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Re: The Artists thing

Pieter Hulshoff wrote:

> > I have to do that are downright tedious - but which have to be done to make the game work.
> Ah, but experience has taught me: you can force yourself to program.
> Forcing yourself to compose music usually does not give the best of
> results.

I suppose that's true. Good point.

> > If (as a musician) you came to me and said that you had a chunk of music
> > that really would suit (say) an underwater level in my game - I would
> > certainly consider adding an underwater level to suit the music.
> Usually the music is fit to the game, not vise versa.

Well - but we are trying to do a spot of lateral thinking here.
If musicians are a scarce item - and if they can't FORCE themselves
to compose to fit a particular level - then the relatively plentiful
programmers who *can* force themselves to work may have to design
levels to fit the music they can get.

That's not the usual way things work - but why to we have to do things
the usual way if it doesn't suit the brave new OpenSource world.

> It helps to have a
> good theme (and the mood that needs to be set) in mind when composing
> music.

Yes.  Hopefully that's something we can all agree on before we even
agree that we should work on this new project.

There is no use me going into it imagining I'm doing a cute clone of
Kirby with it's ultra-annoying bouncy jingles - when the musician is
a dark post-industrial Quake enthusiast!

> > That's something I hope to understand.  Part of why we want to get this
> > new mailing list working.  Why do programmers feel flattered when someone
> > re-uses their (say) joystick library - while musicians go ballistic if
> > someone ripped a melody line?
> It's not just that. Everybody seems to feel that way about music. How
> often don't we hear a song on the radio, and think: Nice song, but they
> ripped most of it from this or that other song. Can't they think up
> something for themselves?
> Also: it's hard to think of a melody line that hasn't at least in part
> been used before.

Yep.  You have 12 notes to start with, 144 pairs of notes (lots of which
sound horrid next to each other) - there probably aren't more than a thousand
or two possible two-bar snippets.

> > I suspect most people would be outraged at the implied suggestion that the original music was bad.
> Suggestions for improvements are always welcome with musicians, but
> giving them an improved version might not make it past the doorbell. :)

Yep - where with programmers, I'd be more likely to say "If you can do better,
put your money where your mouth is and show me a better version."

> > In the end, music or software - it's all just bits stuffed into the computer by humans.
> For musicians, music is a lot more than that. Most of then don't need
> that computer for playing music anyway.

I can write code in my head too.  We are less different than you think!

> > Compilers and text editors are free ONLY because we've made them free.
> > Those folks at GNU did all that work at huge personal expense.
> Ah, but I'm not talking tools here. There's usually a programmer willing
> to make some music tool (btw: is there a fasttracker like program for
> Linux? I used to love those music programs on the AMIGA/MSX).

I've played with 'Funktracker Gold' - it seems like the ones I remember
from Amiga days - but I have no idea whether it's "good" or not.
There are (I believe) a couple of others to choose from - Funktracker
just happens to be the one I found first.

> Since MIDI doesn't cut it (what sounds good on one soundcard may sound
> lousy on the next), musicians will need a very good soundcard, possibly
> a synthesizer/sound module, and perhaps some good recording equipment to
> record samples.

Hmmm - OK.
> > It also takes the skills and knowledge of a musician to tell the
> > programming crew what he/she needs from the tool - to give them
> > encouragement and feedback...and some assurance that this whole
> > effort is worthwhile.
> That should be doable. Just as long as there's not 1000 programmers each
> writing their own insufficient tool. Get a few good ones together with a
> few musicians, and you might be off on the right track.


Regrettably - I'm more of a graphics guy - so I won't be doing this.
However, I think you could get a reasonable team together if there
could be shown to be a need for this.

> > My wife continually asks me "Can't you *sell* your next game - why
> > on earth are you giving it away after spending so many hours on it?"
> I always had this crazy idea of writing it cross-platform, releasing it
> on Linux for free, and charge Windoze users for it. ;)

Yes - but Windoze users have an annoying habit of porting your Linux
version onto Windoze for you - at which point it's free everywhere.

Some people *HAVE* done this though.
> > Where do I *find* an artist who will want to work with me on some hypothetical future project?
> Depends really. It might be a good idea to do the reverse: find an
> artist with a good idea for a game, and guide him with your programming
> knowledge to make the design into an actually playable game.

Yes - that's what I meant.
> > Mostly, people say "prove that you have a viable game engine" - they don't
> > want to throw any effort into building massive 3D game levels if the
> > programmer is going to drop out halfway through.
> Personally I still favour the 2D games over the 3D ones. I just love a
> good game of Salamander (Gradius III?) on my MSX emulator every now and
> then, and Turrican's always a good waste of time as well.

Well, it takes all sorts.  I'm just an utter fan of 3D.
> > There is no "pulled in at the last moment" in OpenSource-land because
> > there are no deadlines to meet and the game can go on being developed
> > until everyone is either bored or happy.  There simply is no "last moment".
> True perhaps, but if most of the programming is done, and then some
> musicians and draw artists need to arrive to get the rest ready, the
> pressure will be on them. Trust me: it can take quite some time to write
> a good song. You have to be in the right mood to get it right.

> > But it has to be a TEAM effort.
> That's a thing where you see a lot of friction. I've seen it happen when
> reacting for a plea for musicians that you get the 'ok, but before I
> give you the honour of working on my project I would like you to send me
> a demo song that goes like this and this, and uses these instruments'.


Tell me who it was so I can FLAME him mercilessly.

I'd *NEVER* *EVER* do that.

I *have* turned away a musician who insisted in working in MIDI.  I
pointed out (as you did earlier) that MIDI isn't really all that
practical for games - but couldn't get the message across.  He
responded by sending me a 10Mb 'WAV' file - which is also useless
for a downloadable game without a CD-ROM.  When I carefully explained
about '.MOD' formats he put the entire WAV into one sample of the MOD
file and made the entire song be one note. (Well, almost)

I gave up...which is a shame because the tune was actually quite good.

> You can imagine the joy of wanting to join such a project. :) You get
> the 'ok, but you send me a part of the game that can rival that of
> professional software first' feeling.

That's just apalling.

Please don't judge everyone against that standard!
> > I'm acutely aware that commercial games houses treat artists and
> > musicians extremely badly.
> I have no idea if this is true, and if so: why.

  It's certainly true.

  The received wisdom is that musicians and artists graduating from
art college need to get a portefolio together before they can
get a GOOD job with an advertising house or something.

  The games companies know that - so they'll pay a graduate artist
*peanuts* to work on their game - and those newly graduated people
go for it...stick it out for six months and then go get a *real*

  Programmers on the other hand can get a good job when fresh out of
college - so the games companies have to pay top $$$ to get them.

  Then - I guess there is a high turnover rate amongst the artists
and so they are perpetually the lowest paid, least respected
members of the team.

  I hate that - and one of the things we are trying HARD to do in
this mailing list is to stomp that stereotype into the dust and
fashion an OpenSource world where ALL of our talents are considered

  In our world, the roles are reversed.  Artists and musicians who
will work for the fun of it are RARE - programmers are everywhere.

  We programmers imagined that this stereotype of the arrogant
domineering programmer was why musicians and artists were not
flocking to help us out with free games.

  However, if you are typical - then that's evidently not the reason!

  But we want to find out WHAT THE REAL REASON IS - so we can fix
it, attract the right people - and turn out first class high quality
OpenSourced games instead of the crap we are doing now.

  Did you know that there are currently 23 Tetris clones for Linux?


  Because Tetris doesn't need great artwork - and you can get away
without music because there are no 'moods' that you need to convey.

  I *know* I can program as well as the guys who wrote <insert
your favorite PC game here> - but without the quality artwork
and music, it'll still be a failed project.

Steve Baker   HomeEmail: <sjbaker1@airmail.net>
              WorkEmail: <sjbaker@link.com>
              HomePage : http://web2.airmail.net/sjbaker1
              Projects : http://plib.sourceforge.net

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