Producing game soundtracks
In this article we’ll cover the producing of game soundtracks and how to guide composers so their tracks fit your game and communicate important aspects.
In this occasion, Daniel Ara, helped us to create the OST of Pocahontas Slots, a light casual approach to slot machines with an indian flavour.
At this early stage you should focus on general aspects like music genre (something that fits your theme), tempo (that matches with the game pace), and duration of the track (in this case we are working on an HTML5 game, so we had to keep the main track below a minute in order to keep short preloading times).
Here’s what Daniel came up with as one of the firsts drafts. One of the other two was eventually used as a secondary track for Bonus Rounds. The other draft had a too dark, ominous spirit, so it didn’t match the game tone.
One of the cool things we found here was the ambient landscape using nature sounds. This is something to always keep in consideration. These kind of ambience sounds will reinforce the projection of the world in your game.
Although the composition was a cool draft, it needed a second iteration with a more casual and lighter ambience.
By the use of piccolo (tiny flute) in addition to indian flute, we not only gave the composition a happier feeeling, but also joined the two colliding cultures of the game: the american indians and the european settlers. Besides that, the low rank frequency of the indian drums that created a constant noise was also reduced.
So we definitely had the indian atmosphere, but still there was a music layer missing. The art, the ambience, the game itself, is a pop revision of the story of Pocahontas, so the music should also remind the casual approach to the theme by using a videogamey accompanying melody. An artificial sound opposing the organic instruments performing in the tune that also gave an even happier feeling.
And finally this is the final version of Pocahontas Slots soundtrack. A positive track that resounds like both indian and the settlers musical compositions (broad commonplaces), with a dynamic tempo, a semi-hypnotic pace, and a videogame touch which reminds that there’s no intention to deliver a pretentious or historically accurate composition.
I hope you enjoy Daniel Ara‘s work and appreciate the process which leads to a soundtrack that matches your game needs.
Zombie Cells – Character Design (2/2)
Now we’re going to conclude our little analysis on character design, using the case of Zombie Cells as a reference.
In the previous entry we covered the first stages of char design. That includes the broad brainstorming, pencil sketching, first approaches and absurd ravings that must be identified and rejected before you find yourself falling in love with them.
In this stage of development we chose to depart from that comic/cartoonish style, that resembled Angry Birds, and try something less raw. We wanted some extra details, but not too much. Plain style is perfect, but there’s also a search for visual identity. You have to come to a balance point between simplicity on one side (works better for humorous purposes), and details, which may move you away from bold elegance but make the uniqueness of the design come into bloom.
Again some pencil work helps the designs come out more fluent. But once you have figured out the sketch, the basic design in outlines, you have to color it. Here we found a minor issue about color style, that is very illustrative. The first style makes use of gradients and works out better the volumes of the figure. But as you can see, the effect is quite gloomy, making thus the comic effect fade away. Just check out how different do they look, the exact two cells with just a different color style.
Finally we have to put all the cells together. They are not isolated beings, they must look fine as a group. Having the same visual design is something that we’ll take for granted at this point, but besides this, there’s also the color matching factor. When placed together they have to offer a cool group image (just like them). And assuming is a funny zombie game, we wanted them not to look too grayish or just having variants over green tones. We wanted the whole zombie palette here, to get the richest variety of tones assuming we’re dealing with necrotic cells.