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by George "Fat Man" Sanger
Gamasutra
[Author's Bio]
May 20, 2002

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Resource Guide

Un-Asked-For Advice for The Aspiring Audio Guy

This isn't an article as much as it is, in convenient list form , a sample of mistakes you're likely to make in the beginning, middle, and end, er, I mean, The Advanced Level, of your career

You didn't ask me to post this to the web, the publishers did. Sadly, you must now read it. I weep for you. And I hope, Dear Reader, you will weep for me as well, having to write for those who might not want to read my advice. Ah, me. And I, I, who was once the Greatest of Them All. You know, they always consider audio as a lowest priority. Always have. It's all too tragic to think about. Poor you. Poor me. How very, very sad. I must remember this tragedy forever.

Or should I just get over it?

I think that as a developer, content provider, or even player, you'll find that audio for games is largely a matter of getting over things.

I like that. Begin Article.

A lot of "expert" authors such as myself might get up on a soap box. They might draw a line in the sand and challenge the reader to cross it. Come out fighting. It's a Jungle Out There. I, on the other hand, think it might be more helpful to think of it as a desert…full of mirages and the like. As we travel through this desert, we might see what appear to be lines. And the challenge I'd offer you when you see one is this: I'll erase the line in the sand, you Get Over It.

Let's look at a sampling of the kind of mirages I'm talking about. Here are some mistakes that you might find yourself making at the various levels of your career. Some will require more independent study on your own. Others you only need to hear once to be healed of all ills. I would advise, requested or not, that before you even think about moving deeper into Game Audio, you spend some time learning to recognize and then eventually enjoy the absurdity of the sentiments represented by the phrases that follow.

Now, I certainly have to admit that one or even all of the purported falsehoods that follow might at some times be quite true. Truehoods. But, but assuming that any one of them is true before proven so can only bring misery to you and me, ass. I think that's the expression.

Beginning Mistakes

  • A game needs music that sounds like game music.
  • Oh, Boy, I'll sure make lots more money in game audio than I would in, say, Engineering or Pizza Delivery.
  • The music I like ROCKS. The music that I don't like SUCKS.
  • I deserve my job more than That Other Guy.
  • Before I start making sounds, I'm going to need the right equipment.
  • We musicians can't let people walk all over us.
  • This career will be a perfect stepping stone to the film and TV audio business.

Intermediate Mistakes

  • I'll have to write music that sounds like movie music.
  • Let's see, my boss asked for a sound for each action. That means one sound for each. One footstep, one "ouch" sound…that'll sound real good after 40 hours of playing.
  • And 40 minutes of music will be just fine for those 40 hours of gameplay, too.
  • The company will never find anybody else to write this style of music the way I do.
  • And certainly nobody with that kind of talent would do the other stuff I do.
  • And even if he did, he'd never be willing to put up with the crap that I put up with.
  • And there's no way he'd do it for this little money.
  • Before I start making sounds, I'm going to need the right equipment, and some decent patch and sound effects libraries.
  • Upgrading my motherboard will solve my problems.
  • I should repeat my themes to emphasize them, as I learned in composition class.
  • This is just like the film and TV audio business.

Advanced Mistakes

  • I'll have to write music that sounds like the radio, or those guys on MTV.
  • They just don't respect us Audio Guys.
  • Something besides repetition is the thing that's making my game sound bad.
  • Do you realize how rich these people are getting off me?
  • Before I start making sounds, I'm going to need the right equipment, more patch and sound effects libraries, and a state-of-the-art studio with nice acoustic wood paneling, and the topless intern who comes through occasionally with sandwiches with the crust removed.
  • This will save my floundering film and TV audio business.

And, Finally, the Dreaded

  • Boy, the Fat Man sure knows a lot about game audio! I bet his advice can help me!!!

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