GWW Radio Presents What’s Your Issue? #1 – Music in Games

Thanks so much for joining us for the kick-off episode of this new venture at GWW, we call What’s Your Issue? From time-to-time, the staff of GWW will debate and discuss a focused issue in one of the areas that we cover on the site. It might be gaming, or comics, movies, TV, or tech. It might be about the culture or the business. You never know. We then distribute the same issue-based questions via our Twitter feed (so you have to follow to be part of the conversation! see what we did there?) and discuss the topic with our readers, listeners, and followers. Sometime thereafter, co-host Everett Harn and I and various guests from the GWW staff get together to explore that topic in more detail, read some of the Twitter feedback, and wrap it all together in a short form podcast. Finally, we take the show and the staff discussion and post it all here, for you to read or listen to at your convenience! The show is also available via iTunes, so feel free to pick your poison.

Thanks to members of the GWW Staff and to our fans who participated in the conversation. We think this is the start of something wonderful and we look forward to you joining us for the next installment and many more thereafter. Peace.

In this first episode, the staff, spurred by the week’s coverage of the Marty O’Donnell vs Bungie court case, mull over the importance of music and sound in games. What makes it good, what makes it bad, why is it important? The opinions range pretty far and wide, so let’s get started!

Staff Discussion Transcript from Saturday, 12 September 2015

Agasicles Stamas

WYI Issue #1 for Saturday, September 12, 2015: “What games have you played where the music OR sound (including sound effects) made the game, or was one of the significant characters in the game, or inherently defined the atmosphere of the game as you remember it and why or what do you remember or think of that was most significant about the music and/or sound?”

Everett Harn

Just off the top of my head I would obviously need to point out Journey, as the game has no dialog and focuses wholely on music and sound

I actually use the Journey Theme on my PS4 now so anytime my PS4 is still on the home screen it’s just playing the Journey game music 😛

Tyler Pollock

Bioshock. The sounds and music of Rapture is one of the most defining features of that game really lent itself to the atmosphere of that ruined city.

Everett Harn

2nd is Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The music in that game… oh lawd. I could listen to the soundtrack everyday

C.K

Majora’s Mask too

Everett Harn

3rd: Final Fantasy VII which is obvious. I’ll need some time to go deeper into why I like all these but that’s mine

C.K

ff8 had an amazing score

Everett Harn

yea Majora’s used a lot of the same music but I think OoT’s music is the original and best

C.K

right, mm added some pretty eerie twists though

Everett Harn

Now ask me to choose between the Gerudo Valley theme or the Cosmo Canyon theme from FVII and I couldn’t choose.

Lance John

I turn off the music in most video games I play

Everett Harn

Halo is a great pick too. Let me just say I have every album that Video Game Orchestra has put out

lol

Hotline Miami

@Agasicles Stamas we’re going to need more than 20 mins 😛

Tyler Pollock

Oh Kingdom Hearts for me, obviously

Everett Harn

oh yea

I could listen to Hikari and Passion 1000 times over

Agasicles Stamas

For me, one of the most significant is that opening sequence to Civilization IV. That song is Baba Yetu, which is the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili set to music. It is such an amazing piece of vocal and instrumental work and so entirely defines the theme of that entire franchise for me, but that version in particular. It’s a big deal for me in this time of constantly questioning the inclusiveness and diversity in games, for that team to elect to make the opening song one of African origin.

Everett Harn

I looooooove Baba Yetu!

Agasicles Stamas

Hold on to that thought @Lance John because that is an angle I want us to tackle in this discussion today, too.

Everett Harn

The Yogscast use Baba Yetu in their Civ V videos and I always get it stuck in my head

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Agasicles Stamas

I’m onboard for the Halo music too, which is one reason I was so interested in the Marty O’Donnell case. That is one of the very few franchises where I have played all games of the trilogy (let’s not talk about Halo 4 and after) from start to finish and the music is the thing that stands out most in my memory. The Halo soundtrack is definitely part of the soundtrack of my life. When I need to be a hero, it’s one of the potential anthems that comes on in my head.

Everett Harn

haha same here

Everett Harn

Grant Kirkhope, composer of Banjo-Kazooie, Tooie, and Viva Pinata has a special place in my heart haha

and he’s doing the music for Yooka-Laylee. One reason I backed it on Kickstarter

VGL was in Stockholm recently. I wish I had the chance to go

Ethan Martinez

Anyone listen to the castle crashers soundtrack?

I thought it sounded pretty great

Everett Harn

I’ve got the game but I haven’t played it yet. Waiting on @Tommy Oxford to get his stuff together so we can play together

Ethan Martinez

We should all play in a party of 3, on pc? Or xbox?

Everett Harn

PC

Ethan Martinez

I have pc

Oh cool

Everett Harn

that’d be fun

Tommy’s comp works, just need to get a time

Ethan Martinez

Yeah

Everett Harn

It’s a huge topic. I forget how much I like the music in games like Skyrim

World of Warcraft even has some damn good scoring

Ethan Martinez

Binding of isaac rebirth has what I wouldn’t call a good “listening” soundtrack, it just sounds fantastic, and is super fitting for all the levels

Everett Harn

Then you got games like Crypt of the Necrodancer where you have to move and fight at the beat of the music

that game is 100% all about the music

and when you get closer to the shop keeper the music changes to a version where he is singing Opera to the song

Shameless promotion

Ethan Martinez

Haven’t played that game, but is sounds like rhythm heaven fever, it had a decent soundtrack, it’s just hard to listen to after you sister plays the same song on it over and over like 20 times

Everett Harn

lmfao yep

cool thing about that game though

each level has 3 song variations you can play

3 different composers

helps with that exact issue

Ethan Martinez

Really? Huh, I never knew that

Agasicles Stamas

I have another soft spot for the Need for Speed series. The songs in each iteration of that game are so amazing because I am so surprised that they go after bigger talent for some of those and many of the songs are written specifically for the game soundtrack. In some cases, the songs are used in several releases, so when I hear those songs I recall all the different versions of NFS I’ve played through the years on all of the different platforms.

And I’ve heard a lot of artists on songs in that game that I did not know about and then went and checked them out because I heard their song in NFS.

Ethan Martinez

Need for speed has a fantastic soundtrack, I just wish they would put a radio in to choose which song you want

Ethan Martinez

Just remembered, donkey kong country for SNES had some of the best music ever

Agasicles Stamas

Good point @Ethan Martinez . So let’s go back to @Lance John comment that he turns the music off in most games. Some games lend themselves better to letting you supply your own soundtrack, either in game or externally. What games are those for you and what music do you make your own gametraxx for and how?

Ethan Martinez

Oh I like doing that sometimes too, I usually play binding of isaac with a podcast going with music turned off and sfx down lower

Agasicles Stamas

What about MOBA’s? I am sure the games crew plays lots of those and do you guys use your own music in the background?

Everett Harn

I know DOTA is supposed to have good music

but I play a lot of games on mute while watching TV or listening to pods

Ethan Martinez

I want play dota but i also dont want to be screamed at by angry dota players

I could never really get into moba games

Everett Harn

Giant Bombcast did a great David Wise (Donkey kong) vs Kirkhope (Banjo Kazooie) debate

was super good

Tyler Pollock

Whenever I’m replaying a game I mute it so I can listen to pods

Ethan Martinez

Same here unless great soundtrack or just dont feel like it

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Agasicles Stamas

For shooters and racing games, I will sometimes have an iPod or a PC plugged into speakers and the controls within reach to use my own music archive. I listen to lots of rap and movie soundtracks for those sessions. Ditto for space and flight Sims. Nothing like Star Wars music in the background for a dogfight!

Ethan Martinez

Futuristic Star wars music + WW2 era planes = oddly fun game

C.K

any time I got too spooked by bosses when i was younger I’d turn down the soundtrack and put on really goofy stuff. nothing like fighting phantom ganon with grease in the bg

Agasicles Stamas

I don’t use music @C.K for that, but yeah, if I play a horror game I try to stop 30 minutes before bedtime at least and play something lighter and funnier.

C.K

same! I can’t decide if something like five nights at Freddie’s would be improved or made significantly more unnerving with Broadway or Kpop in the background, ha.

Agasicles Stamas

Since we’re getting into horror, let’s talk sound effects like @Tyler Pollock did at the outset. I agree about Bioshock; there’s just nothing like that first time that you hear a Big Daddy or a Little Sister around the corner. For me, last year’s Outlast had amazing sound. And it made me think this morning that there is this other thing, where music, sound effects, and lighting are the key components to game atmosphere. As lighting in a game becomes darker and less frequent, the need for great music and sound increases. Outlast did such a great job of using these three elements to render one of the scariest atmoshpere I’ve ever experienced

Tyler Pollock

See I haven’t finished Outlast, I started it but yeah you’re so right all the little tiny footsteps and electrical buzzing reaalllyy gives a creepy atmosphere to that

Leon Field

I think Last of Us comes to mind the most for me when I think about building tension in a game, the clickers just have this pretty messed up noise that made me tense up. Another game that makes use of creepy creature noises is Siren: Blood Curse not many people have played that game but the Japanese setting and it’s incredibly creepy cast of monster was really aided by intensity building music and the monsters gibbering to themselves.

Ethan Martinez

I actually really like the clicker noise in the last of us, it did build up tension but I just thought it sounded really cool

Everett Harn

Until Dawn had some great horror ambience. You can hear people whispering like half the game

Ethan Martinez

Dead space had some great tension building noises

Leon Field

Dead Space has a fantastic score and use of FMOD for sound the audio is blended together really well and that coupled with the diegetic UI combined to make a pretty immersive experience for me. The noises the necromorphs make are also damn creepy but also unique enough that you can often know what’s coming based on the bloodcurdling hunting calls of the things coming for you.

Ethan Martinez

The UI was so great, they managed to incorporate all of it into the real game, rather than just making a HUD

Leon Field

Yeah I really like the RIGs place in the universe being consistent across the player experience as-well..

Ethan Martinez

Didnt know what fmod was so I looked it up, that looks like a pretty great audio program for games

Leon Field

yeah we start teaching evening classes on it this year at the college we are all really excited to see what we can do with it

Ethan Martinez

Oh cool

I have been trying to learn ue4 basics through just looking stuff up, I can now make my own skyboxes

Leon Field

sweet

there’s tons of free tutorials

Ethan Martinez

I love the material system, it reminds me of when I would use blender

Leon Field

we teach blender to the level 1/2 course here and 3ds max to level 3, both are pretty sweet modelling programs.

Ethan Martinez

Yeah, I always used blender because I don’t have the money for programs like 3ds max, they all look fantastic. Although I think if I could purchase any program, it would be Substance painter

Leon Field

3ds max is now free for educational institutes so when you get an email attached to a school you should be able to get it for free

Ethan Martinez

Oh cool, I think I might have one

Just found a substance designer free alternative, its called 3d-coat

 

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