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Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar Weekly Update Mon 15th Feb 2010 12:18am

Category: Weekly Updates

Beta testing for MARDEK 3 has been going on for a week now, and it seems to be going reasonably well. As far as I know, only about three of the testers have actually finished the game so far (if the others have, they haven't mentioned it to me), over the course of a week... so, uh, maybe that gives you an idea of how long it is!

I've got a huge To Do List of things that I still need to do before it's 100% finished though, and it seems to be increasing in length by the day. Hopefully though I can get most of it done in a week or maybe two... I'll certainly be focusing on it full-time for the next, uh, while. Until it's out.

I'm not sure when to contact sponsors. I could contact a few this week, perhaps, but I sort of don't want to have them say 'yes, we'll sponsor it now!!' and then I'll have to say 'can you wait a few weeks while I finish it?' or something.
So, uh... that.

Also before sponsorship, I want to make a Walkthrough thing that can be linked to from within the game (it'll get me extra money from the sponsorship, I hope), and I also want to make a soundtrack available, so, uh, I need to actually compile such a soundtrack!
There are 71 music tracks in this version (though some of those might be things like Victory Fanfares so the actual number of pieces of music may be more like 68 or 69), with the shortest ones being around 40 seconds and the longest being over six minutes. That's, uh, a lot of music!
I have absolutely no idea how to price such a soundtrack or how to go about selling it, so I'll be doing research about that this week, maybe.
Also, as most of you probably know, I compose my music in 'midi' form and tend to generally use the General Midi Soundset when recording it for MARDEK; this makes it sound very, uh, 'fake' and the instruments don't sound at all like REAL instruments. I personally feel that this is important for the STYLE of MARDEK; it fits more because it sounds more 'SNES-like' or something, rather than like some sweeping orchestral soundtrack used in modern games and films; such a thing wouldn't fit with the pixelated graphics, I think.
BUT would people buy a soundtrack of music if they knew the tracks would just sound like midis (even though they were mp3s or whatever format these soundtracks are generally in)? Or would people EXPECT me to somehow increase the 'quality' of the instruments to make them sound more 'realistic' to consider buying them?

Actually, I should give you a sample... [This is an mp3 of the Main Theme of MARDEK using the 'General Midi Soundset', which is used in the game.]
The actual in-game music seems lower-quality though, because it is; it has to be compressed in order for the swf to be of a manageable size (with the music at full size, the game might be like 100MB, but compressed, it's about 17MB).
Also, if I actually included these in a soundtrack thing, they wouldn't end suddenly like that; they're play two 'loops' then, at the start of a third, would fade out; I've noticed that seems to be typical for RPG music soundtrack things that I've listened to. (Shorter tracks may loop thrice, and the longest may only loop once.)

So, uh... is that of adequate quality for a soundtrack to be? It'd be authentic to the game, and very relieving if it WOULD be adequate.
If, however, people would complain or simply refuse to buy a soundtrack if the instruments sounded like that, I would have to go out of my way to find appropriate soundfonts to make it sound 'the same, but better'.
'Soundfonts', for those of you that don't know, are essentially the equivalent of text fonts, hence their name; with midis, the notes stay the same, but the sound used for each note is different, leading to them sounding more or less 'realistic' depending on the wave sample for any given instrument.
I've got quite a few soundfonts and I've experimented with them quite a lot, but I've never found any that I'm satisfied with; I compose music to be in the 'GMS' (General Midi Soundset), like in that mp3 linked to there, so that's how they're 'meant to sound' and how they were most tweaked for; with soundfonts, some instruments tend to sound too quiet, others too loud, others flatter or sharper than they should, and other such things; the 'textures' get all messed up and I don't like the result.

It seems though that some people think that music quality is on a single linear scale with 'good/realistic' at one end and 'bad/unrealistic' at the other end, so that anything that doesn't sound like 'real instruments' is immediately 'bad' for that reason alone; the same sort of thinking is often applied to pixel graphics, calling them 'bad' because they're 'unrealistic' and not recognising them as a distinct style 'off to the side' rather than at the end of a single scale and, uh... whatever I'm trying to say. o_O
So, uh, I chose to use the GMS, but it's 'unrealistic', so some people may shallowly and linearly consider it to be 'bad' for that reason.

ANYWAY. Uh, that. Is that sort of quality adequate for a soundtrack, or do I have to spend stressful weeks trying to play around with soundfonts to get a sound that doesn't necessarily sound better but which does sound 'more realistic'?


72 Commentson 51 roots

alwaysquick44`s Avatar
Rating Orb alwaysquick44 15 Canada SanguinePhlegmatic 5C 2F
8 years ago | (3)
just a thought on security, on, they have an alpha that is site locked, the game only for now (later won't be)works on that site and anyone can play it... it seems to me that if the beta was site locked, you wouldn't have to worry too much about hackers spreading the game around as much. I might be wrong there since i have no experience on security.

Can't wait for the game, hope it is better than the other two.
dragulldrakan`s Avatar
Rating Orb dragulldrakan 15 Argentina MelancholicCholeric 61C 2F
8 years ago | (5)
hey, would you mind posting the beta testing updates in the recent progress thing? just to give us a way to know if it's going well and that you're alive (I actually had doubts on the last one until you posted the music thing)
Mehz`s Avatar
Rating Orb Mehz 18 Finland PhlegmaticMelancholic 21C 4F
8 years ago | (4)
Glad to hear that beta testing is going well, it seems that the game is much longer than many, uh, "normal" non-flash games. And about the music... I don't think that instruments have to sound realistic, especially not for a game with a retro-ish style. And it isn't the kind of sound that makes a piece of music good, it is the music itself, which in this case is awesome. So I think you should stick with the GMS, I doubt that people would dislike that. And I agree with Musicologist that by making some tracks sound "real" you could please everyone.
Marvelousmoo`s Avatar
Rating Orb Marvelousmoo 17 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic 189C 49F
8 years ago | (4)
I too think that you should keep the same instruments, but make the sound quality better than the compressed game music files. I really like old game music, and your music fits right up there among the music of the better SNES RPGs. I would highly recommend making them mp3s however, because then people can put them on CDs and iPods. (I'm sure you were already thinking of doing this, but I thought you mentioned keeping them as midi files.)
Although I would not buy every song on the soundtrack, I would buy a few of my favorites such as the Goznor theme and maybe the new Guardian Boss battle theme. That brings up a question. Where would we buy them from?
Good job on almost finishing MARDEK 3! I am eagerly awaiting to see how it turned out.
Swiftblade13`s Avatar
Rating Orb Swiftblade13 16 United States CholericSanguine 21C 0F
8 years ago | (6)
the quality is fine(as in good) because most people would be listening on a ipod or computer as opposed to a sterio system so the quality is not a big factor
lokath`s Avatar
Rating Orb lokath 17 United States 6C 2F
8 years ago | (5)
I'd say that if you changed the soundfont, you'd be changing the music irreparably. The instruments used are as important to the authenticity of a piece as the notes themselves. That being said, if>/i> I was buying the soundtrack from Mardek, I would want the music directly from the game.
Sameth`s Avatar
Rating Orb Sameth 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 79C 28F
8 years ago | (5)
Good to hear MARDEK is so tantalizingly close to being complete. Exciting =D

As for your music, it is incredible, especially as you've basically just taught yourself how to do everything. However, if you wanted to made it sound more realistic, could I suggest transferring Sibelius files onto Cubase. While Cubase is actually a recording program, you can alter the instruments used in a Sibelius file, which is helpful as the instrument sets on Cubase are generally very realistic.
turbotowns`s Avatar
Rating Orb turbotowns 16 United States CholericPhlegmatic 216C 3F
8 years ago | (10)
How many more weeks till, it's done? Just by Estimate.
Musicologist`s Avatar
Rating Orb Musicologist 22 Saudi Arabia CholericSanguine 35C 0F
8 years ago | (7)
I would like to point out here that regardless of the SOUND, the MUSIC is absolutely stunning. Personally, I have no problems at all with buying a soundtrack in Midi format. If the music is good, then the music is good. Be it 'real' or 'fake'.

However, I suggest you go with the majority of opinions. I mean in the end it's about selling as much as you can. And it actually would be pretty amazing hearing some of your compositions played with 'real' instruments. I mean they just can't sound bad since the music itself is beautiful.

And btw, when you say Mardek has around 68 - 69 tracks, and you want to release a soundtrack, does that mean the soundtrack would include all the tracks from the game ? How about having ALL the music for sale as mp3 tracks but using 'fake' instruments, and a selection of the best or your favourite tracks for sale as mp3 tracks using 'real' instruments ? Say a selection of 12 tracks perphaps ? That wouldn't take much of your time, and it might please a different crowd.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on this matter. Hope everything works out for the best with you !
Red_robin`s Avatar
Rating Orb Red_robin 16 United Kingdom SanguinePhlegmatic 13C 7F
8 years ago | (4)
I can only quote the same. Very good idea.
I'd love to hear a sample of a track in 'real' instruments form versus the 'fake' original form.
omega18`s Avatar
Rating Orb omega18 21 Italy MelancholicCholeric 15C 14F
8 years ago | (4)
I do agree with Musicologist's opinion: the search for "adequate" music fonts could employ spare time or such, not being anything urgent or somehow necessary for the game.
Also the selection could be based off -your- favourite tracks -and- the most popular ones. Considering how you'll probably be able to monitor which pieces are more or less downloaded/bought, making such a selection shouldn't be such a burden.
I think you could also try out different sets and see which sells better.
If you had already done the track you uploaded in a different way I could eventually make a comparison as to which sounded "better" and if it being in a more realistic fashion could actually be an improvement but for -the game- itself I'm quite sure the current font is more (if not the most) suitable.
So, I suggest you stick with the midi-like sounds for what concerns the in-game music and then experiment on it with the fonts.
And the music really is quite outstanding: that one piece could be the actual soundtrack of the whole game (victory fanfares or so excluded) and still not tire out people (or at least, I believe so), so it -must- be good. And you've proven yourself quite "fanatic" about having the -right- music, which means probably all the other tracks are just as good as the main theme.
Also, I wonder if you could partly build your own soundset(s) but that could be quite heavy work and I really have no idea about how feasible this could be.
About contacting the sponsors, can't you just start taking offers and take your time considering them? The sponsors can track the state of progress of the game (which is by all means already on the verge of completion), either here or from you, and probably they'll also be interested in a flawless game instead of an immediate release so I suppose you don't have to worry about contacting them and having them wait a week or two. Also, the offer should be better than with Raider but it is still possible that sponsorship will take some time. So, why not starting soon with it?
gnome`s Avatar
Rating Orb gnome 19 United States PhlegmaticCholeric 386C 81F
8 years ago | (4)
I do like the MIDIs as they are, but maybe tossing in a 'bonus' orchestral version of the main MARDEK theme would be a good idea..? But again, it might receive negative reviews, since it 'takes away from the feel of the game'---I just think it's best to keep in mind that it's just a soundtrack, not the actual game.
I too would most likely pay for an orchestral version of some already notable track---it'd be difficult to do and you'd likely have to start from the ground up, so I wonder if the few buyers who'd like an orchestral version would actually be worth all the effort.
Either way, good luck with testing, sponsorship, and publishing.
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