Serving Up Stunning Audio in Gordon Ramsay DASH

For the latest instalment in their DASH series Glu Mobile collaborated with Gordon Ramsay to create Gordon Ramsay DASH. We talk to sound designer and composer Dren McDonald (Gathering Sky, nerdtracks.com) about his approach to the audio for the game and the impact FMOD Studio had on development.

How did you approach the sound and music for Gordon Ramsay DASH, and what goals did you have?

I think my biggest goal was to streamline the audio pipeline that we'd been using up to that point. As a contractor on many of their previous games, we had basically set up the typical old, "asset cannon" routine, with asset tracking sheets and dropbox deliveries. I hadn't done any audio integration on those previous games, just asset deliveries. Every time I'd play those earlier games we'd worked on I would always think "If I could only tweak that volume just a bit, or delay that sound slightly" etc but we didn't have a pipeline in place that allowed for that. Each game was getting more and more detailed (and humorous) from the game designers, with more specific requests. With each new game we'd chat about "wouldn't it be cool if we could..." in regards to the audio. Tom Hall, the Creative Director and game designer had worked with FMOD on previous games many years ago and knew what we could achieve with it, so everyone was on board with squeezing FMOD into our pipeline.

With the DASH games, the biggest challenge is the mix. Lots of UI sounds, lots of kitchen sounds, customers, music...chaos! But that's the nature of the game...Dash games are designed to encourage the player to stay organized while the gameplay gets crazy. So it's important to gain some control over that chaos: how do you retain a chaotic audio feel, without sounding like white noise? You want to keep the player engaged but you don't want to subject them to the same grill sound, fry sound, UI sounds all hitting at the same times...it can get pretty annoying if you aren't careful! And with Gordon Ramsay DASH we had the added layer of Gordon's VO, and there was a LOT of it. So the last thing that we wanted was a mix that drowned out his voice, or that was so annoying that the player turned off the sound, only to miss hearing his voice (a big part of the fun in this game.) So I had to approach all of the audio components as puzzle pieces that would 'play well' together in a cramped space!

Dren McDonald and Gordon Ramsay
Why did you choose FMOD Studio? Can you talk about its impact on the development of Gordon Ramsay DASH?

Last year I had just used FMOD Studio on Gathering Sky, an indie game, where I made extensive use of the music system in FMOD. That game had wall to wall music that provided the only narrative to the player (no words, no voice...just the music and art). Needless to say, this was a bit of a challenge, but I got pretty familiar with Studio during that project and knew that our lives would be easier if were able to use it on Gordon Ramsay Dash.

Using FMOD Studio changed our entire audio pipeline for the better. We set up a system so that I could be on version control remotely, test out my Fmod session in a local build, and simply commit my Studio changes (not just banks). This allowed other in-house members to jump into the session, if need be, and add blank sound events, or VO (when things got really busy) and even to change compression settings or troubleshoot etc. So instead of posting WAV files and letting an engineer hook them up, i was able to test/iterate/commit...all of that good stuff, but stuff that wouldn't have come up if we hadn't decided to integrate FMOD Studio into the pipeline. The engineers liked this, because then they didn't have to add any code for audio functionality. The producer liked this, because he could be in control of getting sounds in since he was also editing the text in the config files to connect sound events to game events. I liked this because I could iterate a lot before audio made it in-game, and because of that, we had almost no revisions. There wasn't a lot of time for revisions, so that was an added bonus! We realized that in the same amount of time that we worked on audio before launch on Cooking Dash 2016, we had the same amount of time for Gordon Dash but with 2-3 times the amount of audio to deal with!

We all appreciated the flexibility in audio compression. With our old system, whenever there were new venues, new sounds were needed and I'd send over totally new files for every sound, created for each of those game events. So if someone had played Cooking Dash 2016 and received all of the updates, then the game would end up being very large (in file size) from all of the added content (audio and otherwise). But with Studio, I made a habit of re-using/recycling the files in the audio bin. In fact, I'd only add a sound to the audio bin if I knew that I could find multiple uses for it. This also forced me to always consider the timbre/emotion/function of every sound so that everything sounded like it belonged together. Additionally, we could compress sound events according to their priority at any point in the game. We could create sound banks designed for DLC downloads (this was especially important for the venue specific music events that each contained about 5 minutes of music per venue), and ultimately, the engineers were extremely pleased with our audio footprint, largely due to the file compression flexibility that Studio offered.

What aspect of the audio in Gordon Ramsay DASH are you most proud of?

2 things: The first thing is the overall mix and that we were able to set up the mix groups so that Gordon's VO was always front and center to the game experience. Players are already saying in the game reviews how much they love hearing Gordon yell at them in the kitchen! The second thing I'm proud of is the dynamic music in the game. There aren't a lot of "casual games" with totally dynamic music systems, but we really wanted the music to change throughout a play round. If you watch Hell's Kitchen or Master Chef and pay attention to the score, it is constantly changing based on the emotional center of each scene. So we wanted to try to emulate that as best we could. Each venue level has 4 music levels of intensity: rounds 1-9 start out with the lowest intensity with a transition stinger and a 2nd (doubletime feel) music cue, and every level 10 has a 3rd intensity music cue, with a new stinger and new 'really intense' doubletime feel cue. Every venue has distinct music based on the style of restaurant, including a pizza restaurant that features jazz and even includes a few randomized clarinet and trumpet solos to help keep things interesting (all live players too!) The player will notice that even the map has dynamic music that changes depending on which part of the globe the player is looking at as they scroll/turn the globe, and I think it's great that the player can discover little audio details like that (or tapping on Gordon during a round...try it) as they get deeper into the game. It's just one more aspect of the game that the players end up appreciating.


For more information on Dren and his work check out his site nerdtracks.com. For more information on Glu Mobile and Gordon Ramsay DASH check out their site glu.com

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AudioGaming’s AudioMotors in WRC5

Untitled-1Together with Firelight Technologies, AudioGaming is proud to announce the latest integration of AudioMotors FMOD in the renowned rally racing game WRC5. Seamlessly embedded into FMOD Studio, AudioMotors creates real-life engine roaring sounds for the best audio immersion possible. Powered by AudioMotors FMOD, WRC5 has been released on PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Check out this showcasing video made by WRC5 lead sound designer Nicolas Signat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAauKgM9AqY&feature=youtu.be

About procedural audio


Procedural audio refers to principle of generating audio from code and mathematical models. This computer generated audio can be driven directly by game-engine for realtime synthesis. It reduces the cumbersome sound loops/clips editing process and enables intuitive controls for graphically-synchronized sound synthesis.
Usually brewed in the intimacy of university labs or in the R&D department of large studios, the technology is gradually gaining ground into the entertainment industry. AudioGaming’s innovative technologies are now successfully used in the most demanding context, from Hollywood blockbusters like Django Unchained to advanced next-generation video games like WRC5. These new approaches offer groundbreaking possibilities for audio professionals.

About AudioMotors


audiomotors Based on advanced analysis & synthesis algorithms, AudioMotors opens a new era in cars & engine interactive sound design: imagine if you could analyze your vehicle or engine sounds to use them in a whole new way: you can now drive them! From a single recording of an engine revving up, the technology is able to generate any engine speed on demand and gives you instant access to any detected RPM seamlessly. It’s the end of long hours of editing and painful layering. By means of using multiple instances for different miking positions, the switching of perspectives can be efficiently carried out.

AudioMotors also comes with unique technology for tirerolling sound synthesis, which allows to synthesize by "scratching" non-harmonic sound textures.

AudioMotors FMOD Studio


audiomotors-studio • First of its kind analysis-synthesis engine
• Unrivaled analysis engine that automatically detects RPMs in your recordings
• Unrivaled real-time advanced synthesis engine, precise down to the engine cycle
• Use interior/exterior sounds with the same quality of results and ensure seamless transitions
• Sound design capabilities for generating a wide range of creative sounds
• AudioMotors Authoring Tools come with a command line app and a special version of DAW plugin.

Download FMOD Studio and AudioMotors here.
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FMOD Studio 1.08 released

Firelight Technologies announced today the release of FMOD Studio 1.08 and FMOD.io.

FMOD Studio now includes FMOD.io. Directly accessible from within FMOD Studio, FMOD.io brings more than 80,000 royalty-free sound effects for games from Soundrangers and Sound Ideas. These sounds are ready to use with no external editing required and can be applied without limitations to multiple projects. All sounds are priced at 99¢ – the lowest price currently available for a professional game sound library. And coming soon, music for games from APM Music’s Quantum Tracks collection and construction kits from Loopmasters, the leading provider of sample packs for the pro audio market.

FMOD Studio introduces Dolby Atmos® and Playstation VR support. Sound designers can now easily create object based audio for video games, which will provide gamers with a heightened and intensified gaming experience. Object based audio allows for height and more precise positioning of 3D audio.

All-new asset management workflow. Files are now mapped to physical locations on disk, greatly simplifying working with audio files. Finding and replacing files in the Assets folder structure is quick and easy, as they always match the structure you see in Studio. The Assets folder can be mapped to a network drive, or stored separately from the project metadata. New files are automatically detected when added on disk to the Assets folder. This allows you to set up your DAW to build directly into your project's Assets folder. The assets view also supports filtering by newly detected files.

Added support for left-edge trimming, and sound splitting for sounds. You can now drag the left edge of time-locked single sounds to trim away the head of an Asset, accurate to samples. This process is non-destructive, much the same as trimming the tail of a file. Splitting lets you cut sounds into pieces, non destructively and use them as if they were new sounds.

Revamped platform management and encoding setting support. Speaker format and bank encoding settings can now be specified on a per platform, per folder, and per asset basis from the Assets browser. Custom target platforms (e.g. low spec PC vs high spec PC) can be created in the preferences dialog.

New script-based source control plugin interface. Source control solutions can now easily be integrated via Javascript. SVN integration is added as an example.

And more. Other new features include:
- New status bar for live update, validation warnings, progress bars and a platform selector for switching platform specific mixes on the fly.
- Snapping automation points to neighbouring points, making it easier to create vertical segments in automation curves.
- Assets browser tab in event editor. The assets browser tab has been added to the Event Editor window for quick access to audio files.
- File I/O information added to the profiler. A new graph is available in the master track of each profiler session, indicating disk bandwidth usage for bank loading, sample loading, and asset streaming.
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FMOD Studio 1.07 released. Big Projects. New plugins.

Firelight Technologies announced today the release of FMOD Studio 1.07

FMOD Studio is more powerful and flexible than ever. This release focuses on making FMOD Studio even more capable of supporting large scale projects, distributed teams and complex tool chains.

No limit on project size
It’s easy for multiple users to work on the same project. Studio’s highly granular file structure avoids the need to merge project data. Even when working on the same content simultaneously, the in-built merge mechanism means there’s no need to divide work into smaller units. With our in-built source control integration and robust project validation system, your project is in safe hands.
To top it off, FMOD Studio projects now load up to 5 times faster than before.

Total control with scripting
With the new scripting feature, FMOD Studio is the most flexible solution available.
Integrate Studio into other applications.
Access events in Studio directly from your DAW or game editor with network script commands.
Integrate any Source Control system.
Customize the user interface.
Drive a complex event without needing to have the game running.
Batch processing inside a project
Generate a list of all events of a specific type for auditing.
Batch rename events and folders, or add an AHDSR to every event.

Share and reuse content across projects:
Share and reuse content more effectively with the ability to copy and paste between projects. Open multiple projects at once to easily compare and import assets. And with improved support for copying of event references, it’s even easier to work with local copies of your project.

Streamlined workflow
FMOD Studio 1.07 includes a number of workflow features including: a brand new interface for finding references to files and events, making navigating through your project a breeze. improvements to the multitrack editor such as smart snapping and batch editing make it even easier to create dynamic music and effects. more data points packed into the profiler, debugging and optimizing your game is a cinch!

New Plugins
FMOD Studio brings two new plugins into the fold:
Two Big Ears “3Dception“ for highly efficient virtual 3D Audio over headphones and AudioGaming “AudioMotors” for real-time vehicle engine synthesis.

New Platforms
FMOD Studio now supports Windows 10 UWP apps, and the new Apple TV! UWP available now. For Apple TV contact us for an evaluation version.
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FMOD Studio 1.06 released

April 13, 2015
Firelight Technologies announced today the release of FMOD Studio 1.06.

The release includes a number of new features, including support for fades and overlaps within Transition Timelines, further enhancements to the Profiler including API capture and playback, multiple 3d listener support, and the custom-built FADPCM compression format, which is up to twice as fast as ADPCM while delivering better quality and compression.
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Firelight Technologies announces FMOD.io

Melbourne, Australia - March 2015 - Firelight Technologies announced today details of a new suite of online features for FMOD Studio. The features, collectively called FMOD.io, will launch with an innovative collection of sound effects and music designed specifically for games. The integrated service allows developers to go from having an idea to hearing it in the game within minutes, all without leaving FMOD Studio.
Firelight Technologies has partnered with leading audio producers to put together a collection of cutting edge content tailored for the unique requirements of game audio. Music will be provided by APM Music’s Quantum Tracks, a collection of thousands of loopable music clips with endless possible variations, and by Loopmasters, a leading supplier of music construction kits. Sound effects will be provided by Sound Ideas, a publisher with more than 35 years of experience, and by Soundrangers, a production house specializing in adaptive audio for games.
“We designed this feature of FMOD.io with indie developers in mind. We think indies with tight budgets and even tighter schedules will embrace FMOD.io as a source of high quality adaptive audio that not only sounds great but is ready to go.” said Raymond Biggs, Product Lead for FMOD Studio.
“It is more than just the most relevant and convenient collection of sound effects and music for game developers. It’s specifically designed to be deconstructed and remixed in FMOD Studio - the ultimate workstation for designers of adaptive audio.” said Matthew Connor, General Manager of Firelight Technologies.
Further details on the collection and other features of FMOD.io will be revealed closer to the launch. Developers, sound designers and musicians interested in learning more about FMOD.io, news on content, licensing, and beta access can register their interest at www.fmod.io
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FMOD Studio 1.06 and FMOD at GDC expo program announced

Firelight Technologies announced today the upcoming release of FMOD Studio 1.06.

The release will include a number of new features, including support for fades and overlaps within Transition Timelines, further enhancements to the Profiler including API capture, and the custom-built FADPCM compression format, which is up to twice as fast as ADPCM while delivering better quality and compression.

FMOD will be demonstrating the 1.06 release at the GDC 2015 expo. A program for the expo booth featuring talks and tutorials by FMOD staff and guest speakers is now available on the FMOD website.

For more information on FMOD at GDC 2015 visit http://www.fmod.com/gdc
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FMOD Studio for Unreal Engine 4 is now available

Melbourne, Australia – 13th October, 2014 - Firelight Technologies announced today that its next generation adaptive audio workstation and engine, FMOD Studio, is now available to Unreal Engine 4 users.
Built as a native UE4 plugin, the integration offers a truly plug and play experience without needing any source code patches.
FMOD Studio fully integrates with UE4’s powerful visual scripting interface, Blueprint, enabling those without coding experience to quickly and easily hook up sounds and music in their game.
“We think Blueprint will be a revelation for sound designers and composers.” said Geoff Carlton, Senior Developer at Firelight Technologies. “Without a single line of code, you have full control over the audio from design through to implementation.”
With the launch of the integration, Firelight Technologies have also released a video tutorial series (available on the FMOD YouTube Channel – FMODTV) that demonstrates the FMOD Studio workflow in a UE4 demo level.
Download FMOD Studio for UE4 and the tutorial assets at http://www.fmod.com/download/
For more information on Unreal Engine 4 visit http://www.unrealengine.com
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FMOD Studio 1.05 released featuring AstoundSound® 3D RTI™ spatial audio plugin

Melbourne, Australia - 9th September 2014 - Firelight Technologies announced today GenAudio’s breakthrough 3D spatial audio solution for games, AstoundSound 3D RTI, is now fully integrated into FMOD Studio for use by game developers and sound designers.
AstoundSound 3D RTI renders sound objects in 3D (including elevation and depth) with position information from the game world. This incredible technology even works over speakers, offering a life-like and truly immersive experience for a new generation of gaming.
AstoundSound 3D RTI is available as an FMOD Studio plugin for Windows, AMD TrueAudio, iOS, Android, and OS X platforms, with support for other platforms coming soon.
The FMOD Studio 1.05 release also features a number of workflow and user interface improvements focused on further enhancing productivity and ease of use.
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FMOD Studio 1.04 released, includes Linux, Profiler, Performance updates

studio1.4-web-bannerFirelight Technologies announced today that it has released the latest version of its next generation audio tool suite, FMOD Studio 1.04. This release adds support for a number of platforms, significant low-level optimizations and several key profiling features.

FMOD Studio 1.04 rounds out support for current generation platforms to include PlayStation 3, Wii U, Linux and Windows Phone 8.1. This release builds on top of existing support for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and PlayStation Vita.

FMOD Studio’s underlying engine, FMOD 5, has also seen significant improvements, with both mixing and decoding performance boosted by up to 30% and updated 3D functionality.

This release also sees a big leap forward for the profiler with live game output recording, playback, and scrubbing being the standout feature. The profiler also supports a host of new data tracks including, per event instance, voice, CPU, parameter values, and 3D values, as well as global CPU, memory, voice and instance tracking.

“Being able to see and hear your captured session along with the data tracks makes so much sense, and is unique to FMOD Studio.” said Patrick Wadsworth, Software Developer. “This means you can easily correlate any audio anomalies with changes in parameter values, voice counts, or event positions for example.”
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