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About stewboy

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    one of those weird musician types

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  1. stewboy

    I Need Your Critique!

    Are you looking for critique more on the musical content, or on how you're writing for the instruments? I have a decent amount of experience in writing for wind ensembles of various forms and sizes, and though I'm not a professional by any means I might have some useful insight. I would definitely be a little concerned about the over-reliance on the french horn in the slower middle section. Even at a softer dynamic, the player would get fairly tired after playing so constantly, and would definitely appreciate breaks. There are musical reasons for giving the horn a break as well - the section feels a little static, in the roles of the instruments, in the register, and in the material itself. If you decided to give the horn a couple breaks, it would force you to rethink how you're using the other instruments. You've given the bassoon quite a break - you could perhaps give it a bit more of the heavy work instead of the horn, if only for a couple bars? I like that you've given the french horn the melodic line in the final section though. The player would definitely appreciate that. Spicing up the 'bass line' in general can be difficult in these sorts of ensembles - I was writing a piece the other week for a brass ensemble and had to keep reminding myself that the tuba players were real people who would appreciate variation in their role. A little syncopation or unexpected change in the bass line can add some much needed colour. One thing I noticed with the flute - you've got them playing quite high up in bar 20. I'd be very cautious about notes above a top F/G on the flute. I asked a flautist friend about this once and she said that she was fine with playing short staccato 'stabs' around that range but that any kind of sustained playing there was extremely difficult. The flute motif in bars 23 onwards would probably be fine though. I decided to do something that I hope you don't mind too much - I opened it in Sibelius and added a few slurs here and there that felt right to me (though I left a lot of it still kind of staccato), and rendered it with NotePerformer. I actually quite like a lot about it now that I can hear a more 'realistic' (ish...) performance - I can hear how you've passed various bits of material around the instruments, lending some more colour to the piece. I could probably write more about it if you wanted - I just need to go to bed now! ThemeAndTangents_revision01b.zip
  2. stewboy

    MAYhem 2023 - Looking for testers!

    Despite being in Sweden for a third of the month I'm going to try and do an eternity map for this!
  3. stewboy

    History of WAD music?

    Not sure how much use I'll be as I was never particularly in-tune with the community, but I can still talk a bit about my own experiences. My earliest experiences with hearing custom music in wads was when I started playing on ZDaemon when I was 12 (2004/5). This was around the time that HR2 and Scythe 2 came out and they were getting played in coop quite a lot, but zdctfmp was also very popular (along with similar mapsets) and I was kind of introduced to a lot of midis through all of those projects. I also tried to contribute to mapping projects wherever possible, as level design has always been another passion for me. At the time a lot of midis would kind of 'make the rounds' and appear in all sorts of multiplayer mapsets. I even remember being told once that the midi I had chosen for one of my maps was 'overused' even though I hadn't really heard it used much. I usually sourced my own midis from vgmusic.com, and occasionally I would take one from another mapset, though only if I really liked it. While a lot of the music in those days was the sort of rock/metal inspired stuff you'd expect, I still remember there being plenty of variety within that. Scythe 2's music in particular, while not being original, clearly shows a variety of styles. My own earliest ever 'custom music' contribution was in 2007 when I put one of my own tracks in my 'Destination Unknown' co-op mapset. I was a bit nervous about it but I didn't really make a big deal out of it and nobody really noticed or cared, probably because it wasn't that great of a midi anyway. I was kind of vaguely aware that writing bespoke music for a map was something that was occasionally done, but I didn't really see the point in all that effort when there were plenty of great midis already out there. I can't remember at all how I got involved in PL2 - I know that I made a post in the thread asking for musicians in mid-2008 but I don't know if I stumbled upon it accidentally or if someone pointed me towards it. I was a fairly minor contributor music-wise (only 3 tracks) and there were plenty of other tracks there that completely outshined my own from that period. I was also involved in Claustrophobia 1024 at around the same time, and I made a couple tracks for that as well. I think it was basically those two projects that convinced me that writing bespoke music for maps was actually pretty fun and satisfying to do. In the start of 2009 I posted a thread with my music and said I was interested in writing music for things, and Joshy replied saying that he was working on a 32-map megawad and felt that some new music for it would be nice. This was where I really started to experiment with things - instruments, styles, harmonies to a certain extent. I wasn't really thinking about making things 'Doomy', partly because I had no idea that there was even a 'Doomy' style to begin with, and partly because even if I did I wouldn't have cared. I've always been someone who hates just doing what everyone else is doing. I have to do my own thing to satisfy my own weird brain. Plus, I never really grew up listening to any of that sort of music - the music I mostly grew up listening to was a lot of classical (particularly opera, as my mum is a pianist who frequently works with singers), combined with 90's video game tracker music. I have memories of putting on old Macintosh games just to listen to the music there, while also trying to block out an opera singer wailing loudly in another room of my house. I think people kind of know how things went after Speed of Doom - I kept getting asked to do stuff and kept trying to improve at it. I probably don't have the same sheer output as a lot of other composers here, mostly because I have a tendency to fill my life with way too many things - at one point in 2016 I was literally playing in seven different ensembles at once, learning my pieces for my final undergrad recital, and playing in a musical, along with all my other uni work. But I'm very grateful of the opportunity to have written for so many projects here, and I'm always happy to hear that my music has really spoken to people - just like there's always been plenty of music out there that speaks to me. I'll no doubt continue to write music, for the same reason that people will continue to make maps.
  4. I should probably mention at this point that Decino's stream has directly resulted in £70 of Bandcamp sales last weekend, so I can't complain too much! I'm not really too annoyed at him or anyone else who has that sort of playstyle - I'm hoping I made that clear in my OP (aside from the slightly snarky postscript). It's more that I'm trying to be aware that this is a playstyle that will always exist, and will always draw people towards it, and so maybe untagging secrets would improve the experience for those players without detracting much from the experience for everyone else. At least, that's the theory, and that's what I tried to argue in my OP. One counterargument I didn't directly address in my OP was that untagging secrets might reduce replay value, as people might not know they should replay a level to find things they missed. I'm not convined that this would actually matter very much though. I replayed through Amid Evil not because I missed secrets that I wanted to find, but because I enjoyed the levels so much. But I'm aware that's just my attitude towards it, and I'm not exactly a normal person. I should also mention that I'm not against showing kill counts or time taken. I don't think the same arguments apply there, and I absolutely agree with hbomberguy that speedrunning is an awesome thing, even though I would never have the patience to attempt it myself. But perhaps this is just because I'm biased in favour of exploration over just plain gameplay (which is probably obvious to everyone now). I don't think I've ever felt a sense of failure because I missed one monster, or because I took too long to reach the exit. I slightly regret taking such an absolute stance in my OP, and perhaps I shouldn't have made the broad claim that everyone else should design their maps this way. But I do still believe that tagging secrets has more potential to harm the experience than help. There's a lot of posts in this thread to read and I only had a brief amount of time today - I will definitely try and get to responding to more posts tomorrow! @ReaperAA You asked on the first page of the thread if I was inspired by Marathon - and yes, I'm afraid I was. I played a lot of Marathon 2 and Marathon Infinity as a kid and while I did find a lot of the level design to be kind of confusing, I've taken some aesthetic inspiration from it over the years - particularly the stark contrasts in lighting and height between adjacent sectors. I'd like to think I've taken what I liked from those games while cutting down a bit on the confusing layouts. AA map31 definitely arises out of that.
  5. I wrote a 1500 word post attempting to justify removing secret tags. I'm wondering if there are similar justifications for inserting secret tags if they're not there already.
  6. I haven't had time to look at the responses in detail as I went to sleep and now have to work, but I do want to ask this quick hypothetical: Let's say the original Doom didn't have secret tags. You still had secret areas - e.g. every E1 soulsphere is still there, looking at you with its creepy face - but you no longer get any indication at the end that you 'missed' any of them. How would this have affected your experience? And let's say a modern doom port was then invented that had a new 'secret' sector tag, and something called a 'secrets count' at the end of the level. After the initial flurry of experimentation, could you say for sure that this was something that we should all adopt? Are there any obvious advantages to it, if we had already gotten used to Doom without it? (I will admit that the sound that plays and the message that displays when you find one is pretty nice. But is there anything apart from that?)
  7. No idea which forum this belonged in, I just put it here by default. I've been thinking about this topic for years, but I was inspired to make this post after Decino's stream where at one point he spends over an hour on map31 of Ancient Aliens. I would estimate probably at least 20 minutes of that was spent hunting for every last secret (and every last item pickup, but that's a topic for another day). Now, I do understand how he (or anyone) would hate that, and I can't help but feel that a lot of the negative comments about the map on Decino's video would have been far milder (though not completely gone) had he spent less time on the map, forcing them to watch him hump every last computer terminal. But of course, I've also seen this complaint elsewhere. Quote from mtpain27: 'There are 13 secrets, most of which I don't need and really don't enjoy finding.' Quote from a youtube video I remember seeing once but can't find now: 'Fuck. This. Map.' (That person was also 100%'ing it, IIRC.) Most of the positive responses to the map I've seen were in the DW megawad club thread on it - and there's one thing that most of these responses had in common: They didn't insist on going for all of the secrets! It seems that while you won't necessarily enjoy a given map by playing it 'normally', you almost definitely won't enjoy it if you feel like you're just running down a list of boxes to tick off - especially if there's a lot of them. Why 13 secrets, anyway? I'll be the first to admit I'm absolutely an exploration kind of guy, and I mean in real life too. I'm never satisfied seeing a door without knowing what's behind it, or seeing a balcony without knowing how to get up to it. Talk to my friends and you'll hear stories about me accidentally removing a light bulb from a nightclub, finding the secret golf ball storage at minigolf, hiding in the cupboard at parties, or getting kicked out of the RCM in London after walking in off the street past security and getting caught playing the percussion there. I like exploring things and investigating things and I tend to assume that everyone else likes it too. That's why 13 secrets! Where does that leave the people who don't love exploring as much as me? This is where the problem arises. Wanting to 'complete' something, and wanting to see a number go up, are instincts most people have; and as the more ethically challenged game designers know, players will force themselves through almost any amount of tedious gameplay, monetary loss, or even actual physical suffering if it means they can watch a little firework display as a number goes up. The Doom completionists aren't hunting secrets because they love exploring, they're hunting secrets out of obligation. And that's never fun. What's more, I do kind of empathise. Here's a personal anecdote: I don't get a huge amount of time to play games these days (people keep asking me to write music for some reason...), but one game that I loved recently and that kept my attention all the way through was Amid Evil. You know what made me feel good in that game? Finding a secret through exploration. You know what didn't make me feel good? Finishing a level and being told I didn't find all the secrets. I'm not a completionist by any means and yet I still felt a slight sense of failure - and the moment I started to consciously hunt secrets to avoid that failure, I lost that pure joy of exploration that I treasure so much in my day to day life. So here's my proposition: Don't mark your secrets... but do still put the secrets in! This immediately eliminates the anxiety caused by getting 'less than 100%' of something. Aside from the very extreme completionists (who I am a bit conerned about and would love to have a deep conversation with in a pub sometime over a pint or three), I'm willing to wager that even if someone knows for sure that they haven't seen everything there is to see, they'll still feel like they've achieved something just by beating the map, as long as they're not presented with definitive evidence of their 'failure'. After all, there's only so much time that each of us has on this earth to enjoy life, but which would you prefer: that on your deathbed, you get to reflect on your own unique memories? Or that on your deathbed, a giant number flashes up in front of you telling you that you only experienced 2% of life? Would this lack of secret marking make them less rewarding to find? Well, the topic of what makes a good secret comes up every now and then, and there's plenty of ideas. To summarise: At its most basic, a secret can give you useful supplies. Perhaps a unique item or weapon. But it can also reward you by giving you a unique experience. A fun extra fight. A whole extra map. Perhaps you solved a very interesting puzzle in order to find it. Or perhaps none of these, and the reward is simply the exploration itself - getting to see more of the map, or to see it from a new perspective. You know what doesn't seem to get mentioned in these threads? 'The thing that makes a secret fun is that you get to see a number go up at the end of the level.' Will people know the secrets are there if they don't get explicitly told? Well, in many cases, no. They will miss out on small parts of every map simply because they didn't know about them. But there are three ways someone can know to be on the lookout for secrets: firstly, they find one by accident; secondly, they can literally see an area or item they ought to be able to get to, but can't; and thirdly, that the map designer has already used the first two methods to instill in the player the idea that there's interesting stuff to be found. In other words, they should look for secrets just because 'well, it seems like something the map designer would have put in'. In fact, this aspect can actually increase the joy of finding a secret, because the player feels like they've found something that very few other people might have found. Perhaps they get to feel like they 'broke the rules' of the map. I don't know about you but for me, finding things out through breaking the rules sounds a lot more fun than finding things out through following a pre-determined checklist. Will we miss the 'A secret is revealed!' message? Do we need the firework display every time we achieve something? Well... maybe, and maybe. After all, games know they have to pick at the reward centre of the brain. There's loads of analyses out there that go into detail about this - the right sound for a gun, a physics-inaccurate screen shake when something blows up, a satisfying little music jingle when we finish a puzzle or beat a level. A little 'Well done!' goes a long way. But all that this means is that we'll have to design our secrets more thoughtfully, to make sure they're actually worth finding. And that will involve designing our levels more thoughtfully. I think that can only be a good thing. And even with the above issue - an obvious solution would be to have the player be notified of a secret, but to then not be shown the count at the end. That way, even if the player knows that they missed a secret, they wouldn't be reminded of it, and it wouldn't feel as though they weren't playing the game properly. Now I know there'll be ways to achieve this in advanced ports, but I don't know if there's ways to do this in the more 'oldschool' ports. And even without the end tally screen, you might still be able to view the count in other ways - and really dedicated completionists can always open up the map in an editor and count them manually. Perhaps the best solution really is to just get rid of the 'secret' tag altogether. But you know what? I think this particular sacrifice is worth making. If the choice is between having secrets feel just slightly less fun to find, or risking having them actually detract from the entire experience of the map, I think it's obvious which way we should go. Postscript: Yes, I started writing this post as a partial defence of a 7-year old map of mine, but I'm aware there's plenty about the map to criticise outside of 'I didn't enjoy hunting for 13 secrets even though nobody was forcing me to except myself'. It's no misunderstood masterpiece, it's a map in a wildly different style to the rest of the wad, less visually interesting, and I definitely didn't put in as much effort as the other mappers did (though to be fair, it would have been very hard for me to!). But I also do still like the map, so there. This topic isn't really about the map anyway - I do genuinely think that the concept of secrets and completionism is worth analysing. Incidentally, there's two secret stashes in AA map31 that are unmarked. They're nothing game breaking, but if you managed to find them, congratulations - you've found areas that even the completionists might not have found. I regret not making all the secrets like that.
  8. stewboy

    Help extracting midis from WAD files.

    If you must convert them from their original midi format, then convert them to mp3 or some other more compressed format instead. WAV files will always take up a great deal of space.
  9. stewboy

    Unpopular Doom Opinions

    stars.mid is overrated
  10. Are you sure about the white key? I've been trying to think of what you could be referring to because I also used to play a lot of coop on ZDaemon (dbzone, invasionuac etc), but all the wads I can think of that had colored keys used orange instead of white. I also have some vague memory of a couple wads that used a midi of 'Jump' but the only one I can find right now is Squadron 417, which didn't have coloured keys.
  11. Some of the most memorable midis for me would definitely be from MM2's soundtrack, which I really loved when I was younger - such as Disposition and Shadows of the Dead by Mark Klem. There's obviously a huge amount of midis out there that I think are amazing, but most of the midis that I actually remember a lot of details from tend to be ones I heard during that period of my life. It also helps that the maps associated with those two midis were quite memorable for me - I think having an unusual midi coupled with an unusual map makes for the most memorability. BTSX's Angry Science by Xaser is one of the few 'modern' tracks ('modern' for me meaning anything made after I became more known in this community) that also instantly comes to mind, for that reason.
  12. stewboy

    Post a picture of yourself!

    me being very fashionable
  13. stewboy

    Composing my first midi, hoping for pointers

    Hard to give proper advice on such a short sample but it seems like a good start so far! Could make for the basis of a relatively simple 12 bar blues song.
  14. Ah yeah, I've used DistroKid before, when I wrote some random music 8 years ago and decided to put it up. I'm just thinking about the sort of thing I would want people to find whenever they search my name - I don't know how to get stuff removed from there, and I'm a bit worried about a potential future where I have five or six completely unrelated sorts of music floating around!
  15. Would that even be something that people want?