ThaSauce Development Update

What’s going on with VGMix? OverLooked ReMix? ReMix:ThaSauce? Compoverse?

Hi. Hello. Is this thing on? It’s been a while since I’ve made a post on this site.

The days of using ThaSauce.net as a news portal have been behind us for a while, but development on ThaSauce websites has been active for some time. Over the years we’ve inherited a lot of your favorite sites and with them a lot of responsibility. We get a number of questions from time-to-time about the status is of a particular website. The answer is always the same: It’s…coming along. There’s a larger, overarching plan we’re working on and I think I’ve explained it enough times in enough places to finally sit down and write it out. So here it goes…

A bit of history…

Before we can talk about everything that we plan on doing, let me take a short moment to talk about how we got here. What originally started out in 2005 as an idea to make a VGM news portal, eventually tacked on “yet another arrangement site” and then a compo portal? Now things are just out of control.

As mentioned above ThaSauce Network currently consists of this site “ThaSauce.net”, ReMix:ThaSauce, Compoverse (our rebranding of Compo:ThaSauce), OverLooked ReMiX (officially handed to us by richter), VGMix Archive for all known files from former VGMix sites, and a version of VGMix (currently called VG(Re)Mix) based on the vision of the would-be new site as laid out by virt.

The story of OverLooked ReMiX is a pretty short one: richter is just too busy these days and wanted to hand it off to someone who would maintain it. We control the hosting, domains, the full gamut. Future development of the site is…difficult as it’s so closely tied to a particular version of PhpBB and software updates have gotten even harder. We’re describing the current status of the site as “archival,” which basically means it is in a read-only state for the foreseeable future.

The story of VGMix is a more complicated one. In 2013 we started development on what we were initially calling “VGMix 4”. Users had been asking when a new version of VGMix would pop up, and some had even tried to roll out their own, but we decided we’d take the responsibility onto us. After reaching out to virt and getting his ideas for what a new version of VGMix would look like, we went to work. There were a lot of details about VGMix that virt had envisioned, but the basis was this:

  1. Users should be able to upload their own tracks, freely, whenever they want. This includes completed tracks and works-in-progress (or WIPs).
  2. Users should be able to provide feedback to each other for the above tracks.
  3. Users should be able to host impromptu compos on demand.
  4. Users should be able to fully host and release album projects on the site, including submitting applications, WIPs, and feedback.

Much of our vision for the future development of all the sites revolve around these goals and, ultimately, VGMix will likely be the center of this “network.”

The Vision

So VGMix is the cornerstone of the future, but where does that leave all of the other sites? In the current vision for the future, each site plays a role in a sort of “music development pipeline”. A process to take a beginner musician to, potentially, a full video game music composer. Here’s the breakdown:

Compoverse

Everything starts with Compoverse. For the uninitiated, Compoverse is where we host “compos,” or music composition competitions. As the site explains:

Compo is a slang word for “composition competition” commonly used by the arrangement community. It is derived from the demoscene competitions by the same name.

Contrary to this, compos are less of a competition and more of an exercise in composition abilities. Each compo has its own unique format and guidelines and while some are as short as 1 hour, others can last anywhere from a month to a few months.

It’s important to remember that the primary purpose of compos is to hone your skills and abilites by working within, sometimes very constricting, guidelines. These techniques have proven essential to the growth of countless musicians.

Remember: the only way to lose a compo is to not participate.

The site currently hosts about 7 compos on weekly or monthly schedules. One particular compo, One Hour Compo, has been hosted every week for over 10 years. During these compos, users work on tracks, following a particular theme, under a constricting time-limit. In many cases after the compo is completed we host a live listening party on our community Discord server, and users can get live peer review. This process has been invaluable to the growth of countless musicians throughout the years, including VGM composers virt and Danny Baranowski.

Compoverse offers new users an opportunity to develop experience with new tools and techniques and receive live feedback. Additionally, it challenges veteran users to try new things and streamline their workflow.

Compoverse will continue to offer a small number of “ThaSauce-hosted”, regularly scheduled compos. Additionally, the system will be expanded to offer a number of new features to admins that will also allow us to white-label the service to other compo communities. Making it easier for admins of all compos to host and administer regularly scheduled compos anywhere they desire.

VGMix (Part 1: WIPs/Compos)

Once users gain some confidence and experience it’s time to move on to VGMix. Here, users will be able to submit WIPs of more full-featured game arrangements and receive feedback. Additionally, users can join, or create, impromptu compos. These compos can be created by anyone, at any time, and is a great opportunity for a few friends to quickly jump in, create some constraints, host their files, and even have a live on-site listening party.

VGMix (Part 2: Releases)

Once users are comfortable with the feedback they received from WIPs, users will be able to convert their track from a work-in-progress to an actual released track. Once released they can continue to receive private critique, or simply receive public comments like “This song is great!” Users will receive on-site “Achievements” as they progress as artists to help encourage them to keep working as well as try new things. Additionally, VGMix will provide templates to allow for easy submissions to other arrangement sites including ReMix:ThaSauce, OverLooked ReMix, and even OverClocked ReMix.

ReMix:ThaSauce

ReMix:ThaSauce will maintain a similar position to where it has previously been: a bridge between self-released tracks and submission to a curated platform. Users will be able to submit tracks, that will be evaluated by panel, for an opportunity to be included within the curated collection. Consider this to be a badge of pride for user growth.

OverLooked ReMiX

OverLooked ReMix will continue to do exactly what it excels in: provide ridiculous interpretations of video game music and video game culture. Users that want to create joke, parody, or just simply outlandish tracks will be able to submit them here. Again, songs will be evaluated by a panel of passionate administrators for an opportunity to be included within that collection.

OverClocked ReMix

Though not within ThaSauce Network, OCReMix’s existence can’t be ignored. It has long been the center of the video game arrangement community and it too is included within the overall vision of our future development.

As it has always been OCReMix remains the “pinnacle” of achievement within the VGM community. A mountain for users to climb, and conquer along their journey. As previously mentioned, VGMix will work to not only prepare but also help facilitate users’ transition to OverClocked ReMix releases by hosting their tracks and providing them with formatted submission templates. This will, hopefully, make the process easier not only for users of both sites, but also administrators at OCReMix.

VGMix (Part 3: Albums)

Once users have confidence, experience, and prestige, they can move on to creating and participating in full album releases on VGMix. These can be solo albums or collaborative albums. VGMix will facilitate gathering of private feedback, providing consistent MP3 tags, and of course file hosting. Users will be free to host these final releases anywhere, but VGMix will hopefully make the process of collaborating on, and creating full-length albums much easier.

The Process

Whew. Now that we have all that outlined, how do we get there? Over the years we’ve amassed a number of incredibly talented developers, musicians, graphic designers, and other experts to help outline and flesh out our goals. We have a very clear process in mind and we’re confident we can achieve it. It all starts with what we’re calling Akatosh in development.

In the Elder Scrolls lore Akatosh is the name of the Dragon God of Time. The chief deity of the Divines. In ThaSauce development Akatosh represents the backbone of our infrastructure. Users, songs, albums, compos, all exist on Akatosh.

Under the hood, most of these sites follow a very similar structure:

  • A song is posted on the site
  • The song is “owned” by a user or a group of users (bands, etc)
  • These songs can be organized under a grouping (album, compo round, etc).

In the Akatosh system, a song on VGMix isn’t very different from a song on Compoverse or a song on OverLooked ReMix. The difference is the flourishes, and the presentation. All sites will be powered by Akatosh, and users of all the sites will have a single, unified, ThaSauce Network login account. One big community, spanning a number of websites.

Where are we now? What’s the timeline?

Given the nature of the system, it doesn’t look like anything has been done, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of our time up until now has been focused on the underlying Akatosh system and structure, so there isn’t much “front-facing” progress. Admittedly as well, we are all employed full-time and very busy with our personal lives. So where are we actually and what are the next steps?

Right now, the Akatosh system is in a pretty solid place as far as structure and efficiency. We’re comfortable with the foundations we’ve laid out, and we’re ready to move on to incorporating actual, useable sites into the system. Compoverse is currently our most active site and, as a result, will be one of the first sites to be integrated into the new system. If you’ve followed the site recently you know that it has been in active development for a bit over a year. The current iteration of the PHP site is at the end-of-life for new features and any new development for the site will be moved to the new platform. This also includes the conversion of all the existing songs, compos, and users to the new system. This will take time as we’re rebuilding the site from scratch, but the timeline here, realistically, will be months, not years, as we continue.

There is also a chance you will see a version of ReMix:ThaSauce pop up soon after, or even before Compoverse. R:TS is one of the simpler, smaller sites, and would be a very straightforward transition. It’s also a great opportunity to test some of the data migration with a small, static dataset.

Conclusion

Still with me? Ok, good. Whew, that was a lot. So I guess what I’m trying to say is we’re still here. We’re still alive. We’re still passionate about the community, and we’re still working really hard to help the community continue to grow, evolve, and thrive in the modern, post-YouTube/Soundcloud internet. It’s been a long road, with a lot of changes and iterations, but we’re not going anywhere any time soon. Hopefully, hopefully, we’ll have some of you along for the ride to see everything through to the end. We’ll get there, and we’re getting closer every day.

Community Chat Channels Migrate to New Server

After nearly a dedicate of being some of EnterTheGame’s biggest, most popular channels, #ocremix, #ocrwip, #thasauce, and many other related channels have migrated to EsperNet. This decision came after a long-time (something something) of EnterTheGames practices and policies.

These channels join a number of other channels already established on EspertNet including chat channels for community partners MAGFest, Dwelling of Duels, and VGMusic.

Below is a complete list of community channels now on EsperNet:

  • #ocremix – Official chat for OverClocked ReMix
  • #thasauce – Official chat for ThaSauce Network, video game remix resource and news portal
  • #dod – Official chat for Dwelling of Duels, video game remix competition
  • #magfest – Official chat for Music and Gaming Festivial (MAGFest)
  • #vgmusic – Official chat for VGMusic, video game music archive
  • others….

Nerd 42 releases White Materia Mega Ran Mashup Album

DJ Nerd42, who’s brought us some great video game music mashups in the past, is at it again. This time he’s mashing up songs from Mega Ran’s Black Materia with other popular rap and hip-hop tracks in what he is calling White Materia.

In 2011. Mega Ran dropped “Black Materia” with beats by Lost Perception and lyrics that told the epic story of Cloud Strife and his AVALANCHE allies battling the evil Shinra Inc. and Sephiroth from the classic 1997 role-playing game, “Final Fantasy VII.” In 2012, it was followed up with, “Black Materia: The Remixes” with even more original awesomeness featuring many guest appearances from all over the nerdcore hip hop scene. Now, in 2013, you get to hear the same crap that’s been recycled at this point about three times, cause we just can’t let it go!! Hooray! 😀

 White Materia joins Nerd 42’s catalog alongside other great mashup albums including Deltron 3742, a mashup album of the popular hip-hop album “Deltron 3030” with the Final Fantasy VII OST. You can download or stream all of White Materia on Bandcamp.

RoeTaka releases Chrono Ark Soundtrack

chrono-ark-banner

The year is 2009, and Alex Roe (or RoeTaka as he’s known on OverClocked ReMix) is working with a small team on Chrono Ark, a fan-made sequal to Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. As the years move on, the team grew too busy to complete the project, but RoeTaka had already completed a substantial amount of the soundtrack. How much of the soundtrack was completed? 100 tracks worth. You read that right: he completed 100 tracks, over 4 hours of music, before calling it quits. Having now moved on, he’s released the full soundtrack on Bandcamp.

Chrono Ark was a fan game being made by a small team of people that was going to be a sequel to Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Unfortunately the team including myself have discontinued working on it for various reasons, mostly because we are all too busy with our lives and new work prospects. Now that we have moved on I can release the soundtrack I was making for it. I finished most of the soundtrack in 2009 and was adding to it here and there as time went on. Although I wasn’t able to finish it, it is pretty much done and enough was completed for me to release it.

Chrono Ark had planned to follow a new cast of characters separated between time periods looking for a way to get back together. Many familiar characters where to show up along the way and the soundtrack offers familiar themes and motifs throughout. While the game will, unfortunately, never see the light of day, at least part of it will live on. RoeTaka is staying pretty positive about the whole thing:

I wish I could reveal more about what happened and what the game was about but it is not my decision to do so, The team wanted me to release my work which I’m really thankful for. To help understand more about the game each track has its use or general use in brackets and hopefully with the music you’ll get a feel of where things were going. Our concept artist has agreed to include some of his newer art pieces and I included some of his older ones so you could see what some of the other characters looked like as well. He is also working on an art book which I will surely link when it is ready. And the sprite artist has let me show a little of her work too.

The Chrono Ark soundtrack is available as a pay-what-you-want album on Bandcamp, with a direct link coming soon!

Announcing ThaSauce Presented by VGMix; Launches VGMix Archive

[The following is an April Fools’ Joke and is satirical in nature. None of it should be taken seriously EXCEPT the launch of VGMix Archive, which is an actual website that serves it’s advertised purpose.]

After an unfortunate turn of events we regret to announce that ThaSauce has ended our relationship with OverClocked ReMix indefinitely, active immediately. This is a really sad day for all of us, but after months of discussion and preparation, we have to call it off. Negotiations broke down soon after our announcement after we reached unresolved circumstances between ourselves and the OverClocked ReMix staff, particlarly Stevo “Level99” Bortz.

Things aren’t all bad, though. As we realized we were reaching an impasse we began exploring our other partnership options. With that said, we are now proud to announced new relationship between ThaSauce and Jake “vert” Kaufman and his VGMix team. Jake has been very understanding of the circumstances between us and OCReMix, and as a result we have decided to join forces to make the best online community that video game arrangements have ever seen!

As a celebration of our new, hopefully long-lasting, partnership we are proud to announce the launch of VGMix Archive. VGMix Archive is a large, searchable index of every VGMix 1, 2, and X song we could pull together. Preview and download your favorite tracks, or download the whole collection via BitTorrent! We hope to keep VGMix Archive a constantly updating archive, so anyone who has any tracks that we might be missing, feel free to let us know!

We apologize for all the preceding drama, but we are dedicated to moving forward and making the internet a better place one video game remix at a time, no matter how many beards try to stand in our way!

ThaSauce Presented by OverClocked ReMix

[The following is an April Fools’ Joke and is satirical in nature. None of it should be taken seriously.]

 

ThaSauce is proud to announce a new partnership with OverClocked ReMix. As an official subsidiarity of Overclocked Remix ThaSauce will now be covering exclusive OCReMix news as well as adopting OverClocked ReMix level-standards across all of ReMix:ThaSauce. Soon you’ll notice many R:TS songs being removed as part of our first lockdown efforts to meet the overall quality of our sister site. An estimated 275 songs are current up for review with more possible in the future.

To celebrate our new union we’re proud to present you with the FIRST Official OverClocked/ThaSauce Arrangement Project from one of the most popular games on the internet today: ReMixville! A Cityville/Farmville Arrangement Album.

OverClocked ReMix releases Super Dodgeball ReMix Album

Today OverClocked ReMix released their 28th arrangement album: Around the World. Around the World is a tribute to the 1987 Super Dodgeball soundtrack by Kazuo Sawa. Project directors Kyle Crouse (KyleJCrb) and Alan Bish (Murmeli Walan) help offer up one of OverClocked ReMix’s most diverse remix projects to date, it offers a melting pot of genres and styles from rock to rap; from ethnic to techno.

Check out Super Dodgeball: Around the World at http://atw.ocremix.org/.

Jimmy “BGC” Hinson & Jake “virt” Kaufman Double Album Release

Yesterday community Powerhouses Jake “virt” Kaufman & Jimmy “BGC” Hinson both released albums of epic proportions.

 

Imposter Nostalgia by Jimmy “BigGiantCircles” Hinson

Jimmy, a staple of OverClocked ReMix, but most recently known for his work on the Mass Effect 2 soundtrack,  has released his long awaited original album “Imposter Nostalgia” which, at the time of writing this, is the #1 album on Bandcamp. The music is retro, 8-bit, indie inspired and includes other video game music community artists like zircon (OverClocked ReMix, Return All Robots), Alexander Brandon (Deus Ex, Unreal Tournament), and C418 (Minecraft). The base price of the album is set at $3.99 and it’s well worth every penny of it.

 

Bloodrayne: Betrayal Original Soundtrack by Jake “virt” Kaufman



Next up is Jake “virt” Kaufman with the original soundtrack to Bloodrayne: Betrayal. If you like Castlevania style music with a lot of guitar shred, this album is for you. Additionally the album also includes an entire 8-bit version as well!

A proud, exhausted (per usual) sounding, Jake explains the story of how it came to be:

“During development, the programmers were using Nightwish tracks and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night tracks as temp music. So, I said to them, “I can do better than that.. just kidding, I can’t actually, but I’ll do my best!” and cried softly to myself. After 3 months of writing, shredding, recording and mixing, I had finished our soundtrack. The guys in New Jersey (the publishers) said “Whoa, this is the real music from the game?” and we said “Yeah.” and they said “YEAHHH!!” and did jump-kicks.

Then, I came up with the completely idiotic idea to include an unlockable NES soundtrack, to replace the regular one. The director, Sean Velasco, yelled “DO IT!!” before I was even finished pitching the idea. The programmers said “that would kick ass!” and promptly forgot about it until the end of the project, whereupon they said “Sorry, no time left!” (there actually was no time left, they were already living at the office 24/7 and surviving on a diet of Moon Pies).

So I begged and pleaded and used my Jewish guilt powers; eventually the lead programmer said “Oh, all right” like that time Dad finally let you get a Cowboys-and-Indians BB gun. They wrote the functionality to enable “8 Fingers, 8 Bits” mode, as I frantically tried to learn FamiTracker and cover each song note-for-note. I imagine most working composers would just have run MIDI files through a “chiptune-o-matic” converter like GXSCC, rather than creating machine-code-compatible, authentic VRC6 versions. But most working composers probably don’t have a death wish, and actually value their time.

This album is dedicated to Pablo Bert, a.k.a. DJ Mike Haggar — a truly amazing human being who, among other heroic feats, helped my wife avoid failing Calculus last semester. He was also in the Guinness Book of Records for his world-record Battletoads speedrun.

The NES portion (available in FTM source format for your amusement) is further dedicated tojsr, the creator of FamiTracker, who has worked very hard to make one the finest chiptune hobbyist tools in history.” — Jake Kaufman.

The Bloodrayne: Betrayal soundtrack, as well as it’s 8-bit counter part, have their base price set at an astonishing $0.

I thoroughly recommend that everyone go out and at least give the 2 albums a listen. If you’re not dropping at least $20 after listening to both of these, I suggest you make a doctor’s appointment to gear your ears checked immediately. This has truly been an early Christmas for any VGM enthusiast.

Imposter Nostalgia by Jimmy “BigGiantCircles” Hinson: http://biggiantcircles.bandcamp.com/album/impostor-nostalgia

Bloodrayne: Betrayal Original Soundtrack by Jake “virt” Kaufman: http://virt.bandcamp.com/album/bloodrayne-betrayal-official-soundtrack

Video game arranger OverCoat discusses his ‘Gardens EP’ release

by JH Sounds

I had the chance to chat with Scott Porter, who goes by the artist name OverCoat, about his recent release Gardens EP. He certainly has made a name for himself in the arrangement community since he started making music in 2001; his remixes of Cave Story and Seiken Densetsu 3 appear on OverClocked ReMix, and he contributed to the Tales of Symphonia tribute album Summoning of Spirits. His new EP consists mostly of original material he composed as early as 2008.

Conceptually the EP is considered an extension of OverCoat’s 2007 album Garden Art, and carries the same botany-themed naming system. Regarding the garden numbering, he said: “I imagine back then I felt like each track was like its own little garden, with its own personality and style.” The effect of isolated environments is evident in the first two tracks of the Gardens EP — the “Fifteenth” and “Sixteenth” gardens, respectively: track 1 offers a minimal groove and arpeggio while track 2 displays an ambient soundscape driven by percussion. OverCoat mentioned that a “big break” occurred between producing those two songs, and he picked up where he left off in March 2011. The rest of the EP was composed “on and off” within a 2-month span.

A number of tracks in the release originated as entries OverCoat made for composition competitions, or compos. He spoke about his background in the compo community. “I’ve been entering one hour compos since at least 2003, even hosting a lot of my own for #soundtempest and #mod_shrine on IRC. I must have at least several hundred compotunes by now.” He stated that he gained interest in compos through IRC, “since really that’s where the whole idea came about way back in the 90s. I was in #vgmix and virt used to host these compos called “kwakfests” which were all general MIDI. My first one was in 2003 sometime. After 2004 I started getting into trackers and doing compos in #mod_shrine using MODPlug, and samplepacks.”

OverCoat revealed that the Gardens EP was spurred by a particular compo theme. “My first JHCompo that I did I believe the theme was “The Secret Garden” so I was like, hey … let’s make a sixteenth [garden] … and then week after week the themes just kept matching up with that album’s style in my head, so I kept going until I had about 6 tracks.” Once the musical content for the EP was put together, OverCoat commissioned the cover art illustrated by Min ´Keiiii´ Kwon.

Aside from the original compositions, the EP includes a cover version of the Yellow Magic Orchestra song “Epilogue” under the name “The Twentieth Garden”. OverCoat expressed that “YMO is probably my favourite band ever, and I figured it was about time I paid homage to them. I was trying to learn to play some of their songs and “Epilogue” was fun to play. So I covered that. I also felt like I needed to release a song utilizing Vocaloid, and while it’s not the most creative use of the tech, I killed two birds with one stone there.” The synthesized vocal leads a conservative rendition that de-emphasizes the industrialized rhythm of the original “Epilogue”. The singing eventually overlaps and builds to a crescendo, signaling the end of the album.

Gardens EP is OverCoat’s first commercial release, and he hopes that people from the community will support his creative endeavors. “I know, it’s hard to pay for something when you’ve been getting it free for so long, but I gotta start somewhere.”

JH Sounds is an artist and lover of art. He is also an avid follower of the compo community and documents his experiences therein. Aside from being a contributing writer at ThaSauce, JH publishes his reviews of creative competitions each week at his blog, My Compo Life.

Raptr Interviews the Mustin

No, that’s not a typo. No, I’m not talking about the rapture. I’m talking about Raptr, the video game community of over 8+ million users (and incidentally home of the former head truck driver). They’ve recently started a weekly podcast and in their latest episode Mustin talked a bit about the OneUps and what’s in-store for them in the next coming months.

You can check out the full interview in the podcast on Raptr’s blog:

http://blog.raptr.com/2011/05/12/raptr-podcast-2-%E2%80%93-all-things-gaming-featuring-mustin-from-the-oneups/