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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Music

Undergraduate Course: Interactive Sound Environments (MUSI10113)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to professional practices in developing interactive audio environments combining creative, research and industry skills, experience and knowledge. Students on this course will explore the issues encountered in creating detailed non-linear and open-ended sonic interactions with tools such as game engines and game audio middleware. The course provides a framework for students to developing creative, engaging, immersive and responsive sound design and composition across artistic, academic and commercial applications. Students will develop and apply skills in conceiving, creating, configuring and programming a range of sonic events and musical forms.
Course description Over this course you will progress from developing assets for use in an interactive sonic environment to developing a working game world scenario using professional tools. Participation in this course is intended to lead to a deep understanding of the issues encountered in designing for non-linear situations, in particular, detailed structuring of audio in computer-game interactions and you will create a range of interactive sonic environments using cross-cutting themes of Narrative, Space, Modularity and Parameter. The course also offers opportunities for you to explore recent changes brought about by listening on headphones, ubiquitous and portable devices and digital distribution.

Coursework project briefs will challenge you to apply diverse imaginative and conceptual ideas introduced in lecture and tutorial sessions, while offering scope for individual focus, exploration, and experimentation. Project briefs will keep you busy as sound designers and composers, recording, editing and structuring sounds so that they can be creatively combined and varied in immersive and engaging ways, and explore your sonic, visual and interactive imagination. You will advance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical project work, exercises and critique. Project work will lead you towards insight into collaborative processes with other practitioners. The course is delivered through a series of lectures, tutorials, and seminars supported by a range of online resources and shares teaching with a level 11 version of the course. The learning outcomes and components of assessment for this level 10 course differ in requirements of complexity and criticality particularly in expectations of detailed programming of interactive behaviours.

You are expected to keep a record of your working methods and will submit and a reflective account of your design approach along with your practical design work. You will apply a professional approach to the development of original assets used in the project and should aim to avoid/limit the use of commercial libraries or resources that you have not designed yourself. You will be encouraged as designers to develop your creative and expressive voice and challenged to apply concepts introduced in lecture and tutorial sessions in order to develop works that may end up in your professional portfolio.

Overall the work you produce will be interactive environments that are rich and multi-layered experiences and teaching and learning activities will support collaboration and offer opportunities for interdisciplinary exploration.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Familiarity with professional sound recording, editing and mixing software (e.g. Reaper, ProTools, Logic)
Experience using professional sound recording hardware
Students from areas outside Sound Design, Acoustics & Music Technology, Music and other sound related areas must discuss their prior audio experience with course organisers before registering.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  12
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 18, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 155 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework is used to assess progress in, and understanding of, the practice of design for interactive sound environments, and allows students to acquire and apply knowledge and skills across the duration of the course through design, development and implementation of assets, environments and interactions. Practical work is accompanied by a written reflective critique informed by design theory and practice.

Each submission will include a Mac or PC Unity standalone build, a reflective project report and a walkthrough screencast video uploaded to a digital submissions platform together with editable project files.

Submission 1: gameEngine pieces
For this submission you will develop a richly detailed and responsive game engine piece/system using the Unity game engine and Wwise audio middleware components that will engage a user for a minimum of 3 minutes , and that can be performed alongside other game engine pieces either simultaneously or in sequence. All sound assets should be generated and designed by you, not from 3rd party libraries or the internet. If you need to break this rule, please explain clearly why and give reference for the origin of the sounds you chose. Practical work is supported by a written reflective text of guide length 500 words outlining the aims of the submission and a demonstration video of guide length 3 mins. Submission is normally in Week 5 of the course (40%)

Submission 2: gameEngine Worlds
For this submission you will create an immersive and layered standalone game engine world that aims to keep the user entertained for between 5 and 10 minutes. The scale and scope of the submission should reflect an attempt to complete some segments of the game world as fully as possible to illustrate interaction/co-relation between game behaviours and sound/music behaviours. The submission will be developed using audio middleware tools such as Wwise and implemented in the Unity game engine or similar technology. Practical work is supported by a written reflective text of guide length 750 words reviewing the submission and a demonstration video of guide length 5-7 mins. Submission is normally after spring break. (60%)

The Learning Outcomes and submissions support characteristics of knowledge of professional practice, skill acquisition and application, creativity, analysis, communication and autonomy.

Each submission is assessed against all the learning outcomes with equal weighting by considering:

- The conceptual and creative approach taken with design work
- The quality and character of the design work especially of sound and music elements
- Technical competency and implementation
- Management of available resources, including time and technology
- Risks taken in response to the brief, especially of open-ended design challenges
- Contextual relevance and clarity of presentation and documentation
Feedback Students receive formative verbal feedback throughout the course in tutorials and critique sessions of submissions and practical exercises. Written feedback on summative assessments is provided within guidelines for submission of assessed coursework, and feedback for Submission 1 will be useful in developing Submission 2.

Feedback may refer to the risks taken in response to the brief, the conceptual approach taken with design work, the quality and character of the design work, the clarity of the documentation, contextual and critical relevance, and any technical issues that may help in future. The feedback will be constructive, may not address every detail of the work submitted, and may also include a common component drawn from observations of work across the course cohort.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand technologies and practices used in computer game audio.
  2. Identify opportunities for developing original sound design ideas.
  3. Implement interactive sound environments using game engines and audio middleware.
  4. Communicate aesthetic and creative issues around interactive sound and music.
Reading List
Bridgett, R. (2021) Leading with sound: proactive Sound Practices in Video Game Development, London:Focal Press.

Bridgett, R (2010) From the Shadows of Film Sound: Cinematic Production & Creative Process in Video Game Audio, Collected Publications 2000-2010

Camp, M, Summers, T and Sweeney, M (Eds) (2016) Ludomusicology: Approaches to Video Game Music, Equinox

Cheng, W (2014) Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Collins, K (2013) Playing With Sound: A Theory of Interacting With Sound and Music in Video Games, Cambridge: MIT Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduates will be inquisitive, adaptable, resourceful, reflective and effective, contributing to the ability to work in a range of professional areas relating to interactive audio.

Graduates will extend and consolidate competency and knowledge in a significant set of skills, techniques and practices appropriate to developing and implementing original and creative responses to interactive audio contexts.

Graduates will have an appreciation of the collaborative and integrative nature of design projects that involve interactive audio, and the ability to work independently and in peer relationships that require organisation and individual initiative and autonomy in managing time and prioritising work tasks.

Graduates will be able to evaluate and critically assess solutions to design issues, and to confidently and effectively present and communicate original work and ideas to a range of audiences.
Keywordssound design,interactive sound,game audio,audio programming,game sound,game music
Course organiserDr Julian Rawlinson
Tel: (0131 6)51 4336
Course secretaryDr Ellen Jeffrey
Tel: (0131 6)50 2430
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