Created on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 18:58
1: Getting Started
2: Sound Controls and Cues
3: The Music Arrangement
4: Cooking a Final Package
5: Quick Reference Guide
After the music segments and stingers have been imported your view should look a little like this. Notice the package name in the left pane can be expanded to show the groups that have been created. With these you can easily sort the view on the right pane to show only music segments or music stingers. Unless you have a large amount of files to import creating groups for them isn't really necessary but if it makes your work any easier then there's no reason not to organize. This comes in even more useful to others that may want to use your music in their maps after you've released a final package. A third party can select all or some of the segments or stingers to use for the map music and having a neatly organized package saves time and headaches.
Though the name is the same, Sound Groups are completely different than the Package Groups. Package Groups organize your content while Sound Groups tell the engine how to render the audio. Player sounds, environment sounds, dialog, and music all have different Sound Groups. The easiest way to understand this is through the Audio Settings tab in Unreal Tournament 3. There are several volume sliders that control different kinds of audio. The Sound Group determines, among other things, which volume slider will control the audio. Since this topic is covering music, naturally we will want to set the Sound Group for our audio to music. This can be done by right-clicking on your package name in the left pane. Go down to Batch Process, Sound Groups, and click Music. At this time you should notice that instead of [None] all your Cues will now say [Music].
Early in this guide, since importing the first music segments, you may have been wondering what these extra files called USound Cues were. Cues are a small collection of properties that tell the engine certain things about one particular sound. The Cues we've had sitting around since the beginning are going to store information on how loud to play each sound and if it should loop. As mentioned in the Music Cues Explained
tutorial, the Intro segment is the only music segment that doesn't have to loop. Every other music segment must loop unless you want silence after it has played once. Music stingers should never loop. If a stinger is set to loop, once it has been triggered it will not stop playing until the map has been changed.
Here the Package Groups that were made are finally useful. Click on the MusicSegments Group in the left pane and this should cause the right pane to only show your music segments and their Cues. After that right-click on the first USound Cue for the music segment you want to loop and then click Sound Cue Editor. This will open another window that shows two boxes (nodes) connected with a line. To get this Cue to loop, just right click somewhere in-between these two nodes and then click Looping. This will create another node called Looping. There are two arms coming out each side of this node that need to be connected in series to the other two nodes. Click and drag from the arm on the left to the speaker node's arm, then click and drag from looping's right arm to the node's arm with the Cue's name. In a connect-the-dots fashion there should be a single path going from the speaker node, to the looping node, and to the Cue node. It should be noted that the Looping node has a set of properties that can control the number of total loops. The default settings are to loop forever, thus no modification to these settings is needed for music.
At this time it may be a good idea to load one of the songs that came with the game. The next step is adjusting the playback volume and we're going to need a baseline example to follow. To open a music package, in the Browser window click File and Open. The music for Unreal Tournament 3 is located in \Program Files\Unreal Tournament 3\UTGame\CookedPC\Sounds\. Every file that begins with "A_Music" except A_Music_Arrangments is a music package. After the music has been loaded locate it in the Package List pane on the left. The music can be previewed by double-clicking any of the USound Cues in the Package Content pane on the right. The music can also be played back by double clicking a USound but it will not be treated with the properties given to it by the Cue (it will not loop and will be lower in volume). Music can be stopped by right clicking on any Cue and clicking Stop. You will want to pay mind to the Action segments as they're the loudest of the music segments. The point of previewing this music is to compare peak loudness between the music that came with the game and our own. You may want to reference this package for other items later like stingers but for now, after playing the music for a bit use the Package pane on the left to go back to your package, clicking MusicSegments. Go ahead and double click your action segment's USound Cue. You may notice that it's slightly lower in volume. To rectify this right click on the Cue and select Properties.
You'll be presented with a small window with several properties in it. The only one we are concerned with here is the Volume Multiplier. The title is a little misleading, the Volume Multiplier is actually a Volume Limiter. It's purpose is to adjust levels that may be too "hot". The range that can be set here goes from 0.1 to 1. Any higher will not cause any further increase (10 will be the same loudness as 1). If your music segment is much quieter than the stock music after changing this setting to 1 then it's likely it will need to be compressed with an audio editor and reimported. If you're satisfied with the current level then it's time to move along to your other segments. Each music segment can have a different Volume Multiplier and is usually done to add a dramatic effect. With the action segment now serving as a reference point as the loudest possible segment you can adjust your other music segments accordingly. While it may seem like an obvious path to take I have to stress how important it is to actually preview all of your segments as you're doing this. Not only will it help you make better choices but it is necessary to populate the USound's channel and bitrate properties. The first time you preview a sound the editor will pause. When the sound plays you should notice the label on the USound changes from Unconverted to Stereo (or Mono).
Once you've finished adjustusting the Volume Multipliers for the music segments it's time to move on the the stingers. Take another listen to the music that was loaded earlier. If you look at the properties for the stinger Cues you may notice the Volume Multipliers are slightly lower than those for the music segments. While ingame, stingers play back slightly louder than the music. This is more due to the way the engine handles stingers and in no part related to the Cue's Volume Multiplier. With that in mind we'll want to adjust the volume of our own stingers to be slightly lower than our music segments so while they will still be louder ingame, stingers shouldn't be overbearing. This may take a few tries to get right and you may need to go through several playtests but the effort will be worth it.