Alternate soundtrack (cell version)



Forest Stage (alternate?)

So I’ve been tooling with ideas for restructuring the soundtrack a bit for the iphone version of Frogatto. Why? The main gist of it is that the iphone version of the game essentially is going to have a different size requirement than the pc versions of the game. This will require cutting and reformatting the soundtrack that is currently in place in the name of achieving greater space efficiency.

The themes will stay the same but there will be alternations to the content so stay tuned!

Also, the style of the soundtrack may change slightly. There may result in more of a chiptune flavor. I personally feel I would like the soundtrack to feature all modalities of instrumentation and style… but for now I want to focus on something integral to all successful platforming soundtrack. That is, Simpler melody… quirkier instrument manipulation. etc. My tools for composition are changing so it will be a welcome update of sorts.

First, I want to revamp the first piece of music for the game and implement it differently. This theme is intended to musically intended to carry our friend Frogatto until he makes it to the next major area of the game. The very first piece in the game sets the tone for everything so it’s really important that the melody sets a mood early. We currently have 2 stage 1 themes that are VERY long and take up a ton of space. I’m likely going to cut both of these themes for the iphone version of the game and go with something a bit catchier, chippier, quirkier, slowier and more memorablier.

Thoughts> ?


To elaborate: the phone carriers impose a rule on both Android and iOS (and afaik, blackberry, so basically, everything), that “over the air” app store downloads are capped at 20mb. Anything above, you can’t download over a cell connection; you’d have to take your iPhone home and get on WiFI to buy it. This rule is retarded for a number of reasons which I won’t discuss at length, but the simplest one is that there is no such cap on what you download inside a program -after- you buy it. (Video viewing apps come to mind.)

We’re worried this has contributed to really low sales. Because we’re not a huge 3d game like hero of sparta/assassin’s creed/infinity blade/etc, and apparently our music is the only thing pushing us over the limit, we’re going to try and make a really tight “mini soundtrack” just for the mobile version of the game, so we can sneak under the limit. We’re still going to try and offer the real soundtrack; we might try selling it as an in-app download for a buck, selling it as the “HIFI” version.

Compromising our work in any way really sucks, but we’re lucky to be in the era we are; I can’t imagine how badly we’d have to water down our vision for the game, back in the days of 16-bit consoles; we might loosely match their visual style, but we grossly overstep their hardware capabilities.

Musically, this is great.
Technically speaking, my understanding now is that of the 20mb for the game, only about 10mb is left over for music, so that’s 10mb / our number of songs, which might be 5-10 songs, depending on how small we can compress them without butchering them. Naturally, shorter songs take up less space - almost proportional to their size, so a song half as long ought to be half the size.

Please keep providing high-bitrate versions of the songs, like you just did, so ben and I can compress them however is necessary.

Here are examples of how this will end up at different levels of compression:

32kbps mushes the audio up, but 56 and 64kbps sound fairly good, IMO. If we really don’t need stereo, we can net roughly a 2x improvement in quality for the same size, like so:

Because of the highly “electronic” sound of chiptunes, just off the bat, it’s entirely possible we could do the 32kbps/mono one, and no one would really realize it was so aggressively compressed.


That 32kbps mono version of this song sounds totally fine to me. Obviously I’m not listening with headphones, but just on my computer it’s fine, and most of the time people would be listening with their iPod with its 1 speaker anyway.


To elucidate: chiptunes sound really electronic and grainy. Compression makes stuff sound electronic and grainy (in nuancedly different ways). When you compress “real” instruments, or synths that are trying damn hard to sound real, the compression is highly visible, because (say) violins and such aren’t supposed to sound electronic and grainy.

But on chiptunes, it could easily be mistaken for the very sound we were going for in the first place. We probably want to exploit this, since it’s the difference between 4-5 songs in the mobile ost, versus 8-12 songs.


For sure. Lets do it! Got agood one on the way!


Gonna pump out some tracks. (new forest theme) (revised stage 1 theme)

SPACE USED SO FAR (2.4 mb approx)

I am guessing that this will allow me to integrate between 4-7 tracks. Need to be discerning.

This is the lowest conversion quality in stereo quality. I am not thrilled with the audio quality but given the small file sizes and the number of tracks that will be integrated, it’ll do.


Apparently this slipped under the radar:
Please keep providing high-bitrate versions of the songs, like you just did, so ben can compress them however is necessary.

Ben has a script to do this, and getting the format right is a bit touchy (for starters, it’s AAC rather than OGG). It needs to be a special MPEG format, because only that format is decodable for “free” by the iPhone’s music coprocessor - the iPhone has a special chip that decodes music (only in a very exacting format); by doing this it takes the (actually very heavy) load off the processor, and also saves considerable battery life. It’s best if we have “full quality” versions, because converting from already brutally-compressed oggs to similar AACs is going to be a bit lossy by comparison. Having purely lossless stuff is past the point of diminishing returns, but at least having high-bitrate MP3s/oggs would be good; at least over 128kbps.

The choice of whether you want these to be stereo or mono is something you should really communicate to ben, though (I get the impression you prefer stereo).

  1. Naturally, the music itself is above any reasonable criticism.


Ah, interesting. I do want the mixes to be in stereo. I had a chance to listen to these files in mono yesterday and it ended up crunching the frequencies to an irritating agree.

high quality mp3’s will be provided then


I’m confused. If you do mono, it’ll be better quality, because all the quality will be going into 1 track instead of 2. I understand if you don’t want to drop stereo, but “crunching the frequencies to an irritating degree” should be a reason TO drop it, not to keep it. Also keep in mind it’ll often be listened to in mono regardless.


What ben said; dropping stereo does nothing to your frequencies. Only lowering the sampling rate does that. You might be conflating things because you saved as OGG rather than AAC, and ogg probably works differently … but we can’t use OGG. AAC is our only option, because it’s the only thing the chip in the iPhone does.*

When you get down to super-low bitrate AACs, it starts lowering the “maximum allowed” sampling frequency because there’s so little data room left - but if you’re doing mono, the ceiling is twice as high, because there’s 2x as much room to work in. At 64kbps stereo, everything’s still 44.1khz. But below that is starts cramping: 56kbps drops to 32khz, 40kbps to 24khz, 28kbps to 16khz, etc.

But in mono, this happens half as fast! Mono doesn’t dip below 44.1khz even as low as 40kbps. It only starts dropping frequencies at 32kbps, where it drops to 32khz. So if you’re concerned about “crunching the frequencies”, maybe we should shoot for 40kbps mono instead of 32kbps mono.

  • pedantically speaking, it does mp3s too, but AAC is literally the next version of mp3, by the same crew, so it’s better in every way. So mp3s aren’t even being considered. For those interested, there were actually mpeg audio codecs before mp3; I’ve actually seen a couple songs in mp2, but they’re as rare as horse feathers, because they are twice as big as mp3s, per the same quality. Napster wasn’t around yet, people’s modems were twice as slow then than during the mp3 era where we had 56k modems… it just didn’t take off until mp3, so there’s almost nothing in the earlier formats.


But it DOES affect how the frequencies are affected and represented across the stereo field. The instruments carrying those frequencies (that I modifyied and tweaked to sound a certain way) seemed to lose a lot of their character and vibrance during conversion from stereo to mono… and this is just what I heard. I doubt anyone apart from myself would be so scrutinizing but after hearing the mix a few million times, I hear ANY discrepancy. It doesn’t necessarily make it grounds for saying NO WAI DOOD! Maybe my ear was tired. If I spend time mixing for stereo, it is time wasted it would seem.

The composition is coming along but I need to tweak a bit before releasing it


I hope we can offer the full sound track too, so I don’t think it’ll be wasted effort. :slight_smile: It’s great music, and I want to listen to it in stereo too.


Don’t know if this will make the cut or not, even though it was originally intended to be the main theme for the game. Kinda curious how the quality of the piece will be affected by conversion to mono…


I’d put it in. :slight_smile:
I’m not sure if it’s been brought up, but there was talk, a good while back, of downloading the music in-game as people played. Just a possibility, here, but we could simply ship the music with less quantity instead of less quality. Have an option to download full track on the website, if in-game downloading never happens.


ha I do think that is an option on the table for us … to download content later to make the experience as fully realized as the non-iphone version…

Working on some automation with the last track.


Forest Stage (alternate?)


For lack of something more erudite to say:

Nice music is nice. :slight_smile:

#18 (might be a bit too long) I did some balancing with eq’s and instruments to promote less ear fatigue… working? (mono recording)


Working excellently, man! Great track :slight_smile:


Ha, thanks man. :slight_smile: