We highlight the audio track at this year's Brighton conference

Heard About: Develop Conference 2013 audio preview

[This feature was published in the June 2013 edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]

Develop Conference 2013 – Audio Track
Date: Thursday, July 11th
Venue: Brighton, UK

It’s that time of year again. Very soon, the game audio fraternity will be heading off to buzzing Brighton for this year’s one-day Develop Conference Audio Track – a regular fixture for anyone involved with or aspiring to be involved with the business, technology and creativity of making music, sound and dialogue for today’s – and tomorrow’s – video games.

The programme promises a thought-provoking set of sessions for both in-housers and freelancers alike, delivered in a collegiate atmosphere, including:

Sound and Music: Best Friends Forever – Comms and Influence for Better Results
Jo Orland, senior sound designer, SCEE;
Jim Fowler, music production supervisor, SCEE

Sound design and music are often thought of as separate entities by developers (and even by audio teams). By working together from the early stages of development, we can not only produce a more coherent audio experience, but also use our combined might to get better support from the wider team.

Using examples from games worked on over the last 12 months by Sony’s Creative Services Group, Jim and Joanna will explain how working together – from creative pitches through to implementation and bug fixing – allowed them to produce more cohesive projects.

Communication and influence techniques will be discussed in order to inspire sound designers and music composers to present a united front for better, faster, stronger results.

Let’s Stop Re-inventing the Audio Wheel
Tom Colvin, audio lead, Ninja Theory

Game audio middleware companies have done an excellent job of creating tools that are now near ubiquitous in the console game environment. However, there are many things they don’t do.

The current paradigm is that the game will trigger a sound ‘event’ (with parameters if necessary) which the middleware engine then takes care of. This means game developers still have ­­to write a lot of code to do all the other things that happen before that point.

Digital audio software provides a great example of how these tools could work, but the game engine equivalents are nowhere near this level. This seems like a missed opportunity. Whenever tools get standardised, everyone benefits. This usually happens because someone makes a brilliant solution that everyone starts to use.

It may not even be the best tool for the job, but its existence as a standard platform allows people to worry a lot less about technology and a lot more about creativity. I want to spend more time doing creative audio work, and less time worrying about how to make it work. I hope we can start a discussion that may eventually lead to more standardisation of game audio tools.

Artistic Expression in Game Audio Design
Chanel Summers, co-founder, Syndicate 17 and Adjunct Professor, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Division

Game audio has come a long way when measured by quality and advancements in technology, but still trails other art forms when it comes to artistic expression.

Modern technology now makes it easier than ever to create high-quality production audio but does nothing to advance the greater goals of high artistry and meaningful work. Indeed, it can be demonstrated that the emergence of advanced audio technology in less skilled hands is often the enemy of artistic value, as it provides so much freedom to over-produce and over-implement sound in games.

Given such infinite flexibility, how can game creators begin to make better and more memorable sound by using less, being cleverer, viewing the acoustic environment as a musical composition, and having a better understanding of the principles of cinematic sound design?

Summers will discuss how employing proper aesthetic principles to drive the latest game audio specific tools, technologies, and techniques can enable content creators to push audio, and games themselves forward in an emotionally impactful way.

If game audio’s your thing, there really is only one place to be on July 11th, in Brighton, checking out our speakers’ latest ideas, thinking and innovation, networking with them and partying beside the seaside. We very much look forward to seeing you and also hearing what you have to say in the customary open mic closing session.

We have much to learn from each other. Come and be inspired.

The Develop Conference’s audio track runs on Thursday, July 11th. Visit www.developconference.com for full programme details or join the conversation on Twitter via @developconf.

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