Week 1: 11MON15JUL

The full group's first meeting. We piled into the screening room of K1 and sat in a circle introducing ourselves, our roles, and what we wanted to see out of the project. Out of the 9 third years (henceforth "old gods") i had talked to 5 which I thought was a pretty good wicket to start off on. All the second years were added to the discord server, which turned out to be their original Acolyte server thay had started back in March, which felt like a real privelage to be a part of, really.

The old gods consist of:
Brenna - producer and writer
Liam - assistant producer and generalist
James - creative director and 2D artist
Connor - lead programmer
Mat - writer, PR, and 2D art
Kent - lead 3D artist
Lydia - 3D artist
Nicole - 3D artist
Zu - 2D artist

The new acolytes then are:
Callum - programmer
Ebeney - programmer
Imogen - 3D animator
Andy - 3D animator
Angus - 3D modeller
Madiha - 3D modeller
Ben - 3D modeller
Clara - 2D artist
Newt - 2D artist
Cormac - complete mystery???
Will - sound + music
and myself, also on sound + music

An interesting note, having 12 extra people on the group is huge!

The meeting then split into departmental groups, so Will and I talked to Brenna about what we would be doing. She said that we pretty much have free reign over what we want to do with the soundscape. We can go completely nuts with it! IMG

We left too early to talk to Liam, who had previously done a bunch of sound work for the pitch, so he ended up messaging the sound channel on the discord to update us on the situation and give us some small challenges to see what our workflows are like and what we were capable of.

I redownloaded Reaper and got Logic back into working order after a series of half completed sketches from the past 18 or more months. I also started diving through freesound.org looking for metallic sounds to use for some tests, and looking into GDC talks on sound design within games.

KiwiJam

That first weekend of semester was when KiwiJam was being held in the train station! All of my usual group save for Lauren ditched because of the huge influx of work over the course week 1. We (as in Lauren and I) found Liam, Mat, and James there. They let us join their group, with their game being about various instances involving Liam wanting golden avocados.

We joked at the end that it was Acolyte trial by fire. Liam speed modelled in Blender, James animated everything, Mat figured out the dialogue of each character and drew a cute picture of the whole crew near the end, Lauren did all the sound and music, including creating FMOD instances, and I re-learnt UE4 & Blueprints in that weekend. I personally really enjoyed it, and it was good to get to know some of the team better. IMG

Week 2: 11MON22JUL

This week we went over to K2 as the K1 screening room was being used. We get to see everyone's work, update everyone on what's up, and Will and I finally got to talk to Liam in person together. This week was mostly a repeat of last week's work, just continuing on with what we started.

This week marked our first sound specific meeting on Friday so Will, Liam, Brenna, and I met up in the Acolyte corner of K1 and went over what we had done (very little) and what we would be doing in the coming week. We decided that we'd start on

Week 3: 11MON29JUL

This week things finally started to take off. I made a proper start on a telescope sound effect made from various freesound pieces. There was a production hui on Wednesday which i might have only just gotten to them in time to show it? It was only half complete if even that, still lots of work to do on it.

Later that same Wedneday Will and I had the ADR room in Block 1 booked out, so we headed in there with a Rode NTG2 (not the best mic for voice work but it's early days) and recorded us making strange vocal noises in to the microphone for an hour or so. What we came out with was a really cool sounding God of Death vocal which we'll likely end up tweaking some more and using in the final thing. Horay for our first full sound! The team also really liked it which was fantastic to hear.IMG

Friday's sound meeting went really well. We talked through the fact that we need voice actors for the other acolyte voices, and asked a big list of questions we had in relation to those voices and the other sounds we were yet to record.

Week 4: 11MON5AUG

Our Monday morning meeting was good. Will wasn't there but I got to show off the death vocals which was fun. There wasn't much to say on sound, other than that I needed to really give it a push for the coming week.

I ended up recording 15 minutes of raw piano improv on Monday afternoon, and slowly picked away at it throughout the week, trying to figure out a good sound for the various zones of the game. Along with that i found a second Aulos video which sounded really good as reference.

I ended up missing this weeks sound meeting, but i checked in over Discord just to clear up on what we want to have done by the 25AUG milestone and to ask about the voice actors who have expressed their interest in being on the project to me. The plan is to meet after Monday's meeting to discuss everything missed in the Friday meeting.

Week 5: 11MON12AUG

This week's all hands meeting was good. Fairly brief as a fair few of the old gods were missing. Brenna, Liam, Will and I were all there so we talked through what we needed to do in the coming week.

As far as production went that week, I did fuck all! Keeping up with everything was a struggle. Not only that, but I was in Auckland for Friday so I ended up missing the department meeting. An uneventful week overall.

Week 6: 11MON19AUG

Coming back to the all hands meeting I felt as though I was completely out of the loop. James had taken on far more leadership in light of the upcoming deadline on the 25th so things were slightly more to the point than usual. Splitting into departmental groups Liam, Brenna, James and I talked over what we needed to do in the coming week. My plan was to get the voice recording done which was slightly nerve wracking but also exciting to get going with it again. The last time it had happened was the 31st of July.

On Wednesday, I got Hayden and Paris into the Foley room (the only room I could book at the time, I wanted the ADR room) with an NTG kit (I would've rathered an NT2000) and recorded voice lines for roughly 3 - 5 characters each. It was lots of fun! Something interesting was that we weren't using the blimp at times, and when either of them got into their voice acting and got closer to the mic there tended to be some noticeable wind noise, a lesson learned honestly, and going back it was present in our older recordings too.

Hayden stuck around afterwards to record some footsteps with me, which was good!

On Thursday I got Imogen, and James got Nikita, to record some more voice lines for some more characters. This time we were in the ADR room, and I had the blimp on the mic from the beginning. We got some really good stuff! I hadn't worked with Nikita before but she was really good! Big thanks to her and James there.

I found out during the first recording that Will wasn't coming back to the project for various personal health reasons, so

On Friday with our departmental meeting we discussed the fact that Will was no longer on the project, the fact that we probably weren't going to make the deadline on the 25th, and the minimum amount of stuff to get to the team by certain times. We cleaned up the Trello a little bit, assigned shit, and broke off.

MID SEMESTER BREAK

First thing first, pretty much every assignment I had got extended into the break. This ended up making things harder as I had to get those done first, which took way too long, and then get my audio done too.

At the start of the holiday I got some of the voice work in to the team, they seemed to really like it which was nice to hear. I ended up listening to the clips not long after I sent them and they sounded slightly too reverby, but i still like the sound.

Lydia sent some ambiences a music student called Calvin had made. They were stunning ambiences, really deep and evocative, but the lingering criticism I have is that they feel slightly removed from the tone of the game, there's a lack of certain instruments which i'd like to hear, maybe the echo of a melody, and at times they feel either too synthy or too heavy. Otherwise, they're stunning and sound great. I'll definitely pull some inspo from them for some of the tracks I end up making

Speaking of making stuff though, my progress stalled to a halt after I got an extension for VFX. As of writing the start of this paragraph (5SEP) I'm nearly done with VFX, and am hoping to get as much audio as I can get done before playtesting on the 10th.

Week 7: 11MON9SEP

With this meeting came the realisation of what we already knew, we now only have 6 weeks left. Had some good chats with the old gods before a meeting with one of our music guys, Calvin! He had sent through a bunch of ambiences (on 3SEP), asking for feedback on how to fit them better into the context of the game. SO today we finally got to meet him in person, a really chill guy! He showed us a newer demo for a different zone of the game (post-calamity) and we talked to him about getting payed, because he's not doing this as part of his music major project assessment.

This week was void of any work, which finally changed after the departmental meeting on Friday. The last time I had sent something was now 3 weeks ago so things weren't looking too hot. I had some leftover voices to send over (and would still like to send some more given the time) so that weekend I got them in. Our playtest had been delayed from the 10th to the 17th which was nice, so we had a week of extra time to get things done. We also found out that the playtest had been moved last minute due to some faculty level bullshit.

Week 8: 11MON16SEP

This meeting was fairly uneventful. Brenna felt like shit and wasn't there for most of the meeting. Connor was at maccas. We pretty much immediately split into departmental groups, so I talked to Liam about FMOD while he showed me some cool audio he had made up. We had our playtest tomorrow evening so everyone left fairly quickly to get going with things.

As for the playtest itself, things went really well! James had created a quick but nice looking menu screen with a little animation of the acolyte looking out over the view. The game had some basic footstep sounds, some introductory voice clips with some instructions on what to do. The whole world so far was explorable, aside from Death's secret place. Glitches were found, people from outside of Massey came in, and there was pizza! It was a good time. We got a hefty chunk of feedback forms, and went to maccas afterwards. It was a great night.

The departmental meeting was fairly short as I hadn't made much work since sending in the voices. James and Liam were both really keen to record the intro dialogue and implement it alongside the final animatic and Calvin's music for it. Hopefuly we'll be getting Nikita and a nice vocal microphone to use for that on Monday, but we'll see what happens.

Week 9: 11MON23SEP

The pressure can really be felt now. Our all hands meeting was brief as was to be expected. Liam is adding FMOD to the UE4 project and is also creating FMOD banks to simply slot my sounds into. With everything else ramping up, i've been putting Acolyte behind the rest in terms of priority.

I skipped the departmental meeting as the climate strike was on

Week 10: 11MON30SEP

Three weeks to go. Everyone was collectively losing it at the all hands meeting. Connor came in late. No one wanted to lead the meeting. I ended up hanging out with the group afterwards for a while, and after going to an anti-TERFs on capus hui I got to talk to Liam about his progress with FMOD and audio in general. I wanted to ideally get the audio done this week, early at that, but it's not looking all that likely.

We had a fairly uneventful departmental meeting, I had fuck all to show so we just outlined what to get done before the playtest the coming Wednesday.

Week 11: 11MON7OCT

Today's all hands meeting was hilarious. Only three 2nd years showed up, and half of the third years showed up. We briefly talked about stuff, but it ended up in Brenna trying to show us music being interrupted by Connor playing Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on his Switch running through the projector. The meetings had reached peak goblin. No one could stop him, Connor looked thrilled.

We took the team over to the Massey Digital meeting where they got to talk about the Real Shit to do with major projects, to help inform the future second and third years. It actually went really well, many good tips were shared.

I missed our departmental meeting once again, as I felt like arse. However, I did end up sending a first revision of the edited intro dialogue and got some good feedback from James. I also made a list of leftover sounds to knock off, it looks intimidating but I think it can be done by the end of week 12.

Criticism

Someone in the SpaceMates team was talking to their team members in K3 about how good it is to have harsh and honest criticisms about your third year group. Doing so will give you insights into how to run your own third year group and hopefully pass on good teachings to those who come after you. So, here are mine of Acolyte!

First and foremost, the lack of planning in terms of what audio would be required is really noticeable. Mid way through Week 3 or 4 we finally got access to the full drive folder. I think some people had access previously but this was the first i'd seen of it. Looking through the material I found very little written thought about just how much sound there would or could be in the game.

My second criticism is slightly harder to ammend. The second year animators were given a digitigrade bipedal rigged character to animate with from day 1. It was a fucking tall order for this group of animators who had done a little bit of animation in class but little beyond that. This ties in with one of my larger thoughts on CMP with the divide in knowledge. Some people have been doing this stuff for ages and came to Massey with a fairly brought knowledge of the tools and the environment. Others were completely clueless, and some found it hard to get going with the programs, the practise, or both.

James taking charge in week 6 really upped the game with everything.

Working Questions

I wanted to show a slightly revised version of my first media production development assessment here as it had some thoughts relevant to this page. I'M YET TO EDIT THIS!!

I'm what was originally called the "Sound Designer" and "Foley Artist" for Acolyte but it has worked out to be a more sound generalist role, including music and audio implementation (normally a programmer role). I love sound work, every aspect of it. The process and the outcome are what fuel me. I want to make fantastic sounds for Acolyte, asking how can I make this game sound as good as it can? How can I make this game feel fantastic to play through sound and other game elements which tie into it? Music ties into this too! I have skills in many areas (all the areas), and understand how to incorporate aspects from those other areas into my focus (sound & music). Seeing the work the team has been generating has been really cool too. The more visual content and written content there is, the easier it is to make interesting sound and music.

I aim to come out of production development being able to share my critiques openly. Finding a way to communicate my true opinions and critiques on someone else's work without sounding mean. Also learning when to give out those critiques is important to me. An example came up recently with me wanting to give critiques on some animations, as they tie in with sound intrinsically, but as much as the Acolyte third years have encouraged for us to be honest, I still find it difficult to provide those honest critiques, such as thinking their animations won't work well in the game, without bashing their hard work into the ground. Along with this, I need to ask for more criticism of my work! I know heaps about what I'm doing, but in the coming weeks I want to talk sound concepts over with Neil Aldridge here at Massey to see what he thinks of my audio work so far, how I could improve it, and to get general tips on how to do things better with sound (covering the whole process of planning, production, and post). I also have a couple of friends who know sound stuff, and getting their opinions would be valuable too. There's so much to learn about sound that I've had to ask myself what can I learn within the time we have this semester? What should I learn? Going forward, I'm going to post more of my WIPs in the Discord server to get feedback as i'm working on each asset, alongside finding a way to provide honest and direct feedback at good times, which is something likely learned through failure.

The group management in Acolyte tends is done through spreadsheets, Discord, and Trello. The spreadsheets feature key milestones and deadlines, and all the assets we need to create. Trello has been used for planning and organising tasks and deadlines too, consisting of a master board which our staff and external supervisors have access to, and a departmental one which is just for us. On Discord we have an Acolyte server with channels for each department, along with some slightly more social channels which I think has been done really well. There is also a Facebook group as a backup, which is nice for those who use it, though I do no personally. Along with all this is a Google Drive folder with everything dating back to early March with the first pitching stage of third year, which has been a huge help for pushing sound forward and also seeing how the project has developed. I communicate mostly through Discord. I find it easier than presenting at the meetings as everyone is fairly quiet at our all hands meeting on Monday. The departmental meetings, however, I find way better as I just get to talk to Brenna, Liam, and more recently James about sound as much as I want. The third years have done a great job of not micromanaging us but still giving us enough guidelines for what we need to do, while also being really open to questions.

We've been a relatively conflict free group, which I think is both good and bad. Something interesting during the all-hands meeting on Monday is that interactions between 2nd and 3rd years tend to be more stilted even after 6 weeks, whereas the 3rd years interacting with each other is far more fluid and understanding. I had a lucky experience in the first weekend of the semester where I got to work with three of our team members Liam, Mat, and James during KiwiJam. Seeing and working with them in a more casual context showed their true colours as opposed to the fairly stilted meetings, and opened up the door to being able to talk to them easier. Going into this I wasn't expecting to work with a second sound guy, Will, but it actually turned out really well. We both gave each other decent feedback and worked well together, but then recently he had to leave the project due to health reasons! Thus, my workload was doubled. At one point we had a 2D artist, Newt, who was unsure if he was happy with his role and was considering sound but that got worked out through Brenna.

I've struggled to keep my Acolyte work going alongside the rest of my uni work. I wanted to prioritise this project over my pathways and compulsory courses but short term deadlines prevented me from doing so, and as such I kept focusing on too many things at once. Jonathan talking about focusing on one thing at once was really helpful, and has been helping with getting all the rest of my work done.

As for next year, getting into or starting a group with people who I really want to work with is important to me. I met the Acolyte third years at various points throughout the year, including the third years' BBQ, and it has helped immensely. Observing Acolytes' production as opposed to other projects I wanted to get onto has cemented my idea that I want my major project to be a narrative heavy game like this. The team is really cool, and the way they work has really clicked with me. I feel as though being stricter with deadlines is possibly a good way to go? But I really like how understanding the team has been of second years' other work, so I'm divided on this point. I also want to have the openness our third years have had with us with our own second years which come onto our projects next year. I'm divided between either leading a whole project, I have too many opinions not to lead a project, or focusing intently on a single aspect. Though, there's a high chance I'll end up like Liam who is technically bridging multiple roles. Working with Liam as the "sound liaison", and Brenna, to push sound work forward has worked, but it would be fantastic to have someone fully focused on sound. I'd love to have meetings be less awkward with my project too, which will probably involve more social stuff like a game jam or team drinks.