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I have recently, as in this week, been approached by a games software company who mainly make games for mobile phones, with the request for some foley sounds and sound design. I also found, during my research, reference to the software called PureData.

How relevant is PureData to gaming sound design and production? Is it a case of having to learn a programming language? How else could one deliver sound to the programmers?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You wanna read some of the stuff done by this guy: http://www.videogameaudio.com/ He's done a few papers on using Pd in conjunction with game engines.

Also if you do some googling, a modified version of Puredata was used to create the music in EA's "Spore".

Here are some other cool links to check out:

http://videogameaudio.com/AES-Feb2011/AES41-04Feb11-GranulationOfSoundInVideoGames-LeonardJPaul.pdf

and

http://vimeo.com/7122167

Regarding the actual delivery of sounds on mobile games, it depends on the development environment... are they just asking you to create sounds and they'll take care of implementation on their end?

There are people far more experience on this topic than me, so hopefully someone else will chime in here. Please correct me if I've made any mistakes people!

Joe

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@Joe Thanks for the info and links! –  Andre Feldmann Feb 11 '11 at 9:00
    
@Andre not at all, glad I could help! I tend to mine and store information like this and then spew it back up when someone asks :) –  Joe Thomas Cavers Feb 11 '11 at 19:00
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Hi In my opinion experimenting with PD and delivering "some foley sounds and sound design" for a mobile app are two separate things entirely. Client deliverables and PD aren't really part of the same stream. They can be parallel thought read below ..

PD isn't a common way to hook sounds into a game. I've never hear of anyone using PD within the context of a basic mobile app and its really VERY rare for PD to be used at runtime for commercial games. Obviously there are a few exceptions. You don't need to learn PD or programming to work on sound for games.

What you do need to know is how to communicate and understand the client expectations regarding how sounds would work within the context of the game so you can clearly define what A) you need to deliver and B) what the programmers need to do to get it working as intended.

The most common way for sounds to get hooked into a game is by a programmer simply calling sounds in a VERY basic manner IE : when "x" happens play sounds OR play sound looped then stop loop once "X" happens. Advanced audio features and middleware are not common in games until you get to large scale game development for PC and console. Most small developers particularly mobile developers are writing their own game engines anyway and they certainly won't have more than the most basic audio features.

If you took the time to learn PD (months) you could build demo's to show clients and programmers how the audio interactivity could work. This helps communicate ideas faster and gives everyone the chance to give feedback on sounds as they might work in game. I wish I had a quick audio prototyping tool like PD it would solve a lot of problems early on in pre-production.

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I actually think that PureData/MaxMSP/SuperCollider/CSound or whichever audio programming language is really handy to know for game sound designers. And here is 2 practicle examples why :) --- My weapon of choice is SuperCollider - currently we are looking at our weapon sounds and how they playback in game. In SuperCollider I can mock up a system to imitate what I want the weapon to do in the game, chuck in the sounds I want and see what it sounds like. The whole prototype takes about 2 hours. I can then fine tune and change the code and the sounds to taiste. I then can tell the 'real' programmers what I want. It's a damn sight quicker than bugging the programmers for prototype code. This approach is much the same as what LeonardJPaul point is. Another example of great use of Max/MSP is EA's Sims. (If someone knows this story better than me please elaborate) - Basically from what I understand is that their entire VO recording process is pretty much automated using Max/MSP. From recording to editing and file naming. How that came to be is that one of the sound designers there could script in MAX. So even though I agree it's pretty useless for actual sound creation or implementation in games, it can be really handy for testing or creating pipelines. -- my 2cents -- :)

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Spore famously used PD as their audio engine but it took a hell of a lot of work to get to play nice in a game context. The problem is that PD isn't made to be IO efficient, it works great standalone but in a game there's a whole load of processing and memory requests, making them operate in an orderly fashion is all part of a game programmer's job (particularly on a PS3 where performance can differ dramatically depending on how optimised the code is).

So the bottom line is there are usually better ways to achieve what you want in a game context without using PD unless you're prepared to a lot of re-coding. However as a environment to test audio ideas, it's great.

I've been working with Andy Farnell on a few projects and there are times where we've deliberately avoided PD and gone with other solutions for exactly the reasons above.

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PureData one could say is the freeware version of Max/MSP. You can do a lot of stuff in Pure Data if you like this "coding" language.

The best place to start with the basics is here http://www.pd-tutorial.com/ which is also free to download.

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Pure Data is a great software and you can do a lot with that. It's a graphical programming environment so you don't need to compile text strings. There are objects with functions and you make chains connecting one object to the other. I think it's easier for you to try it than talking about it. It's free and multiplatform and you can download it here. I suggest the "extended" version which includes many interesting externals. If you feel lost by the emptiness of the GUI the best place for help is the forum, where loads of geeky genius are ready to help. As Nikos suggested "loadbang" by Johannes Kreidler is a great start, very clear and useful book indeed. So, quoting the great Andy Farnell "use the source", use pd.

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Pure Data is great for interactivity and real-time sound generation if that's what you need for this project. It's now easy to embed within mobile applications on iOS and Android thanks to Peter Brinkmann's libpd. It's already being used as an audio backend for reactive music application RjDj and the hugely popular Inception App by the same makers.

I've been using it for about a year now to create reactive and interactive audio/music and can honestly say it's one of the greatest audio tools I've come across.

It's probably not the most efficient way for audio in games but it's relatively low entry barrier (compared to other programming languages), flexibility and the fact it's free and open source (Vanilla version) makes it worth considering.

I must however agree with other answers on here that if you will mainly be doing foley and general sound design you should not even think about using Pd. It's completely useless for that ;)

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