The best way to find out whether something is really good or not is to simply do some work with it. Tinkering around with something you think you might buy is no way to tell whether it's actually worth buying.
Logic Hit Kit basically takes Logic 6 and scales it back a bunch to a raw MIDI sequencer with limited multitrack and soft-instrument support. (I would have used Logic 7 Trial but that would have also required bringing in my laptop, as Logic 7 is Mac-only.) It removes most controllers and track automation, and basically just gives you the bare-bones block-editing functionality which makes Logic different than the low-end shareware notes-on-a-staff sequencers which there are way too many of out there. (Of course, most pro-level sequencers are also block-based, as is Garageband which is basically Apple's way of getting people hooked on Logic like so many crack peddlers, where the first hit is free...)
Anyway, yes, Logic is quite good, and I have picked it up very quickly now that I actually have things to work on in it. I will definitely be buying a copy of Logic 7 Pro in the near future.
The Oxygen8 is also a handy tool. It's only 25-key so it's not really that useful for performance and so on, and when I record I prefer to record an entire instrument at once (it helps me keep the rhythm straight), but for assembling simple loops to form a motif (which is what I'm going for in the game's music) and generally improvising a melody line, it's great. Also, it has plenty of twiddly knobs and controllers, for when I actually have something to control with them. (Not so useful for assembling ringtones, of course; most phones' MIDI implementations don't even support track volume, much less filter sweep!)
Mostly I've been working on trying to fake sound effects with GMIDI patches (since we need a few very specific sounds for various events which happen) but also I've kind of shoved myself into the "music director" role. Currently we're just using the boutique theme from Sprung for our menu music and don't have anything during the game etc., but what I've worked out is a motif which is similar to the boutique theme (but much more simple and spare, as is needed for a cellphone). I did some initial noodling which will basically be the general motif of the game; a little 15-second loop during the menus, different improvisational segments between the levels, a lower-energy, morose version of it for when you lose, and a high-energy 3dgy happy version when you beat the whole game. There will also be other small tunes in a similar style for the minigame components and so on. (No music during the game itself, though; BREW doesn't let you play multiple sound sources at once, so even if we were using PCM sound effects we still wouldn't be able to play them and the music simultaneously.)
Of course, I really enjoy doing this kind of stuff, especially since I can force my love of jazz improv on everyone else, as well as actually having a cohesive theme which binds everything together. (And different games will have other themes, of course. The next game will probably call for something more poppy, for example.)
I really like the opportunity Jason is giving me with this. Surprisingly, he hadn't even mentioned the idea of contracting someone else to do the music this time around; maybe it's because the deadline is so short and I was vocal enough about how I don't have enough programming tasks to fill my day right now, but also he recognizes that being allowed to do not-programming things keeps me somewhat happy.
My main complaint right now is that there's just too much background noise at work, much of it musical with the same crappy obnoxious ringtones that the Gameloft folk are constantly spamming out (both from testing their games and from them keeping their personal phones' ringers turned way the hell up so that everyone can know how big a Final Fantasy fan they are) but also various interruptions like James asking me about the semantics of certain parts of the graphics system while I happen to be recording and so on. (Thankfully, he didn't actually ruin any otherwise-good takes, and MIDI is much more forgiving of it anyway.)
Anyway, does anyone have any ideas how I might go about simulating a kissing noise with GMIDI patches, keeping in mind that most phones' patch sets are pretty crappy? So far they all have a complete (and reasonable) percussion bank, but things I was going to use (like "guitar fret noise") are typically missing from most phones' patch sets; on Nokia in particular it's just a sinewave. (Nokia is the first phone I test my MIDIs on since it's the easiest for me to get them on to begin with, and for the most part they have the highest-quality patch sets of any of them.)
One really useful thing which I haven't found yet is a set of soundfonts to emulate various phones. I'm surprised that nobody sells such a thing so far as I can find. The closest is Beatnik (Thomas Dolby's new venture) but that's a dedicated composition environment which 1. sucks, 2. has a barely-functional demo version which won't do anything useful for evaluation purposes (I understand not saving, but why does a demo also not load samples or import MIDI? don't they want people to, like, evaluate it?), 3. costs $300, and 4. is higher-quality than most phones' patch sets anyway (since Beatnik is an entire end-to-end platform designed by Dolby for the purpose of bringing the best realtime synthesis quality possible to devices which really don't need realtime synthesis worth mention).
On a totally different topic, something pretty odd happened today. I got a phonecall from one of the recruiters I'd been trying to get a job through in New Mexico, well over a year ago (I think I'd last been in touch with him last January). Basically he called me on the phone and said, "Hi, this is [foo] at [company]... check your email, as I've just sent you a job listing for a job opening in Santa Fe." I told him that I wasn't interested as since we last spoke I'd moved to New York, and he sounded a bit disappointed but said he'd update my file. What I wonder is how he got my new number; he probably called my mom (since my old resume listed my parents' home phone number) and she probably just gave him my number without asking why he was calling or something. Though I can't wonder why he didn't consider that the 718 area code isn't at all close to 505...
Anyway, I checked my email and lo and behold, there was a job listing which was actually pretty interesting. Not worth moving back to New Mexico for, of course (it was just a short-term contract doing some Linux embedded systems programming in C++). Better pay than I'm getting right now though. :D
Anyway, after spending a whole day using Logic Hit Kit, I have come to realize the following:
- Logic 6 is awesome
- Logic 7 is even more awesome
- Even though Hit Kit is basically a Fisher-Price "My First Sequencer" (as Neill loves to put it, repeatedly) it still kicks the crap out of many of the so-called "high-end" sequencers I've had the displeasure of trying to work with.