Oct 15, 2012

New Mega Man X Remix

Today's post will be short, it's about a new remix I composed for the grand maverick remix battle in the OCRemix forums.

It's a remix of Chill Penguin and Storm Owl's themes from Mega Man X and Mega Man X4.  Enjoy!

So last time I talked about my favorite software synths, and as you may have noticed I mentioned some of them were completely free, and pretty damn good too.  So I thought I'd make a post about how you can start and set up a producer environment for cheap, and even for no money at all.


First, you'll need a DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation.  It's the program you'll use to write your arrangement and host your instruments and effects.  There are several options out there, all of them pretty expensive.  But there's one that I recommend for being incredibly cheap, light and amazing to use.  It's Reaper:

Reaper's interface is based in Cakewalk's Sonar, which is my favorite DAW that supports VSTs (I will get into VSTs a bit later).  Reaper comes with a set of intruments and effects but no sound libraries which is no problem since I will give you links to tons of free sound libraries anyways.  Most importantly to this guide, Reaper costs only 60 US dollars.  That is almost nothing if you compare it to other professional DAWs like Sonar and Reason which cost 500 dollars or more.  With Reaper you will get everything you need and it's even better than some of the popular DAWs out there.

You can even download Reaper from the official site and try it for as long as you like! yeah that's right you can try the full version for a year if you want and not pay anything at all, but seriously I recommend just paying the modest price they are asking because these guys are incredibly cool and they are giving you an amazing piece of software for a discounted price and no strings attached at all.  Not many people do that.


Now that you got your host set up and ready you need some VSTs. Well, if you got Reason you can skip this section since Reason doesn't support VSTs, but then again, why are you reading a budget guide anyways?.

First you need some instruments and I mentioned a few of my favorites in my last post: they are synth1, Tal-u-no 62, Tal-Noisemaker, GTG JP-1, among others.  These I mentioned are pretty professional sounding and a good start, but there are tons of free VST instruments out there that you can get and you can find them on this website: kvraudio.  KVRaudio hosts thousands of free instruments for you to try, and you can also check commercial instruments there as well.

After you got some VST instruments you need effects.  Basic effects you should get include Reeverb, Delay, Compression and distortion.  These effects are found in most modern music, no matter the genre.  I have some suggestions:

For reverb, you can get Ambience or Tal-Reeverb.  Both are amazing, professional sounding reverb effects.  You can use tal-reverb for most cases, but if you want more complex or detailed reverb you can use Ambience.

For delay effects, Tal-Dub(1,2 or 3) and Karma Dee-lay are both pretty good.

For distortion, there are several options.  Tal-tube, Tal-bitcrusherFreeAmp, Cyanide and The Glitch all offer different flavors of distortion that should be adequate for most genres.

For compression and/or Limiting I suggest jsCompShaper, ThrillseekerLA, Blockfish or Classic Master Limiter.  Again, all of them offer different flavors of compression.  Compression is a complex topic and a bit daunting at first, so if you can start with the Classic Master Limiter as it offers a very simple form of compression that works in some cases, and work your way to more complex compressors like the jsCompShaper.

If these aren't enough for you, you can always search the KVRAudio database for hundreds of other effects.


But say, you want real instruments instead of synthesizers, no problem, you can find hundreds of soundfonts (collections of samples of real instruments) on the web, and also for free.  You can try Hammersounds, Darkesword's soundfont database, and even findsounds.com.  This thread at OCRemix.org has some links too.


What's a good EDM song without a punchy beat?  Beatproduction.net has tons of sample packs you can use for your song, and Dorumalaia also has tons of drums samples along with unique ethnic sample packs.  But when it comes to drum samples, a good google search is also your best friend!  free drum sample packs are all over the web.

With all of this together you're ready to start your music production hobbie.  I've been using these tools for years and they've served me well.  They're proof you can make decent music for free nowadays.  Have fun!

As some of you might have noticed, I make music as a hobbie.  Of course, it's all via software, although I do have some hardware tools.  But this post is about my top 5 favorite synths (at this time!).  If you've heard one of my songs, the instruments were probably created with one of these.

Although I use presets from time to time when i feel lazy, I'd say 95% of the time I create my sounds from scratch, which is a big part of the enjoyment I get from making music.  So when I pick my favorite synths, how much fun I have working with them is a huge point I take in consideration.

5-Lennar Sylenth 1

Analog Fidelity!
Sylenth 1 is an awesome soft synth because of how well it emulates a true analog synth.  The sound is incredibly rich, and full of those analog imperfections that make your instruments sound organic and fat.  I don't think there's any other synth that ever comes close to the fidelity of the sound coming out of this thing.

It's also got some awesome presets for those who want to work quickly, and its also pretty cool to work with too!


Old School Goodness!
Such a simple name, such a simple interface, and yet SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!.  This humble softsynth, made by a fellow named Ichiro Toda, emulates the sound of old analog synths like the Nord lead and the Juno so well, it's just a must have if you want to make old school electronica and make it sound true.

I've literally made entire songs using ONLY this (like some of my Italo-Disco Remixes).  It's a really great synth, and you can also use it for other purposes outside of just old school sounds, I can get some really warm pads out of this one.

Another great thing about this one: it's completely Free!

For another great old school-style soft synth check out the Tal-U-No-62, which I also use pretty often.



The SubTractor is one of the synths that are native to Reason.  Actually the first synth in reason, it's incredibly simple, yet you can get SO MUCH out of it.  Until recent versions of Reason this was my main go-to synth.

What I love about SubTractor is its simplicity, 2 oscillators, 2 filters, a couple of LFOs and envelopes.  But once you start fiddling with it you realize how rich the sound can be.  One SubTractor alone maybe won't blow your socks off, but due to how Reason can route everything, you can start layering them, and then you start hearing the amazing stuff.  It has tons of ase waves you can use on your oscillator, which can give you a wide range of sound.

SubTractor might not be as versatile as other synths but it's one synth I know by heart.  I know what sound I can get out of it and exactly what to do to get it.  It's a great synth if you're learning how to create your own sounds too.


Truly Massive.
There's no other synth more appropiately named.  This synth is just huge, it's so versatile, it's rich, it's probably the best soft synth out there.

It's modular too, so you can link any parameter to anything.  It's a beast and certainly not beginners friendly.  But I fell in love with it since the first time I tried it.  There's not much to else say about it, only that it can do everything you ever want and do it better than a bunch of other synths combined.  If I had to use only 1 synth outside of Reason, it would be this one, because with a bit of work I could probably get the sound I wanted in my other synths, and with a bit of extra work, make it even better.


The god of Thunder....ing sounds?
Thor is Reason's powerhouse synth, and I love it.  Like Massive, it's completely modular, you can pick different sound generators: from simple analog oscillators to wavetable oscillators, you can pick different filters in the routing chain, comb filters, low pass, Formant, anything you may need.  and yet... its not as big or rich as massive.  So why is it my favorite synth?

Well for starters, in my opinion it's easier to use than Massive.  So although I can get bigger sounds from massive I like the workflow of thor a bit better.  Then there's the fact that its a Reason machine, so I can modulate any parameter from outside using cv inputs.  And finally, you can even use it to resample and reshape other sounds by using its audio inputs.

Most people think that Reason synths are a bit limiting because they're inside of reason and you can't use VSTis like Massive in there, but I think it's quite the contrary.  Because Reason emphasizes routing so much and so well, it empowers synths like Thor in ways that no other VSTi can.  So that's a big part of what makes Thor so great in my eyes (and ears!).

Other Great Software Synths I use often:

-Tal-U-No: An awesome free synth.  Get it ASAP!
-Tal Noisemaker: Another great sounding synth from TAL.  Also Free!
-SQ8L: Great free old school synth
-Malstrom: Comes with reason, you can get tons of interesting sounds from it.
-GTG JP-1: Similar to Synth1, sounds a bit more Raw, which is good sometimes!  Also free.

I've been meaning to post something here for quite a while so here's some new music, all megaman related.

First a blizzard man remix:

And a Chill Penguin/Armored Armadillo Remix:

Both were made for different Mega Man competitions.

Now I've been reading up a lot on production lately and polishing my skills to start making new music again, and I'll probably be posting it here.  Diablo 3 and other games kind of separated me from this hobbie but I'm getting back into it again.

I'll be posting a few other entries on some topics I've been wanting to write about for a while too.  See ya then!

I rarely use this blog for pimping out my music (well, rarely use it at all) but I think I'm gonna start doing so, since I have some neat stuff coming up and I've been more active in the remixing community.

First, I want to share one of the mixes I'll be contributing to the Street Fighter 25th anniversary Music Tribute.  It's a Dubstep-like remix of the Cammy and Ken themes in Super Street fighter 2.

Second, I'll share this Chiptune-style Remix of the Battlefield 3 theme I made some time ago.  People seemed to enjoy it:

I will be doing a couple of mixes more for the Street fighter tribute, and I will be sharing them soon.  In the meantime, enjoy these.

A few months ago, I decided to go and beat every classic mega man in order. I gotta, say it's amazing how Capcom nailed the Mega Man formula so early. Really, it only needed minor adjustments (which were made in Mega Man 2) in order to make it the perfect platforming experience.

Anyways, I wanted to reiterate my view on Mega Man's difficulty. People were crying about Mega Man 9 when it came out and how hard it was. Well I'll tell you this: after playing through every single Mega Man there is, I find Mega Man 9 to actually be one of the easiest in the series, no joke.

And this actually was my first thought when playing the game for the first time, and I couldn't understand why people were crying so much about it. They whined so much that capcom even introduced an "easy as pie" mode for Mega Man 10.

Mega Man 9 is about as easy as Mega Man 2 (which is one of the easier ones, although my personal favorite). Go play some Mega Man 3, 4, or 6 and tell me with a straight face that Mega Man 9 is ZOMFGHARD. And i won't even mention Mega Man 8, which took the difficulty to ridiculously high levels.

Gamers nowadays seem to have been spoiled by extremely complacent modern games. Nowadays most games don't even really have a game over screen, you can just always start form the last save point or some crap, which is like 10 feet from where you died. I mean, yes some old school games were ridiculously hard with one hit deaths and no continues, etc. But I think games like Mega Man have the right difficulty that makes you play again even if you're losing, because you know you aren't losing because of cheap deaths or bad controls. You're losing because you suck and need to play to get better at this game.

Anyways, it was a blast.

So, Final Fantasy 8 is better than 13. There, I said it.

That's this post in a nutshell, since I started my re-play of FF8 just to compare the two while they were fresh in my mind.

Anyways, I will sum up disc 3 and 4 in one post since not much happens in the last disc other than utter insanity and ridiculousness.

We start disc 3 with yet another Laguna flashback, nothing of interest happens in it besides a few lame attempts at comedy. We cut to Squall who suddenly realizes he cares for Rinoa. yes, after being annoyed by this bitch he realizes he cares for her. This scene is done so badly, the way Squall's personality just flips the switch from asshole to caring carebear, you will have a hard time not laughing your ass off. Anyways we're supposed to look for Ellone now. A lot of stuff happens before you can find her, most of it random and uninteresting. Then you find out that Laguna is the leader of the most advanced civilization on this world. Yes, this poor man's Forrest Gump is the leader of guys that have a huge space station and technology beyond belief.

So after all that nonsense sinks in you are tasked to getting Rinoa to the space station. then the monolith from 2001: a space odyssey attacks everyone for some reason. Then Rinoa wakes up from the coma and she's now possessed by an evil sorceress FROM THE FUTURE!. Then you find out the moon is the home of like a billion monsters and then these monsters cramp up in a spot in the moon and attack the earth through space then you find a dead evil sorceress from the past that is being kept in the station and the evil sorceress from the future who also possessed the sorceress from the present wants to possess her now and then the space station gets attacked and then BANG BOOM KABLOOIE everything goes to shit and then squall and rinoa are left drifting away in outer space!

Did you get all that? and that's only part of the nonsense, stupidity and incredibly rushed and poorly thought-out events that happen from now on. You might be asking how can they top this? well you can bet your ass they can top it just keep on reading.

So now Rinoa and Squall, drifting in outer space, with a limited supply of oxygen. They are about to die, and you sit there, wishing the oxygen runs out and they die a painful slow death. But we're out of luck since what follows is about AN HOUR of Rinoa and squall moving at the speed of half a pixel per minute across the screen in the empty space. Now seriously I know it doesn't lasts and hour, BUT IT SURE AS HELL FEELS LIKE IT. It probably lasts around 10 minutes which is ridiculous for a scene where basically nothing happens. This scene is beyond ridiculous.

Now to my not-so surprise, people who like this game actually think this scene has some deep significance about the relationship between Rinoa and Squall. And well all I have to say to those people is that you should go watch movies with ACTUAL stories about relationships to find out how a real relationship between two people work, so you won't get all teary-eyed about this shitty and utterly ridiculous scene. And no, watching Twilight doesn't count.

Anyways there's a ship conveniently drifting nearby (I don't really think I need to point out how absurdly convenient this is, since everything that happens from now on is beyond common sense) so our "heroes" are safe for now. While in the ship Rinoa and Squall get it on and stuff. Squall sure changed his mind didn't he? he's now all mushy mushy and in love with this whore. Well that doesn't last for long because when they land on earth some guards take her away because they fear the sorceress from the future might possess her again. So much for Squall showing he cares uh.

So speaking about the sorceress from the future, I think it's about time to point out what's going on about these sorceress. See, Sorceress Edea wasn't really bad at all. She was possessed by a sorceress from the future named Ultimecia. why did she do that? well apparently she's slowly creeping her way back through time using the sorceress as hosts till she can get to Sorceress Adel, from the past, which was in suspended animation in space.

All of that sounds really interesting at first, until you realize what Ultimecia's plan actually is. Ultimecia lives in a world far in the future where apparently there's not much left because she rules all. But she isn't happy with that, oh no. See, what this idiot really wants is to trigger "time compression" She compresses time and the universe goes to shit so our heroes and everyone else dies. But here's the thing, in the future, which is Ultimecia's present, everyone is ALREADY DEAD. So what she is doing is a convoluted plan to kill the people that are already dead for her, so she can become the only living being left or some retarded shit. I mean, really?

In her time, there's not much left so she can just use this awesome power she has to obliterate what's left and be the last living being and stuff. Even then, WHY WOULD YOU FUCKING DO THAT? I mean, Kefka wanted to destroy everything, but Kefka was obviously coocoo for cocoa puffs. kefka was completely insane due to the magitek that completely messed up his mind and made him into a nihilistic maniac. That I can understand. But what are the motivations for Ultimecia for doing what she's doing? and again, WHY KILL PEOPLE THAT ARE ALREADY DEAD? She's not insane shes just "evil", so... why?. WHY? It Boggles the mind. I could go on ranting on this for hours on end. The levels of stupidity in this plot just bring my piss to a boil and I think I've nerd raged enough so I'll just say this:

Stupidest villian plot ever.

ANYWAYS, back to our "plot" Squall, in another show of bipolar disorder realizes he loves Rinoa again and goes out to free her. Now our heroes go to see Laguna to make a plan on how to take on Ultimecia. Laguna proposes that we let her compress time and destroy the universe, and if you were expecting a genious, well thought out plan from this guy then you haven't being paying attention.

For the final nail in the coffin of this game's story, we get to hear Laguna's reason for wanting to let Ultimecia fuck everything up. Since they can't travel to the future, the only way to beat her is to let her compress time so they can be in the same timeline. But how are they going to survive time compression if that's exactly why Ultimecia wants to do it, to destroy them?

Well, they will be able to survive it WITH THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP.

And I mean literally.

No, really, literally. I'm not kidding or interpreting some metaphoric idea, no. Laguna states that the power of friendship will make them survive a catastrophic event that will destroy all time, physics, the universe as we know it. Literally, the power of friendship. All they have to do is think about each other and how much they care about their friendship. And so they do.

And if you're wondering, yes, the power of friendship worked.

I guess My Little Pony had it right, Friendship is Magic.

So that wraps up this mess. Ultimecia is defeated by LITERALLY the power of friendship and all is well in the world.

Final Thoughts

When you think about the reasons Square did the changes they did for FF8, it's obvious they were appealing to a more mature audience, with the realistic graphics instead of the cute models, and with a clear emphasis on a love relationship between the heroes. With that said, it's amazing how they botched this one up and failed so miserably in producing a good story, and it's also unbelievable how childish it turned out to be. The power of friendship saved the universe, literally. And i can't stress that enough because I just can't wrap my head around it.

In Final Fantasy 6 for the final battle with Kefka, our heroes realize that what brought them so far was that they stuck together and cared for each other and that friendship inspired them and gave them strength to fight. That sounds familiar to what we have here, but in this case, their friendship just INSPIRES them, it's not a literal power they can use against Kefka, that would be absurd. It's just some extra motivation. Also, the friendship that develops between the main cast is pretty strong and believable unlike in this game. I could go on comparing this to better RPGs, but I think my point is clear enough.

Back to my first statement, FF8 while still a pretty bad RPG, is still leagues ahead of FF13. I've actually come to appreciate FF8 more now, and while I still hate the most stupid aspects of it, i now appreciate that it still had some good thing going for it, things that we come to expect in a Final Fantasy game. bad game, but good music, good graphics for the time, and a system that while still the most exploitable system I've seen in any RPG, still lets you take choices and offers you options. And I'm talking about junction, not the drawing system, which is still completely fucking retarded.

All in all, I wish Square would go back to this style of games instead of insisting on MORE final fantasy 13. One can only dream...