Blasting some cool tunes: The music of Manticore RISING
Today we get to speak about the combat music of Galaxy on Fire - Manticore RISING... a pretty interesting topic not only for audio freaks!
In the past, we have shared quite a few videos, screenshots and other visual assets of our new sci-fi shooter Galaxy on Fire - Manticore RISING with you. The reason for this is simple. The game looks tremendously beautiful and its high-end 3D graphics are one of its strongest features. But that is by far not all the game has to offer, as its soundscape is absolutely top-notch as well! So for today’s blog we sat down with our audio director Philipp and talked about video game music in general and the smashing tunes of Manticore RISING in particular. The latter have been written and recorded exclusively for our game by Hamburg-based composer Alex Pfeffer, who will also take care of the music of our upcoming mobile game Galaxy on Fire 3 - Manticore. To learn more about him and his work, visit his official homepage and follow his Twitter account.
A snapshot of our audio director Philipp at his work space in our office in the center of Hamburg, Germany...
The first thing Philipp told us is that in-game music (which means music that accompanies the action parts and not the cut scenes) is quite different from the songs you blast on your iPod or the score that accentuates a movie, for example. This is because video games, unlike music albums or TV films, are not consumed passively, but performed actively. Thus, you cannot cue in-game music precisely to a pre-defined sequence plan as the action on the screen changes from player to player and from session to session. To handle this peculiar situation, music for interactive media has to abide by a number of rules that do not apply to linear music.
That's what the combat loop you can listen to below looks in Fmod, the tool Philipp uses to arrange the music.
Philipp illustrates this using the example of the tunes that play during the dogfights of Manticore RISING. Game combat music, he says, has to follow three basic rules. First, it has to be “loop able”, which means that it has to consist of smaller bits that can be repeated and rearranged infinitely. This is important, because one player may finish a certain level in 4 minutes while another player might take five times as long for the same challenge – and still both of them need to have music playing for as long as they are engaged in the game. Second, game combat music should not have a significant climax, as this would not conduce to immersion. If you want to increase the intensity of the music in a video game, you have to work with layers instead. And last but not least, game combat music should not contain too many solo instruments or solo passages, because they have a tendency to make the music appear monotonous after a while. This has to do with the way our subconscious perceives and embeds these kinds of sounds.
Two minutes of space music extravanganza... put on your headphones, turn up the volume and enjoy this cool tune!
The example above – a combat loop from the Trim region of Manticore RISING – illustrates how game music is build up and synched with on-screen events. The track begins with the area theme, which plays as soon as the player enters the region. About 10 seconds in, it switches to the exploration theme, which kicks in when you have roamed around in an orbit for a while. But don’t let the tranquility fool you. Half a minute later, gloomy beats and menacing rhythms herald the arrival of an enemy fleet. The music now becomes more agitated and stays like this until the fade-out tells us that the last pirate got killed and order got restored.