Forging a successful career is no game, but Griffith University graduate Eugene Nesci has shown it can arise from playing one.
The game in question is Devil Daggers, a first-person shooter video game released to critical and popular acclaim in February 2016. Players strive to survive against demonic enemies in an arena shrouded in darkness. Survival times are recorded on a global leaderboard.
Eugene provided the sound and music for Devil Daggers and continues to work as an independent audio producer.
The appeal of the game owes much to the ingenuity and innovation of the stark, minimalist design. Reviewers also raved about the elevated contribution of the sound and music to the overall experience.
For Bachelor of Popular Music graduate Eugene, response to the game was a validation of his skills after a slow start in the industry.
“My goal was always to develop games. I started out with animation, but an interest in music led me to discover a middle-ground between those areas,” says Eugene, who graduated in 2009.
“I was producing games in parallel to my audio studies, but with no commercial success. When I graduated, the gaming world was still recovering from the Global Financial Crisis. It was difficult to break into the industry the way I imagined it. So, instead of going to job interviews I decided to collaborate with other independent developers.”
Fortunately, one of those collaborations became Melbourne-based, independent game development company, Sorath, comprising the team that put together Devil Daggers during 2015. Eugene says his Griffith degree was a factor in his success.
“In retrospect, I see how the degree fostered independence in its students. The program structure was multidisciplinary, but at the core of each subject was a different approach to how to be a more resourceful person,” he says.
“My lecturers had themselves worked in the music industry during the shift away from major label control, and this had shaped them into interesting characters with first-hand experiences to impart. These turned out to be relevant to similar changes taking place in the game industry.
“At the time, I was only beginning to grasp how having a personal aim to work towards made it easier to learn, because I had something to apply the knowledge to. A decade later I’m amazed that piece of information from my time at Griffith continues to surface, giving me a new perspective on problem-solving in my work.”
That work, though informed by conventional facets of sound design and music composition, also carries an extra dimension due to the interactive nature of video games.
“There are cues that need to be self-evident and audio is a way to clearly express ideas that would otherwise be abstract,” says Eugene.
“During development, I am playing the game and checking sounds in context as I make them. It’s easy to hear if something doesn’t serve the overall experience.”
It’s also very individual. Everything Eugene creates is done from scratch, instead of relying on content available in pre-existing or pre-made libraries. This removes copyright issues and ensures a unique imprint that is a bonus for the gamer’s experience.
Meanwhile, during Eugene’s time at Griffith he also produced his debut album, which in 2011 was released on a Japanese record label. Click here