just finished the task. It wasn't easy because I spent much of the day with my son (I am on paternity leave) and once he was in bed I watched a movie (True Grit) with my wife.
So what did I accomplish today?
I composed the following short pieces of music (in addition to the loops I composed yesterday):
Game Over loop
Menu Music loop
Boss music loop
Life Lost music hit
Get Ready music hit
Stage Completed music hit
I then down-mixed and mastered all 13 variations where 10 variations are seamless loops that have to be cropped (thank heaven for my seamless loop cropping script =).
Once all the mastered audio files were in place I watermarked the 13 tracks and created OGG and MP3-previews for my site. Then, of course, I encoded the audio files that you get in the license mail which is WAV, OGG 128kbps, OGG 64kbps, and MP3 190kbps versions for each variation. While uploading all the newly encoded files I also entered all the details, keywords, descriptions and meta data about each variation into the database.
All in all I am very pleased with my effort today and to finish it off I also had a few moments to spare to create a news slider for Once Upon a Platform. It uses some graphics from my friend Kenny Lex (thanks mate =)
[caption id="attachment_273" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Once Upon a Platform - News Slider"][/caption]
I'm truly enjoying making music at the moment and Imphenzia Sountrack allows me to vary the music genres a lot. The other day I was making orchestral battle music, today it was retro styled arcade music, so I'll flip my 9-sided coin tomorrow and see what the next genre will be. Any requests??
Today I've been working on a new addition for the non-exclusive music library and to totally switch from the orchestral music I composed yesterday I have taken a memory trip back in time. "Once Upon a Platform" is a new Level Kit of music mainly designed to be used in happy cheerful and cute platform games.
So far I have composed the short, medium, and long stage loops - but during a discussion with a good friend of mine, who listened to the preview of the long loop, he noted that the long loop varied quite a bit in mood - as if it should be split into two separate tracks. My initial intention was to keep the long loop interesting by alternating the music quite a bit, but I have to admit that he was on to something.
When he added (I translate from our chat conversation in Swedish) "In my mind I have just sorted out the first transition in the track... He [the player] just ate a mushroom."
This spawned the idea. Yes, [email protected] it, it's a classic Super Mario moment and what I'll do is break out the two loops into separate pieces of music and, since they run at the exact same BPM, encourage the game developer to play them simultaneously during game play (keeping them in sync) and cross-fade between the two to switch the mood.
Dim the lights please...
...and allow me to demonstrate with this simple video:
Before creating the video above, I must admit, I almost bought some stock Flash animations to put together a little demo video of a platform character picking up a power-up. After 2 hours of browsing for suitable animations to buy I gathered my senses and thought - let's just focus on what I really do - make music instead and just do something "good enough" for a change =)
More about "Once Upon a Platform"
If I've kept you reading so far, maybe you are sold on retro game music as well? This morning I launched Cubase with intention to create a set of music hits and loops for cheerful, child friendly, platform games. This meant a simple beat, a nice little base line, retro feel added by some background arpeggios, and a saw lead with portamento (gliding.)
It didn't take long until I had the beat and bass-line in place and after striking the keys on my Roland FP-7 stage piano for a few minutes I also had a cheerful piano added to the mix. I don't actually use the sounds from the FP-7 (other than while playing freehand.) Why not, it's a great sounding instrument? Yes it is - but I just can't bring myself to have ANY external audio hardware as it would spoil the amazing Audio Mixdown feature in Cubase which just renders the entire song into a WAV file much faster than in real-time.
Passion for retro game music
I use my headphones when I make music, a pair of Sennheiser PXC 450, so neither my wife nor my son could hear what I was working on. I always get a big smile on my face when I create (or listen to) retro style game music. It's something about the melody and the sounds, an in combination with my child hood memories that flips the little switch in my head making it impossible to remove the grin. This is when my wife walks into the room. I unplugged the headphones to reveal the source of my smile and let's just say that she doesn't share the same passion for this as I do. She is, by the way, pregnant again and she muttered something about that she'd rather give birth, with a long and painful labor, than listen to that ["that" being MY cheerful retro platform music].
Just as quickly as my wife left the room, my 1.5 year old son walks in. Apart from scattering some soil from the large plant onto the floor, something he feels compelled to do every time he walks past it, he walks straight over to me. I lift him up onto my lap and he listened to the full loop, twice, totally mesmerized. He is either frozen in shock (wife DNA) or unable to move in amazement (my DNA.) I choose to believe it's the latter. It's all the convincing I need to be sure I should continue and as a result I have now released the preview video.
Why the name?
I initially called my project "Platform Heaven." As I was out driving in the afternoon I had time to think a bit more about it. I remembered that some of my recent tracks (that hint on what game genre it may be suitable for) have the genre at the end of the track name, not in the front. I should stick to this pattern.
Coincidentally, this morning I also searched the internet for a web shop to buy the DVD box "Il était une fois… l'Espace", a french cartoon from 1982 that I fell in love with as a kid. The english name for the series is "Once upon a time... Space" and I plan to buy it so I can re-watch it myself and, of course, force feed this amazing series my son. I can't foresee any problems competing with the super hi-tech 3D animation masterpieces of today.
It goes without saying that I put half and half together = "Once Upon a Platform." which also reflects the retro aspect to the track. There. I said it anyway.
Equipment and Software used
As usual, I use my trusted Cubase 5.5 as a sequencer and apart from the percussion (which I use the Cubase native Groove Agent One for) it's all exclusively Nexus2 (by ReFX). I use the original sound banks along with the expansions Omnicron 2 and Omnicron 3. The SID / chip style arpeggios are also Nexus2 leads with arpeggio enabled with a rate of 64th.
This is what my project looks like at the moment (the combined loop of casual and uplifting moods):
Once Upon a Platform - Cubase Project View
I hope to finish Once Upon a Platform tomorrow and upon completion I will add it to the library of non-exclusive game music.