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Old 28 November 2015, 01:22   #1
lordofchaos
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Amiga Games - Sound design & Audio production discussion

With so many Amiga threads dedicated to gameplay and graphics I though I'd make one dedicated entirely to sound. Maybe shed some light on how important implementation can be, and how important it can be to have good sound design.

So which game developer had the best sound design? What musician made the most of his or her limited 4 channels and restricted memory restraints? Which game used sound in a dynamic and exciting way? Who had the best audio routine?

I think the first game that made me think how effective and powerful good sound design can be, was gods. After being sonically assaulted (in a good way of course) from the opening soundtrack, I was already drawn into its audio majesty.. But that's just the start. Hearing the subtle nuanced sound effects of the hero climbing a ladder whist he panted, or when he dropped a great distance with a cartoon whistle followed by a shriek of pain. Throwing knifes at the wall and hearing them clank against the bricks. There seemed to be something very special at work here, a consistent design. Even the pop up inventory bar that opens, the sound glides upwards and then downwards. What impressed me back then and still does to this day was the attention and care given to the sound.

The Amiga's 4 channel sound didn't seem to limit the game, if anything it help concentrate it's effectiveness, steering the developers to a more ambient based approach, which I`m glad they did, having music play whilst you fight and solve puzzles might have lessoned the games atmosphere.

Would like to hear what others think on the subject. Maybe share some other audio elements from Amiga games.

Last edited by lordofchaos; 28 November 2015 at 20:32.
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Old 28 November 2015, 02:12   #2
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Yes, Gods is a nice example. Not as good as Gods but worth to mention IMHO is ChaosEngine. Despite low sampling frequency the speech samples sound good. If I don`t mess it up Starglider2 sound effects are great. Also quality sound effects and music: Genetic Species and The Shadow Of The Third Moon. Subwar2050 has nice sound atmosphere. Also ProjectX, Swiv, Lemmings, Roadkill, Fire&Ice, SlamTilt, Speedball 2 and Worms DC need to be mention. Adrenalynn is simple but it fits. Tritus has a nice selection of effect samples.
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Old 28 November 2015, 11:45   #3
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Amiga Games - Sound design & Audio production discussion

I think the best games took the sample rate and 8 bit precision into account when recording the instruments. They very carefully sampled them to hide any 8 bit aliasing / quantisation. The Hired guns menu track is one that always stood out to me. I would never have guessed it was on an amiga if i just heard the track. Did they use any tricks on this to make it sound better?
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Old 28 November 2015, 12:46   #4
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I do not know, there is so much good games with great sound design Personally I love playing some cd32 games with cd tracks like Chaos Engine, Alien Breed Tower Assault and 3d, Disposable Hero, Fire and Ice, Mission Impossible, Fightn'Spirit, Xenon2 even only floppy games got awesome music like Lollipop, Ruff'n'Tumble, Super frog, Lotus 3,Desert Strike, Slam Tilt, Pinball Illusions, Aladdin and those are only some of "big games", there are also some PD ones and less popular games that have great sound too. If I have to type my favorite musicians it would be Tim Wright, Richard Joseph and Allister Brimble.
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Old 28 November 2015, 14:29   #5
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I think Battle Squadron has an excellent sound design... a great sound track and some of the best SFX I ever heard in any game.. the explosions are really awesome, I love the sound it makes when your ship explodes, and it mutes the right music channels when playing too many sfx, so you can barely notice it (That was really annoying on Hybris).

Another game I think it has a great sound design is Global Gladiators.

Now, there's some great discussion to have about this.

For example, I really don't like how many games make you choose between music and sfx, that's a very known problem on Amiga. I always wanted to know if designers made this because of memory constraints, or was just a way to deal with the limited 4 channels (Which is really weird since most of them were used to have just 3 channels on previous machines and still make nice music and sfx).
I usually choose SFX over Music... in the amiga version of Dragon Breed, I have the feeling the music uses only 3 channels, and the SFX is really sparse... I prefer to play it with music, but I really feel it could fit both music and sfx on it.

Swiv in the other hand, doesn't have music, but it doesn't feel empty because it has some really nice BOOOM explosions and stuff that always fill the game, and it's one of the few Amiga games I can remember that uses stereo in a cool way.

And what about New York Warriors with a cool soundtrack that uses just one channel?
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Old 28 November 2015, 15:13   #6
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From a technical perspective I love the Hippel sound format. It comes in 3 flavours, standard Hippel, Hippel 7V (7 voices/channels) and Hippel COSO. Jochen Hippel (MadMax) created some very memorable music with it such as those from games like Chambers of Shaolin and Wings of Death. Music and SFX at the same not a problem when youre using your own mixing routines.
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Old 28 November 2015, 18:58   #7
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Turrican 2 did it for me, personally. I think that's still the game with the most apt and best implemented soundtrack and sound design there is out there.
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Old 28 November 2015, 20:28   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shatterhand View Post
I think Battle Squadron has an excellent sound design... a great sound track and some of the best SFX I ever heard in any game.. the explosions are really awesome, I love the sound it makes when your ship explodes, and it mutes the right music channels when playing too many sfx, so you can barely notice it (That was really annoying on Hybris).

Another game I think it has a great sound design is Global Gladiators.

Now, there's some great discussion to have about this.

For example, I really don't like how many games make you choose between music and sfx, that's a very known problem on Amiga. I always wanted to know if designers made this because of memory constraints, or was just a way to deal with the limited 4 channels (Which is really weird since most of them were used to have just 3 channels on previous machines and still make nice music and sfx).
I usually choose SFX over Music... in the amiga version of Dragon Breed, I have the feeling the music uses only 3 channels, and the SFX is really sparse... I prefer to play it with music, but I really feel it could fit both music and sfx on it.

Swiv in the other hand, doesn't have music, but it doesn't feel empty because it has some really nice BOOOM explosions and stuff that always fill the game, and it's one of the few Amiga games I can remember that uses stereo in a cool way.

And what about New York Warriors with a cool soundtrack that uses just one channel?
I've never really played Battle Squadron that much, I usually end up getting stuck on the tile screen, listening to the amazing soundtrack. Yeah Global Gladiators has good sound overall, once again the musician making concessions for the sfx, I think the frantic nature of the game helps distract you just enough not to notice.

I think sometimes the developers just make a binary choice of music or sfx, and not all musicians are too comfortable with using less than 4. Then you have the masters of 3 channel music, Iveson for example. Chuck Rock 2 does a fantastic job at this, music with ambient sounds and sfx, all squeezed into 4 channels

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Turrican 2 did it for me, personally. I think that's still the game with the most apt and best implemented soundtrack and sound design there is out there.
Couldn't agree more, It's like John Williams and Star Wars.. Chris huelsbeck and Turrican. What would these creations be without their fan fares?
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Old 30 November 2015, 20:24   #9
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I lack the artistic knowledge to properly judge the music and sound effects quality, but I remember that Psygnosis games impressed me immensely in this department. Titles just as Shadow of the Beast, Agony, The Killing Game Show...

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Old 30 November 2015, 21:50   #10
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I think sometimes the developers just make a binary choice of music or sfx, and not all musicians are too comfortable with using less than 4. Then you have the masters of 3 channel music, Iveson for example. Chuck Rock 2 does a fantastic job at this, music with ambient sounds and sfx, all squeezed into 4 channels
Uridium 2 also manages great sounding music and FX, including all important player firing sounds, essential for that arcade feel.
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Old 30 November 2015, 23:22   #11
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One of the hardest tricks is getting nice chord samples to loop properly without sounding like "dingdingdingding," Huelsbeck even complained about that.
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Old 01 December 2015, 01:21   #12
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I think sometimes the developers just make a binary choice of music or sfx, and not all musicians are too comfortable with using less than 4. Then you have the masters of 3 channel music, Iveson for example. Chuck Rock 2 does a fantastic job at this, music with ambient sounds and sfx, all squeezed into 4 channels
Iveson is master even on TWO channel music, Wolfchild docet
[ Show youtube player ]

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Old 01 December 2015, 01:41   #13
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This is freaking awesome using just 2 channels.

I am sure a lot of amiga games use just 2 channels for music. I believe most 8 bits games also do use just 2 channels for music, leaving the third one for SFX, and yet we have lots of amazing music on 8 bit games.

THere's no reason they couldn't use just 2 channels on Amiga and still create amazing pieces.
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Old 01 December 2015, 01:49   #14
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is a difficult art to master, tried to do something like that for starquake, but did not come out too good :/
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Old 01 December 2015, 02:26   #15
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I've never really played Battle Squadron that much, I usually end up getting stuck on the tile screen, listening to the amazing soundtrack.
Then you should check the hiscore tune. Surely beats everthing on the Amiga till 1989 and most of the later game tracks. Unbelievable good.

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Old 01 December 2015, 03:06   #16
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is a difficult art to master, tried to do something like that for starquake, but did not come out too good :/
Give me 16 channels and I still can't come up with anything that good
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Old 01 December 2015, 14:41   #17
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One of the hardest tricks is getting nice chord samples to loop properly without sounding like "dingdingdingding," Huelsbeck even complained about that.
I would say it depends on if you do the chord samples yourself of use existing ones. With existing samples you need some luck or maybe there isn`t a good loop point. If you do your own chord samples and want to use them as loop you "build" them in a proper way. Alternative you need to play bad looped samples parallel with others, so you don`t hear the bad loop.

For 2 channel music there is not much to trick around. Beside a good sample selection I only know the mod2samp "trick" to get 4 channels into 1. If the player routine is good then it just overwrites the music. So you can use all 4 channels for music and if a effect sound happens it get priority. phx has released his player routine here some years ago that is intelligent. The game BabeAnoid uses 2 channel protracker mods for ingame music + 2 channels for sound effects. While no effect sample is playing you can use all channels. With some "clever" usage the music won`t sound interrupted.
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Old 01 December 2015, 15:45   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shatterhand View Post
This is freaking awesome using just 2 channels.

I am sure a lot of amiga games use just 2 channels for music. I believe most 8 bits games also do use just 2 channels for music, leaving the third one for SFX, and yet we have lots of amazing music on 8 bit games.

THere's no reason they couldn't use just 2 channels on Amiga and still create amazing pieces.

I remember Shadow Fighter using 2 channel music, and they sounded pretty cool. Makes me want to try some 2 channel mods myself, perhaps we could have a EAB 2 Channel module competition type thingy Just for laughs.


Quote:
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I would say it depends on if you do the chord samples yourself of use existing ones. With existing samples you need some luck or maybe there isn`t a good loop point. If you do your own chord samples and want to use them as loop you "build" them in a proper way. Alternative you need to play bad looped samples parallel with others, so you don`t hear the bad loop.

For 2 channel music there is not much to trick around. Beside a good sample selection I only know the mod2samp "trick" to get 4 channels into 1. If the player routine is good then it just overwrites the music. So you can use all 4 channels for music and if a effect sound happens it get priority. phx has released his player routine here some years ago that is intelligent. The game BabeAnoid uses 2 channel protracker mods for ingame music + 2 channels for sound effects. While no effect sample is playing you can use all channels. With some "clever" usage the music won`t sound interrupted.
Yeah loops can be a right pain in the ass! I`m not sure how it is for other musicians, but I tend to zoom in close as I can to find two peeks at the same height, have the loop region there.. Doesn't always work. Much better to make your own, then you make sure there's a part of the sample that remains at the same volume long enough at the same pitch.
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Old 01 December 2015, 16:58   #19
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Yeah loops can be a right pain in the ass! I`m not sure how it is for other musicians, but I tend to zoom in close as I can to find two peeks at the same height, have the loop region there.. Doesn't always work.
Spend some time with an Ensoniq Mirage, where you can't even see the wave (just hex numbers), and you'll master the art of looping . I still need more time with mine, but basically, it's really hard. But you can sample properly to compensate, too. So it helps if the source material is of your own creation.
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Old 01 December 2015, 21:19   #20
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i did experiment writing little AMOS programs to automatically make samples loop. take a reasonably long sample, fade it out in a portion at the end with a sine-squared profile, take the same length portion at the beginning and fade it in the same way, then cut the beginning off and mix it in over the end. Results vary, but at worst it sounds like "wowowow" rather than "dingdingding" which is certainly an improvement...

i also experimented with chords made up in whole-number ratios, so you can get perfect-looping samples created from short waveforms in about 1k each, although i never tried actually using it in music, it was just a quick and dirty test. One of these days i'll get round to trying it...
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