Archive for January, 2013

January 26, 2013

“DEFENSE GRID CONTAINMENT”

I mentioned in my “Changes” blog post that I delivered a few audio files for an upcoming game. That afforded me the opportunity to purchase a larger monitor and another hard drive. It was a perfect example of the decades of changes I’ve made to my home studio.

I’m excited to announce that I got the good word yesterday that “Defense Grid Containment” (an expansion pack for the downloadable PC game “Defense Grid”) has been released and is available to purchase at http://store.steampowered.com/search/?snr=1_200_200_252_12&term=defense+grid. At the same time, it also brought back some great memories of creating the original game.

In 2008, I had the pleasure of working for Hidden Path Entertainment on the original “Defense Grid” video game. The company was founded by some trusted co-workers and good friends from my days of working at FASA Interactive and Microsoft Game Studios. They had a unique vision that I have never been able to resist — making a game that addresses all of the requirements.

I have worked in games, film, television, and location-based entertainment and worked with a lot of developers and producers during production. That experience exposed me to a wide range of production values. The unfortunate truth is that some projects didn’t address all of the elements that make up an immersive and entertaining product. The result is a project that does not resonate with the audience. The business model, story line, programming, art direction and audio direction are all equally important to success.

From my first “Defense Grid” meeting with Hidden Path, I knew that this would be one of those little games that would make a big statement in the tower defense game genre. All of the elements were being addressed and some of the brightest talents in the industry were working on the game. The results are evident by the success of the game and the “Defense Grid” community that continues to enjoy the world we created.

I hope you enjoy this latest update to a great game and look forward to working with Hidden Path Entertainment again in the near future!

DG Containment

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January 19, 2013

HOW BACKGROUND MUSIC CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR EXPERIENCE

Because I work as a full-time composer, I listen to music — my own and other people’s music — for many hours daily. As such, I am sensitive to music overload, especially when the music is just too loud or distracting. For example, it’s a turn-off when I’m in a restaurant, trying to have a conversation with my family or friends and we can’t hear each other because of loud and/or strange music.

This happened to me very recently. I won’t name the pizza restaurant, here in Reno, but what could have been a pleasant lunch experience was marred by the fact that the staff was playing very loud, dissonant, electronic music — almost like something you’d hear in a horror movie. It was highly irritating and it made me feel as though the cooks and servers really didn’t care about pleasing their customers. In fact, they seemed grouchy that day and maybe were foisting their music on customers as a form of passive aggression.

By contrast, the right kind of music in a restaurant or retail store puts diners or shoppers in a happy or relaxed mood — hopefully, so happy or relaxed that they’ll want to stay longer and spend more money, rather than being anxious to leave.

Ever notice yourself walking around a Trader Joe’s or Safeway store and grooving to the music they’re playing? Often, it’s the kind of upbeat pop or rock music that appeals to several generations, whether it’s Queen, Duran Duran or Earth Wind and Fire.

In a lot of coffee shops or upscale restaurants, jazz or retro cocktail music is popular — it has a cool, sophisticated vibe and doesn’t detract from the ability to chat with your companions.

In my current position as a composer and sound designer at IGT, I am always cognizant of the need to consider the target audience for each project. Sometimes the music I’m asked to compose is not my favorite style, but I “get” that it’s my job to entertain our customers in a way that makes them comfortable or excited about using our products. I still get some playful ribbing from co-workers about a project where I had to work on disco music. It resulted in a nickname of “Disco Duane,” but in the end, it’s okay because I feel confident that the people who play that IGT game will have a great experience that will inspire them to come back for more.

Now if only certain local businesses would stop to ponder this concept and how much more successful they could be, if they set out to make their customers feel better about their day! Little things mean a lot, even the background music when you’re shopping for groceries or taking a lunch break.

January 13, 2013

CHANGES

Every once in a while, you need to change things up to give yourself a fresh perspective. In the case of composers who pretty much live inside their studios, that’s the place to make changes. Like a lot of composers, I have two studios. One is at my full time job at IGT and I also have a studio at home that has seen decades of changes.

I had a little window of time at IGT last week to do research on keeping my studios current. So at my IGT studio, I decided to upgrade my digital audio workstation, Digital Performer, to DP8. That, of course, led to discovering that more of my software needs to be upgraded. That will be this week’s challenge.

As for my home studio, I had an opportunity to deliver a few audio files for an upcoming game (that I’ll reveal as soon as possible). After working so long at my IGT studio, I’ve gotten used to certain things. So I decided to spring for a 27” main screen for my home studio. And like every upgrade I’ve ever done, it turns into a project that takes four times the amount of time that you think it will.

After all day yesterday and most of the day today, it’s up and running and I couldn’t be happier with the change. There are more changes in store this year and well worth all the work to get there.

Is it time for changes in your environment?

The latest Duane Decker Studio.

The latest Duane Decker Studio.

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Have a happy, healthy and successful 2013!