With the addition of the Collabinator and continued readiness of people willing to build/join teams to create games, I figured it'd be good to make up a basic guide to the STEPS and general process of making a game, as there are MANY teams out there who look at a popular game and say "I like that, durp! I bet I can make something like that if I try hard enough and get enough people"... and go on to waste a lot of peoples' time. This also provides basic advice on how to run a team and get things going cleanly and efficiently with organized pipelines. Although it was written with the 001 Game Maker in mind, the general advice is designed to work for all teams and settings, including flash developments.
Read up on it here.
So you're probably wondering why I haven't posted any music so far this month... two reasons:
1. I'm working on a really cool game score right now!
2. I'm saving up my creative energy for a massive project I am doing for some school credit... it is going to be my longest piece yet by far!
I'll reveal more details once I get writing, but I hope to put the whole finished big project up here when I'm done. :D
So yeah... I did it again...
Someone needs to steal my website creation program.
A year ago today, I posted a list of goals for last year. Although I had forgotten about said list about a quarter the way through, I managed to approach quite a few.
First off, I want to best my number of compositions this year... I didn't have as many as last year due to time issues, but I really want to overcome this year at least (or else set a bad trend).
I managed to equal the number of released compositions as last year to the song (I think it's 34 or something like that)! If you count the ones I couldn't release because they were paid score pieces, then I exceeded it by a good amount. :)
Second off, I want to get my music out there- find some flash developers who need orchestral-cinematic music and deliver. By the end of this year, I aspire to see my music in a game that gets greater than a daily 5th.
I had one game project, Goin' Mental, frontpaged. That was a good step forward.
Third, I want to go on a journey back through the history of music, and hopefully lead some fellow Newgrounders with me, in a series of competitions, collaborations, and personal projects aimed at chasing down every link in the grand chain of evolution of classical from its humble beginnings in caves and huts to its grand practice in massive halls today... I think we as a whole don't appreciate the thousands who paved the way for our grand orchestras today.
Although this didn't exactly work, I had a lot of fun with my early Epitaph of Seikilos Competition, following it up by several "Historical Sketches" across the middle ages and beyond. Who knows, maybe I will succeed this year.
Fourth, I want to help share what knowledge I have in composition with as many people are willing to share their knowledge in return or merely listen.
I've helped a number of new composers to the portal find resources and get a solid footing. In addition, I've had a chance to learn from a lot of great people who are far beyond my skill. This one is definitely golden. :D
Fifth, I want to finally set up a group of dedicated artists, programmers, and musicians willing to work together and as parts to both spread their knowledge and make some really awesome games, animations, art pieces, and compositions. Whether this gets done or not, I don't know... but it's something I have wanted to do for a very long time.
This didn't exactly go through, but it's still on the table for the future depending on time, energy, and position.
My goals for this year:
First, I want to earn more money this year in composing than in 3D modelling. So far, earnings in music have been next to nothing, more of a significance thing (the support of my friends and fellow musicians means a TON to me, so THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!).
Second, I really want to have a proper flash film score done- the kind where I compose directly for a finished project.
Third, I'm hoping to pass 8 minutes in a consistent composition. This would be really cool at some point.
Fourth, I'd like to push 200 fans and 200 compositions before this year is out. It's a very big stretch, but I think I can get it if I write enough.
Hey guys, just wanted to thank everyone who has supported me, enjoyed my music, given me constructive critique, and became a fan. All of you have been a great support until this point of 100 fans! Thank you all with the most sincerity I can muster! I look forward to keeping the music coming.
-Sam "Samulis Augustus" Gossner
Decided to make a new website in Adobe Muse... much nicer than the old one methinks... any feedback is welcome!
Music has always been a field full of many different genres, styles, composers, new theories, old theories, and everything in between. When a composer, or any creative artist, sits down to write a piece, they draw from either preexisting forms or, in very rare cases, their own abstract form (shout-out to Harry Parch (sp?)). In painting, there are set styles- Realistic, Stylized, Abstract; just as Music has its baseline styles- Instrumental and Electronic. Within both, there are hundreds upon hundreds of varied forms, elements, aspects, genres, sub genres, and so on within, forming this huge mess of classification that often times has overlap among components.
No two genres are exactly alike.
No two composers are exactly alike.
Although similarities may exist between the sounds of a certain genre, each person brings to the table their own experiences, just as each painter may have their own skill level, brush control, and favor regarding the type, style, and size of brush and technique of application.
Among each Genre are common statement beliefs that are held alike. For example, we all know a Dubstep song has to have "Dem Wubs", or that Church music is generally modal. These form and underlying framework of understanding that we each apply and use to classify music, allowing us to have these "genres" in the first place.
Here comes the real biggie... you remember how I mentioned that no two composer is exactly alike? Well, nor is any two people's perception of a genre. For one person, the velocity of the bassline in a dubstep song should be a certain amount, while the other might think it should be higher- perhaps because of our ears, or our minds, or our own experiences with music (or even just life) in the past.
As result, many people end up comparing pieces to their own ideals for their own perceived classifications. While this is not wrong, nor unexpected, it can lead to some confusion with the artistic vision of the artist. Just as some people might see some modern art as "a bunch of splattered paint" (like me), others can draw extraordinary creative jumps from it- it's about their deceased great-great-grandfather or so on. The unique prospective of the artist, and his or her unique combination and "REMIX" of styles and genres will result in something that is often times not expected.
So many reviewers react by saying the work is inadequate or that the artist is still developing when the artist feels he or she is further along, but really in a different direction.
This gets tricky because music, like painting, is mostly a subjective thing.
Many composers are excellent emulators who enjoy doing that. Hey, power to ya. However, those of you who are and/or feel all composers should be emulators, I urge you to consider this- just because someone up there or from long ago did something a certain way doesn't mean everyone else needs to, or even needs to follow their lead. The works of our ancestors and our contemporaries should be our inspirations and our interests, but they should not be our measuring sticks to measure up each other to. They have come across their styles their own way, just as we all have, and there is no reason any composer should expect themselves to write the same way when writing personal pieces.
In the world of scoring, being able to emulate is however a key requirement. Sometimes the producer wants a certain sound or can only furnish for a certain style or orchestration. However, that doesn't go to say you shouldn't add your own touch to things. Many contemporary scores are the same set of magic tricks arranged once again by the same set of magicians... We all can sit and point out that motif from Holst's Planets there, or that thing that sounds like something Wagner would write, or say how that score sounded like John Williams, but the real scores that win are not emulation, but the NEXT step in the creative process- combination.
I will point out now the score to How to Train your Dragon. Those of you interested in scoring who have not heard it, I strongly urge you to listen. It combines elements of Videogame music, elements of Irish, Scottish, and Scandinavian folk, classical, traditional Cinematic effects (dat waterphone sample and dose typical wild french horn counter-melodies in the epic parts). However, it does this in such a way that is original and very broad. It sounds like John Williams meets Howard Shore meets Bagpipes meets Richard Wagner meets the Videogame scoring industry.
Next comes the issue of "fullness".
Most people seem to expect Orchestral music to be close, powerful, and strong- even the gentle stuff. They fail to recognize that there is beauty in restraint and in a flowing, rubato quality that doesn't even fill your ears that much. When I say that I spend three hours on a piece and people give a fuss about me rushing and it not feeling complete, it is because they expect a certain fullness that is only achieved with weeks of slow work, years of musical training, and actual DAWs (or compression). I chose to write a SIMPLE style. I CHOOSE to partially embrace Minimalism- I'm not going to stick my face in a textbook and write a Piano Sonata in G Minor with the proper key changes, timings, and form. I'm going to write music that inspires and transcends form- music that can get to the point without the fluff and the pomp. Music that you can hear and say "Samulis wrote that". The other day, I was speaking with Bosa and he told me one of my pieces sounded "like a Samulis piece". That made me smile... that is what I want people to say. I don't want people to say "that sounds like Hollywood!" or "That sounds like <insert old arcade game here>!" I want them to judge my work, and the works of others, for what they are- melodically, harmonically, and symbolically. Although it's nice to be compared to something larger than me, I am neither developmentally that far, nor of the same chain of evolution.
My ultimate test is if a piece can move me, and let me tell you, cookie-cutter cinematic doesn't- I have simply heard too much of it for that to work... and this doesn't only apply to orchestral. It works with jazz, country, electronic and so on.... If I can smile when I listen, it's good music... and that's what the fans do. Sometimes it is just the tiniest little fragment, or a single chord change, but it can affect the listener greatly.
So what's my point?
It doesn't matter where my music or your music lies in the grand scheme of things, it matters how much of your creativity and ingenuity is showing. Measure the music to its composer, not your idea of what it should sound like. Hey, if you think you can do better, message me and I will send you the full MIDI and let you arrange it to your contentment (I'm completely serious). Sometimes you have to think beyond mere notes to get the message, and sometimes it takes more than mere patterns or "laws" to create a GOOD message... other times, there isn't a message for a reason.
Everything I do in my work is either symbolic or following a personal "law" of a genre. Pretty much everything. Although I might not perceive that symbolism until the work is finished, it is there. Motifs pop in early in simple form, chimes ring on certain beats or at certain points, patterns repeat until certain times. Sometimes you just need to step back and read the music like a good reader would analyze a good book- take it line by line, follow each instrument, follow just the emotion of the music. When you start doing this, and when the mere concreteness of notes and chords disappear back into colors and emotions like it was before you learned all that theory, you will have gone full circle and now have a greater understanding of the workings of music.
Fact: Over the past few weeks, new threads against the AP forum rules (don't advertise your stuff, etc.) have grown tremendously.
Fact: Many new videogame and film composers from around the web join NG and post a few links to their stuff in hopes of landing a job.
Fact: Most of those people show no respect for the existing population, its rules, or bother to be constructive or a member of the community.
When people graduate college or whatever program or self-training they go through to become a film/videogame composer, they instantly start the search for work... we all do it, we all know to do it, yada yada ya. However, many people simply feel that if they cover the world with links to their work, they will win jobs and make more money than if they bothered becoming a member of the community.
Let's think about things for a second...
When you bother joining a community and immersing yourself in its forums, games, and community, you are first off showing that you are human and a decent one at that (even if you are a snob or whatever). Second, joining that community will give you the MOST IMPORTANT thing in EVERY CAREER IN THE WORLD (aside from professional dung-slapper), NETWORKING, or a large array of random contacts who will do awesome things like tell you about this new chord progression or recommend books or even discuss those abstract theory concepts you spent $40,000 USD/year at that fancy conservatory to learn! Guess what people, these contacts can even turn to the guy they just worked for and say "Hey, I know so-and-so and he has a great [insert style or genre here] feel, I think he'd be a great choice for your next project!" (yes, this has happened to me and actually happens). In this case, you get a network among developers instead of just that random guy you e-mailed with your demo track of professionally mixed material you made to win Hollywood cinematic jobs and a fancy Resume with a cover letter.
Annoying thing number two... many of the people who just come on here try to copy and paste their Resume cover-letters in fancy letter formatting on here or add their HTML embeds... which, of course, DOESN'T WORK, and end up cluttering up the nice clean forums with messages like:
My name is Paul Johnson, and I am a professional film/game scorer, having attended so-and-so college and worked with some industry leading greats! My style is broad, I have written dark cinematic to light electronic for a variety of games published on everything from Flash to XBox. I would be pleased to make music for your My Little Pony collaborative Flash Film. Please contact me at Contact@Paul.Johnson.com.
-Paul Williams Johnson III, Esq.
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Then I look over and see that he has two posts, the other of which is an attempt to link to his demo reels on Soundcloud which got the usual "here's where you post advertisements, and READ OUR RULES!" reply that the poor mods have to deliver over and over again.
I see about two to four of these A WEEK. And let's be honest, I'm sick of it. Not only do they come onto our site posting their stuff and links and taking jobs, but they do so without even bothering to experience Newgrounds properly. I myself would NEVER go onto another forum board and just post looking for jobs before joining in a bit and chatting with members. It is infuriating to see flash devs hit with a wall of stuff like above, but to know that those people who wave pieces of paper and long past job experiences are cutting off one of the most valuable resources for new composers- the very GATEWAY into game scoring- with their years of experience. I would rather give a job to a new composer who I feel has a chance at greatness that see someone who isn't even a member of this community, or is already with a foot in the higher industry bending over for "some extra cash". Flash scoring is an excellent start to any career, but it will not sustain you unless you find some very dependable contacts or have lots of time. If you have received a college degree in scoring, I see no reason to be scavenging our forums for jobs when you have every right to start reaching for larger projects.
As humans, although our instinct is to trip everyone else and run to the finish line, we must acknowledge that by helping each other forward, we will achieve far greater glory than through our own solo work. Collaborations, contests, long nights spent discussing everything from good plugins to counterpoint in the Audio Portal skype chat- these things are what help us ALL forward, even the best of us, even the most inept of us. It is through a strong community that we prosper.
I can look in my skype window and see a number of contacts, all of whom I respect immensely, although their styles may range from classical to dubstep to ambiance to heavy metal- these are my brothers and my sisters, my mentors and my pupils, my friends and my clients. They make me work harder, faster, and more competently than I ever would have if I had not decided to venture onto the forums. They link me to tutorials, books, new music to explore, complete guides to harp pedal diagrams, and more than I could possibly need. All this- ALL OF THIS could be yours, those of you who just pop onto newgrounds for a minute and run off.
Lastly, the people who expect to charge $100 per minute of music- no offense, but Flash gaming is too little for you. Unless you plan to score that top 1% tier of Flash work (the stuff that gets ported off to XBox and Steam and such), you are charging way too much for what is mostly a hobbyist's duty. If you are charging so much due to your education that says it's okay, know that the rates you learned are not for hobbyist flash games, they are for games made by companies or individuals with financial backing and sponsors that sign on before music is needed. 99% of flash games are not that. They are beautiful, hand-crafted artistic endeavours (yes, even the crappy ones) that have very little to do with money and very much to do with art. If you can't handle creating beautiful music on royalties or pocket change, once again, please, save us the despair when you don't get hired for your extravagant fees, and try some higher jobs on sites that offer jobs to professionals.
For those professionals who ARE here and charge respectable prices or sometimes even work for free for the young flash animators of Newgrounds and the internet, and are active members of this community, and comment only constructively on the works of others, and serve as a basis for inspiration for those of us less qualified, educated, and gifted, I salute you as earnestly as possible- you are the wonder-workers that keep this community together. Those professionals who at least bother to join in the community, you have my thanks, and I earnestly hope you will consider trying to help some of the newer composers out in terms of growing and finding jobs.
For those of you like me who are still on the ladder up, keep compos(ed/ing), and don't let the Turkeys get you down! (great book)
IMSLP is an online music/score library devoted mainly to making the Public Domain works of composers from earlier eras of classical, as well as works that are under Creative Commons licenses (such as my own). I have decided to release most of my scores as I convert them from their raw digital form to readable, playable form (ie, split chord blocks, clean things up, correct notation). Currently, I have a few of the larger works (Kingdom, Journey/Progress) and the new Bassoon Duets up, but I plan on putting up more.
If you are interested in performing these at a commercial venue, send me a PM/E-mail and we can talk about it. :)
So, I took the time to convert Opus 100 (The Kingdom) into a (almost full but not really; sorry woodwinds) orchestral score. Feel free to check it out on Issuu- the cool thing is that it plays the audio WHILE you look at it. :D