Category Archives: Game Audio

Global Game Jam 2015

Me, Luke, Rob, and Joe (Mark's taking the picture!)
Me, Luke, Rob, and Joe (Mark’s taking the picture!)

This is a little overdue, but I’ve been super busy with ENO Traviata rehearsals!

Global Game Jam is the biggest game hackathon in the world, as you might have guessed from the name. I’d originally intended to do it remotely with a team from Silicon Valley, but found out that the rules required participants to be onsite. Luckily, I’ve met some awesome and smart and ridiculous Indie Devs in London, so I asked a couple if they’d like to team up.

The theme was announced Friday at 6:00PM: “What do we do now?”

For the next few hours, our team brainstormed, and finally decided to approach the “we” part from an unusual angle: dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder.

The game is set inside of a long corridor, symbolizing a hypnotherapy session. Like actual treatment for this mental condition, the goal is to put the pieces of the personality back together. Each room has a part of the personality, which we based on trends and research in DID. The personality piece needs an item or series of motions to help it move past a particularly critical moment in time, at which point it is then “solved.”

We decided to make each room completely black, save for the occasional significant object (like a teddy bear). This, combined with exact audio positioning from Visisonics, increased the impression that everything was really happening inside the player’s mind. Players use sound to locate objects they can’t otherwise see, or approach invisible characters.

The biggest chunk of audio work was actually the voice overs. We made all of the rooms/personalities the same female character, but at different periods of life. So- I recorded 8 different characters. Some I edited to be lower/higher, but most were just me and a mic, and a rather surprised escort. My favorite to record was probably the angry woman, because she yells and curses so much… I just don’t normally do that! It felt strangely liberating. You can listen to some of the voices below.

I used the same musical theme throughout the game. It appears in the music box (see below), radio, and end scene. I’d like to also have it be hummed somewhere in the future.

Overall, I think we accomplished tons during 48 hours. That said- there’s lot I would change. I think that I went too sappy on the end scene, and also perhaps too dark in the rooms. But it IS a heavy subject, and I was hoping for some sort of balance. Also- I had to complete the script in one night… not an easy task. You can listen to the over-sappy end scene below. ;-)

Sending out a huge thanks to Joe Bain, Robert Ramsay, Luke Thompson, and Mark Backler for working on this with me. Guys- I really hope we make a more finished version. I think this could go somewhere good.


King Game Jam

After less than a week in London and some great-but-intense rehearsals of Traviata, I was so excited to learn that I had the whole weekend off, and also a last-minute pass for the King Game Jam. So, Friday evening I went down to the office of the company that made Candy Crush, and joined a team for a weekend of excellent work and creativity.

My team decided to design a music game, which of course thrilled me. We based it on some interesting gravity/infinite runner mechanics, and took the level design off of musical structure. Somehow, I combined the ideas and general feeling that the team wanted in 6 hours of composing, and came up with what I can only describe as chip-tune dubstep.  Have a listen below. :-)

Highlights: Meeting tons of new, really nice people from London. Seeing my team members’ faces when they first heard the music.  Learning and drawing the level for the first time in Tiled. Play-testing the game.

Link to youtube preview:

Sending out a huge thanks to Joe, Dom, and Richard- you guys are so positive and just nice. It was a pleasure to work with you- thanks for letting me join!


First thing I noticed about London: it’s super well-connected!

Wifi everywhere. SIM cards easily obtainable. Lots of public transportation (some of it even provides free wifi).

Second thing I noticed: it feels disturbingly cold. It’s not cold enough to be snowing, but the cold gets down underneath my jacket and scarf, and makes me shiver.

I’m here to sing my very first  UK performance: Traviata, with English National Opera. I’ve performed Violetta before, but always in Italian. Many singers don’t like changing languages, but I find it particularly refreshing. I like having an instant, visceral connection to the text in my mother tongue. And while some singers dislike that the new translation changes musical inflection, I respond that this is a good thing- a new way to understand a masterpiece that was written 150 years ago.

While in the area, I intend to do some more networking for video game sound too. I’m really excited by all of the development meet-ups I’ve been finding online, and also for the global game jam coming up. And hopefully some of this will be combined with opera in a couple of projects that I can’t officially announce just yet…

Dolby Audio Challenge- 2nd place!!

After only 4 months of doing game audio, I never even dreamed of receiving recognition from a company as big as Dolby. But, together with Samuel Hun and his hardworking team (Drop Pod Games), we submitted Roshamboroo for the Dolby Audio challenge… and we won 2nd place!!!

The app was published last night on the Google Play store. You can download it for free here (Android, IOS coming soon):

Here’s a link to the post announcing winners:


from the Cardinal Game Jam
Roshamboroo Team, at the Cardinal Game Jam

Ever since the Cardinal Game Jam three weeks ago, I’ve been working closely with this team of people to finish a fun, fast-paced mobile game called Roshamboroo. Finally, we released it for beta testing 4 days ago. Thank you, Sam, Dmitri, Anna, Big Mike & Little Mike for all of the hard work! Y’all went above and beyond, and it shows.

Roshamboroo is based on rock-paper-scissors, but playable on your mobile device. There are two adorable, but fierce little creatures which carry bombs in their tales, and battle to get to the other’s home base. Players must select rock, paper, or scissors at the same time as their opponent, and the winner moves forward while the loser explodes, then reappears to battle again in the next scene. Three wins= victory!

There are two main music tracks which I’m really proud of. I’ll post them below. Also, I recorded and mixed a number of sounds for explosions, countdown, and the creatures. (Recording creature growls at 4:00 in the morning got some strange looks from other teams, lol)


Forbes Magazine

Forbes Magazine covered the Cardinal Game Jam, which I participated in a few weeks ago. I composed and wrote sound for 4 games over 27 hours of non-stop work, and two of those games are featured! See pages 6 & 7.

There’s also mention of my work on Bubble Pop in this article:

Bubble Pop!

This weekend was the Cardinal Game Jam, a 27-hour mobile game hackathon in Palo Alto, CA. I decided to register with one team, and eventually ended up doing audio for 4 (!!!) teams, completing 7 compositions and many more SFX.

I won’t write about all of the projects that I worked on, because it looks like some of those projects are going to take more time and attention to eventually become something amazing, and I don’t want to spill their ideas. But I will post about those later, when they’re ready.

Right now, I want to direct attention to Bubble Pop, developed by George Deglin & Josh Kasten. The moment I saw their fun creation, a song idea popped into my head. A few hours later, I had gameplay music, UI, and scoreboard music all created. I also made some sounds for them, like the bubble popping and merging, and the wind (they really helped with that one- it was difficult to create different lengths of wind noise).

You can play the game beta on your computer here:
…Or on your android phone here (iOS support coming soon):

And here’s the music!

Orchestration- on your computer

After studying an overview of the technologies available to today’s musician with Berklee Online, I decided that I wanted to be able to make my orchestral compositions sound somewhat real without having to record a live orchestra. Also- I wanted to be able to plug the notes of an aria accompaniment into Logic, sing on top of it, and have a viable YouTube video. So, I enrolled in Orchestration with Berklee Online.

Yes, I’ve studied instruments and classical orchestration before- several times. But I never learned how to apply it to MIDI projects. I purchased the EastWest Gold Library of orchestral samples, and learned how to apply them to musical notation, until an almost realistic recreation of a live orchestra is heard. This is so amazing! I hadn’t fully realized the power of technology, and the implications that it will have in classical music, until I took this course.

Here’s what I mocked-up for my final project: (note- this isn’t perfect, yet. There’s still ORCH2, and a life ahead for learning)

Alpha Game Jam

Last weekend I participated in my very first Game Jam/Hackathon, with Indie Game Developers of Silicon Valley. I almost didn’t go- I was scared that I wasn’t ready to contribute full audio yet- but messaging with the organizers convinced me to take the leap. So, I showed up Saturday morning at 10:00 AM, and promptly got swept up by an Oculus Rift team.

I was asked to compose music for 4 rooms, record and tweak the A.I. voice, and contribute sound effects. I dove into the music right away, creating samples to show to the team until I had the right mood, then wrote loops for each space. The A.I. voice was the most fun- I was able to use all of the voice and dialogue training from opera, and my Logic X skills to create an awesome, passive aggressive-yet-slightly-sexy voice. SFX was simpler that I’d anticipated, because I was mostly tracking down sounds within libraries. I don’t yet know how to create SFX (but I’m planning to learn that soon).

It was such an invigorating experience. I thrive on this kind of intense work. I can’t show the full demo yet, but here’s are some samples:

Let the GameS begin!

Warning: this page isn’t going to be about just opera anymore. But it’s still all about music and sound.

I LOVE video games, have often been called a “gamer”, and also enjoy hanging out with other gamers. Back in February, I started taking a wider look at the music business, and specifically I wanted to know where else I could employ my talents. I took some classes in some of the modern technology that is required in the music industry, all the while continuing opera. THEN, I realized that I could employ both my passion for music and video games into one goal: writing sound for games.

Video Game Composition works astonishingly well with opera, because there are many times when I need to stay home and be quiet- but still have a burning need to create music. Also, composers for video games often work on their own, not needing to be physically present at the company. I have all of the basics of music theory down, and even privately studied composition in college for a few years. A lot of the orchestration techniques in opera transfer directly into video game scoring. So, musically— I’m really well qualified.

Some people might think this is a strange hobby for an opera singer, but I am incredibly excited about the future of video games, especially Virtual Reality. I want to help shape the new worlds that are being created. Opera is one of the highest forms of traditional musical expression, but the game industry is exploding and evolving at hyper-speed- what better combination could there be, than to take the highest traditions in music, and use those to help shape and evolve new realities? AND, I don’t have to stop one to do the other. I can do both!

I wanted to share an example of something I wrote a couple months ago while learning Logic X. Some of the other students thought it would work well in a video game. What do you think?