Reflective Journal Mitchell Best

Research & Idea Development

For the first week as a group we did research into the style and game play inspirations for our game. We wanted to make a 2D top-down open world RPG game so we focused heavily on The Legend of Zelda franchise (mainly the first one). I did some research on the internet on the original Legend of Zelda game and came across a YouTube video from a guy called Mark Brown. In this video Mark Brown explains how unique the first ever Legend of Zelda actually was. In the original Legend of Zelda game you are just placed in a world and told to just go out and explore. The creator of the game Shigeru Miyamoto said he got this idea when he was younger exploring the forests of Japan. We liked this idea of not being told anything and just having to go out and do it yourself as this adds a lot more adventure and excitement to the game. Just like the original Legend of Zelda game though it will still have structure and a sort of recommended path to follow but players are not forced to complete the game in this order then complete it in any order they want but this might make the game harder to play and more challenging to the player for example it is like loading up The Legend of Zelda and going straight to the 9th dungeon and being ill prepared.

I researched The Legend of Zelda on Wikipedia:

Wikipedia. The Legend of Zelda. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zelda. Last accessed 08/06/17.

We have looked into using a similar art style to some of the earlier Pokemon games such as Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green. We chose this art style as we want the keep the retro theme of older games being limited to colours but we also wanted to game to keep a bit of detail which the original Legend of Zelda does not give.

I researched Pokemon on Wikipedia:

Wikipedia. Pokemon. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokémon. Last accessed 08/06/17.

We also looked at games such as Skyrim as this is one of our biggest inspirations for the medieval style/theme for our game. We also like this for the dark moody art style as this really sets the scene for a medieval world. We will be combining this simple pixel art style of Pokemon but using colours that would be found in Skyrim such as blacks, browns, cremes etc.

I researched Skyrim on Wikipedia:

Wikipedia. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elder_Scrolls_V:_Skyrim. Last accessed 08/06/17.

As a group me Tom and Anthony decided we want a game tat keeps a retro fell while still looking good and acceptable for today standards. We have decided on keeping to a 16 bit game with a 32 colour pallete as this you can achieve quite a fair bit of detail from this while still maintaining the retro feel for the game. Tom is focusing on the Art & Lore Antony is doing the programming & game play and I am working on the sound and world/UI design. We will all work together and help with task and tweak things to make the game perfect to all of our liking's.

Week 1

This week I have created the sound effects for three of the footsteps(grass, concrete and wood). I have gone about doing this by using my iPhone microphone to record myself walking on concrete, wood and grass. I then took those sounds and put it into my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) my DAW of choice was reaper as I am comfortable with this and have used it quite frequently in my spare time. I feel I did well with this as I have a lot of experience using audio editing software and I have achieved what I planned in the first place.

In this I edited the sound things like normalizing, adjusting volume and EQ. I then sent these sounds to Anthony to put into the game. I have also created the sound effect for the characters sword and a typing sound for the dialogue. I could probably spend more time with the editing process and with fine tuning all of the effects used to get the sounds crisper and to a more professional standard.

For the typing sound I chose my SM57 microphone as I thought this would be the most appropriate as it is isn’t very sensitive and does not pick up any background noise. I used a stand to mic up the keyboard. I took several attempts at recording the sound from different distances to find the perfect sound. I used an XLR cable to connect my microphone to my M-Audio M-Track 2X2 audio interface which was the connected to my computer. I also edited these sounds in reaper and sent them to Anthony.

To the left I have a microphone over my keyboard ready to record the sound. To the right I have my audio interface that I have used.

Week 2

This week I have created the sound effect for the player taking damage i did this by using my SM57 microphone plugged into my computer through my m-track audio interface i created this sound by grunting into my mic I then EQ’d it so it has a lot more bass. I have also created the sound effect for player being stabbed this was easy and was created by pulling my cheek to create a suction sort of sound I also edited this to make it sound more like a stab.

This is a picture of my SM57 microphone that I have used to record my sound effects this week with.

I then created the sound effect for the players fireball spell. I did this by putting lighter fluid onto a bonfire I also EQ’d this to add a lot of low end to give it more bass.

I have started to learn a lot of basics in FL Studio 12 by watching YouTube tutorials and just trying different things and have started working on a first draft of the song for when the character is in a town.

To the left I have included a picture of a tutorial video that I was following where on the right I have a picture of the song I have been working on in FL Studio.

When learning FL Studio 12 I looked at a video on YouTube:

FKProds. (2015). FL Studio 12 COMPLETE Basic Tutorial. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU3Yi9zqYas&t=780s. Last accessed 08/06/17.

I have also done some practicing with different mics (condenser and dynamic). I have found that dynamic mics are a lot more suitable than condenser mics for dialogue as they do not pick up any ambience. I have used an SM57 microphone connected to a Roland Edirol recorder with an XLR to jack cable to record dialogue.

Week 3

This week I learnt how to use the shotgun microphones along with the TASCAM audio recorders to get both ambient sounds and close up sounds such as footsteps. With this new knowledge of the professional equipment I re recorded all of the footstep sounds at the higher quality of the shotgun microphone. I had also recorded gravel footsteps. To add more variation to our game I decided on recording multiple footsteps for each surface at different pitches to get variable sounds in the game. This allows the game to feel more realistic and less boring having the exact same footstep over and over again.

These pictures that I have included shows the time I spent learning how to use the professional audio equipment and using it to record footsteps and ambient sound.

Week 4

This week our group went up to Cannock Chase to do field recording and record sounds such as footsteps for our game. Tom took pictures of all of the recordings to document the work we did along with taking pictures for inspiration for elements of our game (e.g. trees/forests). For this I used the same equipment as last week (week 3) which was using the TASCAM audio recorder and the RODE shotgun microphone. I also bought a new pair of AKG K92 monitoring headphones to monitor the levels while recording he sound. For each sound we did a test to check levels to make sure everything is perfect then we recorded multiple takes to make sure we had what we needed. There were many takes of what we got that did not work and this is why we recorded multiple takes because we knew this was likely to happen. For example we recorded about 200 footsteps between the surfaces but when edited we ended up with about 30-40 footsteps that actually worked. For the footsteps we recorded the following surfaces:

  • Grass
  • Dirt
  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Gravel
  • Water

We also recorded a water stream at Cannock Chase this will be used for waterfalls and running water in the game. While editing this I created a version which is just the edited water and a mix down with multiple of the same sound overlapped out of sync to sound like there are more waves.

These pictures show the work we did in Cannock Chase field recording and getting different sounds for our game.

Here is game play footage that includes all of the sounds and music that has been implemented so far. These sounds include all of the variable footsteps for each surface currently being used in our game. We have a sound for the fireball and other sounds such as stabbing and sword swinging.

wEEK 5

This week I started by editing all of the sounds that we recorded at Cannock Chase. Firstly I started by editing the water. With this I took the initial 1 minute recording of the stream and condensed it into about 20 seconds and with this 20 seconds I used a noise filter to get rid of the slight wind that was picked up then I took about 5 duplicates of this sound a slightly offset each one to make it sound bigger and more like a waterfall.

I then started to edit all of the various sound effects. As I mentioned in last weeks entry I recorded multiple sound effects for the footsteps to get a lot of variation in the game. The editing process was the same for each surface. I sarted by normalizing the audio and then using a noise filter to remove any unwanted noises then I lowered the sound to a respectable volume (roughly -6db). I then seperated each individual footstep and rendered each one.

Once these sounds were done I uploaded them to the shared group Google Drive so Anthony could download them and implement them into the game.

These pictures show the files that were uploaded to

I then started to create a basic map with basic colours in Photoshop just to get a feel for what we want the map to kind of be like

Basic Idea For Map

I then started to create a map online using an online editor that will make the map look nicer.

Updated version of map

WEEK 6 (EASTER HOLIDAY WEEK 1)

I researched into different music and instruments for the genre of game were going for (RPG/Adventure) I looked at games such as The Legend of Zelda and Skyrim. I found out that they go for a softer calmer style. They use instruments such as brass instruments, pianos and harps.

Soundtracks for both Zelda and and Skyrim

When researching the music I looked at YouTube to find the soundtracks for the games:

TantrisOST. (2013). The Legend of Zelda - A Link To The Past - Complete Soundtrack. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5REmtunJtY&t=1s. Last accessed 08/06/17.

FrozenCanuck. (2014). Skyrim Complete Soundtrack (HQ AUDIO). Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWv3DfoiigM&t=20s. Last accessed 08/06/17.

I researched different techniques and scales to see what would work for this type of music and came to the conclusion that Asian scales would be appropriate for the theme. Specifically the Japanese scales.

This is an example of one of the Japanese scales

I used the website Guitar World when researching these scales:

Steve Brooke. (2013). What in the World: The Kumoi (Japanese) Scale — with Tab and Video. Available: http://www.guitarworld.com/what-world-kumoi-japanese-scale-tab-and-video. Last accessed 08/06/17.

I also used this week to find a guitar tone to be used when recording the guitars for the tracks. I went with a clean warm sound with a lot of delay and chorus.

The amp im using to get the tone

WEEK 7 (EASTER HOLIDAY WEEK 2)

This week I recorded a bunch of demos and practices so I can get a rough feel for what I am looking for in the songs. What I recorded includes:

  • Japanese Scales
  • Hammer On/Pull Off Techniques
  • Weird Patterns Using the Scales
  • Chord Progressions
Demos that I recorded

Week 8

This week we self assessed our own work to see what we liked and what we wanted to add to the game. We also assessed what we want to fix e.g. any bug fixes and things we dont like about the game. We also did peer assessment where we assessed other peoples work and they assessed ours. This was a great way to see what other people think of our game and this allows us to see what people liked and we can also take there constructive feedback to improve and better the game and fix things that they do not like.

Week 9

This week I started to record guitar parts for the outside music in our game. I used this time to look back on the demos that I recorded and choose the best ones and adapt them in to full songs. I riffs I was writing were based off the Japanese scales.

Writing the riffs for the outside music

I then started to record my riffs that I had started writing and put them all together to create the core of the song. For the guitars I used one of the built in amp simulators in Logic Pro X used the clean studio echo amp to record these riffs. Once I had these riffs together in this song I started to add other instruments on top. For this I used virtual instruments and recorded them with a MIDI keyboard. These instruments include violins and pianos.

Recording guitars for the song

Week 10

This week I started by recording the music that will be played in the bars/taverns in our game. For this I just took an acoustic guitar and recorded 4 different song (random song each time you enter bar). These songs were just 4 chord song and each had a different chord progression in a different key and at different tempos. I recorded the acoustic guitar with an SM57 microphone placed at the front of the guitar angled away from the sound hole so the low end does not over power the song.

This was me recording the acoustic guitar with mic placed in the right spot

I started to record the sound effect for the the slime enemy growling which we did by Anthony making growling sounds into the SM57 we also got the chomp sound effect while recording these because one of the growl sound effects sounded more like a chomp. We then recorded the sound effects for the player stomping for this we placed an SM57 microphone next to a chair and hit the chair with a book. We recorded multiple takes of this so that we could make the sound have variation like some of the other sound effects previously.

Anthony doing the growl sounds for the slime enemy in the game

After all of our sound effects were done I started editing the music for in the bars/taverns

This is a screenshot of the bar music in reaper

Week 11

I started off this week by editing the sound effects from last week. These sounds include the growl/chomping noises for one of the enemies (slime). I started with the growling sound effect which we recorded multiple of. I narrowed it down to one final growl sound that sounded the best for the enemy with this i used the EQ to increase the bass to make the growl sound deeper and more intimidating. I also used a noise filter as there was a tiny bit of noise that was picked up while recording the sound effects. I then did the chomp sound effect which I edited in the same way by increasing bass and removing unwanted noise that was made in the background.

These are the sound effects for the enemy (slime) growl and the stomp

I then moved on to editing the sound effect of a stomp that one of the bosses in our game makes. We recorded 19 stomp sounds but while editing I narrowed it down to the best 7 in editing as some of them were not as good. These required adding a lot of bass to make them really feel like a big boss stomping so with the EQ I turned the bass right up.

These are the multiple sounds recorded for the rock boss stomping

After the sound effects were finished I started to record the main ambient music which is played while just roaming the world for this I started recording the guitar tracks through clean echo amp simulator in Logic Pro X and layered multiple guitar tracks on top of each other to create a bigger sounding song.

This is a picture of the many built in amp simulators in Logic Pro X

Then with a midi keyboard I started to build other instruments on top of the guitars. I started with violins I also added piano on top of that.

This is the MIDI keyboard I used to record the virtual instruments

Week 12

This week I started recording the music for the theme song that will be played in the main menu of our game. For this song I used only virtual instruments for this song and recorded them using one of colleges MIDI keyboards. The software that I used was . The instruments that I used in the song were grand piano, violin and a full brass section (trumpet, trombone and french horn). I started with the harps which started off slow and gradually got faster and then the pattern repeats for the whole song. Then I added the grand piano using chords and individual notes to match the harps. Then last of all I added the I added the brass instruments to liven the song up a bit and make it sound happier.

This picture shows the many built in virtual instruments in Logic Pro X

Week 13 (Bank Holiday)

This week I recorded the final sound effects that would be put into the game. Anthony came round to help with these sounds. First we started with the acid sound effect we created this sound by heating up a key and then putting it into cold water. This created a sizzling sound that represented an acid burning sound.

To get the sound effects for the zombie Anthony did a Growling sound into the microphone. We took multiple takes so that we could have variation in the game.

For the ice sound I recorded myself tapping a glass with my fingernails

For the campfire we started up a fire using kindling to create a crackling noise. We then recorded different angles (e.g. overhead and side on)

This is a screenshot of all the sound effects recorded this week

Week 14

We all used this week to finish any little things required for the hand in. We play tested the game in order to find any bugs in the final game so that we could get them fixed and out of the game before the end of year show.

I also used this week to edit the previous weeks sound effects so we can get them in the game before hand in. All of these were very basic and didn't require much editing other then a bit of compression and noise filters. The campfire was a little more complex. For the fire I recorded multiple angles of the fire and put them all together to create a big campfire sound. It took a lot of filtering out unwanted noise as it was quite a windy day when we recorded and there were also a few bird sounds I had to remove.

Evaluation

Over the course of the past three months our group me (Mitchell Best), Anthony Sturdy and Tom Rafferty created the video game Secret of Malarith this was for our Final Major Project for college. We started off this project by sitting down as a group and worked out what we would like the game to be for example what genre we would all like what style we want and what mechanics/how we want the game to feel like. We also looked at what art style we were going for and what type of sound we want. Even though we all have creative freedom on what we all want we still had to work as a group and all agree on what we want to go in the final game.

We all finally decided that we would like to go for a medieval top down RPG game. We saw that a lot of the other people in our class were going for a sidescroller game and we wanted to go for something different to everybody else. We looked into games that fit the style and we were mainly focusing on The Legend of Zelda franchise we mainly focused on the original and the Breath of the Wild. The reason we picked these is because we wanted the games to feel adventurous which these games do very well. They just drop you in the game with out holding your hand and let you just get on with this. This is good because it allows for more exploration and finding out the whole game piece for piece. Although these games can be completed in any order (e.g. completing the final boss with your fists) it still tries to guide you in a path so that you can slowly progress through the game. I feel we did a great job achieving this as our game is very cryptic and guides you in a path. We also decided we want to go for a limited colour pallet like a game during the SNES time. We decided on a 16 bit style with a 32 colour pallet. Looking back I don't think the limited colour pallet wasn't the best idea as we could of made the game a lot nicer by still sticking to a 16 bit game but use as many colours as we like. We didn't want to seem like we were just copying Zelda so we chose to go for a medieval theme similar to Skyrim.

For the game engine Anthony decided he would like to use Unity as he felt a lot more comfortable using this as he has a lot more experience. Me and Tom were totally fine with this decision as the engine does not directly affects mine and Tom's specific roles in the group.

The first thing I started working on was the original footstep sounds for Grass, Wood and Concrete. I later went to redoing this with the colleges professional when we as a group went to Cannock Chase to record sounds. This is when we decided we want a lot of variation within our sound which is why we have about 10 different footsteps for each type of footstep . When we were over Cannock Chase we also got the sound effects for flowing water that would later be used as a waterfall. These sound effects were fun to do as I learnt a lot about professional equipment and editing software.

After this I started creating the rest of the sound effects e.g. hit/death sounds, growls, other enemy noises and fire. Once most of the sound effects were created I moved on to making the music for our game. The final game had 6 songs. We had a main menu theme a song for just roaming the world and 4 songs that are played at random in the bars of the game. The music was the hardest part of this as it takes a lot of planning and time to write. This took a fair few weeks to finish. In the end I would of maybe liked to change some of the songs.

Then in the last few weeks I started to finish off the sounds that we did not have e.g. campfire, acid and ice so that we could get these in the game before the final game is handed in and presented to the games course at the end of year show. These sounds were a lot easier to create then the music in our game as they are smaller and don't require a lot of planning.

In conclusion, I'm am very glad with how the final game turned out and how each of our individual roles came together to create this final product. I feel that even though we did not finish everything we set out to create we have accomplished a large amount for the time we were given and there is a ton of things to do in the game there are 2 towns 2 boss and a lot of quests to play through. Anthony has implemented all of the mechanics we wanted and the final products feels exactly as we wanted to in the beginning when we set out to create the game. We have a whole inventory system and saving and load which we feel is very import not just for this style of game but just games in general. I feel that not only me but the whole group expanded our knowledge in our individual roles and as working in a group. I think the fact that we worked as a group was a very good idea as this allowed us to each focus specifically on what each of us like the most me (Audio/Music) Anthony (Programming) Tom (Art). This allows us to create a bigger game. This also takes the stress off each person as we don't have to create a whole game to ourselves. I am happy that we now have a game that all 3 of us can be very proud of.

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