Would you enjoy watching a movie without soundtracks? The typical answer is, “No.” Imagine that all sounds from your favorite movies, scored by prodigies, have been cut out. It would be awful right? Movies without music would lose their magic. If the sounds that created the atmosphere of suspense or a twist disappeared you have nothing more than a comic book on a screen.
This absence of music would be even more unbearable in video games. When you start playing, you are not passively contemplating the surroundings, you are actively participating. The best music in games contributes to the effect of immersion in the storyline. You become the one who takes over the decisions and actions of the game characters. Music keeps your emotional state at an appropriate level, it guides your sensations and even gives you hints on what is going to happen next. Sure you can play some games on mute, but if you turn off the sound of a truly immersive video game, you will miss an enjoyable experience along with all the useful allusions. (Yes, you could actually make the wrong move just because you did not hear a warning sound of imminent danger that’s just around the corner).
How Soundtracks in Games Have Been Transformed
If you ask a video game connoisseur, “What is the best game music?”, old-school players would likely referece soundtracks made for Super Mario Bros and Street Fighter II iconic. Others could say that Robert Prince turned the perception of video game music upside down when he composed music for the original Doom. His obvious thrash metal and punk influences resulted in brutal and dynamic tracks, which had been atypical for the gaming world.
Here, games in the horror genre deserve special attention when it comes to their soundtracks. Owing to the advancement in technology, sound effects can get unrealistically bizarre. Arcane’s creepiness can hypnotize the player’s mind. It makes you freeze in awe of the pending horror. There are a variety of games where the only concept gives you the creeps, but when you amalgamate the overall scariness with the eeriest sound possible, your mind will be blown away. Most players like this adrenaline and it just wouldn’t feel the same without the corresponding music patterns. The right music adds millions of previously unseen shades to the story being told (or created) in the process of playing.
Brief Tips to Compose Music for Games
If you composed music before, then you are familiar with the creative process. However, unlike composing for the sake of composing, video games music creation has an exact purpose. The chosen sounds not only have to reflect the atmosphere of the game but also embellish it. Music makes the storytelling complete. To begin composing for games keep in mind:
- Play the game before writing music. It is impossible to compose the appropriate soundtrack if you have never played the game. If you directly cooperate with the game’s developers, then you can get a raw or “alpha version” where sounds are absent. Here you can feel free to experiment!
- Take inspiration from the surrounding world. Even if you have to create music for a fantasy game, the basic components can stem from reality. For instance, nature in fantasy realms may have new types of fantastic animals, so their sounds may be similar to real world animals or endowed with more unusual interpretations (for instance, you can make a fusion of synthetic sounds with real-life ones). The major intention is to let players hear even more than they will ever see. They have to be able to envision distinct surroundings or situations even with their eyes closed.
- Find the game that suits your music preferences. The whole creative process should excite you. If you get bored, then you have chosen the wrong game. Writing music for games should feel like practicing your hobby and imitating your favorite genres in a more advanced way. Try using instruments and composition tools you have not previously worked with. For a vast collection of music production tools, check out SoundShockAudio, the largest archive of free music production tools on the web. With over 4,000 tools including VST Plugins, Sample Packs, and more, it’s an incredible resource for music producers looking to enhance their game soundtracks.
- Be patient. Do not hurry. Even a genius cannot create a masterpiece in an hour. If you sense some drawbacks in the melodies for particular game fragments, then leave it for a while and concentrate on the more successfully composed parts. Divide the composing process into sections and do not try to complete everything at once. You can adapt a composing structure of a classical music piece or even a literary oeuvre. Make up an introduction, tell the actual story, proceed to the climax, continue the narration about the consequences, and grant a satisfying conclusion.
- Bring in the game designers. It is beneficial to hold interactive sessions with game developers, discussing all the roles, settings, images, and events from A to Z. You can play some part of the game together and stop to share your ideas on the music scores in specific cut scenes. It may also save you some time, as you will receive comments during the process of interaction. You’ll know what to improve within your draft music to make its final version refined.
The Essence of Music In Games
Imagine you’re inside the game; you’re not just playing it but living it. You know everything about your world and all the creatures dwelling in the darkest corners… but something crucial is missing. You realize that your fantasy realm does not have a single sound. It has vivid images, but everything remains silent. It’s a grave. Here’s your mission, adorn this realm with whimsy and make the world complete with your symphony.
It’s easier said than done. But if you apply yourself, practice, and create a portfolio then perhaps one day you can work within the game industry and live your dream. Focus on the player experience. Come up with a hook to make your music strike a chord in every player’s mind. And remember, the main secret to creating a piece of good music is to enjoy the process of making it. Perhaps, one day you’ll be the Mozart of games.