Monday, July 21, 2014

The Perfect Note (Part 1): Musical Balance In Video Games

Hiya folks! It's Cam here back after a month long of neglect, sitting on a few articles that are now no longer relevant. But I digress! I am back to discuss (and snark on) more on the world of video games!

What I was doing instead of finishing articles...

One of the most amusing things to talk about with video game fanboys, for me, is video game music.
Any lover of Eastern RPGs (JRPGs, turn based RPGs, Pokémon, etc.) will almost certainly talk about how great and amazing the music is in the games that they love (...and most of it certainly is pretty good). However, they usually follow it up by referencing some obscure song that, for you, was just some background noise that was happening while you were making a sandwich during that ten minute cutscene.

Don't look at me like that Final Fantasy! You know I was talking about you!

For the most part, the majority of gamers - the casual gamers, if you will - care about two things: gameplay and graphics. Sound effects are often overlooked and cast aside as unnecessary. Background musical elements, even moreso. But if you let them they can be as integral a part of your game as any other element. This article will discuss and celebrate the work of those who compose the background music in games.

Hatty gets it!

First things first: How do you know how integral is music in your current game? This one is pretty easy. While there are many things that can push your focus toward video game music, all of them are fairly easy to notice.
*Does the game mention its music in its advertising or box art?
*Is the music balanced to be fairly loud in comparison to sound effects by default?
*Does the game have music that stands out and sounds NOT generic?
*Does the game use the same stand out music for lots of situations?
*Does the game have remixes for the same stand out music for different situations?
*Is the music recognizable from an earlier instalment from the series?

Anamanaguchi, huh? Must be good!

If you answered 'yes' to any of those things then the musical composers are high fiving each other right now. Their job is to make you thing about music in a medium that could be entirely visual and touch interactive. They made you listen and they deserve a raise.

And Robin as the annoying guy from level design always looking over your shoulder... No high fives for him!

But in all reality, think about how hard that job is. Think about the last game you played and the soundtrack that was with it. Do you think you'll remember that music once you start your next gaming endeavor? If it's generic enough you probably don't even remember what it sounds like right now.

Licensed music doesn't count... Although it is awesome.

"But Cameron," you might rebut, "There are lots of video game songs that should inherently recognizable by any self proclaimed video game practitioner. Yes, this is true. And the reasons I am talking about here are EXACTLY what make those particular songs and arrangements classic. Think about all the games you've ever thought were amazing. How many of them do you know the music to like you know the music of Super Mario Bros.? It's okay. I'll wait.

Everyone sing along! Do-do-doo  do-do-doo    do...

The answer is probably not very many. Because many video games can be played and enjoyed without a soundtrack the musical aspect tends to get overlooked. I hope that the next time you pick up your sticks (that's slang for joysticks, which is slang for controller...) this article compels you to appreciate the people out there who are attempting to enhance your experience through melodies. APPRECIATE!

Make sure you come back tomorrow for Part 2 and find out about some of the most notable songs and soundtracks in my gaming life!


No comments:

Post a Comment