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Early Music

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Could be a bit more playful. Then again the music itself might evolve according to what stage you are at the game, so you'll get a feeling of it growing more and more organic as the ecosystem grows more complex and organic.

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I actually praised this in the twitch chat earlier today, but I'll do it again here, because I feel like reassurance is a good way towards progress.

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Wow, I'm really liking this audio sample. It's not what I was expecting at all, but from what level design I've seen so far on the stream today I think it fits really well.

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I really like it. It feels appropriately synthy/spacey and light enough to make me feel like I'm playing around in a sandbox world. I don't know the vocabulary to properly speak about music, but it feels like it's right for the strategy/sim genre where there's a lot of idle or management gameplay. It has enough variation to not get grating but seems like it is mellow enough to be played on a loop. After my first listen I automatically pressed play again, so that's a good sign. It feels like the kind of music I listen to when working, when I want something with a beat that isn't distracting and lets me get into zen mode.

I do have a question, though. I know that the scope of a prototype like this is drastically different from a full-fledged game, but how much music are you planning on producing for the prototype, and how does that differ from the amount that would be needed were the game to be the length of something like a Sim City? (I realize length can be somewhat relative in a game like this, where player performance can alter the play time a great deal). It seems like games that have a more "linear" progression (like The White Birch) would require more music were it to be developed into a full game since there's more of a story progression, whereas a more sandbox-style game (like Spacebase or Autonomous) would require less since it is more of an atmospheric thing, even though you may use "story-like" progression in the music played for particular events that happen (such as disasters that occur on the space station or an addition of a new ship, etc.). I'm probably off base with those assumptions, but could you talk based on your experience about how music production differs across genres and scopes?

Also, I would love to hear about how you collaborate with the programmers to implement dynamic music. I've always found that concept fascinating.

Hopefully that wasn't too much of a ramble! Thanks!

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I'm not sure how much music will be in the game. Probably not a ton, because there's not much time. I would like to be able to have at least a couple choices for the player, though, since game sessions could potentially be quite long.

It's unlikely there will be much in the way of dynamic music in this prototype, although maybe something very simple will be possible! I imagine anything I would need in that department I would have to script myself, since it isn't a high-priority programming task.

A truly interactive score that is based on various kinds of events that are happening in the game would be awesome, but would be both a tech burden as well as a content burden. That would be something to save for a more ambitious extension of this game. (But would be rad.)

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I'm not sure how much music will be in the game. Probably not a ton, because there's not much time. I would like to be able to have at least a couple choices for the player, though, since game sessions could potentially be quite long.

It's unlikely there will be much in the way of dynamic music in this prototype, although maybe something very simple will be possible! I imagine anything I would need in that department I would have to script myself, since it isn't a high-priority programming task.

A truly interactive score that is based on various kinds of events that are happening in the game would be awesome, but would be both a tech burden as well as a content burden. That would be something to save for a more ambitious extension of this game. (But would be rad.)

Thanks for the response!

Yeah, I understand the limitations of the prototyping process and that certain things take priority. It's really interesting to see the order in which features are implemented and how the various disciplines collaborate. Is music implementation in Double Fine's version of Moai, dynamic or otherwise, something that allows an audio guy like yourself to just go right in and script it in Lua, or does it require a programmer to go in and mess with some C++?

Also, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for there to be some citizen in the corner of a bar with a guitar (S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-style) singing Space Asshole. Just saying.

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I'm not sure how much music will be in the game. Probably not a ton, because there's not much time. I would like to be able to have at least a couple choices for the player, though, since game sessions could potentially be quite long.

It's unlikely there will be much in the way of dynamic music in this prototype, although maybe something very simple will be possible! I imagine anything I would need in that department I would have to script myself, since it isn't a high-priority programming task.

A truly interactive score that is based on various kinds of events that are happening in the game would be awesome, but would be both a tech burden as well as a content burden. That would be something to save for a more ambitious extension of this game. (But would be rad.)

Well, it depends on the complexity. For a prototype it can function around simple variables. For example, by defining milestones (levels of advancement within the overall ecosystem. f.ex. (out of context) evolution from a tribe, to a village, to a town, to a city, to a metropolis.) you can set points in which the music transitions to a more advanced version of the same theme. Might even evolve into a different kind of theme. The advanced version, like you said, would of course be to make it adapt according to the variables in the games, but that's out of the scope of a 2-week project, so more simple solutions like defining milestones are great options.

edit: Btw, I don't think the game itself needs that much music. I'd rather spend the resources on sounds rather than music, since small soundbits from things usually gives more personality and engage you far more in the daily happenings of the characters. It also makes it feel more organic.

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I´m getting some vibes from old amiga strategy games, like Utopia: Creation of a Nation, which in my books is a very good thing. :)

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Any kind of low-key ambience is great for this kind of game, as a lot of what you'll be doing is maintaining and watching, so anything too in-your-face (or ears?) will get jarring. So this is an awesome start!

Possibly a cross fade to something a bit quicker when something dicey happens? That's probably all the dynamics you need!

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I'm not sure how much music will be in the game. Probably not a ton, because there's not much time. I would like to be able to have at least a couple choices for the player, though, since game sessions could potentially be quite long.

It's unlikely there will be much in the way of dynamic music in this prototype, although maybe something very simple will be possible! I imagine anything I would need in that department I would have to script myself, since it isn't a high-priority programming task.

A truly interactive score that is based on various kinds of events that are happening in the game would be awesome, but would be both a tech burden as well as a content burden. That would be something to save for a more ambitious extension of this game. (But would be rad.)

I've never understood what dynamic music is meant to be. Like Banjo Kazooie in Gruntilda's Lair and the theme changes close to each level from the theme of each level. That is just one song with a ton of tracks muted and faders that blend each environment when the trigger tells it to do so, right?

Dynamic music seems like it could be so much more than what the wikipedia page says. How many games even use midi for their sound anymore? The idea of using midi and a list of sounds to create an character has always been interesting because we all know the sound of a SNES, N64, Genesis or NES.

*I looked hard and couldnt find a video about Zelda Skyward Sword's Harp mechanics*

Zelda Skyward Sword has the coolest instrument, you wave it in time with the music like a conductor but if you dont move it in time, it doesnt matter. The chords automatically change, so you can have long strokes that seamlessly change arpeggios as you are playing. All with the background music. You can slice some enemies, then pull out your harp as youre running and play along to the background music, literally jamming because youre choosing to go up and down in the arpeggios, and speed, so you have some form of note control. As a professional I want your opinion on this. How much programming genius did it take to make that? The harp has to be a sampled instrument because it fits perfect with the recorded orchestra, which obviously means that isn't a midi soundtrack. All the harp hits are quantized to 1/8, 1/16, depending on speed, and the notes change as the chords change in the song, each and every song in the whole game. It must be a sampled instrument using midi to trigger those notes. Is this all crazy talk?

Also, are you a fan of Wii music? Is that the real definition of dynamic music? rhythmic based input with the computer program figuring out notes, phrasing, possible repetitions, and all that other stuff. Thats kinda my favorite game of all time, I can't start talking about it because I won't stop, but just wanted to mention it because I feel the tech in Wii Music had something to do with the amazing harp in Skyward Sword being possible.

anybody think the same about wii music and skyward swords harp?

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I've never understood what dynamic music is meant to be. Like Banjo Kazooie in Gruntilda's Lair and the theme changes close to each level from the theme of each level. That is just one song with a ton of tracks muted and faders that blend each environment when the trigger tells it to do so, right?

Dynamic music seems like it could be so much more than what the wikipedia page says. How many games even use midi for their sound anymore? The idea of using midi and a list of sounds to create an character has always been interesting because we all know the sound of a SNES, N64, Genesis or NES.

There's more to it than cross-fading, and the key thing with midi is it's entirely programmatic and real time. Obviously the move to pre-recorded sound has allowed for much richer and more consistent music (since midi can sound drastically different across different hardware/software), but it means that its far harder to do clever dynamic things since the heady days of iMUSE.

I'd go on a rant here, but instead I'll recommend checking out the excellent blog post Mr SurplusGamer wrote about iMUSE and posted on the DFA backer forums a few months back as he says pretty much everything I would :)

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I'm not sure how much music will be in the game. Probably not a ton, because there's not much time. I would like to be able to have at least a couple choices for the player, though, since game sessions could potentially be quite long.

It's unlikely there will be much in the way of dynamic music in this prototype, although maybe something very simple will be possible! I imagine anything I would need in that department I would have to script myself, since it isn't a high-priority programming task.

A truly interactive score that is based on various kinds of events that are happening in the game would be awesome, but would be both a tech burden as well as a content burden. That would be something to save for a more ambitious extension of this game. (But would be rad.)

Well, it depends on the complexity. For a prototype it can function around simple variables. For example, by defining milestones (levels of advancement within the overall ecosystem. f.ex. (out of context) evolution from a tribe, to a village, to a town, to a city, to a metropolis.) you can set points in which the music transitions to a more advanced version of the same theme. Might even evolve into a different kind of theme. The advanced version, like you said, would of course be to make it adapt according to the variables in the games, but that's out of the scope of a 2-week project, so more simple solutions like defining milestones are great options.

Yeah, this makes complete sense. We haven't really talked much about that "milestone"-style evolution so far--not because it doesn't make sense, but I think because we want to wait and see what the actual flow of the game feels like once it's up and running in a state where the base can actually grow. So I just don't really know what the needs for it would be.

Even with the system you describe, you'd still need a system that can maintain multiple music streams in sync at all times, because you wouldn't want to go from one version of the track that's two minutes in, to crossfading in on the "tier 2" version of the track that's starting at the beginning. Musically I think that would be less desirable than simply keeping one music track and playing a special tone to signify the evolution. I wouldn't want to implement such a system unless we knew we could keep all the versions of the track in sync at the same time.

edit: Btw, I don't think the game itself needs that much music. I'd rather spend the resources on sounds rather than music, since small soundbits from things usually gives more personality and engage you far more in the daily happenings of the characters. It also makes it feel more organic.

Makes sense! I'm a musician and not a sound designer, so my plan is to dig into the Double Fine sound archive and as much as possible take advantage of existing assets from games like The Cave, Iron Brigade, etc.

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I'm not sure how much music will be in the game. Probably not a ton, because there's not much time. I would like to be able to have at least a couple choices for the player, though, since game sessions could potentially be quite long.

I think this is a very reasonable line of thinking for this kind of game. A lot of games will make the music dependent on events or on what room you're in, but that can be annoying, because if you actually enjoy the music, it means you never get to enjoy the full track and constantly have to start over from the beginning. It's like when people keep talking to you when you're trying to read and you end up reading the first page several times over again before realizing you'll probably never get to page two. On the other hand, if it's a game where you spend a looooooot of time doing one kind of activity and the music never changes, the music can actually start to have a soporific effect after a while, even if it's actually very good music.

I can remember a few RPGs and a few puzzle games that understood the players were going to be solving or grinding in really long, unbroken sessions. Their strategy was to make it so that the game played through a set of full tracks, not unlike playing through the game's album, but would also let the player choose the track if they like.

I wish more games would allow those kinds of options. Hell, remember a few console generations ago when you could listen to a game's entire soundtrack in the options menu? That used to be true for almost every game. I rarely see it now.

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Love it - it's exactly what I'd expect to hear while working on my space station. Good stuff

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Really digging the track, it has a great vibe to it, and kind of reminds me of the original Mass Effect soundtrack.

What are you drawing inspiration from, because I would love to get a large playlist of this kind of music to work to.

Also, I was wondering if you had played around with using the sounds NASA records from space, and having some of that stuff in the back could add another layer to the score.

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That track is very cool - great and spacey. I enjoyed when the drum line got added at the end, but think maybe the earlier part could be extended and played around with a bit more, as especially when you're thinking about what to do while playing you might not want the music to be too "full", if that makes any sense.

Can't wait to hear more! :)

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I'm catching up on the livestreams up on the Twitch channel and just watched Greg's tour of the office. When he stopped by your desk, Chris, you demonstrated your idea for the klaxons being integrated into the music. I just wanted to say that it sounded really cool and I love how it wove in with the same frequency as the music. If you end up going in that direction and it works out I think it'll be great! I don't know what the scope is in terms of effects for the prototype (probably not high on the list), but I can definitely envision warning lights flashing throughout the base to the same beat.

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I'm catching up on the livestreams up on the Twitch channel and just watched Greg's tour of the office. When he stopped by your desk, Chris, you demonstrated your idea for the klaxons being integrated into the music. I just wanted to say that it sounded really cool and I love how it wove in with the same frequency as the music. If you end up going in that direction and it works out I think it'll be great! I don't know what the scope is in terms of effects for the prototype (probably not high on the list), but I can definitely envision warning lights flashing throughout the base to the same beat.

That's an awesome idea!

I do have the "danger" music layer implemented in the game in the correct synced-up tempo, so that's working. I don't know if we could actually get the animation synced up reliably, but if we do have a flashing light animation, at the very least we could probably animate it at the same frequency as the music. That way, even if the "start points" of the given cycles aren't identical, the player would hopefully still perceive the synchronicity.

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Have you guys discussed any VoiceOver stuff? It would be pretty cool if the base itself had its own personality. Something like a calm, woman's voice (with a slight echo) that announces major events. Things like: Hull breach detected. Or: Core temperature is elevated. Maintenance required. Or: Five minutes until self destruct.

Too much work for a prototype?

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Have you guys discussed any VoiceOver stuff? It would be pretty cool if the base itself had its own personality. Something like a calm, woman's voice (with a slight echo) that announces major events. Things like: Hull breach detected. Or: Core temperature is elevated. Maintenance required. Or: Five minutes until self destruct.

Too much work for a prototype?

We haven't discussed this much, although it's certainly possible!

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If the game ever made it to full development and had a voiced AI on board the base, it would be awesome to be able to choose different voices, like a GPS ^_^

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One other thing that could be cool would be to have a music track for the bars. As you scroll your window over the bar, the "standard" track fades out and the bar track fades in. It might provide a sense of exploration or a sense of movement in a genre where you're basically seeing everything all the time. I love it when developers do interesting things with music. It seems like a discipline in which there has been some innovation in the past, with numerous Everyday Shooter type games where the player "creates" the music, but it also seems somewhat stagnant in the sense that most games just have scores in the way a movie has a score. It's cool to see something innovative and it demonstrates how Amnesia Fortnight is a wonderful opportunity for developers to try new things. Looking forward to hearing more!

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I like the general style so far. Very mellow, 80s-nostalgic synths. Reminds me a lot of this:

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Love it! Always happy with a synthy Carpetner-y vibe for my space stuff, haha.

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I really liked the sample, and I have been thinking since this is a prototype for the sake of simplicity you really need only 2 tracks. They just have to be interesting.

Track 1 a standard track

Track 2 a danger track

(only add more if you have time)

Your sample reminded me of the Indie game FTL (faster than light) which its music doesn't get boring.

Here is a map track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_Njdszuix4

Here is a battle track

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_9gzC7fX68

both dont get boring and convey the situation to the player very nicely. The music captures (at least I believe) the sense of wonder that a space sim requires.

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I really liked the sample, and I have been thinking since this is a prototype for the sake of simplicity you really need only 2 tracks. They just have to be interesting.

Track 1 a standard track

Track 2 a danger track

(only add more if you have time)

Your sample reminded me of the Indie game FTL (faster than light) which its music doesn't get boring.

Here is a map track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_Njdszuix4

Here is a battle track

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_9gzC7fX68

both dont get boring and convey the situation to the player very nicely. The music captures (at least I believe) the sense of wonder that a space sim requires.

I love FTL, and the soundtrack is great!

We're actually using a slightly difference system. In our game, music tracks can be multilayered--so there's the "base" track, then on top of that there can be a "danger" layer and also another layer that might be used if the player has reached a certain milestone or something like that. So the music doesn't stop or change in a disaster situation, there's just another layer added to the top to convey a sense of urgency.

However, I would still like to add a second full track at least, so the player can choose between them. This second track would then also have its own appropriate add-on layers.

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