So I got a new job.

I may have left this as the last place to get updated. Whoops.

Anyway, earlier in the month I left Team Junkfish to join those fiery catbirds Blazing Griffin as an Audio Designer. Woo yay! They’re working on [REDACTED] and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in about it.

It’s a big shift, leaving a group of folk I’ve been working with for over five years on a number of different projects, but sometimes opportunities arise and situations change and you have to adjust course.

So do keep an eye out on what they’re up to, and I’ll keep you up to date on the BG stuff.

…and the 500 words thing.

…and generally updating the site.

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Games I played in 2016 that were pretty good

It’s the end of the year so it’s time for lists from everyone. I honestly don’t remember playing too many games from this year, but I played a fair few for the first time and feel that’s enough to mention them. Like wise, “best” is a pretty subjective thing that seems pretty pointless to drag into the equation. So, in no real order, here’s my “Games I played in 2016 that I thought were pretty cool” list. (It’s a bit long, sorry.)

Continue reading “Games I played in 2016 that were pretty good”

500 Words About… Faselei!

Ahoy! Apologies for the lack of posts recently. In between IGDA Scotland stuff, being ill and… other stuff things got away from me. Also with an upcoming busy period I’m looking to transition this to once a week to see how it pans out. Anyway, today we look at a Neo Geo Pocket Color game as previously threatened: Sacnoth’s mech strategy RPG Faselei!

Mecha games aren’t entirely uncommon out of Japan. The influence of the likes of Mazinger, Macross, and Gundam to name a few clearly imprinted on game developers in the ’80s and ’90s. While the more obvious approach was to incorporate these elements into action games[1], devs also looked to create large scale battles in the Strategy genre. A number of licenses were put to use, Gundam games appeared everywhere, or the crossover Super Robot Wars[2] to make mecha fans dreams come true. Original IPs popped up as well, such as Square Enix’s long-lived Front Mission series[3].

Continue reading “500 Words About… Faselei!”

500 Words About… Wonder Boy in Monster Land

We’re going even further back in time with this post, exploring something that I have a bit more of a personal connection with. Despite being very, VERY into Nintendo stuff, they weren’t actually my first foray into games. In a very European fashion, that came via PCs and Sega. So today we have a quick look at Westone’s slightly oddball yet somehow timeless Wonder Boy in Monster Land.

The first console that was in my family was my brother’s Master System, hooked up to a chunky cube of a Panasonic TV that’s still at my old man’s house. And while it may not have been the first game I played[1], the one I have the strongest memories of is Wonder Boy in Monster Land. I remember my brother trying to get infinite money with the pause trick[2] (complete with a 2nd controller that was missing a button), how the game glitched out one time when he bought a pair of boots and could suddenly climb walls, and that bastarding pyramid level.

Continue reading “500 Words About… Wonder Boy in Monster Land”

500 Words About… the Neo Geo Pocket Color

Today’s post is a set up for the future. Despite producing the Neo Geo, the arcade in a box that was one of the most eye-wateringly expensive systems to buy for both while it was in production and even now, SNK wanted to dip their toes in a pond they hadn’t committed to: handhelds. After a few releases on Game Boy they decided to challenge the Big N with a system of their own and the topic of today’s post: the Neo Geo Pocket Color.

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For most people handheld gaming in the ’90s/early ’00s revolved around one device: the Game Boy. If pushed a few people may be able to name its earlier challengers, Sega’s Game Gear or the Atari Lynx, both in colour and more powerful but battery hogs. Some may even namedrop Game Boy inventor Gunpei Yokoi’s follow-up handheld, the Japan only Bandai Wonderswan. It managed to hold its own with decent support from the likes of Squaresoft, Capcom, Namco[1] and others before the Game Boy Advance cleared everything in its path.[2] Continue reading “500 Words About… the Neo Geo Pocket Color”

500 Words about… Sunsoft

Today’s post is about one of the more interesting NES developers who became known for their unique musical output, Sunsoft. There’s also a lot of annotations too, so do read them!

Chances are that, if you owned a NES you’ve come across a Sunsoft game. Like a number of Japanese developers, Sunsoft transitioned from the arcades to the monster that was the Famicom in the mid to late 80’s. One of their first releases for the platorm was the infamous Ikki, a game so terrible that a new word entered the Japanese lexicon thanks to it: Kusoge. Quite literally: “shit game”.[1] This didn’t stop it being a rampant success for them as well as the source of a few remakes and reboots.

Sunsoft’s original games didn’t always hit such lows. Some, like Atlantis no Nazo, never left Japan and is generally considered “not great”. Others, like Master Blaster, became international successes. This varying quality also carried over to the somewhat surprisingly high profile licenced titles they managed to acquire. Their first Batman game in 1989 was a loose tie in with Tim Burton’s reimagining of the Caped Crusader, and along with its NES sequel is still held in high regard. Less timely was Fester’s Quest which appeared before the 1991 Addams Family reboot and is mostly remembered as being stupidly hard.[2]

Continue reading “500 Words about… Sunsoft”

500 Words about… Thunder Force IV

So I’ve decided that I want to write more and keep this webiste a bit more alive, even if I can’t talk about what I’m working on just now. As such, I’m starting a wee series of posts that will be… mostly about games and sound and music to some extent but probably any topic or thing that tickles my fancy. In order to stop rambling too much, I’ve given myself 500 words, intros and notes/annotations not withstanding. So here’s hoping someone gets something out of it!

And on that note, today’s post is about Technosoft’s final Mega Drive/Genesis STG/Shmup – Thunder Force IV.

There are very few game soundtracks that I will actively listen to on repeat. This doesn’t mean I won’t listen to any odd OST here and there, but few I just enjoy listening to over and over. Recently, it’s been Thunder Force IV and, oh boy, is it a ride.

Continue reading “500 Words about… Thunder Force IV”

Freebie – Volca Keys Sound Effects!

Ahoy!

One afternoon a few months ago I was kinda bored and had an hour or two going spare, so I decided to see what type of sounds I could get out of my Volca Keys. After some fiddling I managed to knock out a few… beeps and boops and other lo-fi assorted noises! In the time honoured tradition of giving back, I’ve decided hand them out for free, so you can grab them here!

Download! (Dropbox)

You’ll find some laser-esque sounds, some drones, some short pulses that could work for UI or percussive sounds, a fair mixture of stuff. I recorded different patches and effects at each octave interval (1′ – 32′) and across a few different oscillator setups (Unison, Octaves, Fifths and Unison Ring Mod) for a few different flavours too. Hopefully you’ll find something handy in there!

Some caveats:

  • They’re very raw, and the audio output of the Volca series isn’t exactly clean. But lo-fi’s half the charm with analogue gear right? …right? Outside of chopping them up they’ve been left completely unprocessed. Spent longer editing them than recording them!
  • The naming convention is a bit odd, please read the document in the .rar to understand what’s going on.
  • They’re also only 44.1k/16bit which isn’t great for pitch/time stretching into extremes, but they are across a wide range of octaves so hopefully you’ll find something you can use.
  • These are free, please don’t try to sell them or claim ownership of them. I am a-okay with you using them in commercial/for-profit projects though!

So there you go! Please share them about and let me know if you find a use for them. Best way is on Twitter: @speedyjx

Cheers!

IGDA Scotland July Audio Meetup

In July I had the pleasure of chairing a game audio panel at the IGDA Scotland meet up. The panel featured Will Morton of Solid Audioworks and Matthew Smith of Square Peg Games, both formerly of Rockstar North, and Orfeas Boteas of Krotos, makers of Dehumanizer.

We covered a few different topics, such as how they got into game audio, advice for fledgling sound designers and composers applying for positions, and how the transition from AAA games to indie and freelance has been. Or in Orfeas’ case, how scaling up from a Masters project to renowed sound software production company has went!

Obviously the proof is in the pudding, and we discussed a lot more in a fair amout of detail, so do give it a whirl!

AWEdio Jam!

So I’m happy to say that I’m helping out with Edinburgh Game Symposium’s AWEdio Jam! It’s being organised by Luci Holland of EGS with some help from Sam Hughes of The Sound Architect and myself along with IGDA Scotland :). We’ve got a few other things in the pipeline that we’ve yet to announce, so do keep an eye out! The current schedule is on the EGS website here.

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You can also join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1198225880221374/

Here’s the blurb:

Are you a composer? Are you a sound designer? A voice actor? An instrumentalist? Are you working in or are you interested in working in game or film audio in some way? Or are you a games designer looking to collaborate with musicians/soundies?! Ever wondered if you could do a game jam with audio??!

Then come and get creative at our AWEdio JAM on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd October in Edinburgh – a weekend hands-on hub for creatives interested in sound, music, media, and design!
Sign up either as teams or individuals, and collaborate to make amazing sonic artworks over the weekend (inspired by a secret theme to be announced on the first day!), share and learn new skills, network, and hear from professionals in the game and sound world. We’re thrilled to be joined by Will Morton of Solid Audioworks on the Friday night, and hope to announce another speaker soon!

What’s more – early bird prices are available until Fri 30th September. We’re looking forward to an amazing creative weekend!

More info on how to book on our website – and any questions, please just give us a shout.
http://www.edingame.org/awedio-jam/

-INFO-
Fri 21st, Sat 22nd, Sun 23rd October | Roxy Assembly, Edinburgh

With a talk from Will Morton of Solid Audioworks

Take part in a weekend hands-on creative jam for composers, musicians, sound designers, voice actors, and other audio professionals!

-TICKETS-
EARLY BIRD (available until Fri Sept 30th): £20 per person
Full price: £30 per person
Friday only (for social and talk – limited tickets!): £5 per person

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE (please make sure to also read the ‘Registration Info’ section on our website): http://awedio-jam-tickets.eventbrite.co.uk/

Early bird pricing available till Friday 30th September!
Registration closes midnight, 20th October.