Those past 3 weeks were rich in researches!
I finally finished to read the book "Music Instinct" by Philip Ball, which helped me a lot to understand how western music in composed, structured. It also gave me clues on the way composers manipulate and write music that affect listeners emotions by changing tones, rhythm, volumes but sometimes break the rules and create some unexpected moment in music that can gives a wide range of emotions from pleasing to disturbing or even repulsive. Thus, I am now moving on the next book which is: "A composer's guide to game music" by Winifred Phillips ; which should gives me a better understanding of the skills necessary for a composer and of the function of music in games.
1 - THE PROJECT
In the meantime I continued to work on the project with my teammates Sara Leone and Eleonora Dragoni (both Art Students in Abertay), we are now much more sure about the subject and the medium we will work on. To give you a better idea about the project, here is the high concept of the game:
Our project is a Historical VR Experience telling the Saga of Ragnar's Sons in which the player will be able to explore two different environments from the early medieval era while learning about the Saga. The game is about interacting with historical representations of artefacts and discover the culture through folklore legends. The project aims to research novel ways of presenting and preserving cultural information and invite the player to take up the role of investigator by examining and interacting with artefacts.
Therefore, the overall audio will be a mix of realistic and imaginary elements depending on the area of the game. After many researches on music in Viking era, we decided that the music will be authentic but not accurate as there are no written music from the Viking Era and the Saga is a Myth.
Here is a link to the music researches document:
AUDIO WORK IN PROGRESS
As the VR experience will have a narrator I did a recording dialogue spreadsheet, based on the template made by Rafael Chandler, to help Eleonora (who wrote the script) and our future voice actor to make it easier for him to act during the recording session.
The audio design document is on its way, for now a third of it is done. That is the same regarding the audio asset list and the music spreadsheet. I need more information about the assets that will be present in game to finish them.
I will updates those little by little as soon as new elements or ideas will come into the project. Some researches on technical matters such as the integration of Steam Audio and Fmod in Unreal will need to be completed to finish the documentation.
The audio gantt chart for the first semester with a year overview is quite finished. To complete it I need to have a better look at the skills I need to develop for this honours project. For now, I need to:
learn audio implementation and about audio blueprints in Unreal
learn Steam Audio
perfect my Fmod knowledge
improve music composition skills by reading book and making music.
I am sure I will find much more to learn as more as the project will grow.
Next week, I will post on my blog the first draft of the music I composed for the start of the game, when the player will arrive in the first Limbo. It is ritual/ceremonial viking music, we will see how it sounds.
2 - PROPOSAL FOR THE DISSERTATION - THE AIM
following the previous post and after al the research done for the project, my aims and idea for the proposal changed a bit. The lecture about the way of building the proposal for the dissertation really helped to structure and define mine. It was explained that first of all, you need an project aim which is the big picture statement about the project. For this, you need:
a rational, why would you write about something?
a context: is it new, exciting, unexplored, current, relevant.?
problems: what are the limitations and constrains? How people respond and construct around it?
question/statement of intent: what you are going to do with the project?
Method: are you using timeline?
anticipated outcomes. what is the outcome? What people will value the most from it?
Why is your project worth it?
Here is the first draft of my Aim for the proposal:
Music is an element of video games since its early beginning and is now more than ever present in games due to the evolution of technology.
This project will try to underline the impact of music on emotions (how it impacts and triggers it) in Virtual Reality game context and explore how composer for games can help making the game experience more immersive and engaging for the players.
By composing several tracks for a game prototype, the project will try to understand which factors and element in music triggers emotions as well as explore the different music composition techniques that could be applied. interviewing game music composers and doing music analysis. at the end of the project. To see how people, react emotionally to music, a comparative test will be done between 3 groups: one will play the game with music composed for it, the other one will do the same but with music from other composers and the last group will only listen to the music on its own.
The aim of the project is to try to find ideas and ways to improve gamers experience with audio, thus might help to sale more games.
Now, I did more researches because the project turned out that it will be made for VR, I discover that sound design can be used also as a way of triggering emotions. Thus I am wondering if I should also include it to the proposal. I do not know if it is a good idea and if it will broaden too much the subject or if the VR audio context narrow the subject quite enough to allow me including it? The best would be discussing it with my supervisor as soon as one is assigned to me.