My short bio: My name is Justin French, I was a Sound designer who started an indie game studio called Dream Harvest where I became the Creative Director - I am a self taught game designer, programmer and marketing person. I've worked on a number of AAA games while working for Side and OMUK, two of the worlds leading audio production houses for the games industry. Titles include Star Wars: The Old Republic, Fable 2, The Witcher 2, The Crew, Vanquish, Warhammer: Spacemarine, Broken Sword 5 among many others.

My Proof: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/justindfrench

https://www.linkedin.com/company/dream-harvest-ltd

https://www.facebook.com/DreamHarvestGames/info/?tab=page_info

www.dreamharvest.co.uk

https://twitter.com/Just_In_Dreamer/status/653578555998236672

Comments: 367 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

Zachilles52 karma

I am a fellow sound designer, just starting out. I recently recieved my BFA in film with an audio emphasis. I have worked on several shorts and features. As an avid gamer i would love to break into the video game scene.

What is the best way to get started in audio for games? What coding should I be learning? Where is the best place I could move to make this happen?

DreamHarvest47 karma

I think the most important thing you need to do is build a killer showreel. Perhaps offer your services to some indie studios, there are plenty looking for good sound people. When building your showreel keep music and sound design separate, have a show reel for both if you do both but put them on different sites - big studios want their sound designers to be specialists and will often disregard your showreel if it has music on it. If your more interested in working in the indie scene then learning as much about the other roles in games dev is definitely seen as an asset. Learning a game engine such as Unity or Unreal Enginer (or both) can be very beneficial and will allow you to better understand the pipeline. Being able to integrate your assets is also a requirement of both the indie and AAA scene which is another reason it's worth learning a tool set. Also play around with FMOD and Wwise if you can, these are the two most common audio middleware solutions (And they're really fun once you get your head around them)

davehk35 karma

there are plenty looking for good sound people

Hahahaha, good one.

DreamHarvest16 karma

Hehe, there are but it does take a bit of searching, though as mentioned, you might be working for equity rather than a salary to start with as most of these indie studios just don't have budgets.

dfcto22 karma

THIS. Build a killer showreel. My studio is hiring a sound designer right now, and this is the #1 thing we look for. After that, be able to communicate clearly and not like a weirdo. For those interested in the job: https://dfcto.typeform.com/to/uquAgS

DreamHarvest8 karma

Completely agree - personality is really important too; being friendly, helpful, passionate and outgoing goes a long way to securing a job at a studio or outsourcing company.

Zachilles4 karma

Awesome! Thanks for the suggestions!

Is Pro Tools pretty standard in the gaming industry for my primary DAW? Also, I use Logic and Abelton for my music production, do you suggest any other software, or hardware for that matter, to take my sound design or music production to the next level?

DreamHarvest9 karma

Pro-Tools is less prevalent in the games industry in comparison to the music industry. I've seen studios using Reaper (very cool for sound design as it allows per clip effects processing and custom macros - I occasionally use it and taught it to sound design students last year - its also really cheap), Neundo and Adobe Audition. I recommend learning the lot. I too also use Logic and Ableton Live for music and then I use Logic and Adobe Audition for sound design, mixing and mastering. I recommend getting into collecting your own sounds using a hand held recorder - there are loads of sound libraries online ranging in price but nothing beats using your own source material for sound design.

Zachilles3 karma

Thanks! I'll definitely have to check out Reaper.

Are there any online sites or communities you would suggest joining for networking or getting samples of your work out there for indie companies to see?

I currently live in a the Midwest and jobs in my field are harder to come by. This is definitely exciting for me that this is a possibility if I am willing to put the work in and further my education.

Zachilles2 karma

Last questions, I promise.

Are you a gamer? Has working in the industry ruined your love for gaming at all? Has it turned into something you like as a job but used to love as a hobby?

DreamHarvest9 karma

Hehe, I dont mind the questions, its quite enjoyable answering them :)

Anyway, yea, I'm a massive gamer (PC, PS4, XBoxOne, PSVita, 3DS, Tablet and Mobile) - I wouldn't say it's ruined my love of games but I do approach playing them from a different angle, I get bored of games I'm playing much quicker and I'm a lot more judgemental over bad design in games. You end up seeing the design that underpins a game and because of this analytical view games do kind of lose some of their zest - though it really depends on how well the game was made.

I had the same issue when I was working in the music industry though - I would go to gigs and instead of watching and listening to the music I was analysing the acoustics of the space and de-constructing what the sound engineer was doing - it definitely made me loose some of the enjoyment of going to them, but after a while you learn to approach entertainment and analysis of music and games as two separate things in order to still get some enjoyment out of them.

Zachilles1 karma

This is pretty much how watching movies is for me now too. More analytical, harder to let myself have the willing suspension of disbelief and such.

Thanks again! If you want another gamer to play xbox one with, I can PM you my gamertag.

DreamHarvest1 karma

Cool, yea definitely. Though admittedly I don't play much now until the around 1am UK time due to running Dream Harvest crazy hours (I work from about 10am until midnight most days)

twwwy1 karma

Why is the Shure SM7 mix so much used in voice recording? And is the fact that it's response is from 50hz to 20khz and not 20-20000hz any issue...?

DreamHarvest2 karma

At OMUK we mainly used DPA mics for voice recording, cant remember the model though but it was rigged to the headphones so that the actors could move around. At Side we mainly used a Neumann U87ai, but since I stopped working with them I think they also now use DPA mics due to their small size. Both studios do face mocap which is another reason to use small mics.

studioderp11 karma

I have a small studio and produce EDM. I have a day job that stinks. Do you have any recommendations on making the cut over to full time audio production? I can't find any good paying jobs for sound design locally.

EDIT: Your linkedIn is not accessable.

DreamHarvest12 karma

Ah, you might need to sign in to LinkedIn to view my profile - I think it makes profiles private unless you have a connection in common with me.

Anyway, as mentioned above, audio for games is probably one of the hardest sides of the games industry to get into - there are a real lack of jobs available and people who do get the jobs generally stay at the studios for a long time.

My recommendation is to start working for smaller indie studios - advertise your abilities and portfolio on the Unity and Unreal Engine forums. You'll probably find that you'll be getting equity share rather than a salary for these types of roles, but if you prove yourself and do a professional job you'll more than likely get the cahnce to work on future projects with them that might be paid. Its a long and hard road to get into this industry.

Jordan142511 karma

I've been producing my own music for 5 years or so now as a hobby and also have a bachelor in audio engineering. I've always looked into jumping into sound design as a career. Any helpful pointer on where or how to go about it?

DreamHarvest10 karma

Sound design needs to be approached from a slightly different perspective than music production, although understanding things such as synthesis and how to properly record, edit, process and layer sound is definitely part of the process and is something you probably know a good deal about from your audio engineering degree. What you need to learn about now is implimentation, how to take you designed sounds and place them into the game using middleware such as FMOD or Wwise or using game engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine. Implementation in sound design for games is 75% of the job and it's important you learn about proper audio optimization. Unfortunately there seems to be a real lack of educational resources for this side of the industry and its something you generally learn on the job (though to get the job in the first place you need the experience - classic catch 22 scenario.)

The only FMOD / Sound Design course that I know of is run by Stephan Schutz from Sound Librarian - he's also the guy that wrote the FMOD manual.

Anyway, my advice is to learn middleware and game engines and try to find an indie team to work with in order to build your showreel.

igotaquestionbruh6 karma

While I currently have no experience with sound design or music it's always something that I've been highly interested in but hesitant to start tinkering with due to not knowing where to start.

What would be your advice to people in a similar situation as mine and are looking to either enter the industry or play around with it as a hobbyist?

DreamHarvest10 karma

Hi, This is a good question and something that a lot of people struggle with.

I started with learning a popular DAW (digital audio workstation) called Logic and just experimented with writing music. I think this is a great starting point - just find some audio software that is within your budget and start by getting creative. Experimentation is really the best way to learn.

Sound Design and writing music are two different things though (although sound design can cross over to music), you also then have the art of mixing (Which is different depending on whether your working on studio recordings, Live mixing or post audio).

There are hundreds of resources to get you started in the field of mixing, recording, sound design, writing music and every other aspect of digital audio production available online along with a large number of online courses as well as degree level courses.

I recommend taking a look at the offerings from Point Blank Studios, SAE as well as The London School of Sound (places I studied at).

The world of audio is so big and varied that its important that you tinker with different aspects of it before you decide which route you want to take.

Hope that helps a bit.

overdoZer3 karma

Sound Design and writing music are two different things though (although sound design can cross over to music)

Hey Justin ,thanks for the AMA , i was wondering if you could elaborate on the nature of a Sound Designer job in relation with music , i'm finishing a degree in composition and have another diploma in music interpretation. Do you find yourself actually producing the music from the ground up (composition , recording , mixing ) or is it not really the job of a sound designer.

Also do you work independently most of the time ?

Is there a lot of demand for Sound Designers , and are diploma an absolute necessity? I use to live off gigs and tuition but my health doesn't allow me to tour a lot anymore and tuiton is an overcrowded sector in my country atm , so i'm really interested to learn more about this.

Thanks for the replies !

DreamHarvest4 karma

Hi OverdoZer,

It really depends on where your working - In bigger studios the job of a sound designer is just designing the SFX and implementation of them into the engine (along with documentation, optimizing audio assets, mixing trailers / promo material, in game mixing and potentially working with an audio programmer to build audio tools), you generally wont be doing any music composition in these types of roles. The studio's expect you to be a specialist in the field of Sound Design and generally don't want to see anything else on your CV. Composer roles are very very hard to come by in the AAA games industry with most studios using named composers. Some studios do have on staff composers but these are usually people that have worked through the audio ranks at the studio to become the Audio Director.

This is a bit different if your working for an indie studio where you might take on the role of composer, sound designer, mixer and audio programmer and everything else audio related due to the team size being much smaller and much smaller budgets - the ability to do more than one thing in an indie studio is seen as a great asset. I actually started out freelancing as both a Sound Designer and Composer for a couple of Indie studios and then slowly developed my game design and project management skills through working on several projects. When I started Dream Harvest I took on an even wider role and now I do everything from writing the music, sound design, game design, project management, creative direction, marketing and animation and a tiny bit of coding (mainly implementing my audio assets using C#).

I've always been a freelancer (working in house and remote) but with Dream Harvest I built a team that currently made up of 2 programmer, 2 artists and a designer and myself and we all work remotely.

Generally the audio in the games industry is either Contract or freelance work, though occasionally studios do have full time positions but this is only for Sound Designers. The outsourcing market is quite large though and there are several Audio Post houses that specialize in game audio that might be worth a look into.

I wouldn't say that a diploma or degree is entirely necessary, what is important is an absolutely killer portfolio / showreel that shows your ability working on a large variety of different projects and styles.

Toasterstrudel1112 karma

The SAE does not focus on video game sound design at all though. You'll potentially know how to make a great album at the end and do film post work but video game sound isn't a part of their course (at campuses that I am aware of).

Check before you apply. And by that I mean don't check on the uni's website I mean ask students.

DreamHarvest1 karma

Yea, though I think they might be introducing a course soon. I did my Audio Engineering Diploma there at the London institute.

imakeawfulcomics4 karma

[deleted]

DreamHarvest2 karma

Not my real forte. I recommend you email Tom Jubert, he'll be happy to answer that question in more detail that I could: http://tom-jubert.blogspot.co.uk/

vedemag4 karma

Hey Justin,

My name is Hannah Gamiel and I am currently working at Cyan, Inc. as a programmer + audio engineer for our newest title called Obduction. I, too, hope to maybe start my own studio one day, although I plan on working at Cyan + potentially other studios for a while until then to gain experience working in the industry (I'm only 22).

I would love to pick your brain on the following things:

  • When did you make the step from sound designer to starting your own studio? What did it take to make that change?
  • What was the most difficult experience you've had as a sound designer, whether it be a challenge you've had with coworkers, a specific sound you had to make, foley recording... etc.?
  • Where were you able to learn about the marketing aspects of games? Was it from a mentor, online information, or personal experience?

Thank you!

DreamHarvest3 karma

Hi Hannah, Thanks for the questions - game looks great, loved Myst back in the day :)

I took the leap 3 years ago but was doing some project management for another indie team before hand. I think having a clear understanding of each of the game development pipelines is really handy, I understand each to a certain degree which makes it easier to allocate tasks. I also did a year of games industry / tech recruitment when I first started the studio (in order to fund our development) and talking to lots of programmers, games designers, directors and game studios really help me get a better understanding of the industry and the people that work in it.

In terms of most difficult experience I've had, I think it was working with certain indie teams with members that wouldnt pull their weight or were very slow and producing content which meant that I would have to wait in order to do my job. Also, changing my working methods from creating linear material to event driven material was at first a challenge, but its really fun once you get your head around it. Learning marketing has been through talking to other developers and reading lots and lots of online resources. Pixel Prospector is a great place to check out. Also my CTO has many years experience and has also been kind of like a mentor to me.

vedemag2 karma

Thanks for your response! I will let Rand Miller know that you said that about Myst; I'm sure he'll appreciate it :)

I understand that having a clear understanding of each section of game development is valuable, and I hope to eventually move into a PM position like yourself to get a grasp of managing each pipeline. So far I have had experience in our programming department, QA department and I guess technically our art department (for the sound design portion of the audio programming I do). I wouldn't have thought of tech recruitment, although now that you mentioned it, it makes complete sense. I can't believe I haven't considered getting experience in that before, haha.

Thanks for the reference to Pixel Prospector. It looks like that will be a good site for me to look at and I will check it out later today.

Again, thanks for your time! :)

DreamHarvest3 karma

No worries, glad I could help :)

dfcto4 karma

It's normal for writers or visual artists to move into full-on game creation and creative direction. Why does it seem to be so rare for sound people? What inspired you to step out of the sound designer's chair and into the writer/director role?

DreamHarvest8 karma

I think one of the main reasons was I wanted to challenge myself and also I had worked on too many failed indie projects that didn't have a clear direction or any project management in place and it really frustrated me. I felt I could do it better, I learnt a lot from being on several teams along with working at Side and OMUK - I learnt about good management and bad management and most importantly I've been really open to learning as much as possible over the last 7 - 8 years. The only other Audio guy that I know of that's made the move to being the director of a game studio is David Cage, the CEO of Quantic Dream.

BlaineWriter3 karma

Can you further elaborate on the good and bad side of management? What were the most common bad ones? (I'm planning on doing a bit same thing as you and would like to hear about obvious pit falls) :D

DreamHarvest2 karma

Over promising to clients and then blaming the staff when there is no proper process in place to deal with the client's request (after over 20 years of these types of projects), over working and under paying staff based on the type and amount of work they are doing, keeping everyone Freelance (illegally) so that you dont have to pay NI and tax contributions. These are some of the worst practices I've experienced.

Riddlrr3 karma

Fellow Sound Designer here! What are some of the favorite sound effects you've made or recorded? What was the most unexpected source of a great sound? Favorite plugins or tricks you use?

DreamHarvest2 karma

Hehe, actually my favourite wasn't even for a game project but for a music project for a client. The song was called the murderous food incident and all the drums, percussion and textures in the song were fruit, vegetables and packets of crisps that we did weird things with and then I processed them in interesting ways. I love the sound toys plugins for mangling things and experimenting and I love over using reverb and then gating it, time stretching and just experimenting to create big textures. Oh and distortion, distortion is your friend for making big sounds.

HidingNow420693 karma

How would one go about applying a doctorate degree in audiology to virtual acoustics and video game development? Is this a possible career direction?

DreamHarvest7 karma

Very interesting question. I'm guessing that as part of your doctorate you played around with things such as Matlab? Audio Programmers with an understanding in DSP and acoustics are greatly sought after in the industry and this might be a possible route. But then the psychological and neurological studies that I guess you did as part of your course could be beneficial from a creative standpoint as a sound designer. Once again though, it comes down to the showreel / portfolio.

SoundisPlatinum5 karma

This is something that is extensively known by us live sound guys. We have to work with natural room acoustics and designing systems to make a space sound how we want. (Though the clients rarely spring for everything we want) I am curious if many people switch over from live sound to the game production/design field?

DreamHarvest2 karma

I did quite a bit of live sound - though admittedly I've only done a couple of arena shows (small). The stress of doing live sound wasnt really for me, I like the comfort of a studio. But I see no reason why Live sound guys cant move over to game sound.

Socialist_Butterfly3 karma

What inspired you to become a game sound designer?

DreamHarvest9 karma

I think it stemmed from always wanting to work in the games industry from a very your age. I've always been an avid gamer and believed that games are the ultimate amalgamation of creativity and art in the sense that it brings together so many different types of creativity - Art, Audio, Writing, Design, Coding, Interactivity. I'm also fascinated by the complexity inherent in creating games and the psychological effects that they have on people. Audio in games, until recently were always a second thought but now, with the power of consoles and PC's audio has become as important as the art - we are able to drive players emotions through the auditory experience and I love being a part of that.

transc3nder3 karma

How would you advise someone get into this field? I've worked as an audio engineer for around a decade now, have engineered to remit for a long time and written for some established artists... would love to get into sound design for gaming. Is it just a case of keep sending your music CV out to companies and waiting for a nibble?

DreamHarvest6 karma

You need to build a sound design specific CV and showreel that has no music on it what so ever. Studios want their sound designers to be specialists in that field - you more than likely wont be writing any music in a sound design role. You will also need to learn some audio middleware such as FMOD or Wwise and getting your head around with working with game engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine are also seen a big pluses. Sound design for games is 75% implementation so you need to understand that game audio is a whole different beast to traditional sound design and music composing / production - its technically very complex in comparison which is why many people struggle to get into the industry.

SnailHunter3 karma

Hi! What kind of software/DAW do you use? Any favorite plugins for cool effects?

Also, forgive my ignorance but would little effects like the sound of footsteps or doors opening also be your responsibility? Is every piece of audio in the game that isn't music your responsibility? Thanks.

DreamHarvest6 karma

I use Logic, Adobe Audition and Ableton Live and BitWig Studio depending on what kind of music I'm writing or whether I'm mixing or doing sound design. Plugins I recommend are all of the Fabfilter stuff and SoundToys - both are really good value for money. I also use the Slate Digital plugins for general mixing duties. Synths and interesting sound creation toys I use include Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2, everything from Native Instruments, Izotope Iris. I work on every part of the audio pipeline at Dream Harvest (as well as doing design, writing, marketing) - so yea, Foley such as footsteps is part of that :)

DANNYonPC3 karma

What games do you think sound the best?

My vote goes to the games from DICE (BFBC2/BF4/SWBattlefront)

DreamHarvest7 karma

Hehe, yea the DICE sound team are awesome - their animation system is actually driven by the sound system which is pretty cool. Other games with great sound though probably include The Last of Us, SOMA, Alien: Isolation, Thomas was Alone among many many others.

DANNYonPC3 karma

Animation linked to sound? How does that work?

Still have to play TLOU :(

DreamHarvest6 karma

The sound triggers drive the animation events. Not entirely sure how the ins and outs work, but what it comes down to is that the sounds and animations are very closely tied. I went to a talk at Develop Conference a couple years ago and the Audio Director at DICE was doing a talk about it.

zickleusrage3 karma

Hi Justin! Thanks for doing this!

I'm interested in sound design as well as music production. I do both in another industry right now, but I'm looking forward to one day transitioning to the video game world.

You have mentioned the importance of a showreel. Can you go into some detail on what makes up a great showreel and what it is supposed to be exactly? I get that it's a collection of your work showcasing different styles, etc. maybe more info on layout (put i on a website? Soundcloud?), how many tracks you should have, is it better to be varied or specialized, etc. And could you provide details on what should be on a music production showreel as opposed to a sound design showreel? Thank you in advance!

DreamHarvest5 karma

For a sound design showreel there are a couple of things you should try to include - Sound design to moving picture - this can be a trailer or just an in game scene where you replaced the sounds with your own (preferably using only sounds you have created yourself or heavily modified from stock sounds), include a little writeup of what you did and how you did it. A video of you implementing sound in a game scene and the process for that implementation including either a writeup or a voice over explaining exactly what your doing. Also maybe try to create a story with sound

For a music showreel I would try to show your ability at composing in multiple styles if possible - or if you specialize in a single style thats not a bad thing either, just make it clear that this is the style of music that you write. A music showreel doesnt need to be in video format.

zickleusrage1 karma

For the music side, do I need to be versed in implementation / middleware (I hope I'm using my those terms correctly)? Or is that more of a sound design necessity?

Edit: just wanted to thank you for your response to my first question! Not trying to be an ama hog.

DreamHarvest2 karma

It really depends on the project. A lot of indie games still use linear music that isnt effected by in game events so for those types of gigs its not necessary. However, if you want your music to be able to change based on what's happening on screen, reactive audio, then yes, its worth learning middleware - and its lots of fun! :)

Scintoth2 karma

Speaking from the point of a startup games company, what is vital to marketing? I've setup my own company while studying at university and we're making a game to hopefully release by summer 2016, but getting the word out there about it is insanely difficult.

DreamHarvest2 karma

I agree, marketing for a game studio that hasnt previously released anything is incredibly difficult and requires almost full time commitment from someone on your team. Being really active on social media is important, but dont spam, try to be helpful to other devs. using reddit is great, and maybe try doing a twitch stream once a week or more can work. Just bare in mind its a slow and long process. the most important thing to do is be consistent, people will come....oh and make sure to create something thats super polished!

AfroMonkey0102 karma

Hey Justin, thanks for doing this. I've found a lot of success through Ableton, however for more industrial studios Ableton seems to have the rarity of a unicorn.

Now I am becoming proficient in Logic, Pro Tools and DP. Are there any DAWs you would add to that list and/or do you think that's overkill?

Cheers, ps loved your work in Fable II <3

DreamHarvest3 karma

Hey,

Ableton Live isnt really something used in the industry, Its just a great tool for getting music ideas down fast.

It looks like your learning a good selection of DAW's but I also recommend Adobe Audition (Its amazing for audio editing using the spectrograph view instead of the waveform view) and Reaper is another good one to learn.

I only worked on the dialogue for Fable 2, but thanks all the same :)

wallcoffee2 karma

What was the process of starting a game studio like for you? I.e. how did you get funding for the office space/salaries, how did you convince people to work for you, etc.

DreamHarvest1 karma

Good question - My team, other than our two contract artists are working for equity at the moment with myself and my CTO funding the software and art required for the game.

I ran a recruitment campaign on the Unity Forums and found Sven who had quite a bit of previous experience working on PS2 games and a few mods as well as being the coder for a very very popular glow shader on the Unity Asset Store.

The rest of my team were found through working with them on other projects for other studios. I had to sell the idea of them working for equity but I think they liked the idea that there was proper direction in this team and that we wanted to work on core games rather than mobile and F2P games.

arsenlives2 karma

When applying for jobs in sound design/composing for games, do you think a showreel that demonstrates multiple skills (projects that i've mixed and mastered, foley for film, as well as sound design) would be more effective or come off to broad and unfocused?

DreamHarvest3 karma

It has the potential to come off too broad. The first thing you need the studio to see in your reel is stuff that's relevant to what they do. Having the additional stuff on another page of your portfolio is fine, but you need to grab their attention in the first 15 seconds when they listen to your portfolio.

arsenlives2 karma

Thanks for the reply! Been getting into Fmod and Unreal4 recently but don't have much to show for as far as games I've worked on, however, I feel like a reel of audio stripped game footage seems a little bland. In your professional opinion, would a reel that shows me working in "realtime" with 3d models, landscapes, etc. be more interesting?

DreamHarvest2 karma

having both would be great in my opinion. As a sound designer at a studio you will be working on both linear mixing to picture for promotional stuff / trailers as well as actual game audio and integration. Showing your ability at both is really important. Just keep the video's short - you need the person watching them to be interested in the first 15 seconds or less as mentioned above.

SoloAndChewie2 karma

Hi Justin. What sorts of projects can I do now to best prepare myself for the industry and help build my reel of work to help get me in the door? I'm currently finishing up my computer science degree and already have my degree/done work in post-production.

DreamHarvest2 karma

What side do you want to get into? Sound design or Audio programming? It might be worth talking to Anastasios Brakis at Tazman-Audio, the creator of the FABRIC Audio middleware for Unity if your interested in audio programming. I havent spoken to him in a couple of years but he's a well of knowledge about audio programming.

_m00_2 karma

The Crew ? What did you do on that then ?

DreamHarvest2 karma

I worked on the dialogue, mainly editing while at OMUK

passionPunch2 karma

What are your thoughts about starting out in sound on your own, opposed to looking for work at a company? I'm finishing an intensive audio course next fall and I really would like to work in my own studio on small projects and build up contacts that way. Is this unrealistic?

DreamHarvest3 karma

I wouldnt say it's unrealistic but in order to have some form of income you'll need to take on some freelance work for studios / outsourcing companies. Both Side and OMUK are always looking for people. Though OMUK will want you on site.

JezSound2 karma

You'll get a great deal more experience in a much shorter time working in house somewhere, especially in terms of learning all the facets of games development.

DreamHarvest2 karma

True, it's one of my main regrets - I've always been freelance and you always feel like an outsider.

mick0102382 karma

Will you do my procedural audio thesis for me please?

DreamHarvest6 karma

Hehe, how much can you pay me! :P

mick0102382 karma

If I get a job after I finish it I'll give you a few months wages. If you have any advice or places I should look to find out more about PA I'd be forever thankful.

DreamHarvest2 karma

hehe, I was joking, I dont really know enough about procedural audio to write a thesis on it. It's on my list of things to learn more about though so hit me up once you've written it and I'll give you my opinion :)

TheAngryCatfish2 karma

Whats your favorite game so far this year?

DreamHarvest4 karma

I really enjoyed SOMA which I just finished playing. MGS5 is also pretty good, still havent finished it yet though. Ori and the Blind Forest maybe due to its amazing animated style and soundtrack. Any game that brings tears to my eyes in the first 10min of playing is game of the year in my books.

MutantStandard2 karma

Thanks for doing this AmA

What gear did you start out with when you started getting into production and sound design?

What hand held recorder are you using to record field recordings?

Any recorders you can recommend to someone who's just starting out?

DreamHarvest1 karma

I was pretty well established in the music industry when I moved over to the games industry so my equipment list was already pretty versatile. I'm using a Sound Devices 702 but I also use a cheaper hand held recorder called the Edirol R-09 which is super compact. Sometimes I'll even use my iPhone as the mic on it isnt too bad. Mic wise I use Earthworks SR-30's and Rhode NT2. I dont actually own a shotgun mic.

thaBigGeneral1 karma

For someone just starting out, hands down a Zoom recorder is what you want. They they just released the H5 model last year and it's really excellent, improved pre-amps and interface. Very simple and price is great for what you get (I believe it's under $500 cad, but can't remember). You can even buy additional recording capsules, it comes with one stereo XY condenser capsule though.

And if you want something that's really top of the line you can look a Sound Devices 633, amazing recorder but that'll cost you over $4000 and you'll still need to purchase mics. So I'd say start off with a zoom.

DreamHarvest3 karma

I second the Zoom, its an excellent bit of kit for the money

greenbigfrog1 karma

What the OS of your choice? For programming? For audio production/editing? For ...?

DreamHarvest1 karma

I use OSX for audio production and then Windows on a PC for audio editing, mastering and games development

goedegeit1 karma

Are you still hiring? I'm a 3D Generalist specializing in characters and rigging, if you're interested. My work's at www.kodie.me

What do you reckon to the colours? I wanted to look different with bright colours instead of just primarily black stuff most people do, but I've heard people find mine a bit garish.

DreamHarvest2 karma

Hi, unfortunately not at the moment.

Your work is very stylized which could be great for some people but as you mentioned, can be garish for others. I recommend doing some more standardized pieces to show that your able to conform to certain styles.

goedegeit1 karma

Here's a less vain and self-serving question than my last:

What do you recommend someone with a little knowledge of music editing to do to learn more about the field and start creating listenable music? Not for anything professional, but what are the important fundamental skills you'd have to learn to progress?

DreamHarvest3 karma

Pitch, Dynamics, Rhythm, Articulation, Timbre, Order and Tempo are the fundamentals of music. Having a good understanding of how they work together to create music is pretty important.

randomselfdestruct1 karma

Hiring any 3D modelers any time soon?

DreamHarvest2 karma

Sorry, not at the moment but possibly once we get some more funding. Keep an eye on our site for announcements.

aSkepticalHuman1 karma

What are some of the weirder things you've had to do to record a good sound? E.g., get somebody to fart repeatedly into a microphone to get it just right, etc.

DreamHarvest2 karma

I had to make up a funny language and record myself doing the voices for a small game called Galloop (actually I think it was the first indie game I ever worked on and the sound design is atrocious) You can check out the demo here: http://www.galoop.co.uk/

kennykeczuoki1 karma

Do you happen to know any FPP games which use binaural sound decently?

DreamHarvest2 karma

Unfortunately no. Sorry

DeadAliveRules1 karma

Hey Justin.
I am also a self taught musician/sounddesigner/programmer and I have just started a game design company, and have released one Mobile game and have two in the works, and then plan on switching to games for handhelds. I only design in my free time, as I have a full time job, and am interested in making the transition to just designing games.
I have a few questions.
How do you go about learning how to monetize and market your games?
I don't know at what point I could viably leave my job as I don't know how much I can expect to make from a game vs how much I need to spend to make one. Are there any good sources of information regarding? Or do you have any particular tips?
Are there any good sources of game design internships besides just searching on an individual basis?

DreamHarvest2 karma

Hi,

That's a pretty broad question. I think some of the best sources of information in regards to how to properly monetize your games can be found online - but due to it being such a new topic of discussion there arent really any hard or fast rules at the moment. I recommend attending some of the Monitization seminars and speaking to developers who create mobile games, most are usually quite happy to talk about their strategies - we don't make F2P mobile games at Dream Harvest (PC / MAC / Consoles are our target platforms) so I lack the knowledge to give you a definitive answer. Pixel Prospector might have a good article on it though so definitely take a look there.

Limiate1 karma

Hi Justin. I've worked on a game hobby project for about years. I'm working with an investor to open a studio to make games and essentially do exactly what you've done. Can you provide resources you've found useful? Advice? Anything I can devour? Thanks for doing this AMA!

DreamHarvest2 karma

Try to get onto a business accelerator, it really helps, even if they dont provide funding they can help a lot with setting up a business properly and with the all important marketing and business planning. We're currently on the CoreLabs Accelerator and they are planning for next intake so check them out. Other than that I highly recommend talking to as many developers as possible - build up a network via Twitter and by going to trade shows. We love supporting each other in the indie scene so try to make the most of it. Pixel Prospector is a great site for learning about all sorts of stuff to do with games dev so definitely check that site out.

Limiate1 karma

Did you have a mentor?

DreamHarvest2 karma

As part of being on the CoreLabs Accelerator we have access to quite a number of Mentors which is really helpful. Recently Ray Mazza the ex Creative Director of Maxis, the guys who made the Sims and Simcity has been helping us out a bit by playtesting our game and giving feedback.

cyberspidey1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA Justin, your responses have been amazing. Since you already mentioned that a lot of Indies lack funds, being an indie dev, I can't hire folks because I can't afford them. I was lucky and found a composer who's also a passionate gamer, but a dedicated sound designer is still absent from our team.
To rookies or Indies like me, what would be a decent way to produce average or above average sound when we can't afford/obtain permission to use stock sound effects?

DreamHarvest1 karma

This is a really hard one - is your composer not able to take up the role? The issue is you really need to have someone with a good set of ears willing to dedicate the time to getting the sound in your games sounding amazing. Just purchasing sounds from stock libraries wont really cut it. I recommend checking out those forums I mentioned above. IndieCG might be a good place to start - its quite new and there are quite a few audio people on there looking for projects to work on.

cyberspidey1 karma

Thanks for your response!
He's more of a musician than a sound engineer. We've been using some stuff bundled with Computer Music magazine, and some online sound generators to generate retro sound effects (to go alongside 8bit/pixel art style).

DreamHarvest2 karma

That style shouldn't be too hard to work with. Just ember less is more with 8bit sound design.

HerrXRDS1 karma

Are there any advancements being made in positional audio, any good binaural 3D sound engines being developed? 15 years ago we had A3D which could calculate the sound reflections of the 3D model giving you real 3D sound positioning and it was amazing. Then they got bankrupted by Creative and the replacement technology they came up with was some inferior simulated 3D using reverb and other tricks. Ever since, the games don't seem to be getting any better 3D audio, actually, they got worse, some of the latest AAA titles were a big disappointment. Sure, the sounds themselves are getting a lot better, in the sense of high quality recordings, high bitrate files, amazing soundtracks etc. But the 3D positioning is lacking, the calculations aren't there, you don't get a good 3D sound.

For those of you wondering, here is a demo of A3D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oSlbyLAksM

And a 15 year old game using A3D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV_6IXQRxuQ

DreamHarvest3 karma

I'll be completely honest - Binaural audio is something that fascinates me and it's something I can see being incredibly important when used with VR in order to completely immerse the player, but I haven't really looked into it in any great detail. I do know that the guys at Oculus have a VR Audio API that might do some of this stuff. Might be worth looking into

zakraye1 karma

I assume with your new position and responsibilities you don't get to do much sound design anymore. Do you miss working on sound design?

DreamHarvest2 karma

Because of the small size of our studio I still actually get to do the sound design, though trying to find the time to do it is pretty hard at the moment. I do miss it when I'm not doing it, its very fun and very creative and is the complete opposite of all the marketing i'm doing at the moment which is pretty robotic and mind numbing

cspruce891 karma

What is the hardest part of running your own studio?

What was the one thing that no one told you about running your own studio that you wished someone would've?

How many people do you employ?

How large is your office?

How many people do you believe it takes to create a successful game?

What is your favorite genre of video game?

What is your "dream-project"?

From one aspiring developer to an accomplished one:

Good job, good luck, good game.

DreamHarvest1 karma

Hehe, ok, let me try and answer these in order:

  1. Time management; having to bounce between so many different responsibilities and trying to find the time to do it all. We really need 48hr days

  2. We are a team of 6; 2 programmers (One of which does Ui and gameplay and the other does graphics and Ai, 2 designers(one of which does gameplay and level design and the other who is me, 2 artists (one 3D and one concept) - though our two artists are contractors.

  3. We all work remotely - I'm based near London as is one of my programmers, my designer is based up north and my other programmer is based in Zurich in Switzerland. My two artists are both based in the USA. This type of setup is becoming more and more common due to the cost of office space and the power of online collaboration tools.

  4. A successful game came be made with 1 or 1000+ people, its really dependent on the quality and polish of the game and being in the right place at the right time - oh and marketing...lots and lots of marketing.

  5. Hehe, I love them all, RTS (which is what our game is), FPS, CCG, Horror, Racing, anything really - it also helps to be into a wide variety of genres when making games.

  6. Big narrative driven action adventure that tells a heart wrenching story with multiple endings, great combat system and doesn't hold the players hand but instead requires a good degree of skill to play

Thanks for the questions :)

aclaussen1 karma

  1. What video games do you like to play?
  2. Would you ever venture out of sound design for video games and make music whose only purpose is for listening (ie its not music for ads, tv, video games, ect)?
  3. What are some video games that have really good music/sound design? Preferably games I've heard of but if there is some unknown game with exceptional music that would be interesting.
  4. Are you the sole owner of Dream Harvest Games Ltd? If not, who else owns the company?

DreamHarvest3 karma

  1. I play almost anything - its research as I like to tell my GF :P
  2. A while ago I though about it, I have collaborated on several music projects in the past, but I prefer writing to a theme now and I just dont have the time to do music projects outside of Dream Harvest
  3. The last of us is a great example. Most of DICE's games are also great. For indie games I loved the sound design and dialogue of Thomas was Alone and the soundtrack in Hotline Miami
  4. Yes I'm the sole owner of Dream Harvest

marinoZ1 karma

Hi. A while ago I read on a gaming subreddit that all of Valve's games have really good audio and that it contributes in a majorly way to their popularity. I do remember hearing in hl1 my suit's feedback having an echo while in large spaces, and feeling soooooooooo emerged in the world.

What's your take on this?

DreamHarvest2 karma

Yea, I think audio in games has recently been a massive factor in their popularity. Audio budgets have grown and the talent behind them has also increased - though its taken a long time to convince studio heads that audio is as if not more important than art in a game.

lazer21121 karma

Hey there!

Thanks for doing this AMA. I was wondering which programs/resources you would recommend for integrating your music into the product? I have a background in Javascript if thats of any benefit.

DreamHarvest2 karma

FMOD and Wwise are two of the most used middleware solutions. Unity's new audio tools are pretty nice (based off FMOD) as is Tazman-Audio's FABRIC

Gonzogriff1 karma

Hi Justin. I'm a Junior level CS major with an option in game and simulation studies. I'm very interested in sound design, specifically in atmospheric and immersion type audio. What tips do you have for someone at my level for preparing for the industry? What components of sound design education are the most important in your opinion.

Thanks for the AMA!

DreamHarvest1 karma

I think the fact that you studying computer science and have an interest in sound design you should start looking into DSP programming, the industry is seriously lacking in good audio programmers and this is definitely something that might suite your skill set. Maybe try learning some SuperCollider or playing around with MAX.

StandingByToStandBy1 karma

I was considering starting podcasts for my dnd group. As a sound guy, do you have any suggestions?

DreamHarvest1 karma

Get yourself a nice microphone - something with USB should be suitable for your needs such as the Blue Yetti. You can use free software to edit the podcast such as Audacity.

ponchostalker1 karma

do you use xfer's serum? it's really nice, i suggest you try the demo if you haven't checked it out.

DreamHarvest2 karma

Looks interesting, will check it out:)

ponchostalker1 karma

are/were you into music production?

DreamHarvest2 karma

Yea, its how I started before training to be an audio engineer