Silence and Motion

August 19th, 2009 -

This topic has been touched upon in the past and is fascinating to contemplate in the ever evolving world of video games. The topic at hand being music. Does it really add to the game, or is it just there to fill space? Is it something to entertain, or is it there to add depth to the game and actually draw you in? The earliest movies made were silent movies that were shown in theaters with a piano to the side of the glimmering silver screen with a wonderful pianist adding the soundtrack. Why was it there? People turn to different variations of music depending on their mood. Instead of people manipulating music to fit their mood, can music also illicit certain emotions inside of us? When a song is heard as a stand alone, it often has a much different feel than when it is coupled with something.

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When I think of game music, I don’t often think of actual bands’ (music found in Rock Band, Guitar Hero, etc.), but rather music that is composed for the game. The music has obviously evolved with time as the games have. It went from midi files that contained *bleep bloop* to now fully orchestrated scores that last for hours. The question is, do games utilize this medium as much as they can/should? Movies often use it (most notably in horror movies) by bringing up the music to the crescendo and as it hits the climax the “scary event” happens. Other than scripted scenes, have games done this? Would it help or hurt them? One game that comes to mind is Zelda: The Windwaker. Each attack contributed to the music, resulting in a finishing extravaganza. A puzzle game most people probably haven’t played (Droplitz by Atlus) also gets much more invigorating and exciting as you chain together combos, and as you lose it the music reverts to the stage’s theme. However, as that music changes your senses raise and it brings excitement and almost more reason to keep the combo going.

A good way to envision what I mean by this is to imagine you have a soundtrack following your day. How would it sound? If you live a normal life, more than likely the music (if someone was watching you) would be pretty calm and steady. Now normal can be defined differently be people so in the first case it’d be a 9 to 5 job, family, nothing out of the ordinary. Now imagine if you are one man commando/spy infiltrating a base behind enemy lines. More than likely the music will be a bit different, being more of a sneaky, stealthy sound as you go about the base undetected. More loud and robust as you are out and hear the gunfire and see missiles exploding. Should a game’s music adapt to the way the game is being played? Would it enhance the playing field in which the player is in? Often times when someone is talking about a game that they love, they say “I” instead of the character. However, if the game is frustrating, or they hate the character, they say the character can’t/won’t do something, sucks, and make it known that it’s due to faulty game developing. Would a soundtrack be able to suck the player into the character’s attitude, such as with Dante in Devil May Cry? Or does the music have any affect on how someone feels about a character at all…

If you want to hear more about how we feel about this, tune into our podcast. We’ll be recording it on Friday, and will be up soon thereafter (hopefully…).

Honestly though… how awesome would it be to have a scope set for someone across a city scape with the music getting more intense as you put your cross hairs on them, and as the bullet came closer the music got more sweat inducing, wondering if you will hit your target, until finally…

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… and the music resumes to what it was prior.

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