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Lunatique
05-11-2005, 04:23 AM
I've noticed that some of the Japanese game scores are still composed with cheap sounding synthy sounds, despite the fact the score is supposed to be orchestral, and for AAA titles like Zelda: Wind Waker. Another Japanese game score that struck me as strange because of the use of outdated cheap synth sounds was Metroid Prime. Although that score is supposed to be electronic, it sounds too much like something for really old console games. It makes me wonder why these choices were made. For AAA titles, they definitely have the budget for better resources--from real orchestras, expensive sample libraries, to highend synths/VSTI's, so that doesn't explain the cheap sound. I can't fathom such stylistic choices were on purpose, because they just stick out like sore thumbs in today's high quality game music.

SteveHanlon
05-11-2005, 04:36 AM
I live and work in Taiwan. Same here.

For sure there are some composers here you invest in the higher quality libraries. But I do work with some composers who still use ALL old hardware modules.

I asked one of them one time why they didn't switch to the newer software modules and his reply was that he is used to his set-up. He knows where his sounds are (i.e. the banks of sounds)

In general, I find people's tastes here are in line with that Casio keyboard kind of sound. They couldn't tell a real trumpet if it was played right in front of their face. Although there are some who want as real as possible. But you gotta look under rocks to find those composers.

Lunatique
05-11-2005, 04:56 AM
Hey, I'm from Taiwan too. I was born there and then moved to the States when I was 11. I'm actually living in China right now.

Laziness and refusal to update is a bad thing for staying competitive in the market. What I don't understand is the fact that AAA titles like Wind Waker and Metroid Prime aren't more picky about the music. Surely SOMEBODY during the production process noticed the cheap synth sounds? I mean, on the other end of the spectrum, you have the nice orchestral music from the big name RPG games coming out of Japan. Aren't these composers competitive with each other?

Joseph Burrell
05-11-2005, 07:08 AM
Me and a friend of mine have had this coversation many times.

It pains me to see outstanding soundtracks like LOZ Wind Waker, Valkyrie Profile, Metroid Prime (and just about any other Nintendo game you care to mention) using cheesy 20 year old synths. I mean come on! Heck, there's no need to go all out with the high end libraries even. Advanced Orchestra, which is 5+ years old is better than what Koji Kondo used in Wind Waker.

That said, the compositions, are still outstanding and its nothing against the musicians themselves since the songs are excellent no matter what type of instruments are in them. However, as someone who likes to try and compose ;) I have to say I'd like to do my music some level of justice by using something other than 20 year old sound fonts.

But anyway, I have found it strange that this keeps occuring on Nintendo's side of the fence for the most part. There are other studio's as well, but the majority of the titles that could really do with a sound overhaul seem to be published by the big N. I heard that's one reason why there are some in house conflicts with the first party developers since they want A+ music, but say Nintendo really doesn't care all that much about it as long as the music is functional.

Heck, I'm to the point now that I'd buy Koji GPO for God's sake and personally hand deliver it to him if it meant that I don't have to sit through 40 more hours of cheese with the next Zelda release. To be fair though, once wrapped in the magic of a game, things like music sample quality and graphics do take the back seat provided the game is compelling.

Symbiotic
05-11-2005, 07:09 AM
Since you're talking about Gamecube titles you need to remember that disk space is at a premium with those titles. If I'm not mistaken, Metroid Prime was developed in the US, so I don't think you can blame it on cheesy Japanese hardware synths. ;)

Gamecube discs have a lot less space than competing consoles (or PC titles), so I'm quite certain the composers aren't given a whole lot of space in which to showcase their skills. I have heard full-orchestral scores from some Gamecube games during cutscenes - but those games were 2-discs (Tales of Symphonia springs to mind).

My guess is that the composers were given a VERY limited amount of space in which to delivery their final product - since both games came on a single disc. They probably had to delivery the score in some kind of "tracker" format, wherein they aren't actually streaming audio from disc the way many newer games do (that are afforded more space), but rather the system is making "calls" to specific samples and sounds contained in a VERY small library of sounds contained on the disc.

Alan Lastufka
05-11-2005, 07:31 AM
Nothing will beat that original Zelda score IMO....

I really like Soule's work on Morrowind, but that's on the PC/XBox, not sure if that counts with what you guys are talking about. (seem to focus on Nintendo)

I always thought the Nintendo music was more cheesy sounding, though compositionally strong, because their aim is towards children more than adults. And real orchestral music is usually uncool by most kids standards. I thought they went synthy to give it an edge kids could like.

The more adult games have more appropriate soundtracks (like Morrowind mentioned above).

SteveHanlon
05-11-2005, 11:35 AM
I think it's
-lots of companies don't care

-They can't tell the difference

-Or even if they can tell the difference, older sounds don't bother them

-Composers who don't want to or don't like to change

- no budget

- lots of new composers who don't come from a player's perspective. They completely started out on modules. That's the only sound they relate to.

And then, all you have to do is go to a KTV (Karoke club) and you'd see why most of the Asian population is accustomed to the synth module.

Symbiotic
05-11-2005, 12:09 PM
Okay - let's get this straight -

Metroid Prime - AAA Title
Wind Waker - AAA Title

Nintendo has some of the most renowned composers (Kondo is one of them) in Game Music today. So to say that they don't care, can't tell the difference or don't have a budget for it is just naive.

What's more, to say that this is a "Japanese" or "Asian" thing is almost as stupid, if not downright offensive.

Gamecube uses a proprietary optical disc that stores roughly 1.5GB of space. That is far less than the space afforded by PS2, XBox or any current PC-based title. In making the above statements you are completely ignoring the development constraints of the platform.

Nintendo is home to some of the most popular first-party games in the industry (Zelda and Metroid are two big ones) - and I can assure you that those developers are not short on cash, industry experience, or desire for a top quality product. But since they've got limited space, the audio folks aren't afforded as much of that as they would be on another console.

I'm certain that the "Revolution" will address this issue, as Nintendo is behind the curve in terms of audio overall (5.1 anyone?)...But even so, some of the most interesting titles available are Nintendo-only, which speaks to their dedication to "gaming" in a pure sense of the word, versus many PC, XBox or PS2 developers who are merely "me too" in the industry...

I will agree, however, that it is inexcusable for a platform that actually HAS the space for high quality, streaming audio to cut corners and use less-than-professional quality sound/music/etc. Bad music on a PS2 game, for example, is inexcusable - unless that's what you're "going for"... ;)

Jay Semerad
05-11-2005, 02:29 PM
I know everyone on the NS forums is big on sample use and manipulation but it's possible that it is primarily an American philosophy that a soundtrack is only good if the timbres used are of the utmost quality/current technology. Over there, game music has established itself as a standard type of sound/feel - and when you buy soundtracks to game music , it's primarily a OSV (original sound version) that includes the FM/Synthy tones associated with the game genre.

Nintendo is sorta known (from what I hear) for underrating the value of Audio - just look at the Game Cube hardware technology - no digital out, no dolby surround, and its other specs etc - but it also believes in the simple tones and "blips and bleeps" associated with the nature of their titles.

It seems really strange and bizarre, but it's not _all_ that bad - for instance, Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles both use a certain amount of the traditional "gamey" sound but i think they're great in their own right - and I think hearing a Super Mario Bros game in a grand orchestral sound would be outright wrong, for some reason.

Metroid Prime was definitely contracted out and is a bit sub-par, but i can't really say much more on that.

Maybe the Japanese are big on "nostalgia" - but maybe it's a convenient way for their attitudes to audio to play into some deliberate excuse as to why the quality hasn't gotten much better.

Jay

StrangeCat
05-11-2005, 05:13 PM
Most game music is done on a Synth in the first place(not all of it though, but most of it)Xenosaga 2 BGM thats deffinily a Korg for the BGM(not the event music) Is Rocketbaby.net still going? I used read all the reviews on that. OH hey I liked the Tavern Pieces in Morrowind but that's it. You should go to Oblivion forum and look up the Post Snoway and I did on composing music for ElderScrolls 4 Oblivion.

Marty I know the difference between a real and a synth trumpet thank God for GPO LOL!!!! :n:

His Frogness
05-12-2005, 12:53 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if Metroid had no RAM left for audio on the GC.

I've never stopped to think whether this is an opinionated belief or not but we've always strived to push the limits of technology to achieve more realism. The most dramatic improvements in games lately have been things like bump-mapping and dynamic lighting, things to add more realism to the space. I've always thought that, right or wrong, this whole time we've just been trying to get games to be more like the movies.

IMO, realistic sounding music is a blessing after decades of beeping and bleeping. Not that making music for the NES isn't an artform, but it's synthy quality was contigent to the technology. If you improve the technology but don't improve the quality of music (and I realize that quality is subjective and this is entirely my opinion), that synthy quailty loses it's charm, especially if those synths are emulating orchestral instruments.

I can think of an exception though. I really liked the music to Soul Calibur 2. It was orchestral and synthy sounding and, for some reason that I can't define, I liked it.

Lunatique
05-12-2005, 01:15 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if Metroid had no RAM left for audio on the GC.

I've never stopped to think whether this is an opinionated belief or not but we've always strived to push the limits of technology to achieve more realism. The most dramatic improvements in games lately have been things like bump-mapping and dynamic lighting, things to add more realism to the space. I've always thought that, right or wrong, this whole time we've just been trying to get games to be more like the movies.

IMO, realistic sounding music is a blessing after decades of beeping and bleeping. Not that making music for the NES isn't an artform, but it's synthy quality was contigent to the technology. If you improve the technology but don't improve the quality of music (and I realize that quality is subjective and this is entirely my opinion), that synthy quailty loses it's charm, especially if those synths are emulating orchestral instruments.

I can think of an exception though. I really liked the music to Soul Calibur 2. It was orchestral and synthy sounding and, for some reason that I can't define, I liked it.


Totally agree. Using cheap sounds on a graphically gorgeous game is like a beautiful girl who squawks like crow when she talks. Not fitting at all.

I think the synthy orchestral score style works for fighting games in general because fighting games seem to always have an element of cheese to them (and I love fighting games), be it character design, plot, or gameplay. For something like Wind Waker, it just doesn't work because it's an epic adventure, and those are almost always better served with realistic sounding orchestral sounds.

There have been some nice synthy orchestral style scores made in game history, and I can't help but wonder if they'd all sound better if you swapped out the sounds with a good orchestral library.

StrangeCat
05-12-2005, 05:06 AM
that's why there are orchestra ost's...as long as you have the melody harmony and time signiture, then that can be arranged and produced to anything. Japan has been doing Game Sound tracks to Orchestra before anyone else, Dragon Quest series I think was the first. I am Sure that Wind Wakers Ost had an Orchestra Arrangement that was out is out on cd. :rolleyes:

soka~~~~e ninja! Daisuki da! :n:

Per Lichtman
05-12-2005, 05:32 AM
Good point StrangeCat. And let's not forget that Nintendo were the ones that organized the Orchestral Game Concert series, the first CD of which was released all the way back in 1991. It's only now, within the last year, that we've seen anything like that in the states with the Dear Friends tour and it's only with the coming tour that Tallarico has been a part of organizing that we'll have a fairly analogous series in the states. Given that and the fact that Nintendo has retained Kenji Kondo all these years, it seems entirely unfair to criticize them as across the board not caring about music and audio.

I think that several of the other comments on the thread are closer to the mark. I remember at this year's GDC when Nobuo Uematsu spoke about the need for creativity when composing within the constraints of the NES sound module. I was struck by the fact that it didn't really seem to sink in with most of the US public, who, for better and worse, were so accustomed to continually evolving gear that the very idea seemed foreign to them. I agree that Kenji Kondo's music would be made more accessible to a wider audience if the sound quality were updated. But I don't know that Kenji Kondo's work would be better if he were using updated equipment. Just some food for thought.

groovyone
05-17-2005, 02:15 AM
There seems to be a lot of bagging of

Zelda - Wind Waker
and
Metroid Prime

Both of which I thought scores suited very well, and did not even notice use of cheap / outdated synths.

I commended Metroid Prime on the music and thoroughly thought it sounded good and enhanced the game atmosphere. I wouln't pay anyone to write it differently.

Wind Waker I don't notice either the bad sample set. The music is good and suits the game.

I think people get too overly critical over quality of instrument sets compared to quality and suitability of music to the game. I'd rather have completely suitable music which enhances the game rather than bad music which has nice synths and samples but totally sucks.

I believe Wind Waker's music is all midi based, and requiring memory resident DLS banks. With memory restrictions you can't waste space on fantastic sample sets specially when the game sound effects, atmosphere .. etc is there too. Streamed music such as Metroid Prime can do whatever they like as far as instruments go since it's pre-mixed and just streamed. Again, I thought the music suited it and was impressed that they didn't follow every other game under the sun at the moment and create an orchestral track.

StrangeCat
05-17-2005, 04:09 AM
it is not a restraint of the composer, the music is there that is all that matters ;) I hope I can secure a job for a game for any of the new Consoles that are coming out :D Isn't there a GDC this fall? I missed E3 LOL. Had to buy samples , and I want Giovani Bad....ok off topic sorry.

Dave Wise
05-18-2005, 06:09 AM
It's down to system resources and how they are allocated.

You can't stream audio from the disk whilst decompressing the graphics (GC).
The trade off is therefore only having a very limited amount of memory (16meg) for in game audio, which has to include sfx too.

Joseph Burrell
05-18-2005, 07:34 AM
Just to clarify...

I never wanted it to seem like I was down on the music in either Wind Waker or Prime. I love the music to Wind Waker. It is, however, disconcerting that the whole of the videogame community has moved to better sound while leaving Nintendo still holding its Casio. I was let down when I turned on Wind Waker and heard the opening music. I can't help that. In the grand scheme of things, it didn't matter though. Koji is an amazing artist and there are some bloody amazing tracks in Wind Waker no matter what was used to create them. His compositions would sound great played on penny whistle and an upturned metal tub.

However, it is time to move on. Can I deal with another Nintendo game using synth? Yep, because once into the game it doesn't really matter anyway (however, I can't stomache listening to it without the game.) Can the non-hardcore? No, they focus too tightly on these things.

And check out this www.zreo.net :)

Lunatique
05-22-2005, 01:26 AM
I think the resource limitation reason is a glaring fault on the part of the console designers in the first place. Gamecube was supposed to go head to head with PS2 and Xbox, and if it had such a crappy way of streaming audio, then it's just bad design. That does take the responsibility off the composers though.

HOWEVER, aren't there plenty of games that are cross-platforms and consoles? Some of them have excellent highend scores. How did they manage that for the Gamecube then? And if others can do it, why can't Nintendo do it?

Theodor
05-22-2005, 02:52 AM
As a big fan of Nintendo, i think they were never interested in Top quality graphics or super sounding action soundtracks, they primarily care about the feelings, the quality and the gameplay.

To be honest, i don't care to hear super soundtracks in Nintendo games, i like the old "Casio" feel in the games. It's more honest and i'm happy it stays like that. The theme intro from Metroid Prime 1 is amazing IMO , better sounds wouldn't have made it better .

Lately i've started to not care about Super real sounds in general, i try to focus on the composition. I think that music made by samples could be regarded as an impressionist movement in general, it does not have to sound real to be good, it could just give the impression of a real instrument as impressionist paintings give an impression of reality without copying it exactly. The only thing that confuses and sidetracks me is getting work with this attitude, you gotta play the game right if you want work

Theodor
05-22-2005, 03:04 AM
On another note.... i think Japanese just don't care so much, their philosophy seems to be different on the whole. All this sample paranoia seems like a Western thing to me. Maybe i'm wrong... it's the Japanese that made all the cool samplers and synths in the first place -> Roland, Yamaha, Akai and so many others.

Today as you guys said, they don't seem to care so much, maybe they look on the creative side instead like how do get a track done without having inspiration walls and made fast and efficient. Sample developing in general looks like a Western thing as well i believe... i haven't heard of much coming from Japan if you except products like Yamaha Vocaloid which are more on the synth side of things

Joris de Man
05-22-2005, 08:17 AM
I think it mainly comes down to the resources at your disposal. Making music and sound for games is always a wrestling match with the other departments (code and mainly the graphics artists) - code will use valuable system resources, graphics will use memory etc.

It completely depends on how the music is being played; is it a) a midifile played using a bank of samples, in which case memory is at a premium since you're sharing with soundeffects, or b) a track streamed from cd, in which case it can be as well produced as you can make it. This doesn't mean it will be cd quality though; often it might get resampled to a lower khz to lower the streaming load as you're often sharing streaming with other game assets such as level data and models.

That having been said, yes, I think some Japanese composers still use very old sounds; I've heard streaming soundtracks that still use the JV-80 factory soundset and are practically un-produced; no reverb, eq'ing, compression or anything:)

This should get a lot better with the new consoles, although you're still going to be dependent on streaming.

Cheers,

Joris

Felix
06-04-2005, 10:31 AM
Hey guys,

Japan is a very different culture. Just look at how huge Comic Books are there. It's insane and again the kind of stuff they are into is strange for many.
I've seen a documentary on those Comic books (forgot the Japanese name) and a lot of them are erotic. There is a whole genre now that involves insects mutants with humans in erotic stories. I mean that's pretty weird if you ask me but hey you'd see grown up men and wowen reading those on the train there at rush hour. Anyway I digress here but you get the point. Very different culture so the aesthetics are really different. Sure they could make Zelda look more real and have an orchestral score but it would not be "cute". The reason why they don't do it is not a RAM issue or lack of resources, attention or awareness of what is "good" audio or graphics, I believe it is a deliberate choice. Having a big orchestral score for Zelda would just not seem right.

Don't forget Japan is the biggest market for game sountrack so not only they don't mind those cheesy sounding tunes in games but they go buy the CD as well! And besides if a piece of music is good it should sound fine played thru GM. BTW there are Cds of orchestral version of your favorite Nintendo tunes with none other than John Williams (among others) and yes they sound great but it still does not take away the charm of the original. :)

jc5
06-05-2005, 10:37 PM
Another interesting thing of note that came to my attention a while ago is that there seem to be thriving publishing ventures for piano arrangements of the music for games in Japan! They even have special releases of some soundtracks in 'piano only' arrangements. All this does make being a game composer in Japan more rewarding - and I don't mean that in a financial way either!

People buying sheet music of your game music to play at home? Now that is something.

StrangeCat
06-05-2005, 11:36 PM
yea that sure is something that sure is something old...Right now in Japan it's very hard to get job writing music for something that has to do with games, there getting a little bit not so high quality and originality, I have heard that comercials are still big though for music. And of course Jpop is always big but that will go back to your playing songs from games, as the melody from one game (image song for a character) could very easly be arranged and produced to full Song (voice and production from the game) :n:
Also there is no difference in the medium when doing music, writing a song for phone game, or doing the end music for a movie, or anime, whatever, it is all the same thing there ;) I really think that the music in FireEmblem series is great(hard to do great stuff with what the GameBoyAdvance can handle)

Nino Mojo
06-06-2005, 09:37 AM
Gosh, being a big japanese game composers fan myself, I can only agree with this topic !

By the way => Metroid Prime was made in America :) And I think Tallarico has something to do with it (maybe just for sound design). I thought the lame tribute to the original Metroid's themes was.. Uuh lame :) Cheezy sound, cheezy arrangement, being a metroid fan I was really disapointed at the music. For me it was almost like crapping on the NES soundtrack, which was freaking amazing back then :) (haaa the ending music !!)

If you loved Metroid's music, the same guy did the soundtrack for Kid Icarus (Hiro Tanaka).

Symbiotic
06-06-2005, 09:52 AM
I love Hip Tanaka's work. But I still think the music for Metroid Prime (1 and 2) is quite good - even though the instrumentation is somewhat limited by today's standards.

Nino Mojo
06-06-2005, 09:52 AM
As for system ressources concerning ingame music => That's why the Gamecube is probably the most inteligently designed of the 3 current consoles in my opinion. On Xbox, you have unified 64mb, so it's up to the programming team to share this between art, code, sound & music. So if you happen to be working with crappy (or lazy) programmers or just lousy technology, it might as well end up as 62 mb for anything but sound, and 2 mb of sound...

On Gcube you don't get that choice, no matter what happens you have your sound memory on board, which is quite large (16mb). So no matter what will happen in the programming team, you will still get your 16mb to sound design your game ! The same goes for graphics etc.
PS2 is designed the same way, only with much less memory :)


@Indicator => You mean yesterday's standards? :) :) :)

Symbiotic
06-06-2005, 12:08 PM
Its all relative. I still listen to old NES soundtracks sometimes and I find them still musically relevant. As a composer I think it is important have the ability to alter and adjust your point of reference based on the technology that was available at the time as well as the limitations of the particular platform - as well as the composers intentions and ability to work within the limits they are given. Hip Tanaka had only 4 channels to work with for Kid Icarus, but that certainly didn't stop him from creating a very unique and memorable soundtrack - it is still one of my favorites - and still better than some of the crap being churned out by composers with more current technologies and fewer limitations.

By both of those standards, the music for Metroid, in my OPINION, is quite good. I've heard much worse music on the Gamecube, Xbox or PS2 - with games that are more current.

lenmar
06-07-2005, 02:44 PM
i think the japanese point of view on game music focuses more on the melodies than the quality of the sound.

Look at a supposely "hollywood" quality soundtrack of halo 2, other then the main halo chant theme the rest of the music are just baiscally a bunch of random notes and improvisations, utterly forgetable.

IOComposer
06-07-2005, 04:45 PM
Look at a supposely "hollywood" quality soundtrack of halo 2, other then the main halo chant theme the rest of the music are just baiscally a bunch of random notes and improvisations, utterly forgetable.

Yowza! That's quite a zinger ya got there, kiddo!
I think that young American composers writing for games approach it from an "affect" kind of thing rather than to create lasting melodies. We're asked to create moods and melodies are typically more distracting than a sound effect type of musical pastiche. In my opinion, melodies are important in a thematic scenario but not as important in creating a mood for submersing the player. Some games which shove melodies down my throat annoy me. Then again, give me something good to whistle after I turn off the XBox, and that's probably gonna make me like the game more. It's a delicate balance.
-Jamey

StrangeCat
06-07-2005, 07:32 PM
Man you guys are saying some crazy stuff on here LOL!! ;)
Not all places with in the music need have a thematic melody that can be arranged to an image song or whatever, actually it is the arrangement that counts, also not all places where the music is going need even have melody, it's nice to just have a lot of motifs creating the texure in the music, thick textures or thin, whatever that style needs for that part it's being written for, lastly it is the direction of the development team where they want the music to go. It's like What IOC Composer says.
Remember the Ninja for even a ninja has the skill of composition and Poetry :n:

Symbiotic
06-08-2005, 03:48 PM
Yowza! That's quite a zinger ya got there, kiddo!
I think that young American composers writing for games approach it from an "affect" kind of thing rather than to create lasting melodies. We're asked to create moods and melodies are typically more distracting than a sound effect type of musical pastiche.

Jamey - I was thinking about this last night and I wonder how much of the current trend of "mood music" stems from the ability and flexibility composers now have at their disposal. In thinking about more traditional, Japanese game composers - let's take Koji Kondo for instance - these guys grew out of an era where they were VERY limited by the hardware they were using. For example, four channels of audio on the NES, using very rudimentary waveforms. Within those confines, it seems that maybe the weren't as readily able to compose ambient or "mood music" in the same way we can today. As a result, they may have focused more on simple - yet unobtrusive - melodies.

So today, those same composers may continue to approach their compositions in a similar mindset, whereas composers who grew with (virtually) limitless track counts and instrumentation are more apt and able to create something that "blends in" with the background a bit better...

Don't mistake this observation or theory as a judgement call - I think there are certainly merits to both styles of composing. But as you pointed out, I think they are distinct styles that may have less to do with the cultures from which they spring and more to do with the tools that were/are available to the composer at any given point in time...

IOComposer
06-08-2005, 10:44 PM
I think you're right. I mean, if you have to carry a game on 2 voices of polyphony, you have to be realistic with your capabilities. Writing a melodic line is logically the most diverse application of music under these circumstances. Bang for buck, I would say that a melody would have more effectiveness than an ostinato as they tend to get really numbing quickly. At least with a melody, you can create a reasonable amount of interest for a prolonged period of time.

I started writing music for games in '93, so at that point, I was dealing with about 16 notes of polyphony and a lot of options, so I wrote things that were more "moody". Actually, I only did that for a couple of games and then transitioned into loading short loops into RAM, so at that point, polyphony became a non-issue as the polyphony was baked into the loops.

Now, we can pretty much do everything so best-case scenario is to have music that both sets up the mood and changes dynamically, while also evolving into a melodic permutation every once in a while for variety. I'm currently working on a title for the PSP which takes us back a few years in evolution. My options are limited due to the implausibility of streaming music so I'm back to dealing with choices and compromises. Someone working on a next-gen console title will have all of the options in the world and should maximize those options to create dynamic scores that are both the highest of quality, adaptive and non-repetitive. It's a good time to be in games, but it's also going to take a lot of musical thought and technical prowess to do it at a high standard. Writing music is the easy part. Making it a great experience within a game is where it gets tough and where most game music needs to improve.

Cheers,
Jamey

lenmar
06-09-2005, 12:01 PM
Jamey - I was thinking about this last night and I wonder how much of the current trend of "mood music" stems from the ability and flexibility composers now have at their disposal.

I still don't think it has anything to do with techonology as much as culture differences.

As someone mentioned earlier, game music in japan are taking as seriously as pop music and there are extra revenues of income for game composers such as sheet music, piano/orch arrangement albums and live concert performances.

I think japanese game composers are aware of that fact and would tailor their music to be melodic so it would be more palettable when it gets turn into solo piano arrangement albums or sheet music. I often heard western game composers ask why don't we have piano/orchestral arrangement of game soundtracks here, well one listen to majority of western soundtrack and you often hear boring string pad moody music, drum and bass loops, music that sounds more like SFX than music. Who the hell wants to play that crap on the piano?

IOComposer
06-09-2005, 12:45 PM
I often heard western game composers ask why don't we have piano/orchestral arrangement of game soundtracks here, well one listen to majority of western soundtrack and you often hear boring string pad moody music, drum and bass loops, music that sounds more like SFX than music. Who the hell wants to play that crap on the piano?

Why is it "crap" when it's appropriate in context? The game needs to be the priority, not the aftermarket merchandising.
-Jamey

lenmar
06-09-2005, 02:05 PM
there's always room to add at least a small amount of melodic material, look at hans zimmer's filmscores, even his the most passive cues has some melodic element to it.

ok, enough of me hijacking the thread :D , back to the original question, I say japanese composers and japanese game music fans, in general, are most focus on catchy tunes then mood and textures.

mhuang
06-09-2005, 02:12 PM
The game needs to be the priority, not the aftermarket merchandising.
-Jamey

I somewhat disagree with this, I think there's should be a delicate balance between servicing the game and aftermarket product. If the aftermarket product, albeit it CD or sheet music, enjoys a good sale it would only serve to enhance the image of the game... plus you're more likely to be rehire if your music's aftermarket product gives the game company additional revenue. :)

just my $0.02

IOComposer
06-09-2005, 03:12 PM
I somewhat disagree with this, I think there's should be a delicate balance between servicing the game and aftermarket product. If the aftermarket product, albeit it CD or sheet music, enjoys a good sale it would only serve to enhance the image of the game... plus you're more likely to be rehire if your music's aftermarket product gives the game company additional revenue. :)

I guess we have different priorities. I'm not saying make bland music by any stretch. I'm saying that if you're creating your score based on the aftermarket potential, then you're likely not servicing the game's needs as well as you could be. Too many game scores scream "look at me!! Pay attention to me!!" and I guess that stems from the mentality that game composers want to be the stars of the show (insert GANG mantra here). I disagree with that philosophy and while I want my music to be good and enjoyable, I don't want it to attract too much attention to itself and detract from what's really important...gameplay. There are always opportunities to shine and it is your responsibility and judgement to determine when the music needs to run the show and when it needs to be subservient.
-Jamey

Symbiotic
06-09-2005, 03:26 PM
I'm with Jamey on this one. The music should generally serve the game - there will always be an opportunity or two for the composer to strut his or her stuff, but that should never come at the expense of the relationship the music should maintain with the gameplay.

<shameless plug>

One might say that the music must form a "Symbiotic" relationship with the game... (http://www.symbioticaudio.com) ...

</shameless plug>

:D

Sil
06-10-2005, 11:38 PM
Anyone heard the music for FFXII yet? From the few tracks available it sounds like Sakimoto used some medium-quality samples to create some great John Williams-like orchestral fare that is both intrusive, and not at all melodic in the traditional Japanese sense. I hope this style catches on in the US as it’s much better than the Media Ventures imitations and ambient noise that is becoming quite tired in both the gaming industry and Hollywood. I’d like to see someone from GANG actually attempt this style rather than waste time holding concerts dedicated to music from the ever-crowd pleasing Mario series, and Tom Clancy games no one has played.

At the same time I’m sad to see Uematsu go. He probably became increasingly aware of how repetitive and clichéd things were getting in terms of game music in Japan. He spawned numerous imitations over there, and is now calling it quits. Luckily Sakimoto is stepping in with a refreshingly original take on the franchise. We can only hope the game itself is not just another long CG cutscene.


I somewhat disagree with this, I think there's should be a delicate balance between servicing the game and aftermarket product. If the aftermarket product, albeit it CD or sheet music, enjoys a good sale it would only serve to enhance the image of the game... plus you're more likely to be rehire if your music's aftermarket product gives the game company additional revenue.

It’s this mentality that puts Madonna on Bond soundtracks, and Celine Dion on everything. I could imagine how depressed Horner gets before each movie he scores where he’s told to write a nice melody so someone can put lyrics about “love” to them.

Conclusion: It’s more about business than art. Low quality synths with a J-pop single sell in Japan, whereas producers think Media Ventures sells in North America. Many composers are neither caring about how well it fits the game, nor how well it is composed, just as long as it sells. I guess that means someone shot themselves in the foot when they thought there was as big a market for game soundtracks here in NA as there is for film scores. I often get the impression that no mass market in the gaming industry world over has ever cared for real, or even sampled orchestral music over chipset synths.

mhuang
06-14-2005, 03:37 PM
At the same time I’m sad to see Uematsu go. He probably became increasingly aware of how repetitive and clichéd things were getting in terms of game music in Japan. He spawned numerous imitations over there, and is now calling it quits. Luckily Sakimoto is stepping in with a refreshingly original take on the franchise. We can only hope the game itself is not just another long CG cutscene.


Uematsu is no way calling it quits, he simply ended his relationship with square-enix and joined ex-squre producer sakaguchi's new mistwalker studios.




It’s this mentality that puts Madonna on Bond soundtracks, and Celine Dion on everything. I could imagine how depressed Horner gets before each movie he scores where he’s told to write a nice melody so someone can put lyrics about “love” to them.


I am sure he was just as depress walking to the bank with the royality check he got from writing "my heart will go on".

I never said a composer should compromise the quality of the game just to market the music, the music should both serve the game and be marketable at the same time, what's wrong with that?
like I said before, ingame is not the only place where the music can serve the game, making the music marketable rises the awareness of the game too and that's a good thing isn't it?


[font=Verdana]
Conclusion: It’s more about business than art. Low quality synths with a J-pop single sell in Japan, whereas producers think Media Ventures sells in North America. Many composers are neither caring about how well it fits the game, nor how well it is composed, just as long as it sells.


Media ventures do sell, Gladiator is one of the best selling movie soundtrack of all time.



[font=Verdana]
I often get the impression that no mass market in the gaming industry world over has ever cared for real, or even sampled orchestral music over chipset synths.

people will always respond to GOOD music and timeless melodies, no matter if it's done on a gameboy or with London symphony orchestra, the question is will composers continue to supply them?

Nino Mojo
06-15-2005, 08:33 AM
Media ventures do sell, Gladiator is one of the best selling movie soundtrack of all time.

This is in my opinon definitely more because of the movie and its huge impact and success than the music itself.



As for composers supplying memorable melodies and such, I'm currently working on a driving game for handheld, and we have no room for creativity. Management will systematically refuse anything that's not "overheard", plus they're craming to licensed tracks in the game.



people will always respond to GOOD music and timeless melodies, no matter if it's done on a gameboy or with London symphony orchestra, the question is will composers continue to supply them?

Working on a driving game (very NFS'ish style), I understand that the music should be more radio-oriented and that a dramatic score is out of place. Yet the creative bits in my soul are crying to see what could be done anyway to remain original and for that I think about the feeling you have when driving high-speed with a finish line and opponents in mind. There's still a lot to be done here. But no way you can do that in a mass-market company where so called "producers" are out directly from business schools.

In my opinion the question isn't "will composers continue to supply good music and timeless melodies", but rather "will the management and decision makers let them do so?".

StrangeCat
06-15-2005, 06:37 PM
Japan is so insanely competive you can't imagine it , right now it's almost impossible to get a job with a large company for game, infact music for games are becoming rather redundent there for smaller companies. Hmm Music to FF12 is Real Orchestra for FMV sequences. That's all I have checked out. Also there is more then one composer for it.
As for Jpop, that is insanely competive as well. There is good stuff and there is bad stuff there like in all things. Alot of times producers will just grab some cute girl and put her in the studio and make her a star an Idol Star and she can't even sing that well LOL!! Ala Brittney Spears many others.
The most top selling songs in Japan are usually done by the biggest producers. There are two huge Producers that are American There too, and do stuff for China pop as well and Korean Pop.

Crap sells if it has market.
Great example is the crappy song in Kill Bill, now it's played all over, and it's well, it's crap LOL!
Just remember the most important aspect is Arrangement your motive could be put to any arrangement and even made into a longer melody which intern could be arranged to a song then production.
hehee this has become so Off Topic LOL :D
alright I am out :n:
ja na

StrangeCat
06-15-2005, 06:42 PM
oi chotto matte! Nino? I remember when I talked to you on email from Gamsutra!!! I think that was year ago.. mmmm.. yea it was :D

Sil
06-15-2005, 06:44 PM
I am sure he was just as depress walking to the bank with the royality check he got from writing "my heart will go on".

I didn't say he'd be depressed afterwards, though he more than likely would be for all those other movies he wrote similar songs for (see Troy). He has to write these "nice melodies" so that producers can tag a song on the end of the CD release, whether or not the score warrants such a song. I think his disdain for this tradition shows.


I never said a composer should compromise the quality of the game just to market the music, the music should both serve the game and be marketable at the same time, what's wrong with that?

What you said is true, that the music should be marketable and serve the movie or game, but that doesn't mean composers aren't compromising the quality of their scores to make it more marketable to a specific audience (more specifically, one that cares more for anything with the movie's label on it than the music itself). I figure if I had the option to write a score that did not feature a pop song integrated somehow into the orchestral music itself, I'd take it. It probably won’t sell millions of copies to teenage girls who wanted Clay Aiken featured during the love scene, but to me that’s the point.


Media ventures do sell, Gladiator is one of the best selling movie soundtrack of all time.

While Gladiator does sport many Media Ventures clichés, it is hardly the type of score I'm thinking of when I think "Media Ventures". When I think "Media Ventures" I think of a bunch of action scores that all relatively sound the same, and would have sold just as well had they not. Some directors/producers think they NEED that Media Ventures sound to sell (lol Batman Begins) when all they're really doing is setting the bar for film scoring so low that anyone with the latest synth equipment can do it. Sure, they save a lot of money this way, but watch how this fad will be weaned down towards a purely “songtrack” market. We’re currently in an era where we’re lucky to get a film score release for several films, or where we need third parties or petitions to help out.



people will always respond to GOOD music and timeless melodies, no matter if it's done on a gameboy or with London symphony orchestra, the question is will composers continue to supply them?

Exactly. My theory is that gamers don't care whether or not it's synth or real, so what's the big deal in making it sound real all the time? This is probably the Japanese philosophy, which resonates on all fronts of marketing a game. Why give it prettier graphics if only to cater to a market that would pick up the better-looking game over the other? Nintendo is already starting to feel that concentrating on more realistic graphics takes away from innovative gameplay, so now they have this “revolution” idea in the works. It’s a risk they’re willing to take. Similarly, in terms of game music, only a market that would take real over synth would warrant having real instruments perform the music. In my opinion, this market doesn’t exist, so why waste money on this extra bit of realism no one really cares about? Like you said, people will buy the CD if it is good, not because it is real.

It's just a theory.

Nino Mojo
06-16-2005, 04:10 AM
oi chotto matte! Nino? I remember when I talked to you on email from Gamsutra!!! I think that was year ago.. mmmm.. yea it was :D

Honto ni ? :)

Nino Mojo
06-16-2005, 04:24 AM
so what's the big deal in making it sound real all the time? This is probably the Japanese philosophy.

In fact, there is no arguing over this I think. It's not about making the thing real or not (you could have the same debate about reality in games then). It's more about the fact that some soundtracks sound insanely UGLY because of the sounds and the obvious fact that the composer was absolutely careless about one or two specificly ugly instruments* or about how it sounds overall depsite sometimes a very well written music. Writing isn't the only skill in music composition.

In my opinion, even if I couldn't care more about the composition, sound is definitely an aspect of music (if not then why would you use different instruments ?:) ).

For example Vagrant Story ingame music sounds absolutely awesome although it's SYNTH orchestra, because it's carefully written and edited in that sens. But on the other hand, some tracks from Yasunori Mitsuda will sometime be very painful because of the strings he picks and the way he uses them (it's only my opinion).

But this could all be up to taste or "ear-training" after all :)


--
*: If I hear anymore of this awful french horn from Advanced Orchestra I think I'll die :) (worms, MGS 1, many others...)

StrangeCat
06-16-2005, 04:40 AM
you bet Nino I remember ! Hai hai Ichinen kan mae!
So hey all this is going to change now because of the hardware, we have DS, the PSP, then the big systems! Sound is going to be lusher, arrangements are going to be fuller. A lot of what you guys are talking about has to do with the what the Systems can handle for sound arrangements. Take the GBA for example most of the bass is this acid bass LOL! Or FM Bass thing. Interms of what a lot people are saying about japan you really need to read the interviews of the composers for those games ;)
A lot of games are sequenced on a keyboard(take Xenosage 2 music bgm) what the hell is most of that stuff LOL!!! that' sequenced on a korg then put into a mac probably protools(everyone in japan uses macs) It all comes down to sound as much as composition like Nino is say'n :n:
The DS arrangements for the new Castlevania Game have much richer sound.
Ninja!

Nino Mojo
06-16-2005, 05:12 AM
It reminds me of something we could compare to this thread.

One of my best friends is living in Japan now, he's a game programmer and he's incredibly skilled (both on low-leveltehcnical stuff and high-level design stuff). He knows personnaly a former japanese Sega programmer (SmileBit), who quit last year.

The guy explained that most game programmers in Japan are totally distanced technically. They make and use crappy graphic engines, using old or bad technology, they code very dirty. He said MOST of them, and NOT ALL of them, look at Gran Turismo and Ico, Ninja Gaiden or Okami, they're all cutting edge graphic technology (I didn't say graphic ART).

The thing is, do they care that they don't all support 60pfs normal mapping with real-time HDRI lightning ? Not at all. They might be old-fashioned on a pure technical standpoint, their game are still mostly the best in terms of design and fun (in my opinion anyway).

On the other hand, I got bored very quickly with Doom 3 and Half Life 2 has a lot of design flaws it seems :)


I don't want to start another debate here of tehcnology versus design or "talent". I just thought it was ineresting to compare that to this topic, since it might be helpful to understand what some people on the board called "japanese philosophy" :)

Cheers :)

StrangeCat
06-16-2005, 04:17 PM
ii da yo! sounds good to me ;)
I don't know anything about that mumbo jumbo technical stuff, I will say that Square Enix has the best hair in any game LOL! XII hair~ just talk to Bethsda about that :D FF7 Advant Children is going to set the standards for CG after it's released for technical and everything mumbo jumbo. I deffintily know the Japanese Philosophy I compose Jpop after all. This was a cool discussion :cool:
ja na
see ya Gamasutra sometime!

lenmar
06-17-2005, 01:37 PM
ii da yo! sounds good to me ;)
I don't know anything about that mumbo jumbo technical stuff, I will say that Square Enix has the best hair in any game LOL! XII hair~ just talk to Bethsda about that :D FF7 Advant Children is going to set the standards for CG after it's released for technical and everything mumbo jumbo. I deffintily know the Japanese Philosophy I compose Jpop after all. This was a cool discussion :cool:
ja na
see ya Gamasutra sometime!

you, sir, are one strange cat... ;)

JamesXIIC
08-08-2005, 02:56 PM
I must say, after completeing Tales of Symphonia, most of the music is NOT performed by orchestra like mentioned in a post right at the start of this thread.

Some of the songs are barely above GM quality and some of the arrangements leave a lot to be desired, though some are pretty good too. It's a mixed bag all in all.

But considering it's a very recent RPG I was disappointed.

I know Shenmue had some of the largest game production values at the time but boy, the music was awesome.

I don't care if it's done by high quality samples or a real orchestra, as long as it's good.

Excellent music is of course excellent regardless of sample quality but it's injustice to let a superb arrangement be let down by 20 year old samples.

Symbiotic
08-08-2005, 05:51 PM
I would have liked to have seen less FMV in Tales of Symphonia (which to me was a near complete waste of space) and more focus on increased quality of the in-game audio. Only the FMV sequences had fully orchestrated music, and the in-game stuff did have that oh-so-early-90's feel to it.

Jimi
08-16-2005, 10:43 PM
I've noticed that some of the Japanese game scores are still composed with cheap sounding synthy sounds, despite the fact the score is supposed to be orchestral, and for AAA titles like Zelda: Wind Waker. Another Japanese game score that struck me as strange because of the use of outdated cheap synth sounds was Metroid Prime. Although that score is supposed to be electronic, it sounds too much like something for really old console games. It makes me wonder why these choices were made. For AAA titles, they definitely have the budget for better resources--from real orchestras, expensive sample libraries, to highend synths/VSTI's, so that doesn't explain the cheap sound. I can't fathom such stylistic choices were on purpose, because they just stick out like sore thumbs in today's high quality game music.

Metroid Prime was not a Japanese game. But the soundtrack (and the entire game, for that matter) sure is a let down after the masterpiece that is the first Metroid.

I'll argue that in fact, game music has taken a huge downhill swing in the modern "3d" era... sure, it's got the shiny dull smooth production, but the monsterpiece soundtrack of a game like Actraiser blows ANY modern game so far out of the water it's not even funny. Actually there is a bitchin live orchestral recording of the original Actraiser soundtrack that leads one to wonder what crack Yuzo Koshiro was smoking when he used this stuff on a game (of course it was an excellent game but that's besides the point).

I dare you to name a single modern game with a soundtrack of the high compositional standards of, say, Zelda 3. One could take these themes and work them into a hell of an orchestral masterpiece.

While I'm at it, I'll offer the further opinion that many classic game soundtracks absolutely destroy any Hollywood movie soundtrack in history without breaking a sweat. There is seriously inspired and original composition on some of these games... take the original arcade Strider, the soundtrack practically carves out it's own genre niche, never to be heard before or since. I'll take that bit of genius over yet another boring 2 note horn fanfare over a bunch of stupid drums and strings drones anyday!

Also, keep in mind that synths never really went out of style in Japan. Sure, we're seeing a bit of 80's revival in the pop scene here in the states, but synths have been drenching alot of Japanese music, mainstream or otherwise, all through the dry spell.

Of course, you're right about Wind Waker, especially considering that the super nintendo Zelda 3 did a better job at sounding like a real orchestra. Check out the first castle music right after you run through the rain, that sounds more realistic than anything in Wind Waker.

Honestly, Nintendo first-party games have been on a steady decline in quality since the introduction of the N64. Just my opinion. Super Metroid kicks ~~~ on any of these new "Big N" games.

Jimi
08-16-2005, 10:58 PM
I know everyone on the NS forums is big on sample use and manipulation but it's possible that it is primarily an American philosophy that a soundtrack is only good if the timbres used are of the utmost quality/current technology. Over there, game music has established itself as a standard type of sound/feel - and when you buy soundtracks to game music , it's primarily a OSV (original sound version) that includes the FM/Synthy tones associated with the game genre.
Jay

I'll admit to being a big fan of many things Japanese. If these games with rompler-style soundtracks bug someone, they should stay far, FAR away from your typical anime TV series title song. Personally, I eat it right up. I still count everytime I hear the war-horse JV series "ballad snare" sample.

Jimi
08-16-2005, 11:09 PM
Hey guys,

Japan is a very different culture. Just look at how huge Comic Books are there. It's insane and again the kind of stuff they are into is strange for many.
I've seen a documentary on those Comic books (forgot the Japanese name) and a lot of them are erotic. There is a whole genre now that involves insects mutants with humans in erotic stories. I mean that's pretty weird if you ask me but hey you'd see grown up men and wowen reading those on the train there at rush hour. . :)

As a long-time graphic novel fan (the term "comic" is an insult to masterpieces like Akira), I must step in and point out that in Japan, as anywhere else, there are as many styles of graphic novels as their are artists and writers. Graphic novels are pretty big in France as well. The US sure has some weird cultural baggage regarding drawings, with this weird unwritten idea that all drawings or animation have to be for children. The REAL "weirdness" is right here under our noses.

In fact there is a precisely traceable history that explains why this came to be, involving censorship, the failure of the Beatles Yellow Submarine movie, and Disney, but I won't go into that now. Suffice to say, "comics" and animation did NOT start out as strictly kids stuff.

Jimi
08-16-2005, 11:12 PM
I love Hip Tanaka's work. But I still think the music for Metroid Prime (1 and 2) is quite good - even though the instrumentation is somewhat limited by today's standards.

I've always wondered... were Kid Icarus and Metroid the only soundtracks he ever did? Both of those soundtrack strongly suggest a musical genius, yet I've never heard anything from him since.

Jimi
08-16-2005, 11:24 PM
Regarding the "mood drone" vs. "memorable theme" argument...
I, and I'm sure many others, often played many of these classic games just to hear the great soundtracks! Take a game like Soulblazer for SuperNES. Extremely memorable, fitting tunes that keep you grooving through the lengthy gameplay.

Nowadays, this type of game (not that top-down action/rpgs are made anymore) would just have a bunch of droney, sleep-inducing synth pads tacked on. These new game "soundtracks" put me to sleep. A game like Soulblazer would be pure tedium without the great soundtrack. AT the end of the day, the droney pads are just an excuse for lazy composition, although this is usualy at the request of the producers who WANT droney pads because they are a bunch of morons in charge of a ridiculous development budget, and have a mandate to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and churn out dull clone product in an attemp to wrestle a few more dollars out of a jaded, consumer whore public.

Cynical? Or does the truth just plain hurt?

Jimi
08-16-2005, 11:35 PM
OK... I've made it through the whole thread... and here are my final thoughts:

Since the rapid decline in the so-called "classical" audience, game music has been one of the last outlets for "art music" in our difficult times. Watching this little oasis steadily eroded and turned into generic Hollywood wannabe muck has been disheartening. A game is one of the few chances a composer has these days of someone actually concentrating on music for an extended period of time.

I know bazillions of game fans (as opposed to people who play games as a mass market phenomenon). Across the board, these fans aren't fooled by generic Hollywood soundtracks. They want GAME soundtracks, which implies a much stronger compositional standard than Hollywood. This is one of the only audiences left for a true orchestral music. For many people, classic game soundtracks have been their only exposure to larger-scale music.

Do we really have to dumb everything down? Do we really have to turn everyone into a blank-faced drone? Can't we for once give the audience a little credit and give their brain something to chew on?

If not, Kraid is coming to kick your arse.

Dirk Pitt
08-17-2005, 09:22 PM
Do we really have to dumb everything down? Do we really have to turn everyone into a blank-faced drone? Can't we for once give the audience a little credit and give their brain something to chew on?
.

I couldn't agree with you more. I wish everyone in "power" felt the same way. Maybe they do, but the mob will always be Rome. It saddens me.




I somewhat disagree with this, I think there's should be a delicate balance between servicing the game and aftermarket product. If the aftermarket product, albeit it CD or sheet music, enjoys a good sale it would only serve to enhance the image of the game... plus you're more likely to be rehire if your music's aftermarket product gives the game company additional revenue.

I second this thought. Its taken me sometime to grow up and realize that my perfect ideals of everyone in the gaming community (specifically the blank-faced-drones) seeing my artistic musical efforts in that "perfect" game is futile, but not without its alluring hope. If even given an opportunity to make a score for game that merits my artistic attention will the player see my ideas and intentions? Its hard to tell. I hope that they would. Its this way even in the mainstream music today thats being rammed down our throats on pop radio. Its fortunate and unfortunate that mhuang is correct in his statement. Primarily unfortunate because we (the artists) are at the mercy of gigantic marketing slugs reminiscent of Jabba the hutt on Tatooine. Fortunate because if those "slugs" do their little monkey dance it could create alot of new jobs available in the market. Granted the newly created jobs will probably be making music for those "blank-faced-drones", but you would still be making video game music for a living, instead of eating top-o-ramen for 10 cents a bag and complaining about that if people were smarter you'd be richer and less hungry.

Just my 10 cents......I mean 0.02 cents. http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif

Sil
08-18-2005, 02:01 AM
While I'm at it, I'll offer the further opinion that many classic game soundtracks absolutely destroy any Hollywood movie soundtrack in history without breaking a sweat. There is seriously inspired and original composition on some of these games... take the original arcade Strider, the soundtrack practically carves out it's own genre niche, never to be heard before or since. I'll take that bit of genius over yet another boring 2 note horn fanfare over a bunch of stupid drums and strings drones anyday!
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not.


Since the rapid decline in the so-called "classical" audience, game music has been one of the last outlets for "art music" in our difficult times. Watching this little oasis steadily eroded and turned into generic Hollywood wannabe muck has been disheartening. A game is one of the few chances a composer has these days of someone actually concentrating on music for an extended period of time.
While I agree with this to some extent (the part about the Hollywood wannabes, not the decline of classical music) this definitely isn't the best place to be making accusations against composers in this style. The most common kind of orchestral sound composers are going to imitate using samples and synths are Hollywood sounds, not only because film scores are what got them into composing in the first place, but because there’s a high demand for that sound in various entertainment industries. O Fortuna, Media Ventures, Edward Scissorhands, etc. these are what directors and producers perceive to be the staples of good musical accompaniment; the kind of things that our generation recognizes and expects. Try to do something new, innovative, and unexpected, you’ll be replaced so fast you’ll even wonder if you were on the project to begin with.

Even better, the latest Hollywood style is so accessible, so easily imitated, especially with the consistent release of sample libraries dedicated to making the orchestra sound bigger and more epic all the time, as if they were specifically intended for certain styles of music. Now it’s become a matter of if you have the means, and the money, then do it. Pretty soon, non-hobbyist composers should become worried that they might be replaced by a younger generation who picked up some sampling software for fun (probably illegally too) and managed to sound exactly like Hans Zimmer or Danny Elfman. Actually, I’m afraid to think of how many out there made it in the industry by sounding like other composers. After all, it’s no secret that film scores are currently in a creative slump of “playing it safe” when compared to previous eras.


They want GAME soundtracks, which implies a much stronger compositional standard than Hollywood. This is one of the only audiences left for a true orchestral music. For many people, classic game soundtracks have been their only exposure to larger-scale music.
I still don't understand this generalization about film music. Are you referring to the past 5 years, past 25, or past 100? The game music of today is largely influenced by film music, so I don’t see how that implies a higher standard. If you are referring to the games of years past, the only real demand on composers was how well they could carry a tune with little more than two-voice counterpoint and polyphony. How does any of this relate to "true orchestral music"?

Jimi
08-18-2005, 03:45 PM
Try to do something new, innovative, and unexpected, you’ll be replaced so fast you’ll even wonder if you were on the project to begin with.


That's a really healthy attitude. Hey everybody, lets all be drones and hail the Great Leader. Sounds great.

Jimi
08-18-2005, 03:53 PM
Just because all the latest clone 3D FPS games have generic wannabe Hollywood soundtracks doesn't mean it's a good trend. You can also argue that the way radio has gone is a good trend. Who am I to argue? Maybe manufactured music is the best. Maybe keeping people sedated with mediocrity is good. It's all subjective, right? Lower expectations enough, and you can make people swallow any piece of sheet product you poop out. This makes the suits happy. Maybe only the suits count? Maybe most of the human race SHOULD be cattle, with a select few morons holding the prods?

Or maybe, just maybe, conventional wisdom can suck my big hairy balls.

Sil
08-18-2005, 05:05 PM
That's a really healthy attitude. Hey everybody, lets all be drones and hail the Great Leader. Sounds great.
I don't like current trends anymore than you do. Though a big Horner fan I am, I preferred Yared’s score to Troy. It’s too bad test audiences don’t agree. Then again, I think it’s safe to say generic movies deserve a generic soundtrack. Why should a generic 3D FPS deserve any more than a generic score?

Jimi
08-18-2005, 06:10 PM
I don't like current trends anymore than you do. Though a big Horner fan I am, I preferred Yared’s score to Troy. It’s too bad test audiences don’t agree. Then again, I think it’s safe to say generic movies deserve a generic soundtrack. Why should a generic 3D FPS deserve any more than a generic score?


That's a fact, jack.

Why blow a good load on a lousy flick?

Then again, I've been noticing more and more cliche soundtracks popping up on otherwise decent movies. You've got that horrible modal arpeggio bit that is re-used left and right, then you've got your little 3/4- 5/4-3/4-5/4 "quirky" riff showing up on comedy movie opening sequences. How many times do I have to hear that? Somebody should be shot.

KingIdiot
08-27-2005, 02:29 AM
getting back to the point of the discussion

there are also liscencing hassles to use the samples. When I did Sly, it was all internal sound bank/MIDI stuff and I couldn't use any of my HUUUGE sample sets, I couldnt even use samples from those sets without express permission to be legal/legit.

I got a few OK's from one or two developers and a alot more adamant NO F'n WAYs! From others. It migth have been the time period the game was done, but thats how it played out.

You also want to go in KNOWING your limitations, so you compose around the sound sets from time to time. Or compose on Piano and do "limited" orchestration around simple melodies (actually strong melodies usually, but simple structures).

Either that or you take the ambient approach (that doesnt always have to mean atonal or lack of strong melodic themes. I threw in alot of themes everywhere I could in a crappy game called Godai. Even tho I aimed for an "ambient" style of music in most places.