Audio Track at Casual Connect in Seattle this July

Well I’ve been asked to lead and organize the Audio Track this year for Casual Connect in Seattle this July. The Track consists of 5-6 sessions including discussion panels and lectures by audio professionals in the Casual Game industry. It’s quite an honor to be so involved with this and quite a bit more time consuming than simply giving a presentation last year, but worth every minute. So far, we have quite a lineup. We will focus on the value, importance and cost of great audio. Presentations include the making of sound effects, techniques of recording live instruments and voiceovers, integrating music and sound effects, communication between audio and game developers, and a question and answer panel with audience participation. We will also address certain concerns we have with the industry and attempt to reach out and educate developers about audio. Stay tuned for some descriptions of sessions, tips and tricks, and more news.

Seattle

Seattle

Casual Games Association
Casual Games Association

A Game Without Sound? A Travesty!

So sometimes I visit this old-school arcade in San Rafael where I grew up. It has new games but also old favorites like Mappy, Dig-Dug and Ms. Pac-Man!  I’m actually pretty good at the last one, but Jason is amazingly good.  Usually…

This time, apparently the employee got sick of all the sounds (sinner!) near the office and turned them all off. This made playing as well nearly impossible. This was an interesting lesson about how sound not only is fun and enjoyable, but also useful and integral to gameplay.

The sound of the pellets being eaten reminds you that you are going down the right path. The oninous sounds of the ghosts makes you careful. And most importantly, the sound when you get the super pellets… those few moments of invincibility to devour those pesky ghosts… Your mind almost memorizes the length of the sound… and without it, well it’s anybody’s guess! And who can enjoy those flirtatious cutscenes without the cute music? As simple as the sound is, it’s SO IMPORTANT.

Recently we’ve been downloading some Casual Games from Reflexive and other portals and noticing games with no music! Hey, bad place to skimp on the budget, guys! Games with good music and sound effects are more fun and more complete. Well, at least we think so!

Incidentally, the Ms. Pac-Man in downtown San Rafael, at Star Base One, rocks… it’s modded to go super-speed! Go play!

Ms. Pac-Man!

Ms. Pac-Man!

An Extravagent Party at San Francisco City Hall

OK so I thought the economy was down the pipes? You wouldn’t know it at the Intuit Holiday Party… ballroom dancers, Brazilian dancers, several live bands, amazing food and desserts, casino games and dealers and professional photographers. Performers included: Kaweh, Latin Rhythms, Eric Jarmie, Galo Rivera, Boca Do Rio, SRO, The Angelo Piano Duo & Joyce Cooling. Joyce was my favorite.

Yes, very cool party, but it makes me wonder how a company can justify laying off many people and outsourcing jobs to save money, and then spending what I can only imagine is a small fortune on a party…

But I enjoyed the great music and food. Hmm maybe one day Walz Music will have a great Holiday Party! But we would also like to be socially conscious and not wasteful. Here are some pictures and a video!

San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

The Desserts!

The Desserts!

One Band Setting Up

One Band Setting Up

Another Band Playing!

Joyce Cooling

I Feel So Classy!

I Feel So Classy!

Vote No On Prop 8!

If you are in California and old enough to vote… please realize PROP 8 is winning here… that means… gay marraige will be overturned and all existing marraiges will be torn apart. This is a travesty. In the past, ethnicities and mixed race couples were forbidden from marrying… this is not the first time people have fought for equal rights.

There is no reason why anyone should stop two responsible adults from getting married. They need the same rights as other couples.

If this passes, people’s beautiful dreams and weddings will be UNDONE. Young people will face a future without being supported by society or rights with their future partners. Please tell everyone you know in CA to vote NO on Prop 8.

You can also visit www.noonprop8.com to find out how to help!

Vote No on Prop 8!

Vote No on Prop 8!

Bomberman (the game!) on a plane

So Jason and I were playing Bomberman on my laptop during a flight. We kept saying things like, “ooh, I got another bomb!” Or “I’m gonna blow you up!” ETC…

Not a good idea to play this game on a plane these days. Luckily no one even seemed to notice.

Love the game. The theme song is pretty memorable too! And the characters are so cute and their sounds are adorable.

Bomberman!

Bomberman!

Gameplay

Gameplay

Performance Disaster Turned Around

 

We are Playing From Another Shore: Aveyond & Beyond Tracks

We are Playing "From Another Shore: Aveyond & Beyond" Tracks

 

 

Wanted to share a little story about our CD Release! It’s one of those musical “oh no!” live performance moments.

So Eva and I got to our 2nd gig in San Francisco… this was for our classical CD, From Another Shore. I was playing piano and Eva was playing flute. We also had a guitarist and vocalist, Jason, who was joining us on a few songs.  Everything was going great and we had a good turnout.  Anyway, as I was happily setting up about 15 minutes before we were to go on, Eva comes up to me and she looks really white and freaked out.  She said calmly, “We have a big problem.”  She had forgotten her music in Santa Rosa, over an hour away.  Inside I freaked out but somehow remained composed. I knoew that there was nothing I could do and freaking out would not help and would not be professional.

So in an instant, I announced to the crowd: “Hey everyone, thanks for coming! You guys are really lucky to have come to this gig – we have a special surprise! Jason will be opening for you with 30 minutes of guitar and folk music!” Everyone cheered. I think Jason wanted to kill me. The only reason I used him as a resource is I knew he could deliver.

Jason Playing Guitar With No Rehearsal!

Jason Playing Guitar With No Rehearsal!

 

Anyway, then I grabbed Eva and we rushed out (with dignity) and went to my place, where we frantically reprinted all her music. Of course, the printer jammed and all manner of problems occurred – including one file that seemed to just vanish. But we got all the important songs printed and went back to the gig, where Jason was finishing his last song.

Poor Eva has to be commended – all her markings were of course, gone, and we were performing these pieces with various forms and repeats that were not in the original scores. She improvised a lot that night. BUT we got through it, and actually it turned out to be a good thing because everyone loved Jason. And no one even knew something had gone wrong. At least she didn’t forget her flute! That would have been an expensive emergency trip to the music store!

This experience taught me, first, to call Eva and remind her about her music, but secondly, that it is true that “the show must go on” is a great attitude. Thinking positively in the face of disaster gets you through and even brings you to some surprises for the better. The important part is that you have a good time and do your best. Not being stressed really helped me enjoy that gig.

So please do your band a favor – check to make sure you have your music!

That’s it for now! Oh yeah – and THANKS, JASON!

 

My Best Friends, Julie & Kirsten, at our Apollo Coffe Gig in San Francisco

My Best Friends, Julie & Kirsten, at our Apollo Coffee Gig in San Francisco