The Game Composer’s sound effects collection SFX484 is now available direct from The Game Composer! The contract with its former distributor is now over so that means I can offer it directly to game developers and audio professionals on my own site.
To celebrate, I’m dropping the price of this 484 sound collection from the usual $49.95 to $34.95. I don’t know how long this will last, but probably not for more than about a month. Anyway, please check out the collection and consider buying it if you need a good all-around sound effects collection to get a jump start on the audio for your next game. Find out lots more info and hear demos here.
Today, PassionFruit Games announced the project they’ve been working on for the past couple of months. And by “they” I mean “we” as I am a member of the new company along with my wife and the rest of the team that did such good work on the Nancy Drew Dossier games.
…quick digression before moving on… I should mention that Nancy Drew Dossier: Resorting to Danger took home Yahoo Games’ 2009 Hidden Object Game of the Year award and was nominated for their overall Casual Game of the Year, losing out to a little game called Plants vs. Zombies. So that’s a nice little feather under our cap and we feel very good about our new project… which I’m getting back to now…
Today we announced that we have the extremely good fortune of being able to adapt Marjorie M. Liu’s book Tiger Eye to video game form. More specifically, it will be a hidden object casual game with plenty of other puzzles to take you from exciting location to exciting location. The book is in the “paranormal romance” genre, and there are almost no other games of this genre in the US today. We are excited to bring the game to romance readers and casual game players alike.
So what’s this got to do with my GAME MUSIC blog? Well, I am positively giddy about working on this game. All shackles have been removed and I have free reign to make a soundtrack worthy of Marjorie’s story. All told, the game will have between 50 and 60 minutes of music. Every cut scene requiring music will have its own unique music, as will each hidden object scene. The puzzle games will also have their own music. Bye bye, minute loops! I am genuinely excited that this game will be able to avoid the aural repetition so prevalent in even the best of today’s casual games. The size of Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box’s soundtrack would consume too much budget for most casual game companies, but this being our own company, we can do what we want! The main menu music alone is over 7 minutes long. Many casual games are lucky to have 7 minutes of music in the entire game.
The game’s entire soundtrack will be available to buy as a bundle with the game in April when it is released. And if you preorder the game now you can get the 7-minute “Tiger Eye Suite” instantly, a good sneak peek at what the rest of the soundtrack will sound like. Here are two short samples:
Riddle Box theme:
The 7-minute main menu suite takes us through three musical themes. The first is the “riddle box” itself and serves as the overall theme of the game. The player will hear it in many incarnations as they play through the game. The second is the love theme between the two main characters, Dela and Hari. The third musical theme is based on the Magi… a very very bad guy indeed. The suite wraps up with the riddle box theme again presented in a much more positive setting (minor to major of course).
The flute is played by an excellent local professional musician, Dane Andersen. His playing instantly added so much life to the music and is once again proof that you should bring in live players as often as time and budget will allow.
I should also add that over the past week I’ve been editing (and finally finished yesterday) the game’s voice files. Voice actors really help bring the characters to life, and having voice is probably even more important in a romance game. Marjorie was integral in the selection of the voice actors so hopefully we’re getting something very near to what she intended her characters to sound and behave like.
I will keep you posted as we continue working on this game. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as we have our dream team together and a dream license to work on. Maybe I don’t have absolute free reign, as the music of course needs to complement the game, but it is coming together already as something very special. You can expect a full post-natal on this once it’s been released.
Yesterday I learned that the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences unveiled their finalist lists for their 12th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards. One category stood out to me as being very silly:
Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack
Guitar Hero World Tour – Activision – Neversoft Entertainment
LittleBigPlanet – Sony Computer Entertainment America – Media Molecule
Motorstorm Pacific Rift – Sony Computer Entertainment America – Evolution Studios
Rock Band 2 – MTV Games – Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.
Singstar PS3 Vol. 1 – Sony Computer Entertainment America – SCE London Studio
So what particular skill went into assembling these track lists? As far as I know, these soundtracks are just playlists of the producers’ favorite tunes or, more likely, tunes that they thought would help their games get more sales. Seems like nothing more than either personal preference or marketing decisions, probably the latter. How do you give an award for a playlist? Seems like nonsense to me.
Or even worse, this could just be considered to be an award for who can cough up the most dough to give to the record companies to license their tunes.
That said, I am torn on who I hope wins between two of the choices. I would love to see Little Big Planet win because their list seems more varied and includes a track from Prokofiev’s soundtrack to Alexander Nevsky. But Rock Band 2 has Weezer, the greatest band in the world (or something like that).
Have you been in a Best Buy lately? I don’t know about the one(s) in your city, but the one here in North Seattle has a brand new corner which sells guitars, drum kits, keyboards, and various other musical instruments and accessories. As I was perusing the DVD section last month (looking for the new Doctor Who Season 4 set – whoo!) I was surprised when I saw the giant wall of guitars hanging in the new corner room of the store. I walked into the new section and quickly wanted to run back out. There’s something about those mega-chain instrument stores that make me very uncomfortable. It’s probably that horrible Guitar Center customer service experience I had a few years ago which forced me to try and dissuade everyone I know from ever shopping there, but that’s a story for another time (maybe those failed rockers, who look down their noses at up-and-coming kids who may have more talent in their kneecap than they have in their entire body, shouldn’t be dealing with the public).
But I digress. A couple weeks later, I did walk back into that corner of the store and I saw a decent selection of stuff and a worker who was more than happy to let me check out the place on my own. I don’t know if their prices are any good or if they had the latest versions of all the Gibson guitars, but I couldn’t help but think there is one and only one reason for that part of the store to now be there:
Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
The kids today all want to rock! And that’s a great thing. The more kids out there are rocking and learning about the great hits of yesterday and today – how they’re constructed, how they’re performed, what they’re saying – the less they will be inclined to accept inferior music. It can only help raise the quality of popular music. And, perhaps, put an end to the reign of the record companies. With the internet, those record companies are now dinosaurs, chewing on whatever they can to stay alive… even the hand that is currently feeding them!
“The amount being paid to the music industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small.” – Edgar Bronfman Jr., head of Warner Music (Aug 7, 2008)
They still don’t get it! These games are responsible for reviving interest in so many of the artists on all these record labels. I have younger friends who have now bought Boston albums thanks entirely to Rock Band. It warms my heart to see them appreciate the genius of the band who gave the world Foreplay/Long Time. Sure, I was initiated long ago but these poor youngins grew up musically crippled by the likes of Hansen and Vanilla Ice.
“I think the industry as a whole needs to take a very different look at this business and participate more fully. If that does not become the case, as far as Warner Music is concerned, we will not license to those games.” same dude, same day
Argh! Music is no longer a commodity. There’s something to be said for musical education, performance and otherwise, and the latest generations are growing up more musically literate and won’t be as easily manipulated by the evildoers of the RIAA. Quality has a way of killing mass production.
Long live rock. Long live video games. And go ahead and keep selling those instruments, Best Buy. You have my blessing. Every guitar sold is a nail in the coffin of the senile old record companies.
I guess it’s a little late to be calling the DS Lite the “new” DS. But that’s how I still think of it. I better get over that habit as Nintendo has announced their newest model of the DS, the DSi. The main difference I’m interested in is its ability to read SD cards and play MP3′s. Does that mean you can play your own music within a game? I hope so!
You’d think as a game composer I’d be against that sort of thing, but as a gamer I’m all for it. I’m under no illusion that even the best game music is not going to get old after hour upon hour of play. It will, and the game player should have options. The pundits are saying Nintendo is releasing this new model to compete with the extra features of Sony’s PSP, a nice multimedia machine. Well, whatever the case I hope Nintendo keeps on the forefront of innovation and adds the camera and MP3 player to its long list of new ways to interact with games.