Talk at BFIG 2018
Getting AAA Sound on an Indie Budget
There's unfortunately no video for this one, but you can download the slides below! Clicking the button will open up a link to Google Drive. Note that formatting might look a bit off unless you download it. There are some notes on a few of the slides that expand on what's written, but I wanted to add a few more notes as well:
The charts showing how much composers reported being paid per minute of completed music on projects, and about how much audio professionals were paid per project, were from the GameSoundCon Game Audio Industry Survey from 2017 (full report here). These were included partly to give people an idea of how much they should budget, and also to lead into a conversation about why some composers charge $100-300 per minute of music for indie games, while others typically charge between $750 - 1000 per minute (not noted on the slides, but experience level is also a big part of this).
The Mario Kart example, from a playthrough by XCageGame (full video here), is to show a really neat vertical remixing interactive music system. You'll notice that the trumpet has the melody in the beginning, but once Rosalina enters the thunderstorm portion of the course, a dance beat comes in, and the guitar takes over the melody to amp up the intensity. Once she exits the thunderstorm, we keep the same exciting drum beat, but orchestral instruments take the melody over instead. How I would typically approach writing something like this as a composer is to write the song with all of the instruments, at whatever the highest intensity level is. Afterwards, I just need to decide which instruments should be at which level of intensity, and deliver the track in layers to the developer. It's still just one minute of music, but because of the layers coming in and out at different times, it avoids a lot of the repetition and makes for smoother transitions between different intensity levels (ie. between battle and explore).
The examples on the sound design page are footsteps without any volume or pitch randomization (on the left), and the same footsteps with volume and pitch randomization (on the right). While you should definitely always have variations for your footsteps, this is just meant to show how much small variations can add to your sounds. Good audio implementation can make a huge difference!
I think I stressed it in the slides, but seriously, please use audio middleware if you're able to. After going through the process of coding all of my audio in C# using Unity's built-in audio engine and then doing the same thing in Wwise as an exercise, it was so much faster and easier for me to do everything using middleware. And it's free for many indie projects!