GAB Member Spotlight - August 2019 - Adam Schneider
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Welcome to the GAB Member Spotlight, where you can learn more about the audio developers working right in your own back yard. This month, we’re chatting with local sound designer and composer, Adam Schneider.
GAB: So how is it that you came to call Boston home?
AS: I originally grew up in New Jersey. The first time I moved up to Boston was to go to college at Berklee, after which I moved back down to New Jersey and then to Albany, New York for my first video game job at Vicarious Visions. After that job ended, I moved back up to Boston for a job at the now shutdown Seven45 Studios. Since then I've stayed in the area, and currently I work remotely for Firaxis Games on the XCOM and Civilization franchises.
GAB: And what was your career path into the game industry?
AS: In college, I studied Music Production & Engineering and Music Synthesis (now called Electronic Production & Design). When I was a kid, I wanted to be a game designer. But in high school my interests shifted to music, and working in games turned into a pipe dream. My first job in the games industry was at Vicarious Visions in Albany, New York where I was initially hired to work on Guitar Hero games for the Nintendo DS. At the time it felt like a really random contract gig amongst other things I was doing, but it evolved into being my first full-time job and my foot in the door to the industry.
GAB: What was it like developing Guitar Hero for the DS?
AS: It was a lot of fun honestly! It had a grip with four buttons that attached to the DS and you’d use a pick-stylus on the touch screen for strumming. The biggest challenges we dealt with actually occurred while working on another mobile Guitar Hero title we did for the iPhone. With that project, the player had to be able to play the game using only one hand so the team had to reimagine the Guitar Hero gameplay. The project started with a really small core team and I worked closely with the game designers to prototype a few different versions of the gameplay until we reached the final design that everyone liked. Honestly, just having a great team of people and a great lead designer (who was so willing to incorporate and care about the audio team's input) helped us overcome a lot of challenges for that one.
GAB: When you’re starting a project, what are your go-to tools?
AS: Tools and workflow kind of change on a project by project basis. The most consistent things I’ve used are on the content creation side where I’ve been using Reaper as my DAW for about a decade now. I’ve been lucky enough to work with teams that let me use whatever DAW I want, and on most projects I usually take the assets all the way from creation to implementation/mixing.
GAB: Do you use version control for your audio projects?
AS: Definitely. I always use it on the implementation and game development side. I’ve never done it with my Reaper sessions or any part of the content creation, but I thought Michael Sweet’s “Version Control For Composers” write up in the last GAB newsletter was interesting.
GAB: In your opinion, what are some of the toughest things to learn as an audio professional?
AS: To me, all the hardest things to learn are subjective and just take a lot of time and experience to develop. Things like mixing, composition, sound compositing, and “tasteful” decisions evolve and get better each time you work on a project. Beyond just audio, being able to take feedback and having good communication skills are extremely important for any sound designer/composer. If people don’t like working with you, it doesn’t matter how good your sounds are.
GAB: Do you find time to make music outside of working in games?
AS: I make music in an industrial rock duo called Big Time Kill and that takes up most of my time outside work. I love writing, producing, and performing music; and I’m grateful to have a day job that reinforces a lot of those skills. We just released a new EP in July and are playing shows around the northeast this summer (we’ve got a show at The Jungle in Somerville on Aug 23rd!)
GAB: Favorite game of all time?
AS: Not sure I have a favorite exactly. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has a special place in my heart for sure, as do all the old school Mario games. Metal Gear Solid IV blew my mind when I played it, so that’s up there too.
GAB: What are you playing right now?
AS: Lately I’ve been playing a ton of Super Mario Maker 2 on the Switch, and I love everything about it. Making your own levels is a very relaxing and creative experience. It’s similar to writing music, and having an endless stream of Mario levels to play is just incredible.