Matt Ganucheau and I got to sit down with Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing Video during the Game Developer Conference to discuss some of the potential for interactive music in games. Matt is a composer, sound designer, and educator, talking about how he’s encouraging his own students to think about adaptive music in new ways, combining Max/MSP and a Space Invaders clone built in the Unity Game Engine. (See our story from earlier this week.)

I talk a little about my sense that new tools could expand the range of possibilities in game music. Right now, the two major game engines are the AudioKinetic Wwise and Firelight fmod engines, each of which do have potential of their own – and continue adding features for more interactive sound scores. Each got some significant, flashy new features announced at GDC. But I was especially impressed by the use of Pure Data (Pd) in a custom implementation inside the game Spore. That allowed the compositional team to produce a truly generative musical score (led by legendary composer Brian Eno, with EA’s Kent Jolly and composer Aaron McLeran). I hope we see more of that in the future. Starting of students doing it themselves (with Max in this case) is not a bad way to start.

Boing Boing has more video of us they’ll be posting soon – including the embarrassing but diverting footage of us dancing around in Katamari costumes.

I’m new to this speaking live thing, but hope you enjoy. My favorite part was getting questions going. Livecasting is something we’ll try here soon.

A big thanks to Xeni and the talented Boing Boing TV crew for inviting us on and running a great show! And thanks to those of you who came on the chat rooms to talk to us – actually a lot of terrific questions and comments we weren’t able to address.

Music in Video Games, a conversation with Peter Kirn and Matt Ganucheau [Boing Boing, with lots of download options for YouTube, MP4, iTunes, etc.]

  • It was a lot of fun, and you gave me some new ideas to think about. Let me know if you ever need another plant in the audience. 🙂

  • Except that Spore is kind of, well, empty. As a game, as a soundtrack, as everything. As a gamer and as a music lover, I'm not amazed at all by this game. An half assed try.
    The MUSE system from Lucasart produce more interesting result nearly 20 year ago !

  • Well, I'm certainly not holding up Spore as the pinnacle of game design — fascinating and ambitious project that it was, we could certainly get into all kinds of potential criticism of the title. But there is a lot going on with the music engine in there. I think what you get in the game is only a fraction of the potential of the musical engine they built. I happen to like the music that results, but my hope is that more could be done with it. Unfortunately, unlike MUSE I don't know that it will get the opportunity to be applied to such a range of musical applications.

    By the way, MUSE was very powerful. But I don't know that we'd want to go back to that in terms of timbres – I do think we have made forward progress. So, yeah, if we could start to see things like the music engine in Spore applied to a greater range of music, I think that'd be very exciting.

  • phling

    i'd love to see Introversion's Subversion game/engine/whatever-it-will-actually-be being open for sound object generation… could be huge!

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  • Peter : I agree wholeheartly with you – we only see a fraction of what could have been. And that's why it's a failure, it lack this greatness we were waiting ! Why devellop all those procedural tool and not use it ?

    But now that it was done on this small scale – and that devellopers at last remember things like MUSE, we can hope to get others things like that. The bridge between Unity and Max/MSP is a nice step, and we encounter people trying to bridge environment like Processing with Super Collider, Pd, Max/MSP… I do think you are at the forefront of those evolution.

    Still, death to spore :p I don't want devellopers thinking that it's the way to do game, musically, gameplay wise, or anything else.
    Introversion Subversion on the other way is promissing ! Maybe someone should spoke to them about generative sound ?