Music is incredibly important for any game. It allows you to set the mood, change the pacing and alert the player to things that are happening around them. It is an incredibly important tool for creating an atmosphere in a game. A single bit of music and can change the emotion of a scene, can cause tension or even be used to reward the player.
Music is so important!
Fringe Planet currently has one musical track – the title/main menu music. However, the in-game music is going to be handled slightly differently from the way most games handle music. Before I talk about this, let me say a huge thanks to Mendel Bouman who is composing the music for Fringe Planet – and who constantly puts up with my demands to make music sound more eldritch. Which happens a lot to be honest.
So how is music handled in Fringe Planet? The key thing here is that I want the music to be dynamic, I want the music to be a reflection of exactly what is going on in the world. I want it to lend to the atmosphere of the game. I also want to use certain musical cues to freak out/mess with the player. So how am I going to achieve this? Well, all in game music will be split into three different categories : core loops, situational and locational. All the examples given below are very rough, minimal and short in nature – something Mendel has sent me over to start building the musical system – they won’t be featured in the game, but will give you an indication of how the system will work.
Core loops are the central musical hook of the game. These act as the “grounding” for music in the game – a minimal background loop that acts as the the foundation for the other two types of music to work with. Something that is pleasant to listen too – but not too complex.
This is where the fun starts. These are loops that will be triggered by certain events in game – either through story teller activity, weather or simply time. For instance there will be a track to indicate light snow, heavy snow. Also sunrise and sunset (and this is an example of a sunset concept).
There are certain areas in the game that I want to have certain feelings associated with. Some of these are naturally generated (the portal, visiting islands) and some of these will be player placed (machine areas, ritual sites). Having a location loop slowly fade in as the camera moves toward an area will help me use the music to generate these feelings.
Though the tracks by themselves seem quite simple (and made doubly so as these are placeholder) – when they are combined together you get a rich tapestry of sound that not only adds atmosphere to the game, but also will give you an idea of what is going on without even looking at the screen.
I’m incredibly excited by this system, the potential for story telling and adding to the atmosphere of the game is huge. Adding to this, establishing situational hooks (such as sunrise and sunset) – will create a sense of routine to the player. I’m sure everyone at some point has hidden in a dirt cave in Minecraft during the night, only to feel safer once the sun rise music has started to play. Creating routine is excellent – and messing with the routine to throw a player off balance is even better (honestly, I’m actually quite a nice guy).
There is a lot more to read about Fringe Planet… why not try: