Monday, May 31, 2010

YouTube promos on Gonintendo

Big thanks to RMC from Gonintendo for once again giving me a hand. After getting that big swing in views on the Monster Hunter Battle Music, it was a little odd to see the other two tracks not quite get that traction, so I'm glad to get the assist!

So far it seems that my YouTube efforts have produced about 1800 views or so. Not amazing, but hopefully some of those people went on iTunes, since I see no action from CDBaby just yet (sniff, sniff!). C'mon people!

One thing of note to comment on, the idea of using Famitracker versus using soundchip emulators (the latter of which has been my method). Someone on the Gonintendo post said my stuff wasn't "real 8-Bit." I responded in the post, but I thought I should rap about that here awhile too.

Its a valid criticism. If you want the most authentic NES style music possible, you get yourself a real NES and manipulate the real, actual chip. Of course many people use a Gameboy, as  this is easily to mess with for obvious reasons.

My goals aren't quite in line with that, though. I want to make great music, period, and my circumstances and aesthetic preferences make 8 and 16 bit sounds part of my musical palette. It isn't a purist thing, in other words. I definitely want my music to invoke nostalgia, so a certain amount of authenticity is required. But my goals to not require perfect authenticity, especially when it involves restrictions that either hamper my ability to compose the music or hamper the actual sound, from a professional sound engineering standpoint.

So that is where I'm coming from. Obviously I have no problem calling my stuff "8-bit," and I guess I don't have a problem with people being persnickety about that claim. But for most people, close emulation with some concession for modern production techniques is probably good enough!

Memorial Day Note

This blog is a light hearted one, about music and video games. But I did want to note that today we honor fallen heroes that have served our country. Thank you to our veterans and God bless you!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Music

I really want another one of those 1200 views in a couple of days type of youtube posts, so I went after Mario Galaxy 2 this time. People seem to like the Puzzle Plank Galaxy theme music. It seems to be made with an early jazz bent, which is fine by me!

And sorry ECM, no Genesis emulation here. It seemed wrong on many levels to use Genesis sound emulators for Mario music :-)

Looking forward....

Here is a little list of games I'm anticipating for this summer and beyond:

1. Metroid: The Other M

I'm an optimist. So when Nintendo tapped the Team Ninja guys to do Metroid, of course I assume this means they'll successfully marry the vibe of all the other Metroid games (lonely deep space exploration) with the kind of high powered aesthetics that powered the recent Ninja Gaiden titles.

While Metroid Prime 3 was an awesome game, I think Nintendo was right to move in another direction. The 3D Metroid thing had run its course, at least commercially.

2. The Wii Zelda Sequel that may happen this year

I say "may" because these things have a nasty way of being delayed again and again and again. Of course these delays are partly why 3D Zelda is all kinds of awesome.

I personally rank Twilight Princess as one of the greatest action adventure games of all time. I think people's beefs with it are based more on the usual things people hate about Nintendo these days (no true voice acting, iterating instead of re-inventing) than about the quality of the actual game.

In any case, one thing I'm not a huge fan of is the Wind Waker oriented DS titles. I liked Wind Waker well enough on Gamecube, but I was sort of done with it. Plus the DS games are too puzzle heavy for my taste; Zelda is of course about puzzling, but with just the right amount of combat mixed in. Its a delicate balance, and I thought the Phantom Hourglass got tedious. Plus I hate the whole stylus sword swing thing.

3. Alpha Protocol

I really like RPGs, but like many I've grown tired of the whole swords n' sorcery/sci-fi thing. So I relish any RPG that is made with a different premise. Plus I love, love, love espionage stories (well, I guess I prefer non-fiction spy accounts as opposed to fiction novels, but anyway...).

Games I want to play that are already out:

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (SHOULD have arrived in the mail yesterday, but didn't.  Grrr...)
3D Dot Game Heroes
Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Survival Horror and Tank Controls

Biased Reviews has started up again, so I thought I'd link to an interesting article on Alone in the Dark's current expansion for the PS3.

Many people complain about "tank" like controls in this genre. Personally I'm in the camp that the slower characters are probably more akin to how people really move anyway (character movement speeds in games are usually way faster than real life, so we're conditioned to that, making survival horror movement look slow), plus as Jason X says, it creates tension. I'm not sure I'd want that taken away.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Monster Hunter Tri Moga Village Theme

My latest promotional effort is up on YouTube! I'm happier with this one than my first attempt, as I think I've coaxed better sounds from the Sega soundchip emulators I'm currently using.

My goal is to get at least ten of these videos up, though not necessarily all of Monster Hunter Tri. As always please subscribe to my channel if you want the latest youtube updates! And it makes me look good! :-)

Best game of 2010 so far

For my money, the best game I've played so far this year is Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii. I am in love, people, with everything about this game, even the dreaded and much hated lack of a lock-on feature (I have, in my view, valid reasons for why the lack of this is justified but I don't want to turn this into a game design wonkfest, I do that in other places!).

The reason why I like it so much are, briefly:

-Removing the idea of "leveling" from an otherwise action RPG paradigm puts and entirely different and fresh emphasis on other stuff.
-The world feels real. Herbivores, carnivores, and other flora and fauna mill about the world in the places that they should. Pack animals react in cool ways (the big herbivore guys will run away if a terrifying monster appears, even if it is only attacking you).
-The online is terrific (yes, for the Wii!). It is a kind of MMO light that I really enjoy.

Best of Chip 5/28

Fellow best of chipper Srjl sent this track to me for a Best of Chip nod. There is a reason why the Gameboy is one of the most prolific devices for chiptune composing: it sounds awesome (well, ok, it is also super portable and easy to use for live shows, that certainly helps).

In this video we can actually see the "tracker" software doing its thing. The piece really picks up at 1:47, after a long, epic intro!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Best of Chip 5/25

We continue to search out YouTube for the very best chip music I can find there. This is a tune by Francis Hall, who describes it as "cheesey" in his description. Nope, I think I prefer "sentimental!"

This is the kind of chip music I prefer, I think; songlike, with good clear melodic structures and super warm 8 bit sounds (that I sorely miss, since I'm still writing with Genesis sound emulators at the moment).

I'd say this track is probably one of the finer YouTube chiptunes I've come across in awhile. Very nice!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Paragon Album picks up CDBaby review

It is really dang hard getting your fans to review your album on CDBaby and iTunes. So I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to do so. Was very happy to find a "K.Taylor" who left a glowing review of "Patience" on the CDBaby site. Thanks K.Taylor!

What I'm up to...

After the success of the first Monster Hunter tribute on YouTube, which got over 1100 views in a matter of days (as opposed to my original stuff, which hasn't even gotten that yet in a month), it seems obvious to me that I need to be pumping out these "promo covers" on a regular basis. I'm currently working on the Moga Village music from Monster Hunter Tri, and should have that done by Wednesday. Ironically, doing the covers is a bit more work, because I have to transcribe another composition, which is harder than just letting original music flow from your brain (at least for me anyway). But its good ear exercise.

Best of Chip 5/24

Here is one from the "dance/house/techno" set. This is for obvious reasons the most represented style in the world of chiptunes it seems, but when its done well (with solid melodic hooks and a good mixture of beats and intensity levels) it works very well, as in this example. Super warm sounds too!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Monster Hunter Tribute

I've been playing a whole lot of Monster Hunter Tri, so I thought this little tribute, an excuse to mess around with Sega Genesis emulation, would be appropriate.

It isn't as in-depth as the kinds of things I would put on an album. And the YouTube compression has destroyed the mix, so its kinda muddy. But I think I did find some nice sounds that evoke the character of the Genesis, and actually it even sounds a little like SNES sound as well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Best of Chip 5/18

I posted a Mario Galaxy chiptune earlier, and I think this might be the same track. Hearing the warm tones he gets makes me want to use what he is using! I'm currently working with Genesis emulators at the moment, and while there are cool sounds to be had there, I miss the warmth of the NES soundchip.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Best of Chip 5/14

Chosen because my wife likes Evanescence :-) Nice job with the vocal inflections!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hey ECM, I'm right here!

ECM rightly admonishes me for a posting hiatus. My how a week goes by in the world of blogging.

Some updates:

I've found ways to simulate the Genesis as well as other consoles, which is another way to say, yeah, I'm preparing more music!

Also, I've been getting a steady increase in YouTube subscribers, which is awesome. Gotta get some stuff up there for you guys soon. Of course, none of you YouTubers have bought anything yet, as far as I can tell (unless its iTunes, which I don't see for awhile... so forgive me if you went that route).

On the Paragon jazz rock front, well, we've sold a couple. Enough to our drummer Sean to excitedly think he could buy a happy meal (he was up in my grill, you see, demanding his take of the proceeds). But then he realized that it was a bit short of the children's fast food feast, so he decided to hold off calling the bill collector on me.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

8 Bit Weapon Puts Out Free Tron Album

Now, I'm a capitalist, so I would have tried licensing the music and selling this (it isn't that hard in most cases). But hey, its still cool to have free stuff out there, but don't forget that 8 Bit Weapon has commercial releases on CDBaby as well. (HT/ECM).

Best of chip 5/6

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What I'm playing

Much to the consternation of my buddy ECM, I'm currently playing Heavy Rain. Really digging it so far, and the score is just about perfect. I just set up (or, rather, updated) my gamasutra account, which I believe involves a blog; in the next week or so I plan on writing some wonkish game design type articles on interactive dramas. It should appear both at the gamasutra blog and my portfolio site (where I've done similar analysis articles on things like The Conduit and Batman: Arkham Asylum).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

If I did live shows, I'd use this.

Via Pathway to Unknown Worlds

Well this looks pretty amazing. Its kinda like one of those Hori fightsticks with a guitar neck attached.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Patience Song Profile: Paradise

Paradise is another one of my tunes, and occasionally, being a Christian, I'll title something that alludes to that. Paradise of course refers to, well, heaven aka "Paradise." Speaking of heaven (or at least a slice of heaven!), let's talk about Ben Wolkins on trumpet. All of us agree that having Ben on this album made this an even more awesome experience than if we had done it ourselves. Ben's trumpet playing took every song to a new level. Every time I think to myself, "this is my favorite Ben Wolkins moment on this album," I'll listen again and find something I like even more. Not to totally embarrass poor Ben, but I've even used snippets of his solos to illustrate proper improvising to some of my guitar students!

He takes the solo after the bass solo. I wrote a little interlude bit between each soloist, which was designed to help propel the soloist into a flurry of notes. Ben certainly takes off, that's for darn sure! His opening blast knocks my butt to the floor every time I hear it!

Some sales...

Got some more sales today, which is very encouraging. Two Pitch to Pixels and one Zeitgeber (in iTunes, which means that the sale happened about a month or two ago).

It seems like everytime I start to get a little bummed out, a get a nice little boost to remind me that its worth the time and effort!

Of course, I know that folks like the Arch Nerd want more material! And ECM wants some Genesis tunes! But I really can't do that until I at least make back what I put in on Pitch to Pixel. I'm getting closer. I stand at $35 in sales so far, with at least one or more iTunes sales "in the que queue*" (I know a good friend who bought it there, but the sale won't show up for awhile).

So I am probably 1-3 album sales away from hitting that magic $55 number. Once I hit that number, I can dive into more stuff with full force! So if you know anyone that might like this kind of music, hit them the heck up!

The Zeitgeber sale is awesome, by the way, since that works out to pure, lovely profit, since that project is long since paid for.

Also: I'm sitting at just one sale for the new Paragon album so far, so I'm really hoping that more people get wind of it and give it a listen. It is some of the best music I've ever done with "real instruments." Perhaps it would tug on your heartstrings to know that the money for "Patience" gets split four different ways (to the original members of the band)? So I have to wait a lot longer to recoup my $55 investment.... :-)

* ECM pointed out my spelling error. I'm now blushing, just like I do when I see some of his "Friday Nice" posts...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Starfox in HD!

Check it out here!

Best of Video Game Blogs

Ok, now that I've started regular features here, I need to do another "Best of Video Game Blogging."

Waxing Erratic has a post after my own heart: A guy who is taking game music from the "better" sound hardware and remixing it on older VGM game hardware.

The Goober pontificates about women and photoshop. He's hopping mad, and he ain't takin' it anymore!

Arcade Heroes raps about an awesome new arcade in Yokohama Japan. Nice to see that, even while the arcade scene in Japan has diminished in recent years, that it is still 1000000000000000000% better than ours.

Gonintendo has a report regarding everyone's favorite 90's platformer starring a worm.

If you want to be a featured site on Pitch to Pixel...... write about my music, buy it, and beg other people to! :-)