Transcript of RuneScape Weekly Podcast #27 - RuneScape Audio

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[00:06] hello and welcome to this week's podcast
[00:09] audio exposed where I mod maje the
[00:12] podcast monkey has with me mod bond
[00:15] stepping out from behind the microphones
[00:17] hello Maude bond is are my constant
[00:20] companion in podcast recording he is the
[00:24] man who is seldom heard but is essential
[00:27] to the production of these things who
[00:29] are you mod bond hi yes I'm I'm an audio
[00:33] developer for jagat specifically the
[00:36] runescape project so as well as
[00:38] recording our podcast what is your role
[00:40] in the business then what kinds of
[00:41] things does an audio developer do sure
[00:43] my day-to-day work involves creating
[00:46] sound effects and music for runescape
[00:49] and integrating those into the game
[00:52] right ok so what do the audio team do as
[00:55] a whole do they record it or do they
[00:58] make it or you know how much of the
[01:00] audio process do they do the runescape
[01:02] audio team currently consists of myself
[01:05] yet Ian and mod Lord as the head of
[01:09] audio the famous mobile or famous mod
[01:11] lord indeed and I work involves writing
[01:14] the music for the game creating the
[01:16] sound effects integrating those and we
[01:19] also have been known to record vo and
[01:22] integrate vo into the game right yet the
[01:24] vo is not familiar with the terminology
[01:26] quite right voiceover yeah for the
[01:29] voiced quests and voice content and and
[01:33] also record real musicians who come in
[01:36] right instrumental musicians and singers
[01:40] actually who perform for some of the
[01:42] music in the game right ok so quite a
[01:44] wide range of stuff then yeah not
[01:46] forgetting of course the essential
[01:48] podcast recording which are the
[01:50] essential podcast yeah yeah fundamental
[01:52] yes so how do you feel audio improves
[01:57] the game how does it add to the game
[01:59] experience I feel audio is incredibly
[02:01] important in games and it tends to add
[02:04] emotion right emotional context so it's
[02:08] not just images on a screen or words
[02:09] that the music helps carry you up
[02:13] really I mean you take a film like a
[02:15] psycho for example the shower scene
[02:16] wouldn't have had the same emotional
[02:19] impact without having the the stabbing
[02:22] cord my teeth no no no yeah it's a very
[02:25] fair point yeah we clean out that it
[02:26] would the tension would be moved really
[02:29] and you through the use of music you can
[02:33] make someone feel happy or sad or angry
[02:36] or pumped up and ready to go so and it
[02:41] really does add another dimension to the
[02:42] game I feel right okay I'm also from an
[02:46] immersion point of view yeah as well
[02:48] like for example the broken home quest
[02:51] which we did and recently there was
[02:54] there was a huge amount of dynamic range
[02:56] between sort of the very loudest and
[02:58] they're very quiet easy audio elements
[02:59] and and the atmosphere and the ambient
[03:02] background sounds and that sort of
[03:05] seemed to kind of be coming from you
[03:06] from all directions right and it assists
[03:09] in making the player actually feel and
[03:12] believe that they are so always in the
[03:15] game rather than rather than sitting at
[03:17] a desk in front of a computer so almost
[03:18] burning a kind of 3d soundscape yes I so
[03:21] quest like working ahead yes for it very
[03:22] much so very much safer I mean if you
[03:24] were to sit outside for example on a
[03:26] park bench there wouldn't be absolute
[03:28] silence you'd be able to hear birds
[03:30] twittering the apps a light breeze you
[03:33] know maybe some distant chatter in the
[03:35] background and it's very seldom in life
[03:39] that you actually hear complete silence
[03:42] possibly in a recording studio or yeah
[03:44] in an anechoic chamber where all you can
[03:46] actually hear is your own heartbeat da
[03:48] lilia but in fact even in that that
[03:51] situation people some people can find it
[03:53] very difficult to stay in that
[03:54] environment for any significant length
[03:57] of time because it's a destabilizing
[04:00] yeah and III can't bear to work without
[04:02] noise yes I I do you know if there's not
[04:06] general chitchat ER I like to have music
[04:08] or something playing radio playing just
[04:11] to keep an ambient noise level for me
[04:13] absolutely absolutely i mean when i'm
[04:15] driving for example i like to listen to
[04:17] calm sort of maybe classical music right
[04:20] um you know for
[04:23] stress level is yeah hardcore ebm dance
[04:27] then no because I might increase your
[04:29] heart level well occasionally butter but
[04:34] yeah on a day to day basis so how do you
[04:36] go about writing a piece of in-game
[04:39] music as an example you know that sounds
[04:43] like a daunting task don't you know just
[04:45] to be told we needed between gay music
[04:47] for this how would you go about the
[04:49] production of that yeah it it can it can
[04:52] be particularly when I first started
[04:54] working here I remember that one of the
[04:56] earlier tracks i was asked to write and
[04:57] I kind of hit this hit this wall and I
[05:00] was like crikey I mean what am I going
[05:02] to do here and but essentially what we
[05:05] do is we take stimulus from the
[05:07] graphical environment that's Riley laid
[05:09] down for us from the quest from the
[05:12] design documents yet and the brief that
[05:14] we're given the you know from the
[05:17] perhaps the race of characters that
[05:19] we're dealing with or the type of
[05:21] characters that we're dealing with we
[05:24] know for example that generally boss
[05:25] fight music's going to be quite
[05:28] generally a sort of quite loud faster
[05:31] tempo and kind of much more intense
[05:34] music whereas say the elf city music for
[05:37] example yes obviously much more calming
[05:40] and sort of strange restrained here to
[05:44] some extent and yeah and it sort of
[05:48] peaceful tranquil yeah beautiful pretty
[05:51] you know there-there's from reading the
[05:54] brief and sort of seeing the the
[05:56] graphics that have been produced that we
[05:57] as I say we take stimulus from and you
[06:00] fairly soon build up a so kind of idea
[06:03] of the kind of feel and the mood of the
[06:07] music that you're going to write and and
[06:10] then it is kind of item personally tend
[06:12] to just sit down at the keyboard and
[06:15] kind of like improvise like play a few
[06:18] riffs or melodies or chord sequences and
[06:21] after a while something also of grabbed
[06:24] me and I'll be like yeah that's that's
[06:25] the kind of radial or the vibe that I'm
[06:28] going for sometimes will will will
[06:31] already have
[06:32] and previous content that we can draw on
[06:37] for example with zaros we had a piece of
[06:39] music which was later renamed zareff
[06:42] stairs and so we decided to reuse that
[06:45] theme for subsequent sours content run
[06:48] okay and so you can you know where
[06:53] you're dealing with it weather weather
[06:55] with previous content you can draw on
[06:58] that tho those musical themes and ideas
[07:00] and it's kind of been done all over the
[07:02] place where we will have an original
[07:04] theme that might have been written by
[07:05] many years ago by save money in forex
[07:07] Yale and then it's it's developed and
[07:09] it's taken to another level and it's
[07:12] expanded upon kind of kind of like many
[07:14] composers do really work they build on
[07:16] themes from previous works and yes all
[07:18] that thing for wouldn't say I want to
[07:20] work on that part of it and bring it
[07:21] bring that forward and exemplify that
[07:23] yes exactly like that okay yeah how long
[07:26] does does it take to write a piece of
[07:28] music then or to make a piece of music
[07:30] for the game well and yeah how long's a
[07:33] piece of string and I mean if I remember
[07:37] a long time ago when we were on a very
[07:40] tight schedule I had to produce four
[07:41] pieces of music in one day I wouldn't
[07:44] really dream of doing I wouldn't really
[07:47] dream of doing that nowadays and because
[07:49] it doesn't do it doesn't really do the
[07:50] music justice Howard Erickson has been a
[07:53] change in how you do music there I'll go
[07:55] from that so so you put more time into
[07:59] music and it's well even in those days
[08:01] we would spend you know we would
[08:04] sometimes spend maybe one or two days on
[08:06] a piece of music to you know to get it
[08:09] to their quality that was an extreme
[08:10] example it really does depend on the
[08:12] content I mean typically a piece of
[08:15] quest music I would probably spend maybe
[08:19] half a day to a day on nowadays so
[08:21] perhaps it hasn't changed a huge amount
[08:23] but then if you take something like the
[08:25] thousand song yeah which was quite a big
[08:27] production involving like numerous
[08:30] vocalists and instrumentalists and term
[08:33] and and and there was a lot a lot of
[08:36] time spent on the production of that
[08:37] piece as well right I'm which which is
[08:41] probably where I was most heavily
[08:42] involved that that track probably took
[08:46] maybe five days I think some something
[08:49] in the region of five days to to fully
[08:53] complete so when you talk about audio
[08:56] production what what do you mean by that
[08:58] term because I would imagine there'll
[09:00] podcast listeners think you record the
[09:02] music and then you just put it in the
[09:04] game but there's a huge production set
[09:07] of things that happen to it between
[09:09] those stages aren't yeah I mean so say
[09:12] you're recording live instruments that
[09:15] will need to be like recorded as a sesh
[09:17] you know that we recorded in a session
[09:19] and then those tracks they might need to
[09:21] be cleaned up slightly they might need
[09:23] to be adjusted in some way maybe someone
[09:26] hit a wrong note for example the a.m and
[09:28] so we'd we might want to correct correct
[09:32] that once it's on into our doors digital
[09:36] audio workstations we we then have a
[09:39] whole range of other options available
[09:40] to us obviously we can do things from
[09:43] mixing the various volumes of things but
[09:46] right we can also add effects various
[09:49] effects delays reverbs other more
[09:53] complicated effects we now have some
[09:55] very high quality orchestral libraries
[09:58] which were able to use okay which are
[10:00] quite different from the very basic MIDI
[10:02] sound sets that were used in the past
[10:04] yeah we're by the instruments have been
[10:07] recorded perhaps on almost every note at
[10:12] various different levels velocities
[10:15] right to give you an example if you play
[10:18] a piano note quietly yes and then play
[10:20] it loud the loud version isn't just a
[10:24] louder version of the quiet note the
[10:26] tambra of the instrument changes yet and
[10:28] the time the text do you know the
[10:30] texture of it and and and these are all
[10:33] important things which give subtle tea
[10:35] and newest to settle teen nuance in
[10:38] runescape quite yeah quite slow so
[10:44] something as simple as I say as simple
[10:47] as clearly it's not but something as
[10:48] simple as recording a small sound effect
[10:50] how long's that take them well we just
[10:54] clear clearly all you do is you make the
[10:56] noise you record it and it's in the game
[10:57] yeah so
[10:59] it's it really does depend and we we're
[11:03] lucky fortunate enough to now have
[11:05] wealth had for a few years access to
[11:08] libraries sound effects library right so
[11:11] we have a vast array of what's known as
[11:14] source essentially available to us and
[11:16] then we'll take that source material and
[11:19] we'll mix it together or adjust it or an
[11:22] editing process its tweak it until we
[11:25] get the sale that we're after however we
[11:28] we have so many sound effects in the
[11:31] game now that we're often able to reuse
[11:33] existing assets to put it in context
[11:36] we've currently got over 22,000 sound
[11:39] effects in the game 22,000 22,000 is
[11:43] just a few thing that's not to say that
[11:45] we don't put new sound effects in the
[11:47] game yeah and obvious your original
[11:49] question was how long does it take to
[11:51] make a sound effect so and and it does
[11:54] in all honesty very it can take anything
[11:56] from a few minutes to you know if it's a
[11:58] labor of love you might spend maybe half
[12:01] an hour on on a particular sound tryna
[12:03] craft that exact sound that you're after
[12:05] also with their cutscenes for example
[12:08] cutscene audio now nowadays tends to go
[12:11] in as one long piece of audio right
[12:13] which is so we will mix that all in the
[12:17] door the digital audio workstation and
[12:20] and then export up one composite fire
[12:23] which gets triggered and played
[12:24] alongside they cut scene as it plays all
[12:26] right um but we do we do i do try
[12:29] personally try to reuse existing sound
[12:32] effects wherever possible partly because
[12:35] it reduces the loading time okay if the
[12:40] players already got these sound effects
[12:41] loaded downloaded and they're less
[12:45] likely to experience lag for example
[12:48] yeah if i reuse if I reason reuse
[12:50] existing assets very sneaky yeah and and
[12:55] it's also we get more value if you like
[12:57] from each of our sound effects and
[12:59] there's no need to reinvent the way if
[13:00] you've already got something really
[13:01] appropriate yeah i mean if say you've
[13:03] got the sound of a glass you know
[13:05] and we don't need a million glass
[13:08] sounds when we we've got assets which we
[13:11] can reuse
[13:12] for that purpose yeah so how how if I
[13:18] was a player how would I go about
[13:19] getting involved in audio work thought
[13:21] something up fascinated me I think the
[13:23] first thing to do is to develop an ear
[13:27] for audio you don't like to take a
[13:30] moment to just stop and just to listen
[13:32] to what's going on around you in
[13:34] whatever sort of scenario you're in and
[13:38] you know it might be music that's
[13:40] playing it might be perhaps you in a
[13:41] park perhaps you're in a busy office
[13:43] block perhaps your next to a busy road
[13:45] or quiet roads or wherever you know and
[13:48] and deliver and listen to the cells that
[13:50] are going on around you music and sound
[13:53] are obviously very closely related and
[13:55] there's you know there's evidence of
[13:57] musicality in in every day sounds right
[14:00] the answer you're hearing around you
[14:02] bird bird twitter is a fantastic example
[14:04] in a birder Bertil yeah so firstly make
[14:08] yourself aware of aware of sound and
[14:11] study it I say listen to it sort of
[14:13] study it from from a more technical
[14:16] perspective there were various free
[14:18] audio tools available audacity is 10 dad
[14:23] see to be fair as the one I use it i'm
[14:24] personally oh okay it's a good bit of
[14:27] good bit of kit and it's free which is
[14:30] yet my favorite things it's free that
[14:33] there are various other door pieces of
[14:35] door software which will allow you to
[14:36] either have a trial period or to this so
[14:40] that you can try out different products
[14:44] yeah it depends I mean for me I've
[14:48] always been a musician and I've always
[14:52] been interested in sound and to end up
[14:54] where I am yeah you know it's a dream
[14:57] come true really because it's working
[14:59] with the two thing you know two things
[15:00] like I really love music and sound but
[15:04] but you may have find you have a bias
[15:05] towards one or the other that you
[15:08] perhaps prefer the writing perhaps you
[15:10] want to play to take up learning a
[15:12] musical instrument yay i'll be taking
[15:13] some lessons you can you know studying
[15:18] music theory for example or perhaps
[15:20] you're more interested in the sound
[15:23] design aspects you know working
[15:26] with their sound design tools or maybe
[15:28] it's more Foley and like local location
[15:31] recording actually grow right now going
[15:33] out with a microphone and a recording
[15:34] device and recording these ambiances or
[15:38] record all perhaps recording vo for
[15:41] example voiceover the episode before or
[15:44] all recording kind of spot sound effects
[15:47] so there are lots of different routes
[15:50] into audio in the music and sound
[15:52] editing yeah yeah and I would encourage
[15:54] people to follow what gives them the
[15:56] most excitement because it's worth
[15:58] pursuing the things that you're really
[16:00] passionate about and you know in terms
[16:04] of computer game audio and then like
[16:06] perhaps studying at a higher level back
[16:09] when I did my degree and i think it was
[16:10] in think i graduated in two thousand i
[16:13] did a degree in music technology and
[16:15] audios item design and and there weren't
[16:19] very many courses about in those days
[16:22] yes i was delighted to have the
[16:24] opportunity to study it back back in
[16:27] those days and but I've changed as
[16:30] there's lots of same design courses yeah
[16:32] especially around the computer games
[16:33] industry and it's getting more and more
[16:35] specific as well I think in a lot of
[16:38] production houses and studios they have
[16:40] they tend to have specific people doing
[16:43] specific having with specific roles like
[16:46] a dedicated sound design or a dedicated
[16:48] compose I think we're slightly different
[16:51] here at jagex because we were kind of
[16:53] jack of all trades yeah we go right
[16:56] across the gamut yes yeah indeed we do
[16:58] the music we do sound effects we do we
[17:00] do a bit of everything and for me that's
[17:02] that's a real delight because it's it
[17:06] adds variety and that's a variety is the
[17:09] spice of life so to be able to one day
[17:11] be writing a piece of boss battle music
[17:14] in the next days of producing some sound
[17:17] design for a crazy new dungeon or
[17:19] something you know that Sam that's cool
[17:21] and so in the industry is there's quite
[17:24] a few games companies are run
[17:25] internships and placements and
[17:27] understand we have an internship and a
[17:29] placement up for next year for Joe it
[17:31] yes I gather yeah yeah so if people are
[17:34] interested they work well with having a
[17:36] look at a long careers website yeah okay
[17:39] couple of questions for you thank you so
[17:41] much but what is your favorite piece of
[17:44] audio I'll say audio in game I thought
[17:49] you were going to ask me this and I
[17:51] can't give you a favor I'm really sorry
[17:54] but there are so many every so often
[17:57] I'll spend some time like looking on
[18:00] YouTube for example playing back some of
[18:02] the tracks that have gone into the game
[18:04] before and you know I home yes Lee I
[18:07] don't sit at my desk all day listening
[18:08] to you know we all know every in audio
[18:13] just spends all day listening to music
[18:14] yeah really right you anything either in
[18:16] spend all day playing the game like
[18:18] we've got time for that but you know
[18:23] I'll uncover something that I've had the
[18:26] you know that was perhaps with a long
[18:27] time ago and I just be like are so
[18:29] nostalgic about it and rightly and it
[18:31] orally and and so I cannot pin it down
[18:35] to any one thing but but what I will say
[18:39] is more recently and I really like the
[18:43] elf City music okay I'm which was a real
[18:45] collaboration between myself and mod
[18:49] Abby I am and mud Lord and we had some
[18:53] musicians who came in as well young and
[18:55] I think I think we're all really
[18:57] delighted with the way that that turned
[18:58] out yeah I'm a spectacular the
[19:00] thousandth song was another
[19:02] collaboration which I thought we went
[19:04] went really well we will really enjoyed
[19:07] working on and we were real pleased with
[19:10] and I suppose personally for something
[19:12] that I worked on I really enjoyed doing
[19:14] the audio for the broken home quest
[19:16] right um it was kind of a bit of a
[19:19] resident evil throwback type quest and I
[19:23] loved that game right it was I thought
[19:25] it was brilliant and so to have the
[19:27] opportunity to work on something of a
[19:29] sort of similar ilk or vain yeah i
[19:32] derived a lot of enjoyment from working
[19:34] on that glam yeah okay the last question
[19:38] then what's your least favorite bit of
[19:40] audio what would you like to rework most
[19:43] okay yes so good question we used to
[19:49] synthesize all of our sound effects
[19:52] we're in the game before before we were
[19:54] able to play back and we're for this
[19:57] study you know the sort of real audio as
[19:59] it were and there is still a lot of
[20:02] synthesized sound effects in the game
[20:05] that that that we need to update right
[20:10] okay so forgive me every time you know
[20:13] if you encounter one of these if it's a
[20:15] particularly brash one and they were
[20:17] also sort of tended to be quite loud and
[20:19] so I mean some of them were some of them
[20:21] were quite brilliant again mod jolly I
[20:24] think it was created the sound of a
[20:26] synthesized sound of a baby crying right
[20:28] which was which was really a progressive
[20:31] really excellent really impressive but
[20:33] still by comparison to what we're
[20:35] producing nowadays and you know a lot of
[20:37] these towns sounds really quite outdated
[20:40] and so for me and you'd like they're the
[20:43] least favorite ones yeah and they're the
[20:45] ones that I want to target an update
[20:48] similarly with a lot of the old and MIDI
[20:51] music and that we that we created we've
[20:54] already started a process of improving
[20:56] some of the older tracks yet players
[20:58] will have heard in game and this is
[21:00] something that we are continuing with
[21:02] and whenever I get some free time I try
[21:05] to try to rework these tracks using more
[21:09] up-to-date sounds and instruments and
[21:12] textures and what have you just recently
[21:15] for example we've updated the the good
[21:18] Wars musics okay but yeah but that's um
[21:21] that's something that's ongoing so what
[21:24] I would probably say is also I mean
[21:26] though there are just so many just
[21:28] cookin I've yeah it's all numbers give
[21:30] me the stats I mentioned that there were
[21:32] over 22,000 sound effects in the game
[21:34] but as well as the we've also got at the
[21:37] moment it's about 1026 unlockable souls
[21:41] but there's actually about 1800 pieces
[21:44] of music in total so you know many of
[21:48] which probably need improvement we've
[21:50] got fifth over 15,000 lines of voiceover
[21:53] as well but you know when you're talking
[21:55] about those kind of numbers it's going
[21:57] to take a long time for us a relatively
[22:00] small team to work our way through all
[22:02] the process
[22:03] so what I would say is if there were any
[22:06] piece of sounds or music that players
[22:09] particularly would like to see updated
[22:11] like what changed yeah please that
[22:13] please let us know right to us on the
[22:15] forums yeah mentioning audio or sound or
[22:18] keep an eye out for you yeah thank you
[22:21] very much and also you can reach me at
[22:24] at jagex bond I think it is on twitter
[22:29] so and please please do contact us and
[22:32] let us know what you want improving and
[22:34] we will add it to our list well thank
[22:37] you very much mod bond and time to get
[22:39] back to you editing suite I guess so bye
[22:42] thanks bye
[22:47] and a thousand soon
[22:52] ever be
[23:01] p
[23:05] you
[23:08] you