Composing Music for Unreal
Many apologies for the lack of updates to this page. They've been long
overdue, and there is much to report regarding Unreal's music. Expect to
see regular updates from now on. Also stop by the Straylight site for
updates concerning interactive music using the Unreal Engine as well!
Last Updated: 07/09/1999
Programs to use
There are many choices now for composing music using the Unreal Engine.
Unreal, Unreal Tournament, and the Unreal Mission Pack all used MOD files,
which were chosen because of small file size and excellent quality compared
to MIDI based files. New developments, however, have led to new ways of
music reproduction in the engine.
- TRACKERS: Tracker programs, used to write MOD files, can be found at
"Maz' Sound Tools" page (listed below), along with information
about how they are used and samples to use with them. The two trackers
that are most widely used are "Impulse Tracker" and "Fast Tracker 2".
Both have excellent features. Try them and see which one you prefer!
Note that Tracker programs are usually either shareware or freeware.
They are the least expensive way to get into making music for Unreal
- DIRECTMUSIC: DirectMusic Producer, included free with DirectX 6.0, is
another easy way to get into music production. DirectMusic uses a MIDI
based approach to composition, letting you create your own samples
much the same way as you would use tracking programs. DirectMusic,
however, has numerous ways of letting you manipulate your music and
change it interactively with game events. For more information contact
- REDBOOK / STREAMED AUDIO: CD audio and other forms of streamed audio
are becoming much more popular now that they don't use as much
in terms of processing time. However, they take up a LOT of space,
and the more channels you use and the higher quality you use, the
more space is needed. A 44khz 16 bit stereo piece 4 minutes in length
takes about 45 megabytes of space, and if you wish to use more
channels for surround sound (such as Dolby Digital AC-3), the size
doubles or even triples in size from there. However, there are many
forms of compression such as ADPCM that allow you to compress a 16
bit file to 4 or 8 bit with minimal signal degradation. Compression
routines can be used in programs like Sonic Foundry's "Sound Forge"
.. more info can be found at
www.sonic-foundry.com. Unreal's "Galaxy" sound engine can play back
many different audio file formats from Redbook CD audio to streamed WAV
- MP3s: For commercial games, there is a tricky situation going on. The
folks who supposedly created the MP3 compression program (Fraunhofer),
have put a patent on it, which says that they get part of anything sold
that uses this compression. Quite a pain, but there are proceedings
being held all over the world against this patent, so it will either
stand or be dropped, we'll have to wait and see. For non commercial use,
however, such as freeware TC and MOD distribution, MP3s can be used
just fine, and "Galaxy" will play them back in Unreal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I play Unreal music outside of Unreal?
Try going into UnrealED, go to the texture browser, select "Music", and
load the song you want (.UMX file).. then press the Export button. You
will be able to export the file selected as an Impulse Tracker (.IT) file.
The .IT file can be then played in WinAMP or other Windows MOD players
(available at Maz' Sound Tools).
I'm trying to use Impulse Tracker files with Unreal, but they won't
The Galaxy audio engine within Unreal does not support certain extended
features of Impulse Tracker, such as New Note Actions (when you use
'instruments' instead of 'samples' in IT, for instance). However, it DOES
support ping pong looping, 16 bit files, up to 32 channels (64, if you
don't want sound fx playing ), and panning envelopes. No volume
Can I play multiple WAV files for interactive music?
Yes. Galaxy can play up to 64 WAV files at once. Be warned however, that
using more than 2 or three WAV files over 2 megs in size will slow down
Did more people work on Unreal than you and Michiel Van Den Bos?
Yep! Andrew Sega contributed a song to Unreal. His nick is "necros"
and he is currently working at Digital Anvil. Another contributor was
Dan Gardopee, my partner and the co-founder of Straylight Productions.
- "Maz's Sound Tools" is a great one-stop site for getting tracking programs,
samples, info on soundcards, converters, and generally everything else under the sun. http://www.maz-sound.com/