One Must Fall     BATTLECAST


Editors Note
This month, I ramble over the month of september, the limited test, presales, the new Diversions Publishing store, and next month's Battlegrounds issue. Read More...

Publishers Corner
Judy takes a moment to touch on the latest happenings at Diversions Entertainment and Diversions Publishing, including an inside look of where we are with the game. Read More...

Game Breeding Pit - Part 4
The game breeding pit brings you to the doorstep of the first major public look at a game - the beta test. Some of the factors to watch, process, and more. Read More...

Music in Computer Games
Ashley Kampta takes an extended look at some of the tools and techniques used to create modern game music. Find out what and where in this months expose on game music. Read More...


Ooooooh. Raven trophy.

Deal with the claws.

That shockwave is lethal.

Warlords bad day.

Editors Note

- Wayne Frazee


September rolls around. Again. Its crazy, like they want something to follow august and precede October. And what a sweet month it is. Those of you who haven’t really had the time to throw down on some limited test gameplay, might want to check it out again. The latest beta releases are looking even better with much to look forward to. New Singleplayer tournaments, new trophies from winning, improvements to the training arena, cleaned up game help, fighter balancing, warlord tweaks, the list just goes on and on. Its been quiet of late as we finish the game, taking time to make sure the details are in place and that the game we end up offering the public is awesome. In the time that I have spent with previewers this month, the reaction has been fantastic, with feedback that One Must Fall Battlegrounds should have a “chance at gaming greatness”. An excellent thing to hear from experienced gaming journalists.

The game is coming along well, ill leave release details to judy in her Publisher’s corner this month, I am sure she can cover it better than I however I am definitely encouraged and still having as much fun now as I did when I first picked up the game almost two years ago in early December 2001. Preorder the game. Seriously. For those who don’t know about it, the way that retail works nowadays is they look at preorders to determine how many copies of a game to purchase to sell in a store. Our audience is quite literally world-wide, which is awesome for us because we are reaching gamers everywhere with an excellent fighting experience, but it makes it more difficult to nail preorders in any particular place. Go out, buy the game. You have enjoyed the limited test and the beta for a while, if you think you are going to purchase it when it comes out, check out your local gaming store and toss down $5 to make sure you get your copy and in the process help out your favorite game developer.

This past month has also marked the successful launch of the Diversions Publishing online store. The shirts, hats, poster, and more that you have been asking for over a year and a half are now available to order now secure online, delivered to your house anywhere in the world by Airborne Express. With the launch of our webstore, we have recently opened up some new opportunities for our community webmasters. If you have a webstore, you can take advantage of the affiliate program to offer one must fall gear on your site and earn Diversions gear of your own, including some items that will not be offered to the public. One Must Fall Battlegrounds-themed websites can even earn hosting from DE! That’s right, free hosting for Battlegrounds websites with your own URL like ! Drop an email to if you are interested. Please note that you MUST be part of the affiliate program to apply for free hosting. We may begin featuring one fansite every month as a fansite of the month, an added perk for our loyal community.

This past month has brought a host of new developments in the One Must Fall community and the game continues to surge forward. For next month’s BattleCast, we certainly look forward to continuing series on game development, the Beyond the Battlegrounds fan fiction, Publishers Corner, and more! We are also looking for new content. If you think you might have something of interest to the One Must Fall community, or you would like to run a ladder or tournament system, helping our own editor on the matter, please let me know at and include a brief writing sample.

Publishers Corner

- Judy Elam


As many of you know, this past month my beloved husband, Larry Elam, passed away and is now watching down on us from heaven. This has been a difficult time and the One Must Fall family that our community has created has been great with support and condolences for the family. Unfortunately, it has set us back one or two weeks in development time as myself and Rob have been busy with taking care of that and the office has taken time off to pay respects to his passing. We are all ok now and back to work, with rob working very hard on the next build. This new build should be quite exciting, offering some new features, a number of improvements, varied sound, and a bunch more.

Right now, the game is scheduled to be availible late october or early november due to the delays in personal matters and some new content for the game to be put in by the team. In the meantime, Diversions Publishing is working to promote the game with LAN parties and through some promotions with iGames, an organization of internet cafes and public LANs. You should soon be able to go to an iGames affiliated cafe and get information about the game or perhaps even purchase a copy right there in the cafe. Meanwhile, we have heard about some new tournaments being organized between clans and by some of our community. We are doing our best to support the tournament community and these LANs and cafes so we hope that this will be an exciting time to play the game.

Its all hurrying up to finish that gold master and get this great game into gamers' hands.

Game Breeding Pit

Part 4 - Michael Fisk


Volunteer sabotage en masse: The beta-testing process

Somewhere down the road in the development process, you’ll need to make sure that your project runs properly on a wide range of systems. You could just go out and buy a boatload of hardware and do the tinkering yourself or hire a consulting firm to do the testing for you, but either of these options can get really expensive really fast. This is where having made some good publicity for yourself comes in handy: you can let the testers come to you.

Once you have a relatively firm set of content and a (more or less) stable build of your project, it may be time to advertise for beta testers. You’ll want to put the information and a sign-up form on your website and pass along the information to gaming news sites such as Blues’ News or GameSpot to try to create some added buzz. The one main downside to this sort of publicity is that it creates a whole throng of potential testers, many of whom really could care less about testing a game and finding bugs and more about being able to play a game before anyone else. These are the types of people you wish to try to weed out in your application process.

So, what should you place on your application to ask testers?

1) Computer Hardware Specifications. You want a diverse range of hardware involved in the test, be it between AMD Athlon and Intel Pentium 3 or 4 processors; ATI, NVIDIA, SiS, and Intel graphics hardware; different Internet connections (if they are to be testing multiplayer aspects of a game), and a mix of operating systems that support the title being developed (if you are a Windows programmer, get people with 98, ME, 2000, and XP installed on their systems. If you’re developing for Linux, try to get different kernel versions and various distros such as Slackware, Red Hat, Mandrake, and SuSE Linux). Needless to say, however, any computer accepted into the test needs to meet the minimum requirements of the software that you would have set earlier.

2) Tester Demographic Information. For a test you’ll want people from different parts of the world for some stages of the test so that you can have people testing practically around-the-clock. This does create some legal issues (which I’ll touch on later), but it’s generally a good idea. Also, try to get testers that are outside of the stereotypical 18-24 age bracket, and seek to obtain female testers (in gaming, it’s good to have the opinions of somebody who is not normally considered part of your core audience). However, you should not sacrifice testing capability in the name of diversity; if you think they have a good altering viewpoint, you should still expect them to be a top-notch tester as well. However, college students tend to comprise the lion’s share of testers, due to their temporal flexibility and their ready access to high-speed Internet connections.

3) Tester Background Information. It’s probably a good thing to ask testers their experience with computers, and, in particular, their expertise in areas such as sending email (bug report filing), using Internet message boards (for keeping up to date on information), troubleshooting software (understanding origins of bugs), knowledge of programming and software design (to help trace bugs or to at least make sensible and constructive comments on the program being tested), and updating drivers and other software components (to keep up to date, secure, and avoiding confusing developers by having multiple driver sets floating around the test). Also, you may want to ask testers what they think they can offer to a beta test environment. If you do ask this question, read the responses carefully, as they can certainly help you weed out “waste” testers from those who can actually assist you in the development process.

In the beginning of a test, you’ll probably want to start with about fifty or so solid testers, adding more as time progresses (towards the end you may want as many as five hundred testers, possibly more). In a rather timely fashion, you’ll want to notify all applicants (many of them can get real antsy, and this email can help reduce the amount of email you get from them asking when you are making a decision) and tell them what their status is in regards to the test. For those whom you did not accept in the first phase, you may want to tell them that their application will be kept on file for future beta phases so as to prevent some of them from sending in a new application for each phase, taking up more and more of your time (not to mention serving as common courtesy toward these people, some of whom will be miffed at not being selected from the beginning). For those that you have selected, you will want to email them a copy of a non-disclosure agreement (or NDA), a legally binding contract that restricts them from divulging information regarding the beta (or, for that matter, leaking it) in exchange for being able to test. However, you may need to retain the services of a lawyer to help draft the document as well as to advise you on how the contract can be legally honored in foreign countries (some treat NDAs differently than others, so you will need to be aware of this so you don’t have somebody violate the NDA only to find out that you can’t touch them because of where they live). Once the legal formalities are out of the way, you can get your squadron of volunteer software hit men to work.

From the get-go, you’ll want to have a central location for your testers to give information and leave feedback, such as a message board on your web site. Keep in mind that this site should be password-protected and the password should regularly change to keep somebody from stumbling across the site or an intruder hacking into your sensitive information. On this section of your site you’ll want to give your testers an area to discuss the features and aspects of the game, a forum where they can give suggestions on gameplay or features that could be added, and a page where they can post, discuss, and analyze bugs. You will want to monitor these forums carefully, as they can give you a lot of good ideas, some areas of improvement, and possibly find bugs that you didn’t even know existed until you ran across them in the forums. In addition, this gives testers increased morale in knowing that the developers are actively taking in their concerns and listening to them about what they want to see the game become. Before you can get to this point, though, you’ll need to give them the software to test.

Beta distribution is no simple task; when you have lots of testers downloading builds that can get to several hundred megabytes in size (some recent beta tests, such as Final Fantasy XI, have had beta builds of nearly five gigabytes), that’s a lot of transfer space that will ultimately cost you a load of money. For this, make sure you have an inexpensive and reliable site host (the latter comes into play significantly… near 100% uptime is needed when you have testers from different parts of the world trying to get the beta downloaded). Bear in mind to release only stable builds to the testers, as having the beta won’t do them a fat lot of good if it won’t execute. If some people have problems, then try to isolate the problem. But having most everybody getting serious problems from a build isn’t good, no matter how you look at it. As a rule, try to distribute builds about every week or so so that the testers can test the newest features and bug fixes as often as possible and not run into serious transfer problems (on both sides of the bandwidth pipe) that can come with daily builds (not to mention daily builds make it hard for everybody to be on the same page). Along with full downloads of your stable builds, you may want to utilize a patching system such as RTPatch Professional, but beware… this is an extremely costly piece of software that will make you long for the days when you were purchasing cheaper equipment… like your computers. Yes, it gets that expensive. However, it may save you thousands of dollars in bandwidth by not having to dish out as much data every week compared to everybody having to download 600 megs or so of data on a weekly basis (600MB * 5000 testers = three terabytes of transfer a week. Yeowch).

How long do you beta test for? Depends on the size of the developing company and the progress of the development process. Some games have beta test phases that last no longer than three months, some take much longer (One Must Fall: Battlegrounds has now been in testing for nearly two years, and parts of the game could possibly be beta tested into 2004, such as the mod development tools). Once you have a stable build with all content implemented that testers have reported few (if any) bugs, then you work on winding down the process by announcing a release candidate to the testers. Once a release candidate gets into their hands, it can be as short as a matter of weeks before the game goes gold, which is developer slang for the final code to be sent to the disc duplication plant to be burned onto the CDs that will be shipped to stores. Once the game goes gold, you thank the testers for a job well done and retain a small handful of them to beta test patches, expansions, or the like.

“Thank them for a job well done? Is that it?” Well, not necessarily. Usually developers will give their beta testers a small token of their appreciation. Sometimes it’s a piece of code that only beta testers have (an extra level, a flag that identifies them as a beta tester whenever they play online, or a video of behind the scenes footage of game development are common tidbits). Sometimes they’ll get a free T-shirt. Every once in a while the group of testers will receive a discount on purchasing the game. A select few may even be mentioned in the credits of the game (emphasis on “select few”… there’s not that much room in the credits for testers, and usually no more than fifty will be shown within a game’s credits page). However, if you’re a beta tester expecting a free final version of the game… don’t hold your breath. The developers know full well that their die-hard testers are the ones whom are exactly the most likely to purchase the game, so they aren’t likely to give it away to you. They may do this for a handful of testers who have gone beyond the call of duty, but those are few and far between. Why? It’s poor business sense, and when you’re throwing as much money at your project as you are (see my second article), you can see how this becomes an exercise in stupidity. Five thousand testers at a wholesale cost of $40 for the game amounts to a $200,000 hit for just being generous to their testers. Not even Blizzard would do something like that for such a large scale, so you can tell how likely that would be for a lesser name in the industry with less room for error in their budgeting. Translation: It’s not likely you’ll benefit from a developer’s charity like that unless they find you aptly deserving of such a gift.

However, when it’s all said and done, the beta testing process brings together technically savvy gamers and the developers making their favorite pastimes to make sure that the project that they’re working on doesn’t suck. It’s a win-win situation for all... not bad for a setup that relies on a developer more or less telling strangers over the Internet to try to destroy their software.

Beta testing… there’s nothing quite like it.

Music in Computer Games

Tools for the Job - Ashley Kampta


So you’ve got this amazing idea in your head, and you’ve worked through all the necessary pre-planning. Only one problem remains. ‘What do I use to get this into my computer?’

The tools you will use to compose a tune for a computer game will largely depend on the game development environment. The decision to have a game made for a selective audience can indeed cut back a lot of your choices with regard to what you will use to realize your ideas.

For example: let’s say we’re scoring the soundtrack to a survival-horror game in the vein of ‘Resident Evil’, for the PC. Because of the power of computers today, we could probably get away with using a pretty big sound-set (an orchestra, for instance), and have the music in CD-quality. Due to the myriad number of ways music can be represented and stored on a PC, we also have a wide choice of composition tools available to us. (However, some developers may choose to use certain engines to drive their games, and that could put a bit of a dampener on your freedom, as it would mean that you have to use tools to create music that would be compatible with the particular engine being used. As much as I’d hate to admit it, us musicians have to be subservient to the game developers…)

Now, let’s scale it down a bit and imagine we’re writing this horror game for the Game Boy Advance, instead of for the PC. I’m sure you can immediately think of the problems we are going to encounter here. Because of the reduced power in the Game Boy Advance, we can no longer use a huge sound-set, and the music will no longer be CD-quality. Also, because of the way the Game Boy Advance handles the storing and playing of music, we no longer have a large choice as to the tools we will be able to use. Indeed, you may end up even having to sacrifice the larger, more powerful tools for ones that are more suited to the task of composing music for lesser-powered platforms.

Right. Now that we’ve thought about the context, here comes the fun part: I finally get to tell you about some of the types of tools available to the computer music composer. The first (and most important) thing a composer needs is a program to be able to turn the music into a computer file. There are two types of programs in the mainstream that allow this to be done; they are called ‘sequencers’ and ‘trackers’. Each one saves into different file formats, and allows for different capabilities. Therefore, a computer musician should be familiar with examples of both types of program.

However, there are some noticeable aesthetic and method/workflow differences between the two. Sequencers are generally more aesthetically pleasing, and they usually employ the working method of representing musical data in graphical form, such as bars on a grid or notes on a musical staff on the screen. They are more mouse-driven, and as such, they can be a lot friendlier-looking to more inexperienced musicians because it just involves clicking on certain parts of the screen to place notes into your piece.

Trackers (such as ModPlug Tracker or Buzz), on the other hand, are usually more text-based – which is more a by-product of their heritage (think back to the heydays of the Amiga and DOS) than anything else. However, since more graphical user interfaces have come to the fore, trackers too are becoming nicer to look at and easier to use. However, the amount of data accessible, and the way data is represented and inputted into a tracker (most often using the computer keyboard) may present a problem to those who would like a rather easier ride to start off with.

Look and feel aren’t the only considerations though. Price is always a major one, too. To this end, sequencers tend to be somewhat of an investment rather than a one-off purchase. (This is why we have fights as to which sequencer is better.) Because sequencers are quite a bit more expensive than trackers (which are usually free), people usually buy a sequencer and stick to that one only, getting to know it as best they can. (Just for the record, it is not uncommon for the price of a sequencer program to run up into the hundreds of dollars – you would be looking at a price range of anything from $200 - $700.) The two sequencer families you will most likely hear about on your travels are Cubase (made by Steinberg) and Logic (made by Emagic). In fact, these two sequencer brands are so well known that the ‘Cubase vs. Logic’ debate is just as bad as the ‘Mac vs. PC’ one, among us musicians. I won’t go into the politics of the situation in this article, but I’ll just say that I’ll be the first to admit that we’re a strange bunch…

There is one more difference I shall outline here. Sequencers tend to be based around plug-ins and/or making use of onboard sounds on your sound card (sounds that your sound card comes with – which usually aren’t too great in terms of quality, to tell you the truth). Trackers, by contrast, tend to be sample-based – although some, such as Buzz and Psycle, take on a more modular form. (‘Modular’ is just the fancy term for ‘based on plug-ins’).

You may be wondering what I’m talking about here. Well, let’s start with an analogy to explain modules or plug-ins. Imagine you have a power drill with removable drill bits. The sequencer is the body of the drill, and the plug-ins are the removable bits. You can put different bits on the drill to drill different holes for different purposes. It is the same with sequencers. You use different combinations of plug-ins (which can be synthesizers, samplers, drum machines etc.) to make different types of music – and different types of music are used for different purposes.

To understand trackers, you will need to know what a ‘sample’ is. (Don’t worry, it’s easy.) Basically, a sample is another name for a recorded sound. That’s it! Any recorded sound is called a ‘sample’ of that sound, and the sample can be anything from the sound of thunder to the human voice. Samples are stored on a PC in WAV format, and on a Mac, they are stored as AIFF.

Once your samples are in your computer, you can then use them in your music. One of the ways you can use them is by loading them into a ‘sampler’, which is akin to a bank where your samples are stored for use in your music. Samplers also allow you to manipulate samples by changing their tuning, and in the latest samplers, even more complicated manipulative operations can be used.

Trackers work by directly loading samples into them (like a sampler). Once they are loaded, you can then play the samples back at different pitches by using the keys on your computer keyboard (or a music keyboard, if you own one). You will notice through experimentation that the higher you play a sample, the shorter it lasts. Conversely, the lower you play a sample, the longer it lasts. In this way, a tracker is similar in operation to speeding up or slowing down a tape.

But what happens if you record a sample, or obtain one from somewhere, and it isn’t quite as perfect as you’d like it to be? That’s where a sample editor (such as Audacity) comes in. These, at their most basic level, allow you to chop unwanted bits off your samples, or re-arrange them to suit your needs. More advanced editors may also have their own effects studios with which you can further mangle and manipulate your sounds. Honestly, though some may be able to get by without a sample editor (I have no idea how, though), I believe that having one is a necessity if you are serious about composing on a computer. Sure, some trackers and sequencers may have some basic sample-editing capability, but there wouldn’t be these dedicated programs out there if they didn’t do the job better, right?

So far I have only discussed the compositional tools with which a composer would make linear music. However, the job of choosing which tools to use for dynamic music is quite a bit easier – because there is only one tool you can use for the job. This tool is a sequencer made by Microsoft, called ‘DirectMusic Producer’. I say sequencer even though what I really mean is a mix of sequencer and tracker. The look, feel and working method is definitely very sequencer-like, yet the program can use samples like a tracker, as well as using the capabilities of the sounds on your sound card as well. Though I don’t have the time or the space here to take you through the workings of the program, I can just encourage you to download the program, play with it and get a feel for it. If you still have any questions you’d like to raise with me, or if you need any extra assistance, then I’d be happy to help you if you contacted me.

Unfortunately, as is expected in an article of this size, I cannot possibly cover every single base out there to a great degree (although I believe I had a pretty good crack at it), and so it was inevitable that I would leave a few holes lying around. With that said, if you are left wondering about anything I have said in this article, or would like some help in getting to grips with some of the programs I have mentioned here, then please do not hesitate to contact me. My e-mail address is at the very bottom of the page.

Judy Elam
Executive Producer
Wayne Frazee
Editor In Chief
Juan Villegas
Media Editor
Ashley Kampta
Contributing Editor
Michael Fisk
Contributing Editor
Travis Best
Contributing Editor

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