Hi there everyone. Thought today I would link a composition I made for the video game Beat Attack and discuss certain challenges faced when composing music for this type of game.
To give context this is a game made by Steven Tu from Twoplusgames (http://twoplusgames.com/) lovingly called Beat Attack.The game is still a work in progress, at least from a music point of view, as there have been several challenges faced while composing and applying music for this game.
The way we decided to make sure the music syncs up with the beats in game is to mix down the music in 1 second or rather 1 ‘beat at a time’ formats and then input the beats into the game. The game has varying tempos and initially stared from 100 Bpm to around 180 Bpm but due to the difficulty of the game the tempos have been decreased to around 80Bpm to 120Bpm.
The biggest problems found when applying the music like this to the game is that when the tempos are much faster or much slower than the original music is bounced down at, gaps and ‘clicks’ start to appear in the music. This is due to the tempo of the game being much faster or slower than the tempos of the individual slices of music. As the game is still being developed you can hear this in the game (http://twoplusgames.itch.io/beatattack). The ways we are discussing fixing this problem is by having multiple sets of samples mixed down at separate tempos and take note of where the samples start to sound strange and then use a whole new set of samples for each tempo increment. The obvious annoyance to this is having to mix down every beat of a minute pieces multiple times, however at the moment it seems to be the only way of combating this problem. If anyone has tackled this before leave a comment as to how you have combated this issue!
The next problems faced is in the actual writing of the music as I found the use of effects such as reverb or delay or extended, arpeggiated and/or legato synth sounds can call aural displeasure when the piece is mixed down in tiny pieces. Especially when those pieces are played at faster or slower tempos. The way this was dealt with was by using mainly staccatto sounds and quick synths with little decay or sustain. Fast and sharp sounds seem necessary for this kind of musical application but again it would be interesting to hear from other composers how they have approached this problem. Let me know in the comments if you have any interesting approaches to this.
As Steven has been busy with many other projects and is currently heading to GDC, Beat Attack has been on slight hold but I thought it would be interesting for other composers of video game music to discuss and address the issues of implementing music in a game such as this.
For interests sake I have linked the piece written at various tempos for people to hear.
I hope this is an interesting read for anyone making music for video games or applying music to a similar game such as this. And good luck! It is a hair pulling experience 😛
My favourite is the 200 BPM one but I don’ think it’ll ever make it into the game 😛
P.s I had to write this blog post twice due to a horrible misclick so excuse any mistakes. The second time I just wanted to get it done :P.