Interactive Music in Video Games – Series of Journey Overdub Videos
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS AN OLD POST FROM WHICH I HAVE REMOVED THE OLD VIDEOS. IF YOU WISH TO CHECK OUT THE LATEST VERSIONS OF THESE VIDEOS REFER TO THIS BLOG POST ( https://jumpshipmusic.co.za/music-indie-video-games-composers-perspective-musical-approaches-practices/). THIS BLOG HOWEVER STILL SERVES AS AN EXPLANATION TO THE VIDEOS. IF YOU HAVE BEEN DIRECTED HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MY JOURNEY VIDES READ BELOW AND ALSO REFER TO CHAPTER 5 OF MY THESIS FOUND AT THE ABOVE LINK. THANK YOU!
Over the past few months I have been working on videos to try and get some ideas towards interactivity in video game music. I came up with some interesting ideas and thought I would share this is a blog.
The first video I will link here and refer to the Make Games SA Forum post where I discussed what is happening with the video but I will give more in depth discussion into the second video.
The second video will follow, here is some information on it:
This is my second attempt at using a linear video to garner compositional ideas around interactive music in video games.
Disclaimer (for the second time but necessary due to expected responses 😉 )
I am not using Journey as an example because I think I can make better music, Wintory is an incredible composer and I have great respect for him. My reasoning is to address something that came up while researching Journey and what better way to address the issue than to try something myself and see what works. This has brought up a whole range of new questions and firstly I will give a short background.
Though Journey‘s music is masterfully written and beautifully integrated I feel at certain times in the game due to the nature of Western Classical music, sometimes the process of audio implementation is complicated. Romantic/Filmic Western classical music usually involves long developed chord progressions and melodies and sometimes if the player chooses to play a game far quicker or slower than the average player you might get some inconsistencies and sometimes a loss of immersion may occur if loops and changes don’t align with the narrative. You can see this happen in games like Bioshock as well where loops of music finish before danger is over or before you have reached a pinnacle narrative point that should align with the music.
So I decided to address this by trying some ideas myself, as I believe I can’t criticise until I have tried myself to see what is possible. My initial idea was to try and incorporate loops and random factors to the music so it can almost always be applicable to the narrative.
Now I will go through the video area by area to discuss what I am attempting. I am not using Fmod though I am learning. The ideas I am discussing here I am hoping to translate to Fmod but the idea is that this can also be used purely as looped audio and multiple audio files with randomisation.
First cut-scene: Linear music. Sometimes I believe it is necessary and as a submission for my masters I felt adding some linear music would start and end the video off well.
First hill climb: Here the idea is chords will be selected and played at random (in the form of audio files, timing can also be randomised). The melody would be linear and ascending harp sound would start at a random time before you reach the peak of the mountain. The cello playing an F# sustained note can also be played at random. All sounds will fade to a wash and become silence as the title appears. This can be done with single audio files for chords and have them selected at random.
The long desert area up until the first wall drawing:
In this part I the idea is instead of having a chord progression that takes place over a short period of time, it will develop over the whole area. I used chords F# major, G# Minor and D# Major through this area. The idea is that at certain points in the area the chord progression will change to move with narrative events. This can be achieved by just looping a single audio file until a point is reached and then cross fading two chords (audio files). As the avatar reaches the first broken building the chord will change to G and then change to D minor as the avatar moves through the graveyard. Once he reaches the next broken house with the tablet the chord will change to C again. The last area after this will shift between F# and D# until the player reaches the end of the area.
My ultimate idea with the melody in this area is to make it completely random but with parameters to which notes work, which is practically any note in the scale. This would have to be achieved through something like Fmod and is something I am looking into. The other ways this could be achieved easily but not quite what I would like is to write multiple melodies for the area, say 5 or 10, and have the game select these melodies at random when you play the area. Though this may be simple it could still be effective for replayability. If the melody would be able to be randomised or “played” by the computer then could have the melody correspond with certain events by either playing much higher or lower to signify this, or if you did it with loops you could just have motifs for those areas and have them layered on top of the long melody.
The end of the game becomes slightly more linear with the C and G movement remaining however layers are added to create a more constructed sounding piece but that is still interactive. As the player leaves the little house (or enters the valley if he does not enter the house, or possibly not at all if the house isn’t entered), the ascending harp returns and loops till the end sequence. As the player releases the cloth from the tower, flute begins to play and also stays till the area end. As the player ends the area everything fades and another linear piece plays till the end of the video.
For a reference to the forum post check here
So that’s about all. If you have any questions or input please leave a comment below and I hope you enjoy 😀