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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Higher Quality Versions Of Early Game Music?

This post has been copied from bpmusic.com. It was originally posted on 2/11/2009.

If is in response to an email received on 12/22/2008:

I have heard that the music that you composed for Wolfenstein 3D and Spear Of Destiny was a lot higher quality before it was mixed into the game.

Is this true?

If so, will there be any way, now or in the future, that people will be able to obtain your original recordings?

The music for these two games was never in a higher quality than the original game sequences. Have you ever played a MIDI sequence written for one particular patch/sample and then tried to play that sequence with another patch/sample of the same instrument? Most of the time, it just doesn't work because, for example, guitar patches/samples vary in attack, velocity response, sustain ... you name it. With the old FM synth patches, you had to set sustain by tweaking the patch to do just that. If I wanted a guitar wail to last as long as the note was held, I had to set the patch up to do that. Basically, if I had used high end equipment to originally create the MIDI sequences, I would have had to almost start over to get any kind of decent sound out of a sound card synth. My general flow was to create the FM patches for a song and then write the song already knowing what sounds would be used. That saved a lot of time.

The way the MIDI player in those games worked, the data for the FM synth was streamed to the synth in real time. Much like digital audio. The size of a song increased dramatically with the addition of notes -- much more dramatically than a general MIDI file. After creating what I wanted, I had to tweak the number of notes and delete those that weren't absolutely required. Sometimes even required notes were deleted to keep the size of the song file down. That's why some of the songs are so short, too.

Unfortunately, I didn't keep the pre-tweaked versions -- wish I had, as it would have made for an interesting comparison later.

As I said in an earlier post, you can use DosBox to record wav files of the FM synth sequences from "back in the day." DosBox sounds as good (bad?) as those cards did, and it's as true to the original performance as one of the old cards (and a LOT less trouble).

1 comment:

  1. Doom 2 Map 18
    definately one of the greatest game compositions of all time.
    right up there with Reznor's work in Quake.

    It fit perfect with the mood that was set from playing hours of doom working out the puzzles, killing the monsters... then those arpeggios ... fantastic work. almost 20 years later I still love the mood of that song.