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Offline Markohs

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Music!
« on: September 17, 2013, 11:51:27 AM »
I was reading the simutrans wikipedia entry and read:

"The sound effects were deemed to be unengaging, and new players may be baffled by the range of transportation possibilities"

Well, about the gameplay I whoudn't say much, we'll improve, but about the sound effects...

Isn't anyone interested in improving that part of the game? Comeon, we are a big community, I'm pretty sure we have audio artists willing to contribute. :)

 Or not?

Offline Sarlock

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Re: Music!
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2013, 02:27:55 PM »
You don't like the circa 1995 MIDI music?   ;D

I agree... but have very limited musical abilities.

Offline Markohs

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Re: Music!
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2013, 02:42:36 PM »
My Sound Blaster AWE32 on my old 486 PC sounded better. ;)

Offline TurfIt

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Re: Music!
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2013, 03:57:55 PM »
See: [patch] FluidSynth  The MIDIs are fine, the problem is Windows synth absolutely sucks.
As for sound effects, another item in my long todo list - redo the whole system from scratch, it needs it! Doing it right will need more CPU power, so that's why I've been looking for performance lately...

Offline Sarlock

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Re: Music!
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2013, 04:27:38 PM »
Would it make more sense to play an MP3 format?  Existing MIDIs could be recorded as an MP3 using a decent synth and then the player can add any MP3 music they want to a /music folder.

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Music!
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2013, 04:36:11 PM »
I've always envisaged having a timeline of music so that if you start in the 1750s you get some rural folksongs (Aaron Copland - Appalachian Spring, The Lark Ascending - Vaughan Williams) even though that was written in the 1900s), then more romantic music for the 19th century (things like Beethoven - Pastorale Symphony, Smetena - Ma Vlast), for the 20th century you could start off with some Ragtime (various rags by Scott Joplin) moving onto Jazz and Big Band (Glenn Millar) before 1950. Then have some Rock and Roll, Guitars (Shadows, Sky), becoming more synthetic and electronic in the 1970s and 1980s (Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield) then maybe moving back toward a more (neo)classical style for the 1990s onwards maybe (Michael Nyman, Carl Jenkins).

One problem with this is that music is very much a personal taste - I quite like games with this kind of music timeline (Europa Universalis II, Locomotion), but it's a lot of effort to make to collate all of this. Particularly if we want to compose original pieces in the style of those I suggested above and even more so if we then want actual recordings rather than midi tracks.

There are some free audio recordings going around of various classical pieces which would bulk out the music selection. It would require someone to think carefully about what to include though - music has to be a reasonably fast tempo, easy to listen to and not already overused.

Finally including a large quantity of music, especially if recorded would push download sizes up considerably.

Edit: And incidentally I'm willing to do a bit work on the music front. I can play the violin to a reasonably high standard and have had fun before layering various parts together to give the impression of a string quartet :p

Offline Spacethingy

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Re: Music!
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2013, 04:40:42 PM »
About the download size, how about an OpenTTD-style system - music is an optional extra that can be downloaded separately using a script (as with the pak-finder now). Multiple packs can be downloaded and chosen, to go with taste.


As cute as the music is, it doesn't really fit well with realistic packs like say pak.Britain.128.

Offline Parachute

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Re: Music!
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2013, 05:39:55 PM »
The music is the worst thing of the whole game. It should be automatically turned off, instead of after every new installation be activated again.

Offline Ters

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Re: Music!
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2013, 05:56:01 PM »
You don't like the circa 1995 MIDI music?   ;D

I've got a bunch of it stashed somewhere. Unfortunately, modern computers don't do it justice. My PC came with two GPUs, but not one single MIDI chip.

Lots of good ideas so far. Dropping MIDI music is probably the best option, as most target platforms should be good at streaming (compressed) PCM sound and there is nothing suggesting that that may change. They might even have hardware accelerated decoding. Unfortunately, there are restrictions on the MP3 format, but there are a few newer and better formats, although they are probably not as well known.

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Music!
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2013, 06:12:14 PM »
It's worth pointing out that Simutrans already supports ogg, mp3 and flac playback (amongst others) if compiled with SDL Mixer. Only problem is that these have to be 22050Hz files rather than 44100Hz so have to be specially encoded.

Offline Carl

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Re: Music!
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2013, 06:22:18 PM »
The music is the worst thing of the whole game. It should be automatically turned off, instead of after every new installation be activated again.
I have to say I agree.

Offline Ters

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Re: Music!
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2013, 06:22:52 PM »
It's worth pointing out that Simutrans already supports ogg, mp3 and flac playback (amongst others) if compiled with SDL Mixer. Only problem is that these have to be 22050Hz files rather than 44100Hz so have to be specially encoded.

SDL 2.0 seems more flexible, but only seems to load whole WAVE files. It might be better to stream music.

Offline TurfIt

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Re: Music!
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2013, 06:29:41 PM »
SDL mixer also uses timidity or fluidsynth for the MIDIs, solving the problem that way.

Unfortunately, modern computers don't do it justice. My PC came with two GPUs, but not one single MIDI chip.
Au contraire... modern computers are so fast realtime synth is trivial. I can run 512 voices and have CPU usage < 1%; There's no need for special hardware assistance anymore.
The problem is entirely one of Windows providing about the worst soft synth ever created, and people not bothering to install something decent.

MP3s or similar could be used, but you lose the flexibility MIDIs provide of using different sound patch sets. You're stuck with whatever the MP3 creator used to render the sound, rather than rendering from source, the .mid, yourself.

Offline greenling

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Re: Music!
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2013, 06:38:05 PM »
Hello All
I have from a Friend many midifiles be get.And i think that the playably from midifiles get stay.
The running of winamp and co it´s by game with high memory use it some time full of problems.

Offline Ters

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Re: Music!
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2013, 08:14:13 PM »
MP3s or similar could be used, but you lose the flexibility MIDIs provide of using different sound patch sets. You're stuck with whatever the MP3 creator used to render the sound, rather than rendering from source, the .mid, yourself.

I prefer hearing music as the performer performed it. All music I hear these days is that way anyway, as has been the case throughout most of history. If switching patch sets is a selling point, then Simutrans should allow users to associate patch sets with particular songs and switch patch sets automatically between songs. The few into that is probably best of using a third party music player anyway. I simply turn on the radio when playing Simutrans. Others I know turn on Spotify or similar when playing games, even games that are more immersive than Simutrans.

One might also question what sound adds to the Simutrans experience anyway. In Transport Tycoon, you could let the sounds of vehicles starting up inform you about the buzzing activity, and the sound of explosions about a costly mess-up that needed urgent attention. But Simutrans doesn't have accidents, and the sound of hundreds of vehicles, rather than just 80, quickly becommes a cacophony of sound. Even Transport Tycoon could be a bit too noisy towards the end.

Offline prissi

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Re: Music!
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2013, 09:51:12 PM »
Back to music: The main argument was file size (or rather download size) for those on dial-up lines. But as said, one could easily download them later (or via installer).

Offline isidoro

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Re: Music!
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2013, 11:11:10 PM »
I think that the concept of pak-sets can also apply to music.  Pak-Britain with British-like music, Pak-China with oriental sounds, etc.  And a timeline...  The mere concept of paks in ST have led graphic artists to contribute with success.  Why not extend the concept to music/sounds too?

A pak-set would become: objects+music.


Offline IgorEliezer br

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Re: Music!
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2013, 11:37:11 PM »
Not mentioning there are sites that offer royalty-free music for any purpose as long as you give credits (e.g. http://www.incompetech.com/) or pay a single-licence.

One might also question what sound adds to the Simutrans experience anyway.
Instead of playing music all the time, some games play music in intervals of 5 - 20 minutes, or when the player is idling or during special moments (mood-based music player).
« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 11:42:48 PM by IgorEliezer »

Offline sdog

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Re: Music!
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2013, 11:40:23 PM »
We're in the age of multitasking OSes, why bother with music in a game at all. The users can just use their own. I don't think it'd be worth the effort, to duplicate a capability.

Especially with the long gameplay of simutrans, the music would very quickly get repetitive, even if plenty was supplied. How often would you like to hear the same 90 minutes of music being repeated?

A better way to go might be some added service, something like playlists, music streaming (web radio) for online games etc. (i very much like the idea of kieron, music contemporary to the aera). With only dj-ing and web radio most issues with copyright would be avoided as well.


A completely different topics are sounds. They are indeed not very engaging. A first step might be to go to one of the open sound platforms.

We have steam trains, steam ships, old diesel buses etc. They could give a great soundscape.

BUT the way it is coded right now would lead to catastrophic cacophonies. At the moment it seems the sounds of all convoys in the viewport are played. This was already bad in 1995 TTD when on my 640x640 screen dozens of buses started and made the same motor-starter sound. Now with 1920*1080 i might have a hundred of vehilces on the screen at the same time.

Sollution (most likely not worth the extensive work needed):
Based on zoom level and location environment sounds could be played: close in a city, trafic, horns etc, far out only something close to white noise. Other environments: countyside, shores, ocean, forests, Let's say 3 sound zoom levels for each would require 15 (very well looping) sounds. Such can be found free and online.

For good convoy sounds, with the large viewports of today, some attenuation based on the distance of the convoy to the center of the viewport and/or the cursor would be needed. The sounds ought to be focused on what you look at.

I understand the backends we use all take care of the mixing? (SDL does)
« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 11:50:23 PM by sdog »

Offline Sarlock

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Re: Music!
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2013, 12:03:54 AM »
It's a very valid about re: music.  Most people are streaming their own music; might not be worth the effort as most won't listen to it anyways.  On the flip side, having an bunch of era-appropriate music would be pretty engaging.

As for game sounds, it would be a bit of a challenge to generate something that is actually worth listening to and the player just doesn't turn it off after 5 minutes, never to turn it on again.  The sound of vehicles running, trains honking and jets flying gets boring pretty fast.

Offline Markohs

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Re: Music!
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2013, 12:40:00 AM »
I'm glad the discussion is fluent and everybody is giving his opinion.

Even I understand sdog's point about many people playing its own music, because I know many players just switch off the music on their games, and specially on games usually played in windowed mode like simutrans, I think we should still play our own music. Why? Because many people do actually leave the music on, I do it myself and know many people that do it too, it gives you a more immersing feeling. Coding a music manager in-game so it allows you to play streaming or your itunes library it's not worth the effort I think, noone whould use it.

But I have to agree, that at least on windows, the music quality is horrible, and we should completely disable it until we can make sure it's going to play decently and sound good, even on MIDI. But I also understand Ters point that MIDI can somehow be poor, and some kind of MP3/OGG is for sure preferred.

 But music doesn't bother me so much as the game sounds, but I think prissi and many of you know more about the subject, and will find a good idea to implement, an what's possible and what not.

 I think paksets already have the ability to add sounds somehow, even I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's a very desirable thing to allow to.

 I'm glad people give his opinion, I hope something good materializes from the discussion in this subject.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2013, 12:45:07 AM by Markohs »

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Music!
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2013, 01:48:22 AM »
I agree with Sdog about music - I'm not a big fan of the Simutrans music, and I don't see why a game should have its own music these days - people might already be playing their own music in the background, and the Simutrans music can be annoying. I am considering dropping the music from the Simutrans-Experimental-Complete distributions, and should be interested in any feedback on that aspect of things.

As to sound effects, we do need to work on that. A long time ago, I executed a quick fix for the problem identified by Sdog in Experimental, which is still present: vehicle sounds are only played if no other vehicle sound has played within the last n seconds, where n is a random number between (I think) 5 and 30.

We could do with more and better sound effects: the sound effects that we have now are rather sudden and not well balanced as to volume. We need sound effects that make sense when played repeatedly, that fade in gently, and where background sounds are quieter (and fade in and out more gently) than activity sounds.

A real issue is where to source the sounds. One idea that I came up with for vehicle sounds, although I do not know whether this would work, is to trawl through amateur Youtube videos of the vehicles in question and ask the uploaders whether they would mind us using a bit of their sound in a non-commercial game under the Artistic licence. I suspect that many people would be quite pleased to help, especially if we put their names in the credits.

Offline Lmallet

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Re: Music!
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2013, 02:31:23 AM »
I don't know why people are taking sides re: music.   Different players want different things, the important part is for Simutrans to support enough options.  Heck, there are time I play in silence, with midi music on, with a media player playing my music list, or while listening to Youtube.

I think ideally Prissi's idea of installing music via the installer is a good one.  If you can figure out a way to support both midi and mp3/ogg format, then you could have the options of no music, low-quality music and high-quality music.  No music would leave the music folder empty, the two other options would add the necessary files to the folder (sidenote: is there a way to avoid having to use the music.tab file?).

Igor beat me to the Incompetech link, they have some decent music there.  I don't know how their license (Creative Commons 3.0 I believe) would work with Simutrans, but maybe by keeping it separate the way the paks are done, it might work.  All you would need is add the appropriate credits to the game.  You could even have different music packs (the same way we have pakset).

Offline prissi

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Re: Music!
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2013, 09:13:25 AM »
Midi: Well this stemmed from the DOS age or the game, where you could not run another music player. Indeed, let's mute MIDI by default for now.

Sound: Sdog is not right. The level of a sound depends on the distance of a vehicle. Maybe something is broken on his platform or with his compile, but the sound should be more silent the farther away the vehcile is (and mute after 50 tiles distance from the mouse cursor). It is only player at starting, but otherwise your would have even a larger noise pollution.

There are also ambient sounds, like artic, forest, coast, and sea sounds (at least in pak64). Those are only player when the mouse is resting on the respective tiles. The pak64 also has a level crossings sound.

Factory sounds where in preparation (i.e. the same time a factory smoke it would sound) but I think this is another unfinished area. All muted by cursor distance of course.


Offline greenling

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Re: Music!
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2013, 11:54:06 AM »
Hello Prissi
I think that the switch out from the playably from midi not a good choose it.
And to the sounds of the vehicles think i that sounds a message it that vehicles do moves.

Offline Ters

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Re: Music!
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2013, 03:50:16 PM »
If Simutrans makes more use of sound, there should be a separate volume/mute option for each type of sound. This has been normal in games for some time now from what little I see of modern games. That way, one could enable warning sounds, but mute ambient sounds.

Offline isidoro

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Re: Music!
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2013, 12:32:26 AM »
Just to give a different opinion, although I mute all the sounds and music of ST when playing, I do like ST music!

Although I guess that that is not much to say: taste is a personal option.


Offline An_dz

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Re: Music!
« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2013, 08:28:55 PM »
I never play listening to my music, I prefer listening the game music and sounds. Unless the game has no sound, like shooters, then sometimes I play on a low volume.

I've always envisaged having a timeline of music so that if you start in the 1750s you get some rural folksongs (...), then more romantic music for the 19th century (...)
Especially with the long gameplay of simutrans, the music would very quickly get repetitive, even if plenty was supplied. How often would you like to hear the same 90 minutes of music being repeated?
Civilization is the game that comes to my mind. It's a veeeery loooong playing time and the music does not get boring. Same applies to Age of Empires III (not much sure about the other versions). Me and my friends sometimes play AOEIII for hours and the music is amazing contagious, specially when attacking an enemy center.

Unfortunately, there are restrictions on the MP3 format, but there are a few newer and better formats, although they are probably not as well known.
Agreed. I would prefer another format, we should discuss this later when some implementation starts. The pakset creator can convert the sound. Users would prefer to open their Media Player to listen their songs.

A completely different topics are sounds. They are indeed not very engaging. A first step might be to go to one of the open sound platforms.
(...)
Based on zoom level and location environment sounds could be played: close in a city, trafic, horns etc, far out only something close to white noise. Other environments: countyside, shores, ocean, forests, Let's say 3 sound zoom levels for each would require 15 (very well looping) sounds. Such can be found free and online.
This would be amazing. I'm almost sure I said something similar somewhere.

Offline Ters

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Re: Music!
« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2013, 04:37:55 AM »
There was some shore/ocean sounds in pak64 last time I had sound on. It came very sudden, and seemed to depend on where the cursor happened to be, not where I was looking, which sometimes made it seem out of place.

Offline Tazze

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Re: Music!
« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2013, 09:16:22 AM »
"The sound effects were deemed to be unengaging, and new players may be baffled by the range of transportation possibilities"
I guess that the man who written this is saying about a music "Simutrans Main Theme".
I don't like this song the worst in all of Simutrans BGM.(second is track 2)
The Main BGM is ,I think, a face of the game. I'd like to the changing this music at any rate.
Why ,fortunately, this music selected as Main theme? and do you like it? (asking to everybody.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxjWFpoK0yg

Offline Dwachs

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Re: Music!
« Reply #30 on: September 20, 2013, 09:21:44 AM »
I guess that the man who written this is saying about a music "Simutrans Main Theme".
I completely agree to your writing. I turned off music after main theme and never turned it on again.

I also do not like sounds that react on actions I am doing: bang-dang when building, or dong-ding - Die Bruecke ist nicht frei!  :D

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Music!
« Reply #31 on: September 20, 2013, 08:22:27 PM »
First a little note - it's not good to blindly criticise the work of others. Remember, Simutrans music didn't come out of thin air, various people, some of whom are members on this forum wrote it. If you feel that improvements could be made then concentrate on those.

I can't remember the Civilisation music but certainly can remember Age of Empires though (infact listening to it again - ah happy memories). Incidentally Age of Empires (the original) was released in 1997. That's the same year development on Simutrans began...

Incidentally I actually don't mind the Simutrans main theme. I think problems with the music in Simutrans generally come down to:
Quality of reproduction - files are midi so will not give the same immersive experience a recorded soundtrack would.
Quantity - if I remember correctly there's an hour or two of music. For a game like simutrans which can be played for several weeks at a time and for long periods it becomes quite repetitive.
Style - there's a variety of styles used in the soundtrack. Sometimes these are appropriate to what's going on on-screen, most often not - both in terms of player activity and historical era.

As I've already mentioned, in an ideal world I imagine a music timeline from 1750 to 2050 with around an hour or era appropriate recorded tracks playing at any one time. If we take 20 in game years as a rough timespan for a track then that means 900 minutes (15 hours) of music would be required. Even with relatively low quality oggs that's likely to take around 0.5GB to download and store. Even better would be to have a variety of tracks for each era so that the music would alter depending on what's on screen (rural, urban, lots of vehicles...). That would maybe double this again... 1GB of files isn't really practical in itself before we even think about how to source the music.

Now, what are the alternatives? An hour or two of recorded music would certainly be practical. Someone with proper midi synth hardware has previously attempted to record tracks and they did sound significantly improved. Even better would be recording certain key parts on real instruments - again I don't think this is outwith the realms of possibility.

With a bit more effort and programming we could try to play appropriate music for what's happening on screen. Just dividing tracks into rural and urban could make the experience much more immersive I think. This works better when each track is relatively short (no more than a couple of minutes).

One important factor is the amount of effort this would require though - would it be better placed elsewhere? Given that the soundtrack is always going to be quite limited is it worth spending a lot of effort improving this when it will still be criticised by many?

Offline ӔO

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Re: Music!
« Reply #32 on: September 20, 2013, 08:27:22 PM »
I like the simutrans music, but as keiron has mentioned, it gets repetitive.

Although, what game doesn't after a while?



Usually, I just play my own music with foobar.

Offline Max-Max

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Re: Music!
« Reply #33 on: October 06, 2013, 06:59:08 PM »
I have done some experiment with mp3 and wave music. But it is kind'a windows oriented.

Offline prissi

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Re: Music!
« Reply #34 on: October 06, 2013, 07:59:54 PM »
Windows and sdl_mixer would play already wav code internally as mp3 or ogg. But the coding is not the problem. I think the suggestion for certain sounds to turn off would be nice. I try to conclude

Volume control for
- all tool sounds (boing, toktoktok, boff ... yeah I dislike those too)
- all ambient sounds (forest, water, artic, ... )
- all vehicle sounds (including level crossings)
- factory sounds (not implemented)

Control for fading in relation to center of the screen

Setting when should a vehicle sound play (i.e. closest to the screen center or like now at start) Or having short enough sound they can be played every tile for most vehicles so they can get loaden and fade again. (Will be trickky)

Get rid of music, resp. supply an mp3 soundtrack for download => would agree with it. Maybe try to identify default player on Win/Mac/Linux (this will be tough)