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Music

The following sub-pages are hereby proposed:

[File Formats Overview and History]? .. or [Music file format]?

[Creating Music]?

[Importing/Using Music in Unreal Engine Games]? ... or [Importing Music]?


Music can be one of the most important factors in your map. Setting the right music can create an awesome atmosphere and improve gameplay. This section covers almost everything that's related to adding music to your map. The official information regarding Unreal/UT music files is available at http://unreal.epicgames.com/music.htm.

File Formats

The Unreal engine has used a number of different file formats over its many incarnations. These fall into two groups:

track formats
a bit like a MIDI file bundled with samples to play: these are a combination of short sound clips and instructions on when to play them
audio formats
an exact audio recording of the entire piece of music

Tracks

The music tracks in Unreal engine games are all in [UMX file]? formats. Basically, a umx file doesn't contain anything special except for the music track itself which was imported into this umx (this is not entirely true). So which music formats can be used to create umx files?

Early Unreal Engine's Music Formats

Games that use the earlier Unreal Engine builds (like Unreal, UT and Deus Ex) support Direct music (MID, MIDI and RMI) and (Music) Modules - usually shortened to "MOD", but not to be mistaken with a game mod! Modules can have different formats, like s3m, xm, it, mod. I'll be explaining how a mod is structured and give some links on where to start when wanting to create modules later.

Also, CD audio can be used as music in maps. However, CDA files don't need to be imported into a umx. You can just assign a track number to your map. I'll explain how to this later.

Late Unreal Engine's Music Formats

Games that use later Unreal Engine builds (like U2 and UT2003) use a different music format to import into a umx.

Tarquin: hang on?!?!?! I thought UT2003 just used plain OGG files? Can these still be stuck into UMX? and if so, doe they need tracking instrutions to play the clips?

The kind of music format we're talking about, is streaming audio (like in WAV, MP3 and AIFF). Real audio recordings. Word used to be that U2 would use MP3s for its music. But to prohibit the notorious copyright infringements that are well-known with the use of MP3s, the game developers came up with a creative and effective way to solve this: they are planning to use/have used the Ogg Vorbis format (saved as *.ogg files), which is an open source encoding format and does NOT bring any licensing issues with it. Another pro about this format is its higher compression rate, which is even higher than the trusted MP3 format!

More info about ogg vorbis at:

This is not entirely true. Since Epic commissioned all original music, they would have no trouble with any MP3 "notorious copyright infringements". The reason they went with OGG is that it is similar in compression and quality to MP3 without the royalties that Epic would have to pay for commercial MP3 encoding/distribution.

However, games like U2 are also said to be supporting the good ol' Direct Music & Music Modules. This will also decrease the download size of a custom music track. This hasn't been fully confirmed though. It's more likely that this won't be the case, according to a live online [interview] with Digital Extremes' developers.

DJPaul: Esc does have a full working Ogg Vorbis implementation in the Unreal Tournament engine, just FYIs.

Music Modules

Before I start about explaining how MODs work, first let me briefly explain how the other two music formats work:

Streaming Audio
Like WAV and MP3 files. This kind of audio format contains the audio recording of a sound. It (usually) consists of pure audio, nothing else. You can open such a file in a sound editor and you'll see the wave form of it.
Direct Music
A little more complex, but still very understandable. Direct music files (MID, RMI etc.) do not contain any audio recording. They only contain:
  • the instruments which are supposed to play
  • the point of time when each instrument is to start playing
  • the length of time that this instrument is to play
  • the pitch (note) of the instrument sound which is to play

So where does a MID file get the instrument sounds from? Simple: from your sound card. There are in your sound card a fixed number of instruments that a direct music file can access to pith and loop so to create the desired note. Putting a couple of these sounds in one row and playing them will make you hear music.

OK, now moving on to the MODs.

Music Modules
They're a mix of streaming audio and direct music. MODs work a lot like MIDIs. They tell when, how long & at what pitch each instrument should play. However, unlike direct music files, MODs do not get their instrument sounds from your sound card. Instead, they have an independent instrument library, which was imported into the MODs when they were created. So for example, someone imports a custom piano sound into a MOD. The program to create MODs now has added the sound to the sound library of this particular MOD. Now, by changing the pitch of the sound, the program can create from this one piano sound a whole range of piano sounds, all at a different note! By manually adding loop start & end points, you can make the piano sound loop so you can play this sound as long as you'd like. And that's basically how a MOD is made. See also: [What is a Mod?]

Creating Modules

With this knowledge, you now may want to know how to create MODs. OK, for that you need some programs to create music modules. These are called tracking programs. I recommend using the ModPlug Tracker, because it's a Windows based program and very easy to understand. You can download the ModPlug Tracker (MPT) at [ModPlug.com]. Explaining the whole process of creating a module would be pointless here, since it is all explained on [this] page. I'll just give a brief summary of how a MOD is created:

  1. Find the audio samples (instrument sounds) that you're going to use in the MOD and import them into MPT. (samples tab)
  2. Create loops and instruments from the samples, if needed. (samples tab + instruments tab)
  3. Switch to the patterns tab and hit the keys on your keyboard - almost every key produces a different tone of the selected instrument.
  4. Insert the notes (by hitting keys) for your song in the appropriate order from top to bottom.
  5. Each instrument should be assigned to a different channel (column). Click play and listen how it sounds. You may need to adjust the speed in the Global tab.
  6. Tweak with the track until you have the desired melody.

I suggest you start by creating the basic of every song, which is adding the rhythm by importing some drum samples and creating the rhythm. You can then copy this block of rhythm and paste it again and again so you get a drum loop. You now have the fundation of the song and you can expand it by adding other instruments.


Creating MODs is not easy for everyone. Like learning UEd, it requires a lot of time to become a good tracker. If you really want to create your own music, I suggest you don't give up easily.

Information and Help Resources

There's much more involved in creating and understanding MODs. Following is a list of sources where you can acquire knowledge on music modules.

  • [= This] ModPlug page has a list of music module resources. Virtually everything you need to know about MODs is linked there.
  • Don't forget that MPT has a help file where the functions of MPT are explained in.
  • You can ask questions about MODs at the [= ModPlug Community Forums].
  • There's always [= Google.com] that can provide you with info on MODs.

Don't forget that there are other tracking programs. You should get the one you feel the most comfortable with. I've added links on MPT, just because I use it. Doesn't mean there aren't any other tracking programs with their own help resources...
For exmaple, I know there's [FastTracker], [Impulse Tracker] & ProTracker

Any other suggestions anyone?

Here are a couple of sites with sound samples and wave editors, should you need them to create music modules:

Wave Editors:

  • [Goldwave.com] - Goldwave is usually the editor for people who want to do some serious wave editing. Licence: shareware.
  • [Waschbusch.com] - Here you can find a wave editor called Encounter 2000. It has many features and a good interface. Licence: freeware.
  • [Audacity.sourceforge.net] - Audacity is an open source wave editor with basic features as well as more advanced. The program is continuously under progress. Licence: open source.

Musical instrument samples:

Finding and Downloading Modules

If you don't want to create MODs yourself, there's always the option of downloading MODs, made by other users and using it in your map.


Following is a list of sites where you can download music modules (for free). I've got only two sites that have a database of MODs. They're BIG ones though. I'm hoping to add more.

Attention: Before you download loads of MODs for your maps, please read the copyright & credits terms below. Also, note that there's a maximum sound quality in modules that the Unreal Engine supports. I'll be adding this after the copyright notice.

Copyright Issues and Credits

When you download modules from the Internet, be sure to read the readme file (if there is one) which is included! Sometimes, the person who has created the module doesn't want his module to be used in any project or map. Or sometimes, this person wants you to explicitly mention his (nick-)name in your readme file when you distribute the map/project. Adding someone's music to your map without any permission or mentioning his name is simply considered as wrong. You should always make clear that it was not you who created the music for the map and report who did create the music. Even if this is not claimed in the readme file included with the module.

Always mention the (nick-)name of the person who created the module in your readme file!

So give credits to that person. Not that you'll get sued the minute you don't, but by doing this, you indicate who made it, so people will know who was responsible for the music and maybe try out some other modules of that person. Also, you'll be showing this person respect by including his/her name in your readme file and this in turn will make you more respected...

Adding Music to Maps

For now, you can add direct music and music modules to your maps (with the exception of Wheel of Times, which supports MP3s).


However, there are a few things you need to be aware of before adding music.

Sound Quality and Music Format Support

Music Modules: The Unreal Engine doesn't support MODs that use sound/instrument samples with qualities higher than the following:

  • 22050 Hz - This is the maximal sound frequency that can be used to import into a MOD and after that into UEd.
  • 16-bit - 16-bit audio is generally "CD Quality." The 22kHz limitation on the sample rate sort of negates some of the 16-bit advantages, but the next step down (8-bit) give too poor sound quality for reaonable use.
  • Mono - stereo (and surround) sounds can't be used. Sounds of instruments have to be mono when used in the MOD. If you want a stereo sound, double the track and pan one left, and one right.

So you gotta be careful when choosing the MOD to go with your map.

Direct Music
You can't import MIDIs directly into UnrealEd. There should be a way to convert them to a MOD first. I've imported a MIDI into a module, but found that there are no samples displayed. Trying to get a solution asap...
CD Audio
CD tracks are supported by the Unreal Engine. They can be set to play in a map, but don't forget that not everyone who's downloading your map doesn't have the audio CD that you used. Also some people may not have completely installed the game, meaning they need to insert the game's CD when starting a map and afterwards have to insert the audio CD – unless you have two CD players, in which case I don't know what's possible and what's not.

When you haven't installed UT (or other Unreal Engine games) completely, does the program only require to load standard maps or also textures, sounds, music etc.?

Another thing about audio CDs is that when you use them in combination with dynamic music and when the music will change in the game to another track, it will take a second for the CD player to find the right track, so you won't notice a seamless music transition.

A good side about using audio CDs is of course the high quality audio.

Importing Music

OK, after a long explanation of how to create music, which formats are supported and where to download custom music, it is time to explain how to import this music to be used for your map.

First of all, you have to know which music format you've used so you can use the proper process to import it into your map.

Before I start with the more complex stuff, I can tell you that CD audio files don't need to be imported into any Unreal package - they're read directly from the CD and played back while the game is playing.

To import music modules, you need to make sure the MOD meets to the audio quality demands that I posted above. After this, it's easy: you need to open up the music browser in UEd, go to File > Import... and select the MOD and hit open. After this, a popup appears, asking you for the package you want to import the MOD to. It's usually best to keep everything as it is and click OK to import the MOD. After this, don't forget to Save the imported music package. In the music browser, go to File > Save as... and choose OK. This will create a umx package containing your custom MOD in the music folder. All music files are to be stored in the Music folder. See Engine Directory Structure for more info.

The same rules are to be used when importing direct music files, like MID files.

If you want to import real audio files, like WAV, MP3 or AIFF, there's a problem: Unreal Engine games don't support this kind of format (except for Wheel of Time and the newer Unreal Engine games). I'll explain a little later how you can import music for games that use the newer Unreal Engine, like Unreal 2 & UT2003. First how to import real audio files for older Unreal games, like Unreal, UT & Deus Ex.

I've seen a lot of people asking for a way to import real audio files into a umx. And I've also noticed that a lot of them have imported the audio file as wav into MPT (ModPlug Tracker), but upon playback in the game, the track looped back after the first 30 seconds or so which was too soon, seeing their audio files were a lot longer. So after a bit experimentation, I (The Alien) have found a way to solve this problem, though I doubt that I'm the first one to find this out. Anyway, I've written a tute on it, which you can find [here]. The trick to making the music play all the way to the end and then loop back to the beginning is also included.

As I said before, the newer generation of the Unreal Engine supports real audio, but only when used in the Ogg Vorbis format. The pros about this format are that companies don't need to pay money to aquire an MP3 license and the high compression rate (almost as high or higher than that of MP3). It has been confirmed that the Unreal Engine galaxy sound system isn't used anymore. Furthermore, word is that the new sound system doesn't support music modules at all, but this isn't 100% certain. So it could even be possible that we won't even see the umx packages in UT2003 and U2...


Anyway, there are not many ogg converters available just yet. The only one I know of is the plugin for winamp, which you can get [here]. You can use this to convert other real audio to ogg files and use them in your maps. As time passes, the ogg vorbis format will become more and more popular, so expect to see ogg converters for other audio players to become available.

This section will be updated as more information is available.

Assigning Music to Maps

This is done in the Level Properties.

After you've imported your music track and saved it, you can assign it to your map. You need to enter the music section of the level properties through UnrealEd Main Menu → View → Level Properties → Audio.

Now, if you want to use a CD Audio track for your map, you need to select the track number in the CDTrack section.

If you want to assign a music file from your hard drive to the map, you need to make sure the track is opened and selected in the Music browser?. You can do this by clicking Open and choosing the music track in the music browser. Once opened, click the name to select it you can click the play button (triangle) to listen to the track. Next you choose the Use button in the Song section in the level properties. The package name and music track will appear in the text box.

I can't get songs to play in the music browser :( – —Tarquin

You won't hear anything unless you turn on the music in Unreal Tournament. —Wormbo

You're practically all done! You just have to save the map and playtest it to see if everything works.


to be filled in:

  • Assigning music to your map

OGG Vorbis

Normally You would import the music into Your map but in this case, You convert it into OGG, place into correct directory and give the file name (without suffix) in the LevelProperties→Audio→Song. There are a few caveartes in this though:

- the OGG player does not obey the PATHS= settings in the UT2003.ini file so if You have a separate directory for map developement, You won't hear Your music - for some reason it has to be placed in the same folder as the rest of the OGG files.

- trying to play the OGG in the editor will crash-boom-bang

Now, to create the OGG files You need an OGG capable converter. One that is freeware and works can be found [here].

It is not recommended to rip music off of music CD's - instead You can create/use MIDI and convert it to WAV using [ModPlug tracker]. The WAV is then again easy to convert into OGG.

Note: this is completely unnecessary. If you want to use a piece of music on a CD, run it through WinAmp and output it to OGG format. Done deal. MIDI is extremely unreliable, as the sounds you hear on one computer can vary widely from the sounds you hear on another, and converting to WAV is an unnecessary step.

  • some more stuff... (Ogg Vorbis links etc.)

To be edited:

  • How to import MIDIs – GAH! I'm wetting my pants in anticipation! Using Midis would be FANTASTIC for this thing I'm working on. – Cap

Heh, as far as I know, UEd supports MODs, so importing a MIDI into a MOD should work. But when I do this, the music won't play, because the samples aren't imported. This used to work with previous MPT versions... There's a discussion about this at the Thread logo BuF Music board, so I'm just gonna ask those people about it – The Alien

Hmm, maybe this page should be divided to stop it from getting too long. I'll see if it needs dividing in the future... – The Alien

yup, splitting it might be necesssary soon, especially if you're thinking of importing your tute. – Tarquin

Well, I don't care if the tute is imported here or not. :) It's there on my site, and that's what I wanted. =) If you think it would be good to have it here, I'll be happy to import it ;) – The Alien

P.S. Sorry for the self-pimpage :D :p ;) – The Alien

bah. If you can't pimp yourself, who can you? :)

True. :D

Wormbo: I just found out you could import music into .U files with this line in a .UC file:

#exec NEW MUSICFACTORY FILE="..." NAME="..."

Birelli: I think we should split this page by first paraphrasing everything into a quick and clean explanation of how to do things, and then link to pages with some of this "extremely in-depth info" ;-).

Wormbo: This page definately needs some work.

RDGDanClark: I'm not a total expert on music in Unreal Engine games, but I'll see what I can do here.

Foxpaw: This page has a lot of repetition and redundancy. I'll add the Refactor Me.

Nuleo: The Ogg Vorbis format really sucks. Even though it has a higher compression ratio, even at the highest quality, it sounds muffled, scratchy, and less bright than mp3s or wavs and I have composed about 12 minutes of music so far for a UT2003 Total Conversion. I think this is part of the reason why the UT2003 soundtrack isn't very good.

Foxpaw: In theory, Ogg Vorbis is a lossless compression format so it shouldn't sound any different. It's possible that the decoder built in to UT2003 is not very good. In UT at least, there was a major difference between the music in-game and the same music files played using Winamp or Sonique, so maybe this is kind of the same deal.

MythOpus: Well, are you refering to the add-on music player in ut2k3 or some other thing ?

Foxpaw: No, I mean that UT did not produce a completely faithful playback of the actual MOD file that was supposedly being played as music. This was not a flaw in the format, simply a consequence of UT's playback mechanism. Similarly, the Ogg Vorbis files may sounds bad in UT2003, but I highly, highly doubt that it is the fault of the format. As far as I know, an Ogg Vorbis file decoded should be completely identical to the source waveform.

Nuleo: Ogg files are not completely identical to their source (.wav or other) files. And the quality of the ogg files is still worse than the mp3s even when played in Winamp. Probably cause the mp3 format has been around longer so better mp3 encoders are available.

Wormbo: It all depends on the bitrate used. At the same bitrate an OGG sounds better than an MP3. Try e.g. 64kb/s, you'll definately notice the effect.


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