Asbjoern Andersen


Headed to GDC 2023 and feeling overwhelmed by the amazing line-up of events and roundtables? Game audio guru Damian Kastbauer has provided a fantastic guide for what to do and see at GDC! Below he outlines the ultimate itinerary for folks in game audio:
Interview by Damian Kastbauer, photos courtesy of Damian Kastbauer
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• Opening | Shine
• Recurring Daily | Brighter
   • Morning Audio Community Meetup: 8:00 – 9:00-ish AM @ 222 2nd St
   • Discord: Game Audio GDC!
   • Lunch Behind the Carousel: Lunchtime @ Corner of Howard and 4th
   • CarouselCon
   • Game Accessibility Talks
• Events | Waves
   • Tuesday, March 21st | 7:00pm to Midnight – GDC 2023 After Party Meetup
   • Wednesday, March 22nd | 6:30pm – Game Audio Denz n’ Friends Hug and Glug
   • Thursday, March 23 | 7:30 – 9:30pm – Game Audio Network Guild Awards
   • Friday, March 24th | Lunchtime – Game Audio Carousel Ride
   • Friday, March 24th | 5:00pm – School of Video Game Audio Meetup

• Monday | Morningrise

• Tuesday | Just for a Day

• Roundtables | Crazy for You

• Town Halls | All of Us
   • Thursday, March 23 | 12:45pm – 1:45pm – G.A.N.G. TOWN HALL
   • Friday, March 24 | 12:15pm – 1:15pm – 29TH ANNUAL IASIG TOWN HALL
• Wednesday | Catch the Breeze
• Thursday | When the Sun Hits
• Friday | Holding Our Breath

• Expo | Star Roving
   • Game Audio Community Space S1243
   • Audiokinetic Community Presentations – Audiokinetic Booth S941
   • DOLBY Speaker Series – Dolby Booth S1041
   • Epic – Unreal Audio Booth S247/ S249
   • Elias Software Booth S1235
   • FMOD – Firelight Booth Booth S1227
   • Gamescape Audio Booth S1333
   • IASIG Booth S203
   • ReadSpeaker Booth S1331
   • Tazman Audio Booth S1249
• Looming | In Mind
• Closing | Altogether

 


Opening | Shine

Nostalgia can come hard and fast (and with feelings!) after enough of your life is behind you. I think the literal definition of the word “Nostalgia” satisfies that statement pretty well: “A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.”(and for a more abstract interpretation, be sure to catch Tarkovsky’s “Nostalghia” for a symbology mind-bender on the topic). And it’s exactly those feelings that have been flooding indeterminate moments on-approach (and return) to this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.

Whether it’s your first or fifteenth, if you’re landing this year, the stars are aligned for GDC to feel like a kind of homecoming. For many, the return to in-person still comes with the baggage of the last years imposed social distancing (see Looming section below) and the psychic impact it’s had on everyone. Questions of how to wade-back into a conference of this scale, with all of the uncertainties of public health, after being sequestered in a sanitary screen-based lifestyle can resurface old anxieties and bring a fresh crop of new ones to the adventure.

Like any open-world game, GDC is all about how you play it. On-the-ground it’s no different; there’s no “right way” to engage and often the rewards of living in the moment outweigh the fear-of-missing-out on parallel paths of potentiality. Which is to say: take the conferences as it presents itself, follow the paths that engage your spirit, share the inspiration with others towards the best possible experience. It’s the people you meet along the way that will enrich the road you’ll travel, in the moment and possibly for the rest of your career.

The time I’ve spent on the ground with people in the community spans every emotion and certainly has shaped my understanding and appreciation for the lives-lived and stories behind the presentations. I’m excited to make more memories while participating in the pageantry, pomp, and personality parade of the event while, hopefully, contributing to the continued spirit of knowledge-share that has been a pervasive part of my experience.

 

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Recurring Daily | Brighter

Morning Audio Community Meetup: 8:00 – 9:00-ish AM @ 222 2nd St

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With a new location just a short distance from Moscone, this year’s morning standup shifts the timing an hour later to 8:00am and a few steps closer (1 block to Moscone) for what is, in my experience, the best first hour of any morning at #GameAudioGDC. This is a heavily biased statement, as I’ve been co-hosting the conversations that sprung out of the Game Audio Podcast that Anton Woldhek and I began broadcasting outside of the conference back in 2013.

If you can make it, these daily conversations about what’s happening on-ground help to reinforce each day’s activity by crowd-sourcing perspectives and surfacing parts of the conference and conference experience worth discussing. More concretely, the meetup has been pulling together the community to discuss the best parts of the preceding day and outline the upcoming day’s events while sometimes catching a few lightning-bolts of epiphany. Expect a few special guests, bring your own beverage, and get ready to crack-open your mind with the first dose of unbridled energy from the game audio community.

I’ll be attempting to pull off a livestream each morning to push the conversation off the ground and to the wider community online (…maybe someone will even peek at the chat and bring insights back to the conversation in-person?). This continues to be a community-based personal project that extends out of years of carrying the Game Audio Podcast from the conference to the community. If you’re interested in tuning in remotely (or donating to help offset the cost of live streaming equipment for this community sponsored event) you can tune in here and (hopefully!) join the conversation.

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Here’s a map, so you don’t get lost first-thing in the morning:

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Discord: Game Audio GDC!

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Folks have been rallying over at the Game Audio GDC! Discord server that was spun-up around last year’s conference. There’s some great discussion over there about what to expect for your first time and great perspectives being lent by the community over there. I expect that as the conference kicks off, things will get real time with folks coordinating on the ground. While it’s totally cool to unplug and lead by in-person conversations and group dynamics, it’s always nice to have a place to look for where the cool stuff is happening. Whether you keep it tuned to the #GameAudioGDC hashtag on twitter or prefer checking in on Discord, information definitely travels faster in the modern age. Invite: here.

 

Lunch Behind the Carousel: Lunchtime @ Corner of Howard and 4th

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A long-standing tradition of welcoming folks to grab-and-go while landing in the open-space behind the Carousel has always been about striking up good conversations. Of special note this year is that, while we were out, there has been a complete renovation of this outdoor space, so get ready to seek-and-find the group of audio-minded folks hanging around. It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll slip into discussions hovering around shared passions (especially audio) amongst the crowd that coagulates during the spare moments in-between sessions during lunchtime (and sometimes all day long!).

A free-for-all invitational that’s more about the chance to get outside (of the session tracks as well as the presentation rooms) while uniting folks with an easy access-point to the community . Bring a friend, invite someone you just met, foster the conversations, ask the questions, and share the experience. Maybe you’ll even catch the grassroots coordination of CarsouselCon (see following) in progress.

 

CarouselCon

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Reposted via Matthew Marteinsson via The Game Audio Forum:

“So in 2017, I organized and hosted an event called CarouselCon. This was a series of free talks outside GDC where a large number of game audio people naturally were congregating for lunch. It started as a joke name the year before and then I actually went ahead and organized it. For 3 days, we had people give short talks on all kinds of game audio topics and included time for people to get up and spontaneously give talks as well. I tried to keep this all as open and welcoming as I could with the only bar of entry being having something to talk about. It went really well and was really cool. In 2018, I did it again. Great success, even more people showed up. And 2019, do it again and have new people curate each of the three days so we could expand the reach of getting people to do talks. Again great success. And then everything went to hell. So it stopped. As did everything.

Now in 2023, things are happening again. If you don’t know me, I’m an immunocompromised person so attending GDC is still not yet in the cards for me. So what happens with CarouselCon? Well, here’s the thing, I always envisioned this thing as eventually organizing itself. Or that would be all of you in the community organizing it without needing me as a figurehead. Lots of people know it’s something that goes on. Knows when and where it happens. So show up and give a talk. I may have started it but I really believe you don’t need me to keep it up.

So this year is a big test, will you all make it happen without me? I really want to hear about people showing up at lunch to give some talks to the lunch crowd. Do it! You are an awesome community for doing stuff. Keep it up and make CarouselCon happen. And let me know when you do. Be safe and kind to each other.”

As Matthew suggests, this year will require some leadership on-the-ground to get things pulled together. The rewards are made clear in the first micro-talk that reaches the ears of the audience: un-capped inspiration and diverse experiences with no barrier of entry beamed directly to a knowledge-hungry (and hopefully well-fed) lunchtime audience.

 

Game Accessibility Talks

Ian Himlton has assembled a handy list of game accessibility talks spread across the various summits and tracks that is worth a look while examining the role that audio can play. Whether it’s ensuring a well-balanced mono mix to support folks with hearing loss or the oft-cited goal of Playing by Sound, accessibility should be at the core of decision making across all disciplines if we want to extend the reach that the experiences we help create can have in the world.

The one that stands out to me focuses on “Sensory Overload: Accessibility Best Practices” from Karen Stevens using “…concrete game examples to explain how to best support those with interactive differences, including topics such as simulation sickness, photosensitivity, audio processing, and more.” With the growing ability to represent every action that happens in the game with a corresponding sound, overwhelming players with an overly busy mix should be a clear consideration.

• Friday March 24, 11:30 pm – 12:30 pm, Room 2001 West Hall | SENSORY OVERLOAD: ACCESSIBILITY BEST PRACTICES

Karen Stevens (Game Accessibility Specialist, Independent)
 

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Events | Waves

There will be an endless number of after-hours opportunities to find the community outside of the conference center. Many of these events will come across your radar by word-of-mouth as the spontaneity and improvisation of reality arrive in full-force. Failing that, you can always train your eye on the #GameAudioGDC hashtag on twitter. Primarily used as a way to share information about what’s happening at the conference in real time with folks on the ground, the hashtag also serves as a way to push information to the wider game audio community unable to make the journey.

If you are up for the challenge, find a way to surface what you learn for the benefit of folks out there watching from afar and tune-in for in-the-moment updates on where the party’s at! A word to those new to the event; When someone says “The party is at the “Death Star” what they mean is the top floor of the Marriott. A classic for after-conference conversation (when it’s not too packed) with a window that fits the nickname. Honestly, the party is usually wherever there are good people and good conversations to be had, so don’t be shy about making your own and maybe even starting some new traditions.

 

Tuesday, March 21st | 7:00pm to Midnight – GDC 2023 After Party Meetup

SF Game Development is excited to announce our annual GDC 2023 Meetup/Party hosted at DNA Lounge on Tuesday, March 21st from 7:00pm-Midnight sponsored by Dolby and Dolby.io and featuring: Dolby, Unity, & More at DNA Lounge

Advance registration required: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gdc-2023-after-party-meetup-featuring-dolby-unity-more-at-dna-lounge-tickets-531139421307
 
 


Wednesday, March 22nd | 6:30pm – Game Audio Denz n’ Friends Hug and Glug
— California Pizza Kitchen (53 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103)

Folks behind the Game Audio Denizens FB Group have been putting this event on the calendar at GDC for enough years that its tradition brings a warm and welcome addition to the week of events.

“Calling all game audio folks attending GDC this year; we are having another fantabulous meetup at California Pizza Kitchen on Wednesday evening! You don’t have to be a member of Game Audio Denizens to join in the fun, but we highly recommend this group to all newcomers anyway!”

*****Please RSVP with this form**** so we can get a headcount for the restaurant:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdFYIch_dP9U5esrOucuHTte3PXLAYweXXf4MrealvfIzETdQ/viewform

With the absence of the Dolby and IASIG parties from this year’s reliable schedule of guaranteed game audio gathering, this could be the one to find your way to. If you don’t make it (and even if you do) chances are good that you’ll catch folks at Denny’s (in various states of being) across almost every (late) night of the week.

 
 


Thursday, March 23 | 7:30 – 9:30pm – Game Audio Network Guild Awards
— Room 2016, West Hall – Required Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Summits Pass, Expo Pass, Audio Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass, Friday Only Expo Pass

“Excellence in Game Audio is celebrated annually at the G.A.N.G. Awards show. Come and be a part of the magic as it recognizes the best of the best! It will be a night of entertainment and peer recognition as the show reviews the finest in game audio from the past year.”

Say what you want about awards and ceremonies, but being at GDC and attending the Game Audio Network Guild Awards has (mostly) felt like a tremendous occasion to celebrate the artform of interactive audio with the largest gathering of its purveyors and personalities. So put on your #SocksOfGameAudio, paint up those #NailsOfGameAudio, and make sure you bring a GDC Pass with you. (Required for entry)

 
 

Friday, March 24th | Lunchtime – Game Audio Carousel Ride
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After years of gathering behind the Carousel for lunch during GDC (see previous • Lunch Behind the Carousel) it took the natural curiosity of Melanie Ehrlich to ask if Game Audio had ever taken it for a spin…and because of her, that year, we began to earmark the Friday lunchtime for an annual celebration of the week’s end. While I’ve heard that Melanie won’t make it to San Francisco this year, I hope it won’t stop the tradition of riding into the sunset after a long week of conferencing!

 
 

Friday, March 24th | 5:00pm – School of Video Game Audio Meetup
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Leonard Paul has been running the School of Video Game Audio since 2012 as a way to help folks onto the path and in-the meantime has cultivated a fantastic community of (now) audio professionals out there working in the world. Be sure to check out his recent School of Video Game Audio’s 10 Tips for #GameAudioGDC 2023 for some best-in-class suggestions on how to navigate the interpersonal dynamics of the conference. He’s also been coordinating a post-conference audio community gathering on the last day for the past years in what has become one of the last must-attend farewell moments for many folks who will set-sail from San Francisco in the hours to follow.

“Instead of an indoor dinner, we’re planning our informal School of Video Game Audio meetup outside on Friday 5pm at the Yerba Buena Gardens behind the Carousel, the same spot as Carousel Con. It’ll be a small (belated) nod to our 10 year anniversary (!) for the school, so feel free to pick up some food at the restaurants nearby and relax after a fun, intense, and rewarding GDC. Keep track of how things progress on #GameAudioGDC, and looking forward to seeing you there :)”

 
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Monday | Morningrise

If you’ve optimized your time and money to include the first day of presentations at GDC, you’ll find a smattering of audio-centric talks sprinkled-in amidst the various Summits. Tucked away and cross-pollinating the Independent Game and Tools Summit tracks are some of my fave folks doing interdisciplinary advocacy for audio and systems design to help underline the importance of smart project-wide thinking. Here are a few that look good on Monday:

• Monday, March 20 | 9:30am – 10:30am | INDEPENDENT GAMES SUMMIT: HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES: TYING GAMEPLAY TO MUSIC IN ‘SOUNDFALL’
Speaker: Nick Cooper (Drastic Games)

• Monday, March 20 | 10:50am – 11:50am | INDEPENDENT GAMES SUMMIT: INDIE VO TOOLBOX START-TO-FINISH: PROFESSIONAL, AFFORDABLE, OPTIMIZED
Summit Speaker: Khris Brown (Vox Point LLC)

• Monday, March 20 | 2:10pm – 2:40pm | TOOLS SUMMIT: COSMONIOUS HIGH CASE STUDY OF SERET: BUILDING A CUSTOM VO SYSTEM
Speaker: Daniel Perry (Owlchemy Labs)

• Monday, March 20 | 3:00pm – 3:30pm | TOOLS SUMMIT: USING SPEECHEDITOR ON ‘DIABLO IMMORTAL’: A VERSATILE TOOL TO EDIT SPEECH WITH LOW RESOURCES
Speakers: Haitong Zhang (NetEase), XiangYi Wang (Netease)

• Monday, March 20 | 5:30pm – 6:30pm | INDEPENDENT GAMES SUMMIT: INDIE SOAPBOX
Summit Speakers: Chris Wilson (Cardboard Sword), Nick Kaman (Aggro Crab), Paige Wilson (Aggro Crab), Kirsty Gillmore (Independent), Charis Reid (Radical Forge), Phillipe Bosher (Freelance)

 

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Tuesday | Just for a Day

The Audio Summit kicks-off the official Audio Track on Tuesday and attempts to bring together a full-spectrum of interactive audio presentations with the intention of setting the tone and inspiring attendees. Operating across all experience levels, this year’s talks cover topics ranging from the thematic elements of music and sound that can contribute to a character’s sonic identity, all the way to harnessing your creativity and staying fresh with effective approaches to energize your game audio workflows.

The in-betweens tackle: preserving emotional dialog amidst the technical implementation, the role and value of Audio QA (with GREAT examples!), how to succeed when everyone works together, and some need-to-know information about spatial audio perception in VR and AR. Regardless of where you’re at on the career path of game audio, the Audio Summit starts the audio track at GDC off in the right direction.

Don’t miss a chance to get interactive during the lunch hour as part of the recurring “Surgeries” which find Audio Summit presenters rotating among the tables, answering questions, and engaging in conversations with attendees. This is a great opportunity to gain insight from folks in their areas of expertise after grabbing lunch to-go nearby. As co-coordinator of the Audio Summit, along with long-time coordinator Scott Selfon, I couldn’t be more excited for the day’s program and thanks in-advance to all of the wonderful presenters.

• Tuesday, March 21 | 9:30am – 10:30am – AUDIO SUMMIT: THE ART OF THE THEME
Summit Speakers: Brendon Williams (Riot Games), Jason Walsh (Riot Games)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 10:50am – 11:50am – AUDIO SUMMIT: AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION ABOUT CONVERSATIONS
Summit Speakers: Maize Wallin (Ghost Pattern), Tfer Newsome (Ghost Pattern)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 12:20pm – 1:20pm – AUDIO SUMMIT: LUNCHTIME SURGERIES
Summit Speakers: Tfer Newsome (Ghost Pattern), Maize Wallin (Ghost Pattern), Brendon Williams (Riot Games), Jason Walsh (Riot Games), Amanda Laven (Blizzard Entertainment), Daniel Nielsen (Gminorscale Studios), ZW Buckley (Plant Based Audio), Paolo Armao (34BigThings), Jean-Marc Jot (Virtuel Works)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 2:10pm – 2:40pm – AUDIO SUMMIT: BUILDING AUDIO CAREERS, TOGETHER
Summit Speaker: ZW Buckley (Plant Based Audio)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 3:00pm – 3:30pm – AUDIO SUMMIT: SOUNDS AS INTENDED: QUALITY ASSURANCE IN GAME AUDIO
Summit Speaker: Amanda Laven (Blizzard Entertainment)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 3:50pm – 4:20pm – AUDIO SUMMIT: THE VALUE OF PLAY IN INTERACTIVE AUDIO
Summit Speaker: Daniel Nielsen (Gminorscale Studios)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 4:10pm – 5:10pm – SPATIAL AUDIO: FROM SCREEN-BASED TO WORLD-BASED WITH AR AND VR
Summit Speaker: Jean-Marc Jot

• Tuesday, March 21 | 5:30pm – 6:30pm | AUDIO SUMMIT: EMBRACING AUDIO TECHNOLOGY FOR ENHANCED CREATIVITY
Summit Speaker: Paolo Armao (34BigThings)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 2:10pm – 2:40pm |INDEPENDENT GAMES SUMMIT: GET YOUR MONEY! AN INDIE DEV’S GUIDE TO OST PROFITABILITY
Speaker: Neha Patel (Freelance)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 9:30am – 10:30am | MACHINE LEARNING SUMMIT: GPT-3 POWERED TEXT TO LIFELIKE SPEECH AND ANIMATION FOR NPCS
Speaker: Dao Si (NUVERSE)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 10:50am – 11:50am | TECHNICAL ARTIST SUMMIT: ‘MIX UNIVERSE’: THE TECH BEHIND BRINGING MUSIC TO THE UNIVERSE
Speaker: Chris Zuko (Terrible Posture Games)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 11:20am – 11:50am | TIMI AUDIO LAB: SOUND DESIGN FOR HONOR OF KINGS (PRESENTED BY TENCENT GAMES)
Sponsor Speaker: Hongfei ZHAO (Tencent Games)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 4:10pm – 5:10pm | INDEPENDENT GAMES SUMMIT: TECH TOOLBOX: CUSTOM TOOL MICROTALKS
Speakers: Clifton B (Kitewing Studio), Jarryd Huntley (Freelance), Star St.Germain (Aconite), Chase Bethea (Freelance), Xalavier Nelson Jr. (Strange Scaffold), Henning Steinbock (Triband)

• Tuesday, March 21 | 5:00pm – 6:30pm | GDC 101
Speaker: Brandon Sheffield (Necrosoft Games)

 

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Roundtables | Crazy for You

GDC_2023-sound-15

Let’s get interactive! Starting Wednesday (…and once you’ve had all the fun that can be had soaking in other folks’ hard work and experience in the main conference) you might find the need to get real-time and interactive with the extensive variety of Roundtables scheduled throughout the week. These un-recorded topical moments between people have the ability to bring diverse perspectives to the table and can help fundamentally shape thinking that extends beyond the room. Whether you’re there to lend yours or simply bask in the honesty of others’ insights, there is much to be gained by listening and participating. While you could focus all of your attention on the Audio-centric conversations listed below, I’ve also included the incredible array of topics from other Roundtables happening throughout the week. Take-in and express as much as you can; the moments in time at GDC only last a week, but the inspiration can last a lifetime.

 

BUILDING SOUNDSCAPES: CREATIVE DIRECTION FOR AUDIO ROUNDTABLE

• DAY 1: Wednesday, March 22 | 9:00am – 10:00am
• DAY 2: Thursday, March 23 | 10:00am – 11:00am
Speakers: Star Power (Slide20XX), Katelyn Isaacson (Freelance), D’Anthoni Wooten (Freelance), Danny Baranowsky (Brace Yourself Games)

 

AUDIO PROGRAMMING ROUNDTABLE

• DAY 1: GAME INTEGRATION – Wednesday, March 22 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm
• DAY 2: LOW-LEVEL TOPICS – Thursday, March 23 | 5:30pm – 6:30pm
• DAY 3: FREE-FOR-ALL – Friday, March 24 | 11:30am – 12:30pm
Speakers: Guy Somberg (Echtra Games), Tomas Neumann (Blizzard Entertainment)

 

GAME AUDIO BUSINESS ESSENTIALS ROUNDTABLE

• DAY 1: AGENTS – Thursday, March 23 | 11:30am – 12:30pm
• DAY 2: RUNNING A BUSINESS – Friday, March 24 | 10:00am – 11:00am
Speakers: Richard Ludlow (Hexany Audio), Debbie Gonzalez (The Sound Lab, Keywords Studio), Jonathan Clark (Kraft-Engel Management), Crispin Hands (Lionshead Entertainment, Inc.), Naveed Dezfoil (Disney)
 

Other Roundtables:

AUTOMATED TESTING, BEING AN EFFECTIVE ALLY, GAME ART IN THE AGE OF AI, GAME NARRATIVE, VISUAL EFFECTS, DEVELOPING TOGETHER: GAME AUDIO AND GAME DEVELOPMENT, FREELANCERS AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS, NAVIGATING GENDER-BASED DISCRIMINATION IN THE INDUSTRY, ANIMATION, SERIOUS GAMES, TOOL DESIGN, WHAT IT’S LIKE FOR MUSLIMS WORKING IN GAMES, GLOBAL GAME JAM, LATINE IN GAMES, TECHNICAL ARTIST, THE FUTURE OF NARRATIVE DESIGN AND GAME WRITING,EXTERNAL DEVELOPMENT (OUTSOURCING), LEARNING EDUCATION GAMES, BUSINESS AND MARKETING, GAMES RESEARCH AND USER EXPERIENCE, MAKING JEWISH GAMES, ACCESSIBILITY, HOT DESKS TO SWEATPANTS: HYBRID WORK, TECHNICAL LEADERSHIP, CO-DESIGNING A CLIMATE RESILIENT VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY, MAKING GAMES FOR KIDS, PROMOTING YOUR GAME, GAMES AS CULTURAL REPRESENTATION, LOVE AND SEX IN GAMES, OPEN SOURCE AND DISRUPTION, ANALYTICS AND DATA SCIENCE, GAME CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK, SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH, UNITY APPLICATION AND TECHNIQUES, CLOSING THE GENDER GAP, LOCALIZATION, GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE, LOCAL GAME COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS

 

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Town Halls | All of Us

GDC_2023-sound-20

Speaking of “help(ing) to fundamentally shape thinking” these two Town Hall events hosted by Organizations that represent the game audio community are an incredible place to get in-touch with some of the thinking and motivations of these groups. Usually balanced between “Here’s what we’re up to…” and “What’s on your mind?” These forums are a great place to surface issues that could be tackled institutionally while looking for opportunities to support the efforts already underway that might be in-need of fresh perspective and energy. Whether you’re aligned and agree with the direction of these organizations, or simply care enough to show up and represent the community, there is strength in participation and sharing your insight is always welcome.


• Thursday, March 23 | 12:45pm – 1:45pm – G.A.N.G. TOWN HALL


• Friday, March 24 | 12:15pm – 1:15pm – 29TH ANNUAL IASIG TOWN HALL

 

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Wednesday | Catch the Breeze

GDC_2023-sound-0

Big shoutout, thanks, and congratulations to the GDC Main Conference audio advisory group that has been helping to pull together a fantastic main Audio Track program. Each year comes with an incredible breadth of presentations attempting to cover every-inch of minutia swirling in the interactive audio miasma of the moment. This is where the conference switches to hard-mode: you’ll need to choose-your-own-adventure between simultaneous presentations, roundtables, daily events, and trawling the Expo floor over the next three days. It won’t be easy!

There are too many to list here, so head over to the GDC Schedule for a deeper-dive into the full program. I’ll surface a few here for each of the days that I’m most excited about and I’ll be counting on some of you to bring what you’ve learned to the Morning Audio Community Meetups (See • previous section) so I can parallel process the conference in real time with your help!

• Wednesday, March 22 | 9:00am – 10:00am | UNDERSTANDING THE AUDIO NEEDS OF A GAME AND ITS AUDIENCE
Speaker: Adele Cutting (Soundcuts Ltd)

• Wednesday, March 22 | 10:30am – 11:00am | ‘MOSS: BOOK II’: TOWARD POWERFUL AND AUTHENTIC VOICE PERFORMANCE
Speakers: Stephen Hodde (Polyarc), Morla Gorrondona (Independent)

• Wednesday, March 22 | 2:00pm – 3:00pm | ‘GOTHAM KNIGHTS’: USING SYSTEMIC AUDIO TOOLS TO BUILD A VIBRANT GOTHAM CITY
Speakers: Dustin Reid (WB Games Montreal), Stéphane Beauchemin (WB Games Montreal)

• Wednesday, March 22 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm | BREATHING LIFE INTO ‘THE LAST OF US’: PART I AND II
Speakers: Beau Jimenez (PlayStation Studios, Sound), Jesse Garcia (Naughtydog)

(If you haven’t already read through the thread on this…and even if you have…this is sure to be a great overview!)

 

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Thursday | When the Sun Hits

GDC_2023-sound-06

It’s at this point that folks will start to feel proper saturation. The day when scales will tip away from anticipation and towards maximization. The presentations are just a piece of the puzzle, but it’s often the hallway conversations afterwards where the best insights can be gleaned.

Starting conversations and getting dynamic with folks is easier when you’ve got the touchstone of a recent talk to kick-off a discussion. Find ways to present yourself to a group along the edges and work your way into the flow. If you’re part of a conversation that could be better with additional perspective, welcome folks hanging on the fringe to lend theirs. I remember a fantastic unpacking of object-based audio last fall where I pulled-in a couple of folks who had a pile of experience…I only had to dash across the room and ask…and their contributions escalated the discussion from the abstract to the practical. Which is to say, most things are better together. Find a way to expand the circle and leverage the energy flowing through the hallways. Meanwhile, here are a few presentations on Thursday I think could be worth your time:

• Thursday, March 23 | 10:00am – 11:00am | AAA VEHICLE AUDIO
Speaker: Ed Walker (Sounding Sweet Ltd)

• Thursday, March 23 | 11:30am – 12:30pm | THIRTY YEARS LATER: SCORING ‘RETURN TO MONKEY ISLAND’
Speakers: Clint Bajakian (Clint Bajakian Music), Michael Land (Little Big Note Music), Peter McConnell (Little Big Note Music)

• Thursday, March 23 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm | THE ‘TUNIC’ AUDIO TALK
Speaker: Kevin Regamey (Power Up Audio)

• Thursday, March 23 | 5:30pm – 6:30pm | ‘DARK PICTURES: SEASON 1’: 4 GAMES IN 4 YEARS: AUDIO SYSTEMS FOR NARRATIVE HORROR
Speaker: Barney Pratt (Supermassive Games)

 
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Friday | Holding Our Breath

GDC_2023-sound-16

Friday morning is when things usually pull into a sharp focus…or blurry landscape (depending on the previous night’s escapades). Sharp; these are the final hours to catch folks before they’re swallowed by the last day. Blurry; there’s a chance you’ll have had quite enough or be close-to-capacity on the human interaction scale. Which is to say: Friday is kindof the best. Guards are down and people get real. Hang on to yourself and step into the flow of the day and let it carry you on its shoulders. Did Karaoke happen? Who’s coordinating Friday Night Foley? Who’s wading into Chinatown on Saturday for delightful noise-makers? Musée Mécanique? Audium? The Wave Organ? The end is near, but here are a few worth propping yourself upright for on Friday:

• Friday, March 24 | 10:00am – 11:00am | MUSIC DESIGN IS COMPOSITION: INTERACTIVE MUSIC IN ‘BACK 4 BLOOD’
Speaker: Martin Stig Andersen (Independent)

• Friday, March 24 | 11:30am – 12:00pm | ‘NEED FOR SPEED’: HYPERREAL SOUND DESIGN
Speaker: Nathaniel Daw (Criterion Games)

• Friday, March 24 | 11:30am – 12:00pm | HUNTING WITH HITS: TEMPO-SLAYING MONSTERS IN ‘HARMONY’
Speaker: Chase Bethea (Independent)

 

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Expo | Star Roving

GDC floor

The GDC Expo Show Floor is a great place to catch the buzz of what’s new across all disciplines, but especially audio. It’s at the booth that you’ll have unparalleled access to developers and the technology that they are passionate about. Meeting the people behind the products helps sustain your time fighting against pipelines and workflows by resting assured that there are folks out there who are actively working to make things better and can sometimes lend a hand during production. After years of visiting the Audiokinetic booth it felt like I knew many of my (now) co-workers, well-beyond whether they could get me out of trouble on a current project or tricky implementation detail.

It’s through building those kinds of relationships in our industry that escalates an experience from “making sounds” to “making friends”…some who may end up as co-workers, and others who you might lend a hand to or who might lend you theirs. Be sure to check out audio-centric presentations that different developers might have going on throughout the Expo at the various Audio Booths for yet another access point into the mind of game audio creators.

 

Game Audio Community Space S1243

GDC_2023-sound-19

GDC started reserving space on the Expo floor to support the casual intersection of discipline specific conversations that exist outside of the booths. The creation of various “Community Spaces” on the show floor make them an easy spot to land for a few moments and continue waxing about a feature you heard about or meetup with someone before taking on the next phase of the epic crawl. The Game Audio Community Space is conveniently located near audio booths on the Expo floor and, if I remember right, there were even some coordinated events scheduled that you might keep an ear open for (or make up your own and engage people in a group conversation about their experiences).

Regardless, the audio lounge puts you within easy reach of the different audio booths where there’s a host of exciting things happening.

 


Audiokinetic Community Presentations – Audiokinetic Booth S941

In addition to bringing some of the brightest minds (and best co-workers I could ask for) to the Expo floor to meet and talk-shop about game audio, Audiokinetic has reserved space at their booth for Wwise Developers to share their expertise across a wide-array of projects. Drop-by for a dose of inspiration and to get real-time with folks using Wwise in the community. I’ll be there holding it down and look forward to re-engaging with the community in-person, so swing by and say hello! For more information and a description of the community presentations head over here and take a look in the “Presentations” tab: audiokinetic.com/gdc-2023

• Wednesday, March 22 | 10:30am – 11:30am | Re-mixing the Handshake Between Wwise and the Game Engine
Philip Eriksson (Audio Director, Hazelight)
Joakim Enigk Sjöberg (Senior Technical Sound Designer, Hazelight)

• Wednesday, March 22 | 1:30pm – 2:30pm | GME Integration for Wwise: Cost-efficient and Scalable in-game Voice Communication Services for Game Developers
Peng Gao (Lead Software Engineer, Tencent)

• Wednesday, March 22 | 3pm – 4:15pm | Strata: Your Sound Library, in Multitrack Formatestgn
Simon Ashby (Head of Product, Audiokinetic)
Simon Pressey (Strata Product Owner, Audiokinetic)

• Wednesday, March 22 | 4:30pm – 5:30pm | Cyberpunk 2077
Colin Walder (Engineering Director, Management & Audio, CD PROJEKT RED)
Marek Bielawski (Audio Programmer, CD PROJEKT RED)

• Thursday, March 23 | 4:30pm – 5:30pm | Playing to the Beat: The Co-Dependence of Sound and Music in Redout 2
Paolo Armao (Audio Director, 34BigThings)

• Friday, March 24 | 10:30am – 12pm | ‘Season: A Letter to the Future’ & ‘Broken Edge’
FX Dupas (Co-founder, Creative Director, Composer & Audio Artist, Vibe Avenue)
Mathieu Lavoie (Co-founder, Composer & Sound Designer, Vibe Avenue)

• Friday, March 24 | 1:30pm – 2:30pm Behind the Wwise Project of ‘Back 4 Blood’
Martin Stig Andersen (Composer, Game Audio Specialist)
Alex Pappas (Audio Programmer, Turtle Rock Studios)

 


DOLBY Speaker Series – Dolby Booth S1041

“Dolby is excited to be back at GDC this year. Stop by the Dolby Booth
(S1041), where you can see Dolby Vision in action and partake in hands on
demos of games in Dolby Atmos for Mobile & Console. Plus sit in on one of
our many tech and creative sessions in our Dolby Atmos x Vision theater.”

For the full Dolby Speaker schedule visit: games.dolby.com/gdc/schedule

• March 22 – 24 | Daily 10:30am – 11:30am – Microsoft 3D Spatial Sound Evolution
Speaker: Robert Ridihalgh | Principal Audio Specialist, Microsoft

• March 22 – 24 | Daily 11:30am – 12:30pm – Dolby Atmos 101
Speaker: Alistair Hirst | Sr Game Developer Relations Manager, Dolby

• March 22 – 24 | Daily 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Raise the Quality Bar with the same assets: Dolby Vision Primer
Speaker: Alexander Mejia | Product Manager, Gaming at Dolby

• Wednesday, March 22 | 3:30pm – 4:30pm – Object-based Routing with Wwise for the Best Results
Speaker: Damian Kastbauer | Wwise Product Manager, Audiokinetic

• Wednesday, March 22 | 4:30pm – 5:30pm – PANEL: The Future of Spatial Audio
Moderator: Alistair Hirst | Sr Game Developer Relations Manager, Dolby
Panelists: Martin Dufour | Chief Technical Officer, Audiokinetic – Robert Ridihalgh | Principal Audio Specialist, Microsoft – Mike Mason | Director of Game Technology, Dolby

• Thursday, March 23 | 3:30pm – 4:30pm – Realtime Spatial Audio with Wwise
Speakers: Nathan Harris | Lead Software Developer, Spatial Audio, Audiokinetic
And Thalie Keklikian | Software Developer R&D, Audiokinetic

 


Epic – Unreal Audio Booth S247/ S249

“We’re excited to be back for GDC 2023! Join us as we celebrate the game development community and explore what’s next for creators. Discover the latest features coming to Epic’s ecosystem of tools, attend tech talks and sessions, and play plenty of awesome games at our booth.”

 


Elias Software Booth S1235

Elias software – “Game audio and Adaptive music Sound, adaptive music and technical innovation We are building the future tools and workflows for game audio, adaptive music and technical sound design. The future of game audio is powered by visual scripting, live editing and Elias 4”

 


FMOD – Firelight Booth Booth S1227

According to Aaron Edwards, FMOD Product Manager at Firelight “FMOD’s booth this year will be running some assorted client showcases & feature demos throughout the Expo, while maintaining our focus on usability and accessibility.”

 


Gamescape Audio Booth S1333

“Gamescape Audio offers an end-to-end direction and licensing service exclusively for game developers and is home to a global network of songwriters for games, music supervisors and creative technologists with decades of experience across the games and interactive industries.”

 


IASIG Booth S203

• Tuesday, March 21st | 3:00 – 4:00pm – IASIG/IGDA Networking Meet & Greet
• Wednesday, March 22nd | 2:00 – 3:00pm – IASIG/IGDA Amazing Audio Trivia

 


ReadSpeaker Booth S1331

“ReadSpeaker is leading the way in text to speech. ReadSpeaker offers a range of powerful text-to-speech solutions for instantly deploying lifelike, tailored voice interaction in any environment.”

 


Tazman Audio Booth S1249

Anastasios “Taz” Brakis has a new offering in the way of SoundMaker that will likely be on display. “SoundMaker is an advanced audio platform, providing a comprehensive and powerful solution for creating and distributing interactive audio experiences whilst bridging the gap between linear and interactive media.”

 

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Looming | In Mind

The pandemic continues to cast its heavy shadow on the future, necessitating acknowledgement, shading every decision with concern and consideration. 3 years later and Covid is still hanging around. We’ve all lived separate lives at a distance, often separated by screens, and recently taking tentative steps back into physical proximity with each other. It’s a reconciliation that reaches each person differently, in their own way, shaped by their own experiences, with the results playing out across the time that has transpired in-between.

Read the GDC 2023 Health and Safety Initiatives along with the Health, Safety, & Security Terms & Conditions you acknowledged and agreed to when you registered for the Conference.

How does a community return to in-person events? What have we learned? What will we do differently? What are the risks? How do we create environments that support health and safety? How can we protect each other? How many will rapid-test daily with the proliferation of free (and freely available) tests as a way to gain some peace-of-mind? What’s the right level of engagement?

We may have answers to some of these questions and there are a pile more that haunt our (my) collective unconscious, but none of the answers can change the fact that many of us will find ourselves for the first time (and once-again) participating in-person under these circumstances. To have arrived at this decision, we’ve had to make peace with many of these questions and find our own answers; either through careful consideration, experiential evidence, or blindly feeling our way back to humanity for reasons.

We’ve accepted the risk. We’re ready to improvise with our feelings to reap the rewards of reuniting as safely as possible. Be mindful of the different comfortability levels that folks arrive at GDC this year and stay aware and compassionate of others’ experience. It’s going to be a wild one for many of us stepping back into the flow of humanity. Keep it easy and stay good.

 

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Closing | Altogether

GDC_2023-sound-03

Care is a word that resonates for me when it comes to the game audio community. Take care of yourself and try to be mindful of other people; both emotionally and physically. We’ll all be trying to navigate this re-acclimation together with varying degrees of comfort, and a bit of compassion can go a long way. This extends outside of the pandemic perspective and on to the streets of San Francisco. If it’s your first time pounding the pavement, try to find folks you can navigate the streets with…especially in the evening when paths get nebulous and neighborhoods unknown. Safety levels can change on a block-by-block basis and some of that change can be insulated when you’re with a group of folks beating a hasty trajectory between hang outs. If you’re returning, try to impart some of your hard-won wisdom about the wilder parts of downtown. Pay attention, offer to walk with someone if they’re headed out or suggest a happy trail to get them where they’re headed that might bypass some of the rough spots.

Above all else, try to find grace and patience with people during what will surely be an emotional experience. Give back when you can and find positive ways to share who you are with the community.It won’t be long before we’re saying goodbye after another unbelievable year together. Stay in the moment, feel all the feels, and I hope to see you in San Francisco!

At the risk of repeating myself, here are some final words about how to engage on the ground from the last Guide to Game Audio GDC 2019:

“Have a look at the GDC Code of Conduct before you hit town and engage its guidelines while onsite (and continue to adhere to its sensible advice even outside of the presentation hall). Forming relationships and cultivating conversations should begin with mutual respect; always stay positive and within the bounds of social etiquette. Find ways to include people in your adventures when possible. Find ways to bring other people into your conversations, and always treat people in the best way possible. We choose this opportunity as ambassadors of audio in the game development community, so lead with the greatest optimism, collaboration, humbleness, and grace in-conversation.”

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• The Drifting Guide to Game Audio GDC 2023

P.S.
Each year’s Guide contains an homage to some of my favorite bands. This year’s headers have been embedded with album and song titles from the band Slowdive. This band helped shape my fundamental understanding of sound and the effects continue to resonate with considerable nostalgia (see • Opening).

Bio: Damian Kastbauer is a Software Product Manager for Wwise at Audiokinetic helping to grow the future of interactive audio with the community.

 

A big thanks to Damian Kastbauer for giving us a sound person’s itinerary for what to do and see at GDC 20023!

 

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    A wide array of interesting sounds have been achieved by bowing, scraping or hitting single and multiple strings or parts of the wood body. For longer resonances, the sustain pedal was pressed down during almost all recordings.

    Old Broken Piano is a collabration between SampleTraxx and german sound designer Sebastian Emling.

    This library is the ideal companion for any professional sound designer, trailer or film composer.

  • City Life Sound Effects Walla, Public Places Play Track 137+ sounds included, 304 mins total $23

    Walla, Public Places sounds and ambiences.

    Walla backgrounds and public ambiences, sound textures. European languages. Recorded in European countries.
    In most of the recordings languages are indistinguishable, background babbling, hum, ambience. In some cases language can be recognized and this is mentioned in the name of the file.
    Check the sound list to see  if this is what you’re looking for.
    High quality audio recorded with care (detailed description of audio/mic technique used is in metadata chunk).
    21 %
    OFF

   

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