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Article by Manuel López
Sound and music design for video games has always been a complex discipline, for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it seeks to replicate very high quality standards, because of the influence of other mass media – especially film and television; on the other hand, the extent and low linearity of today’s interactive experiences make designing adaptive sound with a film perspective a titanic task, difficult for most development teams to address.
Such a system is capable of automatically managing a set of musical fragments designed by a composer
In order to remedy this situation, a group of Narratech researchers has designed an adaptive music system for video games based on emotion recognition, recently presented at the International Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology (ACE) congress. Such a system is able to automatically manage a set of musical fragments designed by a composer, in order to achieve a soundtrack that changes according to the decisions made by each player. Since the method described is based on text analysis, its possible applications on narrative-type video games are very broad. In addition, the research team, composed of Manuel López, Nahum Alvarez and Federico Peinado, is currently working on an extension of the aforementioned system that would add the ability to guide the player on the right path in three-dimensional environments, also through the management of the soundtrack.
“Towards an Emotion-Driven Adaptive System for Video Game Music” is the most recent work done by researchers Manuel López Ibáñez, Nahum Alvarez and Federico Peinado and has been accepted for presentation at the international congress ACE (Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology) 2017.
The article proposes a software architecture for an adaptive sound system, designed in order to improve the listening experience in narrative video games taking into account the emotional response of the user when choosing the music that is played in each playable sequence. This architecture would also allow to compose in real time new melodies that adapt to each situation.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic you can access the full text here
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Last Thursday, January 25, we attended a meeting that Valve organized with Spanish developers in Madrid. The goal was to explain and resolve doubts about the tools Steam makes available to distributors and developers to manage the games they publish on the platform. Steam is currently available in 26 languages, is distributed across 390 content servers around the world and accepts 38 different currencies. Over the past two years, diversity in content offering has reported to the platform an increase of 26 million users and the number of games released has doubled to $100,000 in sales in the first month alone.
From valve, a number of general tips were offered to make effective publications and increase the chances of success of our project:
It is recommended to have good planning regarding the release of our video game. Not only take into account the previous movements but also the subsequent ones. Making a good market study and giving visibility on social networks are good examples of this.
2. Pre-launch management
Before the game is published, we recommend making use of a tool that has the platform, through which you can place the launch of your game as “Coming Soon”. Thanks to this tool and the customization options of the page, we will be able to make ourselves known before launch, thus having a base of potential buyers who will be able to follow the news of our project as well as be notified on the day of launch.
It’s critical to create and interact with a fan community. Approaching the potential audience of the game and knowing what they expect from our project will help us achieve a more mature product. Likewise, we can make use of download keys to promote and boost the number of users, but make good use of them to avoid a possible devaluation of the game. Unlike consoles, being able to update the game when needed, without any filtering, will help solve possible errors with an immediacy that will certainly reduce the potential negative impact on the user community.
4. Audiovisual reinforcement
It will help us a lot to create a trailer that concisely and directly exposes the key points of our video game, without creating false expectations that can negatively impact our rating within the platform.
5. Quality feedback
Another recommendation is to teach our game to people who are totally honest. It is important to know how to find these people capable of gutting and criticizing our work constructively so that they give us a feedback that will undoubtedly be very valuable when it comes to finishing or improving our video game.
Localization is a factor that can determine the commercial success of a video game based on how many languages it is translated into and whether that selection is appropriate for the product. Despite the distribution of the community by language, the economic impact of the localization behaves quite differently. For example, the sales impact of translating a game into English is 200% more sales than if we didn’t. It should also be said that this is not an exact rule, as each market has different cultures, different ways of understanding entertainment and specific tastes. Thus, translating a First-Person Shooter into Japanese may not be as decisive as it would be with a JRPG.
When it comes to mobile-to-PC game ports, you should also consider key elements such as resolution due to differences in screen formats used on one platform and another. Another key element is input as it must be fine spinning to re-implement the control scheme by making the user feel natural with the controllers. Finally, we should reflect on the business model, as some models, such as free-to-play on mobiles, are meaningless in PC games where there are longer gaming sessions. An example of this is the tendency of some studios to select the premium model on PC, rather than the original Free To Play mobile.
8. Mentoring Program
The mentor program consists of the discovery of new video games through recommendations of prescribers with recognized fame in the video game sector (YouTubers, streamers, journalists…). Users can discover niche games thanks to mentors, which sweetens the commitment to less commercial or crowded video game formulas and genres. In the latest update you can check the social networks (YouTube, Twitter etc.) of the mentors to, for example, see what type of user follows their activity and if it is the ideal mentor to advertise our game.
Events are yet another opportunity to try to increase the visibility of our video game as the company makes available to developers an easy way to communicate events to the community of each game, such as live streams, updates of great content, contests and tournaments…
10. User analysis
Its purpose is to show feedback from users who acquired a title so that the community has enough information before purchasing it. In turn, it is vital information for the study because it captures the experiences of its players and allows us to become aware of which parts work and please our audience and what are the critical trends about the product. All this information allows us to modify the product to the taste of the community seeking to minimize criticism and improve the final product as long as proper monitoring is performed.
Hackers & Bards, the first Conference on Technological Innovation and Narrative in Video Games, is coming! It is the first meeting between professionals and Spanish-speaking amateurs dedicated exclusively to narrative video games. If you want to know in depth this exciting do not miss the talks, workshops and round tables that we have prepared as part of the extensive program of Madrid Games Week (MGW). With the best creators and specialists in the country you will discover all the technological and design keys that will shape the future of interactive storytelling. Check out the calendar of activities that detail a few lines below! 🙂 All activities of Hackers & Bards (#HackerBard) are free, but keep in mind that they will be carried out within the Pavilions of the Fair, so to enjoy them you need: 1. Purchase your MGW ticket, whether it’s the full pass, family pass or simple tickets for every day that interest you. Don’t wait until the last day because the tickets get more expensive and they could be sold out! 2. Register for the event #HackerBard (Eventbrite or Facebook), to record your participation so that you can then request a certificate of attendance. Access will be free throughout the day until capacity is completed, so be sure to come before the seat activities begin. See you soon! 😉 ***** Calendar of activities ***** FRIDAY 19 OCTOBER 16.30 The Bard Algorithm, from writer to game designer – Carlos L. Hernando (Risin’ Goat and Blustery Games) 17.00 The Evolution of Narrative Video Game Design – Tatiana Delgado 17:30 Universal arguments as video game worlds – Antonio José Planells (Technocampus-Pompeu Fabra University) 18.00 Roundtable: The challenges of narrative video game design – Carlos G. Gurpegui, Joshua Monchan and Michael Santorum; moderae Mar Marcos SATURDAY OCTOBER 20 12:00 Pros and cons of the episodic format in video games – Ramon Nafria (BadLand Publishing) 12:30 Storytelling with puzzles – Jon Cortazar (RELEVO) 13:00 Roundtable: Design lessons from interactive fiction – Rubén Aguilera, Pedro Fernández and Jesús Martínez del Vas; modera Jaume Esteve 16:00 Location of narrative video games – Ramón Méndez 16:30 Mechanics and Narrative: When you put a cinematic and stay so pancho – Ludipe (AlPixel Games) 17:00 The Orderly Creative Process: Narrative Design and the Three Pillar Theory – James Feijóo (ToolkitsEU) 17:30 Guide and Narrate Without Words – David Cinnamon (Tequila Works) 18:00 Analysis and criticism of narrative video games – Seve Acosta (3 Person View) 18:30 Roundtable: The formation of a narrative designer – Beatriz Díaz, Roldán G. Párraga, Blanca Macazaga and Diego Sánchez; modera Juan Manuel Moreno SUNDAY 21 OCTOBER 12:00 The Storyteller, The Zombie Cat and the Quantum Cavern – Alberto Oliván (Fictiorama) 16:00 The programmer-designer conflict in the artificial intelligence of the characters – Ismael Sagredo (Complutense University of Madrid) 16:30 Here’s how machine learning works in video games – Maximiliano Miranda 17:00 The Ballad of the Hacker, from programmer to researcher in narrative – Federico Peinado (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)