Adam J. Sporka was born in Prague (now Czech Republic) and he joined the Warhorse Studios team after the Kickstarter campaign during 2014 together with our music composer Jan Valta. Adam is a member of the Sound Department and is responsible for the adaptive music system.
If you have any additional questions regarding him and/or his work, please ask here!
You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.
1) Where can we usually find you lurking in the holy halls of Warhorse?
By my desk in the Sound Department, right next to Vojta Nedvěd, our sound engineer and foley artist. The sound department has invaded the office of the AI programmers but they seem to be OK with us because we wear headphones for most of the time and our jokes are only the second worst in the world. I’m very often also outside the studio, at the Czech Technical University where I do research of user experience and interactive audio technology, as an assistant professor at the Department of Computer Graphics and Interaction.
2) How did you hear about Warhorse?
Many people from our school’s department went there, some even before Kickstarter. In summer 2014 Dan Vávra invited Jan Valta as the music composer. Jan invited me to join him in this effort as the adaptive music designer. My first over-night coding crunches happened in December 2014 when I was working on the proof-of-concept demo of our adaptive music.
3) Describe your position. What is it about being an Adaptive Music Designer?
I need to be able to read and write orchestral music score as well as C++. Most contemporary video games have a music which responds to the events and situations of the game in a more sophisticated way than just having one song for the menu, another for the game-over screen, and a cycle of songs playing in-game, one after another. This requires some high-level decisions, such as what categories of music to have (combat, exploration, …) and how many minutes of music are needed for each. It also requires some low-level decisions, such as how to structure the individual pieces of music so that we can have a naturally sounding transition from piece A to piece B as soon as the piece A is no longer relevant to the current state of the game. We spent countless hours with Jan to discuss all this and then we would have Dan Vávra and other designers approving our concepts.
And last but not least, I need to make sure the game itself correctly reports its state to the music middleware which is responsible for the music playback. I write the code which implements this after discussions with the programmers and scripters.
The music middleware we use is called Sequence Music Engine. It’s a piece of software handling the playback of the entire soundtrack. I started developing it before I joined Warhorse Studios and during my time here I expanded it to cover all the features and perks we designed with Jan.
I am also composing a little bit of the game soundtrack: Several cutscenes, one piece combat music, the period music including a non-linear Gregorian chorus, and an orchestration of a death metal song. I also help Jan with the production of the part of music for which we use high-quality sample libraries.
4) Ever worked on videogames before?
This is not my first job involving audio and music. I wrote several soundtracks for interactive installations, video projection mappings, and performances. One of my recent works was a non-linear piece of music for an audiovisual installation we made with my colleagues from the university for the Prague Spring Festival (Pražské jaro). I am also contributing music to two other video game projects. They have an entirely different scope and genre than Kingdom Come though.
5) Please describe Warhorse Studios:
Warhorse Studios brought all the interesting stuff from audiovisual arts, game design, video game technology, and history under one roof. No matter whom I talk with, there’s always an interesting conversation.
6) Describe your usual day at the studio?
It really depends on the role I have for the day. As a programmer, I’d attend the daily stand-up meeting and then write code for the rest of the day. As a designer, I’d meet with Jan Valta in some inspirational environment (read: “pub”) and we’d discuss music structure or give critiques to each other’s newest pieces. I don’t produce the music in the studio because all my gear would take way too much space here.
7) What were your days farthest from the usual?
Live recording of our music in Rudolfinum, preparations with Jan just before it, and the celebration with everybody afterwards.
Or just watch Adam speak at GDS2015:
8) What are you currently working on?
As in this week? I just finished porting Sequence Music Engine on PS4. The music now behaves the same way on all of our platforms. Yay, code portability! These days we’re working with Vojta on memory optimizations for more efficient handling of sound effects. Wish us luck otherwise Woody, our lead programmer, won’t be very happy.
9) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
For a while, CryEngine dropped the support of FMOD, the audio middleware in which all our Foleys were created, and advised us to switch to WWise. In order to save the effort Vojta put into creation of our assets (it would be a pretty big setback if we switched), I had to implement our own support of FMOD, using the standard interface defined by CryEngine. It required couple weekends and many late evenings in the studio but Prague has a very good night public transportation, and so it was alright. They restored the support sometime after but meanwhile we added a bunch of in-house features and so we decided to keep this solution in the game. So yeah, all the sounds in the game are processed and dispatched through my code. I’m pretty proud of that.
10) What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
I like that the landscape in KC:D really looks like our countryside and that it’s always summer in there. I visited IRL some of the places we have in the game.
11) How, when and with which games did you first get acquainted with videogames?
As a kid, I had an Atari 800XL. My favorite games were Rescue on Fractalus, River Raid, and Boulder Dash. Then I switched to PC and haven’t left the platform ever since. I still keep my original Atari.
12) What was your best/saddest/happiest, most touching video game moment?
I will always remember the shock of encountering the green-headed alien in Rescue on Fractalus. The guy jumped at my aircraft’s windscreen and broke it with his fist, ending my game. The combination of the color contrast, ugliness of the creature, and the shrieking was the first time in my life when any piece of media scared me to death.
13) Which videogame character are you?
I’m the guy who inherited TIS-100 and now is trying to make sense in all those dusty segments.
14) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Yes, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, of course!
15) What would a perfect game according to your wishes look like?
It needs to have a good music.
16) What kind of sport do you like?
Wakeboarding and snowboarding.
17) What’s your guilty pleasure?
Playing and writing games for PICO-8 by Lexaloffle Games. Bodkin, one of the designers from our team, introduced me to this “fantasy console” platform. A really neat concept of emulator of never-existing old-school platform with screen resolution of 128x128 pixels, 16 colors from a fixed palette, and 8192 tokens of code to squeeze your game into. (There are some wonderful games people wrote for it. You should definitely check out a game called Stray Shot.)
18) What will be your famous last words?
I was going to write, “I am sure this won’t break anything” but it’d be just a copycat. We all say that here before submitting to the repository. I think it was Radek Ševčík who pointed this out.
19) Do you believe in aliens?
20) What is your kryptonite?
Bureaucracy and all sorts of paperwork in general. You don’t want me to be your accountant!
21) How do you like living in the Czech Republic?
I like the ratio of work and leisure there. Just the right amount of work to keep you motivated but not as much as it crushes you.
22) What is your weakest trait?
Tendency to procrastinate.
23) You have to fight in medieval times… who are you? Which weapon do you choose? Why?
The king didn’t like my harmonic progressions. He said they were too baroque and that I should check back in 200 years. I was going to tweet the hell out of this incident but my smartphone couldn’t get any signal.
24) What is the weirdest thing about you?
I co-founded a transatlantic music production group called The Wasteland Wailers. We make music mostly within the fandom of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series. Check out our profile if you’re into swing and/or country.
25) Your favorite movie or book?
Fallout: Equestria, a book by Kkat. Our band, mentioned above, is actually creating a soundtrack for a fan RPG project that is based on that book. BTW, we use an earlier version of Sequence Music Engine in it.
26) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
I hope you will like our game and that we will be able to rely on your support for the further Acts. Thank you.
Do you have any additional questions regarding him and/or his work? Don´t be shy, just ask here!