With the advent of sites like RocketHub and Kickstarter we’ve started to see more and more Indie game studios seek funding for their projects. A number of them have managed to reach their goals and even get their games onto platforms like Steam. One such studio called Geeta Games recently released their game Lilly Looking Through, a short point-and-click adventure game for PC and Mac. The game itself has a very calm and relaxed pacing similar to games like Myst, which shouldn’t be surprising since the lead game designer, Steve Hoogendyk, has previously worked on the Myst series. The game focuses on a girl named Lilly who must find and rescue her younger brother after he is kidnapped by mysterious forces. As a genre that relies on having a calm and contemplative atmosphere, it’s important to have a score that can enhance that experience. The composer asked to meet this challenge is Chris Beazer, who has done some previous work in both films and games.
Much like the game, the orchestral score is mysterious and melancholic. The first piece on the album “Allure” sets the mood perfectly for what you can expect from the game and the rest of the soundtrack. This opening piece features the celesta (the instrument with the resonant bell-like sound) and the flute, with harmonic accompaniment from the strings and choir. The celesta and choir in particular gives the game a sense of wonder and foreboding as Lilly sets off to explore new and strange places. Like most adventure games, there isn’t a whole lot of dramatic or fast paced action. As a result, the music remains calm and relaxing, providing the perfect background for players to sit back and think as they solve the game’s many puzzles. A majority of this is accomplished by focusing on instrumental solos, often a woodwind instrument or the celesta, which are harmonically supported by a handful of other instruments, often the strings and slow synth pads. (more…)
Recently the Bandcamp Weekly, a podcast hosted by Andrew Jervis, had a special show featuring interviews with various videogame music composers. During the podcast, Jervis spoke with Danny Baranowsky, Laura Shigihara, Austin Wintory, Jim Guthrie, Disasterpeace, and Big Giant Circles about their careers, the nature of game music, and their approaches to writing music. The show of course featured music by the composers themselves, as well as some selections from other videogame music albums.
It’s a great 90 minutes of discussion about various aspects of the game industry and how composers and their music are involved. For those of you looking to learn about some of the artists in the game music world, especially the indie games, it’s a great introduction and you may just find yourself checking out some new tunes to add to your library. Definitely give this podcast a listen.
On September 14, the MIT campus hosted the second annual Boston Festival Indie Games. The one-day event featured games by local independent developers, talks by people from the game industry, and viewings of gaming documentaries. To end the event, a concert was held at the Middle East Downstairs, a small music venue just a few blocks away from the MIT campus. This concert, titled Boston Plays Indies, featured music by Deadbeatblast, Control Group, DJ Cutman, and the Video Game Orchestra. I had the chance to see the VGO (Video Game Orchestra) perform before and I was also familiar with the work of DJ Cutman, but I was not as familiar with either Deadbeatblast or Control Group. Having some idea of what to expect, I entered the club and took my seat for what ended up being a great evening of music.
Starting up the show was solo artist Deadbeatblast, a chiptune DJ from Toronto, Canada who’s setup consisted of two Nintendo Game Boys and a set of devices to mix and manage the audio being generated by the two handheld devices. All of the music was original work by the artist. No covers or remixes, but all of it created with the 8-bit sounds available to him on the Nintendo hardware. To describe the music as simply chiptune or 8-bit is too inaccurate and vague. Many of the pieces he performed had an aggressive and experimental sound, similar to what you would hear in industrial genre music. Even with this experimental vibe, Deadbeatblast’s tunes maintained a good steady dance beat that the audience could rock out too. A particular favorite of mine was “Hyperspace”, a piece that started with a simple pattern and steadily built up as he continued to stack more and more music elements into the mix. Pieces took sudden but brief shifts in tempo, incorporated improvised interruptions, and always kept me guessing as to where the music would go next. The performance was full of great rhythms, memorable moments, and some great chiptune sounds. He has definitely made a fan out of me. (more…)
It seems that if you have the talent and the drive, game developers are able to go it alone these days. Jonathan Blow (Braid), Daisuke Amaya (Cave Story) and now Tom Francis with Gunpoint are all single developers that have made it to the top. The opposite almost seems to be true for game soundtracks. Famously, Jonathan Blow selected several tracks from the website Magnatune, all from different artists, and the final fantasy series has several composers on hand to write music. Tom Francis seems to have gone for the multi composer route by choosing 3 artists to write the soundtrack for his game, Gunpoint.
(Amaya is the exception, as he wrote all his own music for Cave Story.)
After the jump, I’ll let you in on who all wrote the soundtrack for this riveting new indie game, and what I thought of each composer’s work respectively. (more…)
Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome Michael Hoffmann to our writing team! This young composer has his own blog, Video Game Notes, and has expressed interest in sharing his take on his peers’ work from time to time. He’ll also be doing some concert reporting, including a report on the recent BFIG “Boston Plays Indies” show that VGO, DJ Cutman and others performed indie game music live! We’re excited to have Michael writing on the site! He makes his debut with a review for the Monaco soundtrack. Enjoy!
When you think of music for a stealth/action game, what do you usually imagine? Perhaps some somber and serious orchestral scoring to provide a tense atmosphere. Maybe something more electronic and minimalist that builds in intensity as you delve deeper into enemy territory. Would you ever guess Ragtime music reminiscent of the silent film era? I must admit that when I loaded up the game Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine, that was the last thing I was expecting to hear. Written by Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory, Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine OST provides a fresh new approach to music for the stealth/action genre.
More after the jump! (more…)
The good folks at Joypad Records continue to attract new and interesting talent for new VGM arrangements. Surely by now y’all have heard the glory of Smooth McGroove, right?
I wanted to take a moment to highlight some new releases that I’ve been very much enjoying. First up (and pictured above) is the debut album from Videri String Quartet, entitled “Portals.” I haven’t heard a good string quartet album in awhile, so I was excited to check this one out. It features a collection of generally well-known tunes, including full medleys for a handful of popular games including The Legend of Zelda, Halo and Final Fantasy VII. It’s available on Loudr for 12.00 USD. Full disclosure: I first found out about this album from a press release written by none other than OSV’s illustrious Jayson Napolitano.
Another great little album worth checking out is the first in a series of albums from a collective calling themselves “Project Destati.” For those of you who somehow forgot, “Destati” is the name of one of the best up-tempo, intense battle themes from Yoko Shimomura’s Kingdom Hearts compositions. Project Destati intends to release a lot of music … for now, they have a 5-track, 18-minute EP out called “Awakening.” It’s available on Loudr for 3.00 USD. I learned about this one via an RPGFan news story.
There are other new albums worth checking out as well: I’ll put in my own recommendation for DJ Cutman and Spamtron’s “MeowMeow & BowWow” — which serves as an EDM-style tribute to the Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening.
The Boston Festival of Indie Games (aka “Boston FIG” or just “BFIG”) is going to have an awesome music concert this year. On September 14th at the venue “The Middle East Downstairs,” a cavalcade of awesome musicians will be performing –live– renditions of great indie game music. Performers include:
The Video Game Orchestra
Darren Korb (composer for Bastion!)
Control Group (a band featuring Darren Korb)
deadbeatblast (on visuals, etc)
I’d personally recommend anyone in and near Boston attend the entirety of BFIG. But if you can’t make the whole convention, be sure not to miss this exciting concert! We’re not sure what all will be covered at the show, but I would be surprised if we didn’t hear music from FEZ, Super Hexagon, Bastion (obviously), and many more…
I suspect that when Disasterpeace started this remix project he got more of a response than he bargained for. Considering the popularity of FEZ and the high praise the music received, I’m not surprised that a remix project ended up spanning two “virtual” discs. FZ: Side Z is the second remix album based on the music from FEZ and released shortly after FZ: Side F. It follows along the same tradition with a multitude of remixes, a mix of DJs, performers and game composers; and, once again, it contains a huge variety of styles and genres, exceeding the previous album by seven tracks.
For my thoughts on the album, and links to purchase this bad boy, follow along after the jump! (more…)
Editor’s Note: Hey everyone, Patrick here. After announcing that OSV would be going into a state of inactivity, I got an influx of support in the mailbox, including a lot of requests to write for the site. No one willing to take up the mantle of managing editor, mind you, but still plenty of great people with plenty to offer.
One of the people to write in was British composer/arranger Richard McDonald. I was excited by his passion, his thoughtfulness, and his taste in music.
So without further ado, I present to you Richard’s first of, hopefully, many articles on OSV. What we have here is a brief review of “FZ: Side F” (the first of two arrange albums for FEZ). Enjoy it, after the jump! (more…)
*All art assets, including the above logo, are work-in-progress and may not be representative of the final product
In my last post, I hinted at a reason as to why I could no longer act as managing editor of OriginalSoundVersion. Today, I reveal what that reason is: I’m throwing my hat in the indie game ring.
After the jump, I’ll provide some initial details about this project, including the key asset developers (art/music) and a rough timeline. But for now, let me make the following statements as the two key reasons why I can no longer be an active part of OSV:
1) Time management. I can only devote so much time to playing games and writing about games if I am also simultaneously trying to make a game (this also explains my waning activity on my personal blog Gameosaurus).
2) Conflict of interest. Those of you who go on to read this full article will see that many of the people I’ve recruited for this project are people whose works have been evaluated in the past (generally in a very positive light). To continue writing about their works, or the works of their professional colleagues and (real or perceived) rivals, would be inherently biased in a whole new way, since I am now working with them on our own project.
Again, OSV will continue to live on. But my focus for the coming months and years (should it take that long) will be on this exciting new Visual Novel game project. Details after the jump! (more…)
The sole (lyrical) vocal track from Module’s original album Imagineering (released last year, reviewed here), entitled “The Pieces Fit,” now has a music video. I am psyched out of my mind to watch it.
For those who don’t remember, Jeramiah “Module” Ross is the New Zealand-based musician who was also responsible for the hit soundtrack for the game Shatter. If you’ve never seen it, that soundtrack also has its own music video, for the song “Amethyst Caverns.”
Our “Other Release” category — a catch-all miscellaneous category for stuff that isn’t technically game music, but close enough that you all probably know about it — had some great nominees. There were plenty more than six albums to choose from. But we narrowed it to six, and now we’re going to give the bronze / silver / gold medals. Well, digital medals. Still pretty sweet, though (thanks Connary!).
So, in case you’ve forgotten our nominees for Best Other Release:
Black Ocean (IMERUAT)
Indie Game: the Movie (Jim Guthrie)
Make Music, Throw Music (SleepyTimeJesse, et al)
SOUNDSHOCK 2: FM FUNK TERRROR!! (Various Artists)
And the winners are… (more…)