HighLand Productions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make your MIDIs?
It depends on the game. At this point we use two different methods:

For the games using iMUSE in the MIDI version (that is, Monkey Island 2, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Day of the Tentacle and Sam and Max), we use our custom ripper utility to extract the music from the game files. Although this music is in MIDI format, most often it requires mixing.

For the later LEC games (Full Throttle, The Dig and Curse of Monkey Island), which do not use MIDI but instead prerecorded samples, we arrange the music ourselves. We are now able to rip from the early MIDI games (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Secret of Monkey Island - still some work needs to be done on Loom - if anyone knows of any missing Loom tracks, please notify us on the message board).

So, how exactly do you go about making the ripped/mixed MIDIs?
As mentioned, although after ripping we get standard MIDI files, they require a lot of mixing. Often the music is composed for the Roland MT-32, and therefore uses entirely different instruments and settings than the ones found on a standard General MIDI card such as the Soundblaster AWE. Also the files are a total mess of musical cues, sounding absolutely awful. The MT-32 versions also have no panning settings (as the MT-32 defines those itself), meaning that the sound you get from these MIDIs is mono. None of the extracted files have reverb or chorus added either.

So, we mix together the various cues into a structure that is as close as possible to the way iMUSE plays the files, requiring a lot of playing of the games and comparison to the MIDI we're working on. In addition we add appropriate chorus and reverb to give the music depth and spaciousness, a process largely depending on the mood of the music. For MT-32 MIDIs we remap the instruments, again to make them sound as close as possible to the instrument patches found on the MT-32 (taking care of this sound module's ability to use custom instruments), change the settings (such as note velocity) which are different from the MT-32 to a GM compatible card, and add panning to give the music stereo effect.

Finally, we remove the sysex iMUSE commands and MT-32 specific system exclusives, to make the MIDIs playable even on those (rare) synths that don't follow the GM standard completely and go crazy when meeting unknown sysex's (or any sysex's at all).

Depending on the MIDI, this is a rather slow task, which sometimes can take a few hours to do right, sometimes several days (or weeks).

What about the arranged MIDIs then?
Ah, yes. There is no standard way of doing those. Basically we record a WAV of the music in the game, and convert it to MP3. We're working on making the custom ripper capable of ripping the samples from The Dig and Curse of Monkey Island. We are now able to rip all music from Full Throttle.

After having done an MP3 version of the music, we completely reconstruct the music, so to speak, try to get into the composer's mind :). We listen carefully to the music, trying to remake every single note played in it, and selecting the right instruments for playback. Often this is simply not possible. Some instruments are simply not found on a General MIDI soundcard or module. Some simply sound awful on the AWE.

The reconstruction of the notes played combines two methods of work: Arranging and performing. To get the right spirit into some of the more swingy instruments, we may perform the part instead of "drawing" it.

This process takes much longer than a rip/mix. The MIDI of Rollercoaster of Death (which is now done) has been under way for the past four months for example :)

Does this mean that you didn't rip those MIDIs?
Yes :). All the MIDIs saying 'arranged' next to them were done in the way described above. There is absolutely no way to properly convert a sound sample file to a MIDI file. Programs for it do exist, but really don't work.

What about your mp3s?
SCUMM Revisited has a feature added to rip the musical cues, voice and sound effects of Grim Fandango. We decided to bring these to the public. All mp3s you'll find on these pages have been ripped, not recorded, from the original game files, mixed according to "iMUSE laws" and then encoded as mp3 with the best quality possible - within limits that is... As the difference from 128kBit/s down to 64kBit/s is really small for 22kHz, 16 bit, stereo sounds, as most of the music in CMI and Grim Fandango is, we have chosen to use this bitrate for most cues - although some will be higher due to weird effects in the Fraunhofer codec.

Currently we do not plan to release any music released on official LucasArts soundtracks, and we do not plan to change this plan either.

The files have been zipped in spite of the mp3 compression, partly to put in the text info, partly to make sure no annoying "cooking" occurs.

Still, that ripper sounds fancy. Can I have it?  Updated!
Yes! Download SCUMM Revisited at LucasHacks! Be sure to read the help file before asking any questions regarding SCUMM Revisited.

OK then. Can I at least hear some of your unfinished MIDIs?
Once again: No. Company policy is that we don't distribute any MIDIs to anyone until the final release. You'll just have to wait.

Could you please do <whatever>?
We mostly do the MIDIs that we like best, but plan to do all MIDIs from most of the games sometime (except for the ones already expertly done by Tom Lewandowski of Quest Studios).

But still, requests are very welcome and will be noted, although there's ix-nay on the Gone Jackals music from Full Throttle. It would simply not do them justice to make that into MIDI. Also, music from the sample based games will take much longer to get done, but feel free to ask :)

What are those GM/GS/KAR thingys next to the MIDI links?
GM is General MIDI, the MIDI format you can play on almost any soundcard, keyboard or sound module available today. GS is the Roland GS Standard, an extension of GM, which among other things adds the capability of handling more instruments than the 128 instruments of General MIDI. While you can still play these MIDI files on a non-GS compatible soundcard, the instruments will be wrong.

We chose to use this format for some of the MIDI files, because they allow us to get closer to the original sound of the games. The CMI Difficulty Screen, for example, just wouldn't be the same without thunder and a dog barking. Other MIDI files will be released in the GS format too, but most often a GM version will be released too. This is not the case with CMI Difficulty Screen, because the effect of it would be gone. KAR is Karaoke format. These MIDIs can be played normally in any GM MIDI player, but if played in a Karaoke MIDI player, the lyrics will be shown in time to the music.

So, can't I listen to them on my AWE card?
Yes! You can. Actually, at this point the GS MIDIs are made on an AWE. What you do is go to the AWE Control Panel, select the Synth tab, choose GS from the Available Synth box and click Apply then Quit. Your AWE card has now been loaded with a soundfont with the sounds we use for the GS MIDIs. If you never use any other soundfont anyway, why not leave that one on? It's 100% General MIDI compatible, and you won't have to load the soundfont every time you want to listen to a GS MIDI.

Other cards, synths and sound modules may be able to play GS too - some all by themselves, others with a little tweaking. We'll add more info on that to this FAQ later. Mail us if you know how to do it on a specific sound device! As for the KAR files, any GM card can play those, even with lyrics if you get a special program to play them. Try searching for "MIDI Karaoke" on altavista or whatever.

Some of your MIDIs seem to play too slow!?
This is a problem with some MIDI programs, for example Cakewalk and the DOS version of the SB MIDI player (PLAY.EXE). They don't recognize MIDI tempi above 250 beats per minute, thus playing them too slow. This goes for MIDIs such as Wack-a-Rat, Assignment and Cone of Tragedy in SNM and other MIDIs which use higher tempi. There's nothing to do about this really, apart from playing them in a program that recognizes the high tempi (Most ordinary Win9x programs will, such as the Mediaplayer, mIRC's player etc).

Can I Join HighLand?
Nope, sorry. Already from the start we decided to keep this "company" at two people for several reasons, one of which is our wish of always being able to overview the process, without having to do a lot of administration, file exchange etc. Although this does make the process slower, we actually feel that it's going at the right pace. So don't even ask :)

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