Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Screeching and other sounds

"Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable."
-Samuel Johnson

IF you write music, you don't need to read this. You will probably just read a few pages of me flopping around in a nomenclature like a suffocating fish.

I don't write music. I don't know anything about wine either, but I know what I like. I have been a fan of all kinds of music since I was old enough to hear. Everything from rap to classical music to bizarre Swedish death metal has, and still does, grace my playlist. Ok not so much the death metal, but sometimes I do enjoy a little rock powered fury on.. the... um... I don't even know that lingo either.

Its really hard to work with musician because I have music in my head, just like I have ideas for characters and games. The hard part is sitting down and writing it out, all I can do for the music is write out the imagery that I want the score to evoke.

I fall back on my film school training for that. I found that the hardest piece we did was the theme song for our Winterbaum district. I had a visual, and I could hear some of the score as I sat in my office and thought about it. I think the master of "winter" themes in his music is Danny Elfman, with Tchaikovsky coming in a close (if not equal) second place. I called the music guys, which in most cases is just the music guy. Peter and Jesse do an amazing job, Jesse is just always busy and when I interface with "the music people" its always through Pete.

Pete showed up and I walked him through this long visual sequence. We start in the frozen wasteland, its barren and lonely, snow is falling. Trees are few and far between, perhaps there is a deer, but the typical forest wildlife is sleeping. We wander around a little, see the winter sights, and then we find ourselves being drawn in to a large mine, its not a mine, its a dwarven mine and as we descend we find the warmth and life that the frozen wasteland above is hiding. Its a party, start the drinking music! Then as our camera of the mind wanders out of the under ground kingdom we are back outside, leaving...

That's how it went, and if you want to hear what they produced please take a moment to download and play Skill City.

You see, when you first log in you hear the Opening Theme. It takes you on an audio walk through the various districts, and when it ends, the jukebox begins. You hear the main theme to each district played in full, and they fade in and out gently so that you hopefully don't notice them too much. The Winterbaum theme is in there. Its actually been revised but only once, the bagpipes had a bit of dissonance in there and I asked for that to be fixed. I also asked for a Porsche and a magical pink horsey but Pete and Jesse can only do so much.

What about the sound effects? Well if you listen closely, and I mean really closely, you can tell that most of them are actually me. Yeah I had a fantastic time screeching and clucking and screaming in to my microphone. I would wager that my neighbors had a fantastic time listening to it too. The cops never showed up though so I'll make sure to be more realistic next game I record.

I start with a list of the events in the game, and then think of events that don't exist visually in the game. Abstract things like getting a combo or "doing good" need sound effects too.

I'm tired now though. Talking about sound effects and how I do all that will give me a good topic for later.

Today flew by, as I got the new website completed. I opened the download.com account too, farewell to $99 dollars but hopefully it will be worth it. Have you seen the new site yet?

Check it out!

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