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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 1:23 am 
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In case anyone has missed it, there's an ongoing online documentary series about japanese video game music called "Diggin' in the carts". So far, two episodes are available, and it looks like there will be 4 more.

In the series they interview several musicians, like Hip Tanaka, Masashi Kageyama (composer for "Gimmick!"), and Akio Dobashi (composer for "Lagrange Point"), as well as other people involved in video game music in one way or another.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:58 am 
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Yup, great series (and has English subtitles in case anyone reading these posts is wondering/dreading).

I'd strongly urge anyone doing NES audio (including emulation), or any kind of NES development in general actually, to watch this series. The commercial games that were made often involved manual effort -- few tools, often just entering raw hex data -- compared to the stuff that floats around the 'net today. (Rephrased: we have better tools now than they did 25 years ago, yet the games made 25 years ago on a whole were still substantially better... ;-) )


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 10:11 am 
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No, I also type all the numbers in hex directly in my homebrew game. I however prototype the music using other tools, composing directly in HEX would be terrible. The usage of symbols helps a lot, too.

Where should we click to watch videoes ? This website is as flashy as it could possibly get, but I have no clue what I'm supposed to do once there. A click on "Episode 1" has no effect.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 10:30 am 
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Quote:
This website is as flashy as it could possibly get, but I have no clue what I'm supposed to do once there. A click on "Episode 1" has no effect.

Works fine for me in Chrome. Have you disabled (or not installed) Flash support for your browser?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:37 pm 
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koitsu wrote:
(Rephrased: we have better tools now than they did 25 years ago, yet the games made 25 years ago on a whole were still substantially better... ;-) )

So what should homebrew developers take away from this? Other than that to match the quality of a licensed game, you'll need to somehow find two other people in the same city with the appropriate skills and find enough money to pay them for a year.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:15 pm 
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Oh god, Adobe Flash, this technology suck so much, who could ever have an idea to use that seriously :shock:
I refuse to install one more addon for it.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:22 pm 
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They'll probably release the entire series on Youtube once it's all done, given that they have a trailer there. I only mention Youtube because there's the HTML 5 native player (doesn't require Flash) if you're into that sorta thing.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:43 pm 
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I'll compose the song in something else (to hear what it sounds like while I work on it), and then I'll manually implement the song in raw hex (but I cheat and use assembler labels/pointers too, taking advantage of the fact that the hex data gets assembled along with the rest of the project's code), and from there I'll tweak the engine-specific stuff like envelopes/waveforms/instruments/drum macros/etc.

I dunno about the claim that the music from 25 years ago is substantially better than homebrew stuff today. Alter Ego is a recent(ish) homebrew I can think of that had a nice soundtrack. Maybe we're just sick of everyone and their grandmother trying to sound like Mega Man 3-6? :P


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:56 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
Oh god, Adobe Flash, this technology suck so much, who could ever have an idea to use that seriously :shock:
I refuse to install one more addon for it.


Pepper flash it. PF is pretty okay. Normal adobe, adobe I agree with, but not PF.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:58 am 
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Drag wrote:
Alter Ego is a recent(ish) homebrew I can think of that had a nice soundtrack. Maybe we're just sick of everyone and their grandmother trying to sound like Mega Man 3-6? :P


I think it's partly that, and partly how a lot of NES music is not actually made to be used in an NES game. It might depend on the programmer, but a game written in hex (to actually work in an NES game) sounds considerably worse than something made in Famitracker, which the most that can be done is simply playing the NSF while a very basic screen is shown. Allegedly Famitracker is a highly inefficient way of making NES music, although the results are much better than something written in hex. I might be wrong though, since apparently Shiru made a tool for FT music, and thefox made MUSEtracker, which is said to be oriented more towards game development. Let's not forget how so many composers absolutely insist on using expansion audio, perhaps to hide their own inadequacies.

That said, I hope they get to interview Norio Nakagata, who among other things, composed the music for (Samurai) Zombie Nation. Zombie Nation's music is quite unlike anything else made for the NES, not to mention it's probably the NES game that uses the DPCM channel almost all the time, for drums, snares, orchestra hits, basslines, and even a "Yeah" sound. These samples would later be used in the Japan only Doki Doki Yuuenchi and Summer Carnival '92: Recca.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:31 am 
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OneCrudeDude wrote:
That said, I hope they get to interview Norio Nakagata, who among other things, composed the music for (Samurai) Zombie Nation. Zombie Nation's music is quite unlike anything else made for the NES, not to mention it's probably the NES game that uses the DPCM channel almost all the time, for drums, snares, orchestra hits, basslines, and even a "Yeah" sound. These samples would later be used in the Japan only Doki Doki Yuuenchi and Summer Carnival '92: Recca.

Had to look up to check it out. There are two NSF files (a Japanese one and a non-Japanese one?)... what's the difference between both versions? o.o (no, I haven't checked both yet)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:28 am 
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OneCrudeDude wrote:
Allegedly Famitracker is a highly inefficient way of making NES music, although the results are much better than something written in hex. I might be wrong though, since apparently Shiru made a tool for FT music, and thefox made MUSEtracker, which is said to be oriented more towards game development.


There's nothing inherently inefficient about using it to make your NES music. The efficiency comes from:

1. Careful composition with redundancy/repetition.
2. Exporting the data into an efficient form.
3. Diagnostic information about the export to inspect the size of data.
4. Lightweight driver implementing only the features you need.

The NSF files produced by Famitracker are not the most efficient. It's feature-packed music driver is about 5k of NES code, for example, but there is nothing stopping you from writing an alternative driver, and an alternative export. Shiru did it with Famitone. I did it with my own project. The efficiency of the data depends on your custom export, it can be written to recognize and diagnose other kinds of redundancy. For example, you could write an exporter that automatically recognizes arpeggio patterns instead of building instruments for each. You could make a custom percussion instrument that interrupts triangle briefly while playing noise, so that in the output data it's only 1 "note" for each drum hit, even though in the Famitracker data it would be 2 notes across 2 channels. Etc.

Famitracker gives you nearly complete control of all aspects of the NES APU, and immediate feedback with it. It's really not lacking at all as a way to produce efficient, game-shippable NES music.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:42 am 
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OneCrudeDude wrote:
Zombie Nation's music is quite unlike anything else made for the NES, not to mention it's probably the NES game that uses the DPCM channel almost all the time, for drums, snares, orchestra hits, basslines, and even a "Yeah" sound.

Journey to Silius, Mr. Gimmick, Batman ROTJ, Klax...

rainwarrior wrote:
The efficiency of the data depends on your custom export, it can be written to recognize and diagnose other kinds of redundancy.

Or provide a way for the user to specify the meaning of the music, in a "what you see is what you mean" manner. This might end up causing FamiTracker to play the music other than identically to your engine.

rainwarrior wrote:
You could make a custom percussion instrument that interrupts triangle briefly while playing noise, so that in the output data it's only 1 "note" for each drum hit, even though in the Famitracker data it would be 2 notes across 2 channels. Etc.

That's what I did in my music engine that has a "drum" track instead of a noise track, running drum hits through the sound effects subsystem. I don't see how it could reliably "recognize" this from FT's output while still playing identically within FT.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:53 am 
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tepples wrote:
rainwarrior wrote:
You could make a custom percussion instrument that interrupts triangle briefly while playing noise, so that in the output data it's only 1 "note" for each drum hit, even though in the Famitracker data it would be 2 notes across 2 channels. Etc.

That's what I did in my music engine that has a "drum" track instead of a noise track, running drum hits through the sound effects subsystem. I don't see how it could reliably "recognize" this from FT's output while still playing identically within FT.


Well, if you want to hear it in FT, you could have a set of special triangle instruments, e.g. for drum-hit and continue-after-drum, that the exporter automatically ignores or moves around because they are to be done by its drum system. You don't have to try and guess everything a user can do, you can tell the user "use this pattern, and it will export this way". This is also a place where diagonstic output helps to see if you did it right, and you might even put up a warning if you can recognize "wrong" ways to do it.

Alternatively, yeah, you can just live with not hearing the full effect in Famitracker and do the export frequently to make sure it still sounds good.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:21 am 
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@Sik: There shouldn't be any difference between the two, maybe they added/omitted some songs in the Japanese version? Some games that I do know have different soundtracks for the US and Japan are Casino Kid and Wall Street Kid, the former has the music played with different pitches, not sure about the latter.

@Tepples: I suppose the Sunsoft games use the bassline almost every chance they get, but what I meant was that Zombie Nation plays DPCM samples so frequently, it doesn't give the DAC channel a break. And Klax has a few samples, but they're very sparingly used in the first place.


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