Video Game Composers rejoice! ELIAS, an inspirational and intuitive middleware solution is here, making our jobs as Composers more satisfying and rewarding, as well as taking the pressure off of our Programmers to implement our music within the game.
When speaking of middleware, most of us would automatically think of FMOD and Wwise, two solutions that are brilliant, but very involved and take a significant amount of research to begin using using (not to mention the price-tag for the licensing). For Indie Game-Studios, budgets are often quite small (if you even have one at all!) so a cheaper alternative is often needed. ELIAS does not charge for licensing until your game makes 1,000,000 USD, so for start up companies that need adaptive game audio, this is the most logical solution.
For a demonstration, I have prepared an ELIAS session for you.
If you do not already have ELIAS installed then CLICK HERE for the free download. If you prefer not to install ELIAS at this stage, that is fine, I will be demonstrating and explaining what is happening within the program, so keep reading if you are interested in this adaptive audio engine!
HOW DOES ELIAS WORK?
ELIAS works by using Loop-Tracks that have a series of Triggers assigned to them.
The numbers you see in the picture above are triggers, these are points in which ELIAS commands the game’s audio to change, or as I prefer to think of it, adapt. For this demonstration, I have used one Loop-Track, an Acoustic Guitar, in later demonstrations, I will show you how to use multiple Loop-Tracks for maximum effect.
By setting the Time Signature (Meter) and Tempo, ELIAS can make transitions between the Triggers, without having to fade in or out. This feature is what makes the program fun and opens up the possibilities for adaptive audio.
Set the Meter and Tempo the same as the DAW session you have created the music in. For this demo, I used Pro Tools to record the music, with a Tempo of 110 BPM and 4/4 meter. You will notice that there is a setting for Bars, set this to the length of the loop you are using, for this session I had a loop of 16 Bars.
CREATE YOUR MUSIC IN YOUR DAW
Being Middleware, ELIAS does not create any music, you will need your preferred DAW. I use Pro Tools.
Think of each Trigger as a section in a song, looping over and over until our player advances in the game, triggering the next section of the song. You need to think of this while composing, so nothing sounds disjointed or abrupt when making the change. For this demonstration, I have a loop that is 16 bars long, so each Trigger will be 16 bars. Within this 16 bar loop, I have phrased the music in 4 bar phrases, this is because I have set the “Agility” function to 4 bars. Agility is the amount of time it takes before ELIAS will change to the next Trigger. By keeping the Agility to 4 bars, the music will change without sounding disjointed, as well as changing quick enough to react to the players movements.
Above is the first trigger. Export the Trigger from Pro Tools and label it something that you will recognise when importing it into ELIAS. You will notice I have used G1, which I recognise as “Guitar, Trigger One”. ELIAS loops the track seamlessly as long as you keep the reverb tail, so I usually keep 2 bars at the end of each Trigger. OK, keep going with your song, recording the next segment.
Notice how this process is not just chopping the whole song into segments, it is recording each segment separately, then joining them together in ELIAS. Repeat this method for the remainder of the Triggers you wish to use.
Nice one, we have our Triggers recorded and and Exported from Pro Tools and now it is time to bring them into ELIAS.
Simply drag the Exported .wav files onto the corresponding Trigger in ELIAS. Once the Triggers are all where they should be, the next step is to open the ELIAS Player by pressing F5 (or finding it in the Theme Menu).
The function in the player we are looking at today is the “Level”. Level corresponds to the Triggers, so by adjusting this level, the Triggers will change to adapt the gameplay. If you have downloaded the demo session, you will notice when changing the Level, a little arrow spins around beside where Level is written, this is indicating that ELIAS is about to change the Trigger. Remembering that I have set the Agility to 4 bars, you will find that the music will only change on bar 4, 8 and 12. By composing the music to 4 bar phrases, the change sounds natural.
This concludes the first demonstration of ELIAS, I suggest having some fun with the session and experiment with changing the levels at random to make “your own song”. I have also transcribed a Bach prelude (BWV999) that uses the same techniques used in todays demonstration and can be downloaded below.
Thanks for reading and stay creative!