Creating a Game Soundtrack: Interactive and Adaptive Audio

Just as many films now feature a soundtrack music album, typically a compilation by the prolific ‘Various Artists’;-), game soundtracks are already starting to be released as compilation albums, or as ‘composer’ works. For example, soundtracks for several releases of the Final Fantasy game franchise have been released as orchestral works: Music of the Final Fantasy Series. Game soundtracks also seem to be establishing themselves as a bona fide musical genre. For example, the Rhapsody download service already features Video Game Soundtracks as a subgenre of its soundtracks area.

Where the music track provides backing for an inevitable story point, perhaps as the soundtrack to a cutscene, then it can be scored much like a score for a film sequence. In the case of a cutscene, the length of sequence is known, the action fixed, and the lead in and lead out from the scene known in advance.

But if the music is tied to the action, and the action is interactive, maybe even helping drive the creation of an emergent story, things are maybe a little more difficult…?

Skim read through the four page article Defining Adaptive Music and find out how the author defines “adaptive music” (by “skim reading”, I mean: do not read every word – glance through the article looking for appropriate keywords and headings…). How does “adaptve music” compare to a more traditional musical composition?

Now look at this second page of the article Design With Music In Mind: A Guide to Adaptive Audio for Game Designers. To what extent does the design of adaptive audio resemble the design of an emergent narrative structure? What additional constraints must the designer of the adaptive audio track contend with compared to the narrative designer?

If you want to keep tabs on the world of video game music and interactive audio, and maybe find out more, the music4games website and the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group are both worth a visit.

To see a wide variety of examples of game audio, the prettyuglygamesound blog has a growing collection of game audio critiques, with embedded video examples courtesy of Youtube.

From the blog’s ,em>About page:

PrettyUglyGameSoundStudy (or PUGS) is an experiment to gather as many examples of audio in games that people consider either to be ‘good’ (or ‘pretty’) and ‘bad’ (or ‘ugly’). On one hand we wish to get a better understanding of game audio that people consider to work well in games and on the other we would like to get an overview of (typical) game audio blunders, from which the field can benefit. We hope that eventually this archive can grow out to be an inspiration (as well as the occasional good laugh) for those working in the field of game audio.

We are Sander Huiberts and Richard van Tol and we are currently doing PhD research on game audio. For the past three years we have taught a course Game Audio Design at the Utrecht School of the Arts (Netherlands), in which we gave our students an assignment similar to the idea behind PUGS.com (“gather 1 minute of footage of what you consider to be ‘good’ game audio and 1 minute of footage of what you consider to be ‘bad’ game audio”). We ended up with lots of interesting footage as well as discussion points. Through this website we wish to share this footage.

The prohject is a work in progress: “Please feel free to contribute to this website either by uploading your favourite example of good or bad game audio, or by commenting the uploaded examples of others!”

If you do join in, let us know via a comment back here ;-)

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2 Responses to “Creating a Game Soundtrack: Interactive and Adaptive Audio”


  1. 1 Tony Hirst April 25, 2009 at 10:55 am

    See also:
    The use of generative music systems for interactive media. Edo Paulus 2001 (revised 2002) [ http://eude.nl/projects/paper-gmsim/paper-GMSIM.pdf ]


  1. 1 Area of Interest:- Music/Soundtracks For Games- Interactive and Adaptive Audio | tomhayesmusic Trackback on May 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm

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