Monday, August 18, 2014

"presentation" issues.

Gaaahhhh....

For around the last 3-4 days I've mostly been trying to do some music. I've mentioned this before, but the problem with music is that sometimes you can work  for 5-6 hours straight and come out with nothing to show for it. It's really slowing me down, to the point where I've been spending too much time on it.

A big part of the problem is that the tone of the game is... all over the place..

video


So what kind of music do I make? Do I make it fast paced to match the gameplay, or slow and moody to match the atmosphere? Some kind of weird balance? In the past few days I've done a few songs, and none of them work. Some will be fine for other levels, where the player is supposed to feel empowered, but I just can't seem to make something that feels right for the beginning.

And even when I feel like I'm on to something,  and I start something that seems like it might work,



I listen to it in-game, and it just doesn't mix. The melodies aren't subtle enough, or the non-digial instruments don't fit, or it's too dramatic, or too sad, or the in-game sounds don't have enough reverb...etc...etc...

And the most frustrating part is, I was already in this situation with Kurovadis. What did I do then? I winged it. I just took a couple pads and bells, and made a song from beginning to end in about half an hour. No problem -__-.

Sometimes you're just feeling good, and you make something that works by chance. Other times, it's like hitting your head against a wall until it breaks. The time pressure doesn't help either.

I guess I'll give it another day of trying stuff, and if I can't come up with anything, then I need to just move on.


44 comments:

  1. HOLY CRAP, my body is ready.

    A suggestion for the introduction could be something bombastic to get use revved up and ready to bust some heads. Using metal sounds to elaborate on the factory/lab like atmosphere.

    also like the new track

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  2. Do it like bungie does it, have set ambient music and once the fighting start kick in a bad ass battle song that slowly ramps up not to break the atmosphere and slowly fades out.

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    1. That doesn't really work in this kind of game, if only because there are too many enemies to bother stopping and starting music.

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    2. While that idea is a bit implausible for the tone of the game, I would consider making music built to have clean loops. Kurovadis used a tactic to where the end of the song would usually pretty cleanly hook up to the beginning, but music that can play an intro and then seamlessly loop the rest is the best way to go. Of course that's tricky to do when you're using actual recording (though not impossible in many cases. With Goldwave, I've been able to find points in lots of commercial music that one could seamlessly loop it for). Music formats like tracker music are ideal for such tricks, and it's also vital for being able to change the music on the fly when the situation changes (see Deus Ex, and probably a lot like the idea Mirai Zero is posing).

      But the important thing if you want to make video game music that can play in loops through a long section is to design it with looping in mind. To do this, you need to make sure that you *write a section redundantly*, so that you've got matching points in the song that you can 'anchor' your loop points to.

      If you can rig up a system to then play the music like that, you can have a seamless piece of gapless audio that can play for as long as the player needs it to. And he will never hear the song conclude. Imagine how great Eroico's second stage music would be if, instead of ending, it transitioned back into earlier parts of the song and looped over!

      As for the thought of the music fading out when things calm down, well. One thought would be that it would only fade to the calmer piece when the entire room is cleared of enemies. Which would also signal to the player, "That's all of them, you can take a breather now." And you could do it FTL (Faster Than Light) style: you have two versions of the same song, one for combat and one for peace, equal in song length. The song doesn't restart when it switches over -- it fades in and out *in place*. So if you're at the 1:23 mark of the battle song and things calm down, the battle song fades out and simultaneously the peace song fades in, but *starting at 1:23*. The effect is that the song is transforming on the fly into and out of the battle version.

      FTL generally handled this by having the battle version of the song having no percusscion, to give the feel of empty, peaceful space. But add in the drumline (and perhaps a few other instruments) when you're powering up weapons, and suddenly that song that once sounded so peaceful is now a battle march. But once the enemy ship is reduced to space debris, the drumline fades away and you're left with your peaceful exploration theme, letting you know you can take a breather.

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  3. I vote for the moody atmospheric kind of music. Really liked the soundtrack to Kurovadis

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  4. You know what you should do? Just stop right there, do things you want, eat something and go to sleep somewhat early. While being in bed you should think about some rad beats.
    And when you wake up just start from Zero and it will be like in Kurovadis.

    One guy once said to me "Great things weren't made in one day. So if you write a letter just lay it down for a few days and read it again."
    In other words: if making music takes too much time, go eat a sandwich made in canada

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    1. It's not that it takes too much time. The thing is, sometimes I'll make a song for 5 hours straight, and it turns out great. Sometimes I'll work for an hour and make an entire song. Other times, I can try over and over again for hours, and I can't even get a single song started.

      In this case though, the problem isn't that I haven't been able to make music, because I've made quite a few songs. The problem is that the music I keep ending up with just doesn't work for the first area.

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  5. Use Guile's theme from street fighter. It goes with everything.

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    1. Totally agree, plus you'll never be able to stop whistling it.

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  6. I feel like it could be something adventurous and sneaky, mysterious and yet action-packed. Because considering how the gameplay revolves a lot around combat, the music would need to match that. But at the same time, the atmosphere is kinda dark and full of the unknown, so that would have to be attended to as well.
    To be honest, when I first read this, the one bgm that came to mind was Subterranean Canal from Ys I and II Chronicles. Maybe not something exactly like that, but something along those lines.

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  7. Usually when I make music I think what point do i want to get across. I try to paint a picture with sounds. You have to do both. I'm sure i'm stating the obvious here but think of the original point you want to make and try to get as close as you can with it. For the clip above would be able to help if I knew the overall feeling of the game. But im gonna go ahead and say for whatever level that is. Go for eerie. Slow paced and eerie. It looks like thats an earlier level, you probably start with limited stats and no power ups. So you wanna give the feel for whatever there it left behind a lot of devastation... Good Luck you magnificent bastard!

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  8. I can quickly make up something that I think might give you an idea where to go. Would you like me to, if it helps you out?

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    1. Nah, that's okay. I have plenty of inspiration. It's just a matter of composing something I'm satisfied with -__-

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    2. Alright.
      I've have already started, but I can use it for something later. GL though.

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    3. Finished it around an hour and half.

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    4. I feel like sharing at least.
      You should now have a message in your sound cloud account.

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  9. If she's supposed to be a soldier, would something for the beginning involve a bunch of snare drums and horns? Like the early song from ff8, during the SEED promotion meeting.

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  10. I love the song you posted with that video! I really enjoy the moody mixed with the action, it makes it feel like you're fighting for something dire and important.

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  11. Why must you tease us so much!? But to the actual topic from the sound of that clip it makes me think that you're going with maybe a slightly eerie atmosphere overall. If it starts off anything like Kurovadis does then maybe even something like this could do for the beginning area. Unless you feel like it's too similar to Kurovadis to do that or already plan to use it in another area lol. I guess in the end I personally just like those kind of themes and the ones you've made I really enjoy so more of it couldn't hurt in my eyes.

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  12. I'm reminded of the soundtrack to Iji, which starts with easy ambiance and brings in intense guitar later. It works well because 1) the attacks (weapons) early in the game are less flashy than later ones, and 2) Novice players on level 1 are not going to be playing in any intense fashion. Well, that is assisted by the level design with very low enemy density at first.

    Just keep in mind that a first play through will not feel as intense as that example video, so music to set a lighter mood should fit better than expected early in the game.

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  13. Two options I can think of:

    1) Stop, do something else for awhile, come back and try again for an hour. Repeat until you're in the right mood.

    2) Pick out random songs from other games like Castlevania and play them behind your level, find something that sounds right to you and figure out what part of that song is it that makes it right. Then use that as the basis for your song.

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  14. Go about it a different way, instead of trying to make a song that fits the game, make a song that's the absolute furthest from fitting, and think about why that is.

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    1. That... would be way too easy... and a waste of time imo.
      Everyone knows candy land isn't going to fit damp abandoned lab with rape monsters.

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  15. Have you thought about limiting it to a specific genre instead? Like classical, techno, jazz, etc? That way it can be all over the place in terms of mood/ambiance, but it still blends with the rest of the game and soundtrack.

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  16. Slow and moody to match the atmosphere. It helps give the feeling that your character is out of their element or out of their depth when they clash with the atmosphere.

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  17. Well in the end at least you can just bundle all your attempts and sell the album :P

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  18. Find songs to play while making your game, then find songs with a tempo that you like, then mix and match and make something from that.

    Also, from your linked song.. you would make a brilliant composer for a semi-horror type of game as well..

    From what you made during your last stream it sounded like you had everything in your mind

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  19. Corpse Party is a horror game but it manages to get away with a pretty bumpin soundtrack by making it sound foreboding yet kind of hopeful, something like that could work maybe?

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  20. I admit I've always been a sucker for moody music in metroidvanias. Never did much like the more 'vibrant' music from the castlevania titles. Felt like it was trying to compete with the other elements of the game for more than its fair share of player attention.

    Also, music that isn't even really music. Y'know those parts in some games where it just gets quiet and you can hear things like weather outside or machinery in the distance? (My memory is very fuzzy but I think Kurovadis had some very good applications of this.) I'm not saying make the game's soundtrack like Doom 3 - that'd be taking it way too far. And metroid music itself is too much on the creepy/suspenseful side. Perhaps something between metroid and calmer generic melodies with bits of Kurovadis' ambient style mixed in?

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  21. Perhaps the melody / mood fits a bit
    youtube.com/watch/?v=ddFAIkUb7A0

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  22. Ky I think you just need to put a mic to your face and croon your heart out.


    EROICOOOOO, DOO DOO DOO-DEE DOO WAAAAA,
    PUNCH THOSE GUYS IN THE FAAAACE, AND GET RAPED BY THEM DOO DEE DOO WAAAAAAH WOOOOOAAAAH~

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  23. The track is actually pretty good, but I agree it doesn't fit the stage you posted, so I'd use or revise it into somewhere more gloomy like a forest, a water level, or somewhere covered in ice (if possible). It feels like it'd fit a place that's both beautiful and desolate.

    The first level is an abandoned lab, and the player is wondering what came out of those broken person-sized tubes, right? Something suspenseful, representing the unknown...(well, we can probably skip the theramin as an option.) Maybe include dripping noises?

    I know cranking noises and the sound of metal hitting metal are standard for mechanical areas (like FF6's Magitek Factory), so maybe there's a way to incorporate a mechanical, man-made feeling and have it fit. Whether that works or not, something with more of a beat to it might help to give an energetic feeling.

    Also, if we're going with the military theme another poster mentioned above, the first stage theme from Bionic Commando (NES) is a good example of how to do that--it starts with the percussion before moving on to the main melody.
    You obviously can't imitate that too closely, but it could serve as a useful reference.

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    1. Nier's music in the mechanical/robot area was spectacular as well, maybe check that out (unsure what song, but it's all on Youtube).

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  24. Have you played Nier or Drakengard 3? Those games have a very dark tone but have music which is both moody and action oriented at the same time. They do this with strong percussion, which drives the action feel of the music while having either vocals or some other string instrument to emphasis the darkness of the setting.

    Take a listen, it just may inspire you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LKIsWOSHAY

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  25. Regarding this I'm going to go ahead and quote some experience from retro metroid games for this. As far as I remember, particularly for Metroid Fusion, there were two sets of music: one moody for ambiance for when you're just strolling around, and another active pumped one for fighting, particularly boss fights. I think this combination works well for you since your game has a background ambience similar to Metroid Fusion, but that will imply more work and songs, and figure out how to make the transition between moody to pumped as a fight bursts out of nowhere. But it'll most likely take that itch off your head.

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  26. On a similarly related note, can I ask what program you use for composition and where you get your instruments from (assuming they don't come with said program)? I'm still trying to figure out what I'll be doing with the music in my game. I do have some experience in composing, so I wouldn't mind trying to get it done myself, but I've always lacked a good program and sound library to work with. Thanks ahead of time.

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  27. I think you should go with fast paced rock. The combat in this game looks like it will benefit from fairly fast upbeat e guitar, drums and what not.

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  28. Thinking back on games like Castlevania, it had some fairly relaxing music at times as well despite the nature of the game. When pairing the current music you have with the presented video, I didn't feel like there were any problems.

    Though that's just me. I feel like matching the atmosphere is more important than matching the nature of the game. For example, your music's gotta have a carnival twist if it's taking place in a fun house styled level, right? Even if your game might be a serious mystery solving game. So with that in mind, matching the atmosphere is more important.

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  29. Why not make the entire first stage silent? Imagine it. If that's jarring, add ambient effects like chirps or factory noises like metal popping or groaning just to create a filling backdrop. You don't have to make a masterpiece. Think simply.

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  30. Winging it sure seemed to work then. Kurovadis had excellent music in my opinion. By and large I think it had a better and more cohesive soundtrack than Eroico did; but then again, Eroico's atmosphere was pretty 'all over the place'. From a first level that was cloyingly happy-go-lucky, to a second level that was serious, to a third which was grim and depressed. It didn't transition well at all, in my eyes, just jumping from one theme and feel to the next. Also, the only tune I really liked, per se, from Eroico, was the second level theme.

    If winging it was what gave Kurovadis music to fit its dark and haunting atmosphere, by all means, do it again (if that's not what you're trying to do already). The intro area song sets the theme, something is very wrong and it's up to you to discover what. The caverns are dark and ambient, a great neutral song for that 'hub' area. Head into the factory, you start to get a little hope as you begin to investigate the situation. Mansion, you're ready for action as you head into a truly haunted location. And finally in the third area, you realize just how bleak and horrible the world is. Despair and fear grip you as you begin to take in the Lovecraftian horrors threatening to violate both your body and your mind, and behold the desolation spread throughout the outdoor areas. But you press forwards, into the darkness...

    Kurovadis's atmosphere -- both in graphics and the all-important music -- tells a mysterious story that you can't understand word for word, but you know there's something there. Something you can piece together from the clues. Something that is beautifully horrifying.

    That kind of emotion... that kind of feeling, you can't get out of any other H-game in my opinion. It's engrossing. You could play it all the way through and not find anything to break your suspension of disbelief, and even if areas don't seem to fit together in the big picture, it transitions perfectly to where you don't even notice it. The music was a huge part of this. You picked a good ambient piece for the caves, which was neutral enough to where it could transition believably in feel to each of the three major areas.

    ...I should just write a review of the game and be done with it, cause the more I think about Kurovadis, the more I realize just how much *genius* went into that game, whether Kyrieru meant it or not.

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    1. Well, by "I just winged it", I'm referring specifically to the first area music (not the "waking up music"). I had failed a couple times to compose something for it, but I needed a song, so I just did something quick without thinking about the structure at all, and didn't do much with chords. But I think it's the fact that it was simple that made it work. Since there were no chords, I was able to have erie sounding melodies without it becoming too dissonant. Though, it probably wouldn't have worked if I wasn't using pads.

      As for genius going into the game...some of the things I did were very intentional, and well thought out, but most of it wasn't. Instead, I think it worked because despite working with limited time, I only made decisions and compromises if they "felt" right. For instance, I "felt" that using the first area music outside would make it go on for too long, and when I tried a rain loop for the sake of time, it "felt" right while testing. Likewise, I only went with songs for the other areas if they felt right while playing.

      This can be both a good thing and a bad thing, because sometimes it makes it impossible for me to settle for something that doesn't feel right, and I end up in the situation I'm in now, where I'm make too many changes with less progress.

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  31. I guess for a game like this Chiptune is always a good choice,
    it is more powerful at least.

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