The Dink Network

MP3s for d-mods?

January 22nd 2006, 11:16 PM
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jjohn
Peasant Male
 
Howdy,

I'm starting to piece together all the tutorials and whatnot on dmods. WinDinkEdit is just great (but for two nits: no app-specific help file and no mention that pressing "E" in sprite mode brings up the available sprites). Thanks to SimonK for the video tut which pointed out many of the "undocumented" features of WinDinkEdit.

Seth is clearly a genius, if not somewhat a mad one.

I know that some brave souls here have been hacking the Dink source code. Any chance MP3s could be used as background sounds instead of the screamingly awesome format of MIDI files?

I mean, I enjoy listening to my laptop's awful synth as much as anyone for hours at a stretch. Don't get me wrong...

It seems that if Dink is running on a machine using a modern DirectX, there's got to be a function for playing mp3s by now. Microsoft isn't *that* slow.

Here's a tutorial I found on the subject:

http://www.andypike.com/tutorials/directx8/013.asp

Miles upon miles of smiles,

--Joe
January 23rd 2006, 12:49 AM
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BeheadedDuck
Peasant Male Australia
So lazy... So incredibly lazy... 
Not that I am offerring any help but me likie where this guy is going. Em.. I also would like to know if it is possible to use mp3 and if not, can someone like Redink or SimonK make it possible?
January 23rd 2006, 01:45 AM
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metatarasal
Bard Male Netherlands
I object 
Why would you want mp3s in your DMOD anyway? There are a lot of copyright issues over mp3. And most mp3s contain vocals, which I find very awful when used in a game like Dink. I think it can be made possible, but I actually prefer the .midi format. Unless you compose your mp3 music yourself, but I think 99.9% of the people here do not.

BTW. we had the same kind of discussion a few months ago.
January 23rd 2006, 06:12 PM
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jjohn
Peasant Male
 
Why would I want MP3s? Well I write and record my own music, so copyright isn't the issue.

MIDI files are inherently limited to producing only the sounds that your computer's on-board synth can make.

And those suck.

General MIDI has about four effects: reverb,
chorus, wheel bends and whatever the effect wheel does for a given patch. That's a very limited palette of sonic textures.

With MP3s, I can have very atmospheric ambient tracks, a la Fallout, that can deeply affect the gamer's experience.

To put it another way, I can't draw the paperbag to get out of (wet or not). I can code, write stories and play music. I hope to leverage the skills I do have to compensate for the ones I don't.

I also think that if DirectX supports MP3 playback, integrating it into Dink's source code
and then making that function available through DinkC won't be too difficult.

Mostly, I make the suggestion to see what's on the developers' minds.

--Joe
January 23rd 2006, 06:31 PM
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magicman
Peasant Netherlands steam duck
Mmmm, pizza. 
Although mp3 is a compression method, which'd be quite useful for some very large .wav, the filesize would get way too large if it's used as music. Usually, the better music isn't worth the longer wait in comparison with the rest of the D-Mod (story, graphics, that's why I won't use true colour), even when you're on broadband.
January 23rd 2006, 08:17 PM
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redink1
King Male United States xbox steam bloop
A mother ducking wizard 
MP3 filesize is an issue that you can't get around.

True-color file size can be worked-around easily. Just convert all BMPs to 256-colors based on the colors in the image. For most graphics, the quality will vastly improve, and the filesize will remain the same. Won't work so well on graphics with a lot of gradients and the like... but for most Dink-style graphics, it should work quite well.
January 23rd 2006, 08:24 PM
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jjohn
Peasant Male
 
Thanks to all that have responded.

The average MIDI file in Dink is somewhere round 10KB. An mp3 that's useful will never be that small.

However, I think, with enough reduction in sampling rating, I can get 5 minute mp3s down around 1MB. And I'd probably only want 12 or so of them (just for the music). And I won't be making graphics files, which do take up a lot of space.

As for what's too big for a download, that's a local problem. SP1 for Windows 2003 is around 350MB!

I read over the old thread mentioned earlier
and I do appreciate the concerns about dial-up users. However, I don't believe dmod makers are under any obligation to support the lowest common denominator of users. Many dmod makers will want to do this.

As a point of comparison, I present a 4MB WAV
of 1:37 minute song (11K sample rate, stereo) and the 764KB (64K sample rate, stereo) MP3 version.

WAV

MP3
January 23rd 2006, 09:04 PM
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5 minute mp3s to 1 MB? Even if you killed the quality of some mp3s, it would take up a lot of space. With 12 megabytes, you could put in a lot of new graphics and map space (even if they were from a pack or someone else). And if it's a really good game, and you use normal quality mp3s, you wouldn't want the dialup users of the network (there are quite a few) to not play it solely because of size.

One of the most important counter-points of your arguement is that though they are fairly "synth" sounding, midis have much better quality than they did when dink came out (and they can sound pretty good with a decent sound card). There aren't very many public domain mp3s, which singles out many dmod makers that don't compose their own music. I personally would/will stick to midis, as they adequately set the mood and provide space for more important things.
January 23rd 2006, 09:09 PM
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Christiaan
Bard Netherlands xbox
Lazy bum 
Amen to that. Also: making midis is fun! (30% of my current D-Mod's midis are self-composed)
January 23rd 2006, 10:29 PM
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Ric
Peasant Canada
 
Look into .ogg format. Slightly better than mp3 and using it is free. (also previously discussed... but possible.)
January 24th 2006, 07:53 AM
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ikkejw
Peasant
 
MUCH better than mp3
January 24th 2006, 02:07 PM
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merlin
Peasant Male
 
Not really. They're comparable, and ogg has the advantage that it's open source and quality is better at lower bitrates, but other than that, it's pretty much six to one half a dozen.
January 28th 2006, 11:39 PM
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millimeter
Peasant Male Canada
Millimeter is Wee-Lamm, Recording Artist. :-) 
Hey jjohn,

The lowest common denominator is just that, it's not the Lowest it's the Common that counts. There is a good chance that the majority of surfers, thus the audience you wish to reach, will be on dialup or something comparable. Some ISPs also have a per meg or per minute download fee, so connection speed is not the only thing to consider.

I wonder how many people on the net still use there old AmigaS, I bet there are more than you think.

Your argument sounds pretty close to the Browser Wars, where many authors have been programming to IE only and neglect text browsers entirely and thus screening out 50% of their audience.

A potential suggestion, offer 2 versions of your Dmod. One with MP3s and one with Midi.

Maybe Redink1 could develop a download selection that would allow users to choose between various options in a download. Truecolor/256, MP3/Midi,V1.06/1.08?

Target your audience as you see fit, but it may be less than rewarding to spend months writing an awesome dmod and getting all your songs just right, and find out that only 1 or 2 people took the time to download it.

My2p,
mm.
January 31st 2006, 02:55 AM
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Im not particularly keen on MP3's for D-Mods.
Ive got several reasons:

Size: The few MP3's I have on my computer take up a lot of space. If you were to put 10 Midis in your D-Mod it might take up 300 kb MAX. 10 Mp3's however would take up to 1 MB each making downloads take forever. Playing them throughout the game would also make gameplay alot slower.

Vocals: Midi's, I think, were mainly intended for a background to the game. I do not think that if the main game had no midis it would have put fans off. MP3's have vocals which would draw attention from the game.

Home-made midis: Alot of people make their own midi's, and probably wouldn't feel as comfortable singing for a song that would be posted for hundreds to see. Alot of midis chosen are not neccessarily the songs topping the charts right now. The midi system has been around for a while and has a larger variety of music. It could be tough tracking down songs. Some songs like halloween themes and the classic "Dun...... dun dun dun dunnnn dun" dont have any vocals. I doubt anyone understood that, but I think my point is made that there is no point restoring a small bit of the sound quality and in doing so quadruple-druple-ing th size.

And lastly:

Who cares?: I play Dink for the game and don't always have the speakers on.

I hope Ive made myself clear.
January 31st 2006, 03:47 AM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
Some songs like halloween themes and the classic "Dun...... dun dun dun dunnnn dun" dont have any vocals.

Lolz, what midi is that?? The song from Phantasy Star IV?
January 31st 2006, 04:35 AM
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scratcher
Bard Male Finland bloop
cigarette bonca 
For most graphics, the quality will vastly improve, and the filesize will remain the same.

I think that should be reversed.

I don't see MP3 support as terribly useful, but it wouldn't hurt. The people who can could make MP3s for music, (they could be downloadable as a separate file if the author felt pity for dialup users, or whatever) and a better format could be used for sound effects, which would reduce the filesize of normal dmods.
February 3rd 2006, 12:52 PM
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jjohn
Peasant Male
 
Thanks to all for responding. You have all raised valid points and I now have a good idea where the community's head space is at.

I would repeat just a few things, knowing that the counterarguments have been given. Comment on this post if you'd like to, but I think most of the salient points have been raised (but obviously I disagree with them ). Fundamentally, this tread seems to be a policy vs. mechanism discussion.

1) File size of MP3s. It's true that MP3 files are typically a couple of orders of magnitude larger than MIDI files. It's true that this will bloat downloads. It's true that a large dmod size will dissaude a certain population of Dink users from experiencing that adventure.

However, this argument as it pertains to MP3 support is a red herring. Sprites are very large and there's no limit to the numbers that can be included with dmods (see Pilgrim's Quest).

The choice about a dmod size should rest in the hands of the developer, who must accept the responsibility for that design decision and all others.

2) MIDI files are a background, but influential element of the game. Sound sets the mood for the story. MIDI offers very little control of the types of sounds and effects that appear in such background.

MP3 files allow for very granular control over the kinds of sounds heard by the player. The directly affects the kind of experience the player has.

Can you even imagine playing Fallout or Starcraft to crappy MIDI files? I sure can't.

At issue here is that most on-board synths found on commerical sound cards are lame. I'd like to deliver the sounds I hear directly to the player with as little comprimise as possible.

Sound is an important aspect of a user's experience of the game. MIDI is a very crude tool to use for this aspect of game design.

3) OGG vs. MP3. I was asking a more general point and would be happy to have either OGG or MP3 support. The main issue is that I want to create WAV files of specific sounds and would like a compression mechanism for easier distribution of those sounds.

You really can't argue that MIDI is "good enough for everyone," but you can say "it's good enough for me." I submit that while MIDI may be sufficient for many dmods, Dink can do better. Why reduce the tools available to dmod makers?

Thanks again,

--Joe
February 3rd 2006, 02:35 PM
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MTG
Peasant Male
 
Mp3s just wouldn't fit to dink imo. The game is far too simple for hi-quality music, and they would probably blur with the original wav-sounds. Support for .mod-files would be much approved though, keeping the small filesize and the retro feeling
February 3rd 2006, 03:09 PM
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jjohn
Peasant Male
 
MP3 files are more than just ripped tracks from Led Zep III.

How about an ambient music track, with strong wind sounds and a distant slide guitar in the background? That's not something MIDI (or mod files) can deliver. If I want to player to hear the specific trance patch that I have on my synth at home, I need to MP3 support.

A MIDI file is merely the sheet music to a song. An MP3 is a performance of the song. This is an important difference and one worth understanding.

Personally, I'm much more sensitve to the sound elments of an RPG than visual, so you'll have to forgive me beating a dead horse on this.

Also note that I'm not suggesting that MIDI support be removed from Dink. I'm looking for more dmod developer tools.

Thanks,

--Joe
February 6th 2006, 07:19 PM
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HoKi
Peasant Male
 
1.) I agree with jjohn that it would be a nice feature to use mp3s or oggs.
2.) But midis are not necessarily bad sounding, this depends heavily on your soundcard. Given a good midi, a good soundcard delivers really good sound. And if you have a cheap soundcard, as I have, use simply tiMIDIty, a open source sequenzer, which can substitute your soundcards sequenzer (on Linux) or create wave-files (if you are one of the unlucky users of a well-known proprietary operation system ). It's available for Windows, too.
3.) If you want to use own mp3s instead of the given midis in a dmod, you can use mp123 to make wave-files out of your preferred mp3s (needs about 10 MB of discspace each minute of sound) and change every appearance of the midi to your wave-file. Use grep (yezz, it's free and open source) or such an ugly thing like winword for this job. Hope this helps as a walkaround.
February 19th 2006, 11:48 AM
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eldron
Peasant
 
ogg means awesome compression, it would just be stupid to not want that, and to have some weird image of people playing the latest 50 cents songs in your precious dmods,

I would imagine that the game itself would get alot smaller and better sounding with good audio compression.
February 19th 2006, 11:59 AM
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DaVince
Peasant Male Netherlands steam
Olde Time Dinkere 
Soooo what about the in-between option, modules? Those work like MIDIs except they use samples... They have reasonably small filesize, too.
February 19th 2006, 01:00 PM
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merlin
Peasant Male
 
MIDIs use samples too.
February 19th 2006, 04:39 PM
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DaVince
Peasant Male Netherlands steam
Olde Time Dinkere 
Yeah, but those are the built-in sound card instruments, not custom wave sounds and stuff.
Modules can also be compressed to MO3 and formats like that, so samples are saves as MP3 and the result is even smaller.
February 19th 2006, 11:35 PM
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merlin
Peasant Male
 
That's why Creative made soundfonts.
February 20th 2006, 07:38 AM
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DaVince
Peasant Male Netherlands steam
Olde Time Dinkere 
Modules are more common as far as I know. Heck, I don't even know how to include a SoundFont in a MIDI!
February 28th 2006, 08:25 PM
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ogg and mp3 are good both
March 1st 2006, 04:49 PM
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ddfgdfghdfgh
Ghost
 
The mp3 format is protected by a patent. ogg-vorbis and ape are not.
March 1st 2006, 05:07 PM
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Phoenix
Peasant Male Norway steam
Back from the ashes 
Ape is totally out of the question. Ape is lossless... although it does make sound files smaller, they still are like around 20 MiB for a file that mp3, e.g., could make into 3-6 MiB, depending on bitrate.
March 5th 2006, 09:20 AM
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ikkejw
Peasant
 
IIRC, it IS possible to use waveform audio inside midi's, much like MOD.
I said IIRC (which I probably don't)

Besides, why hasn't anyone thought about MOD yet?
March 5th 2006, 11:13 AM
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Phoenix
Peasant Male Norway steam
Back from the ashes 
I have... I just haven't suggested it. And it's not too well known, nor especially standardized. But it is an excellent format for this kind of thing.
March 27th 2006, 08:30 PM
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joshriot
Peasant United States
keep it real 
or you could just be like me and use wav files of very terrible bands.
April 8th 2006, 06:08 PM
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ikkejw
Peasant
 
Maybe another idea:
Include an OGG en/decoder in your D-Mod. Encode all wav files to ogg, zip 'em up, and when you install the 'mod you have to run a batch file once, to convert the oggs back to wav.

No problems with dialup users, only with 40MB hdd's