Ever want to really turn up the immersive experience with your tabletop gaming? How about having custom soundtracks to provide background sounds to your RPGs? That’s the focus of Syrinscape – a sound design app that adds a variety of background sound to your tabletop gaming.
Syrinscape uses a powerful audio engine and complex algorithms to produce ever-changing soundscapes and rich encounter specific music. SoundSets are made up of numerous independently controllable ‘elements’, each representing a component of the audio environment. Each ‘element’ distributes randomly chosen samples into the 3D environment surrounding the listener. All this works together to create immersive sound with no annoying repetitions or patterns.
As the product’s website and the introductory Youtube video highlight, you can use samples from a variety of landscapes and settings including fantasy, gothic, cyberpunk and more. The Syrinscape player itself if free to download, and you purchase individual soundsets in their store or purchase a monthly subscription to access all soundsets in their library as well as any future releases as they come out. Some soundsets are for specific tabletop games, as their most recent release, A Song of Silver SoundPack, is the “complete audio solution for the fourth chapter of the Pathfinder RPG Adventure Path: Hell’s Rebels.”
The app can be run on PC, Mac, tablet or even smartphone and custom tailored for specific sound experiences within individuals tabletop games. You can check out more on their website or Facebook page.
For the next installment of the Community Question we want to take things back a ways. How far back? All the way. Back to your first video game music soundtrack purchase or acquisition, if it happened to be a gift or maybe a “steal”. We’re not judging. For the sake of this one we’ll put aside homemade recordings or rips; that’ll make for a nice follow up question down the line. Let us know what your first game music album was (and if you still have it) in the comments while I get things started.
I’d forgotten the details behind how I got my first official album and had to do some quick Googling just now. It turns out that Sonic the Hedgehog Boom was my very first game music album and pre-order bonus. By clipping a coupon from the ad above (scan courtesy of Dinosaur Dracula) and heading to Toys ”R” Us you could put $10 down on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and get a copy of the album when the game launched on February 2nd, 1994. I’m not sure why the coupon was necessary but I’d do whatever it took to grab a legitimate video game soundtrack released to the US. It didn’t hurt that I was already going to get Sonic 3.
The album itself is both noteworthy and a little strange. For a Sonic 3 pre-order bonus you’d think it might contain at least one song from the game but the tracklist features 23 songs from Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball instead. These aren’t just ripped right from the source and slapped on a disc either. The first 19 tracks include some extended versions of Sonic CD’s US soundtrack and the music from Sonic Spinball is completely rearranged. I’m happy to say that unlike a lot of games I’ve owned, I still have every soundtrack I ever bought, including this one. The case is pretty worn after years of shoving it into storage racks and taking it on drives but it’s still intact and surprisingly unmarred by scratches.
What about you? What was your first game music album and do you still have it? Let us know below.
I am not a fan of the increasingly crowded “clicker” genre but I am a sucker for games that tweak your music collection into gameplay. Those are the genres that Animoca’s Groove Planet straddles which is out now on Android after a successful launch on iOS this past December. It’s also free so there’s not a whole lot to dissuade you if you’re on the fence about another Clicker game or another your-music-is-the-game game.
Groove Planet is pleasant enough to look at with stylish and vibrantly colored structures that you place on the surface of a giant vinyl record planet. After a very brief tutorial you’ll start adding and upgrading those buildings which rapidly increase the number of notes (read: money) that are constantly being generated. Challenges motivate you to make specific upgrades and watching an ad or two rewards you with temporary boosts to Note production. It’s all very typical Clicker stuff with exponentially expensive upgrades requiring more taps to refill your coffers.
This is where the music game aspect comes in. Like other Clickers you can tap the screen as wildly as you like and watch a few Notes add to your pocket or you can tap along to the beat of the song and start building up a combo. Naturally, the combo multiplies the amount of notes to wild degrees as long as you can keep it going. The beat matching seems a little off at times but there’s no penalty to missing other than starting your combo over again. It’s nice to purposefully go off the beat and tap along to a drum roll and not feel punished for a little freestyling. A couple other nice touches include the skyline that changes color based on the chord of the chosen song and the Key of the song appearing on your main base tower (if the game can figure it out). They even pop up little tips on the “mood” of different chords.
As a music player Groove Planet is a little lacking. You can only browse a big dumb list of all the music on your device and there’s no way to limit the search to artist, track or album. Artwork is also mostly broken for me but the songs do start playing right away. Whatever beat analysis that’s going on happens very quickly which is appreciated. You can also use it as a music visualizer if you’d like. After 20 seconds of inactivity the menus fade out and your planet begins to spin, subtly reacting to the music as buildings animate and characters scurry around.
If you’re the kind who loves watching profits skyrocket into the octillions or if you just like to tap along to your favorite songs Groove Planet is worth a shot. It’s made for a decent little mindless diversion while listening to music and it’s free afterall. Grab it for yourself on the Google Play Store or the iTunes Store.
Drool Game’s “rhythm violence” game Thumper is set to be released on Steam, PS4 and Playstation VR later this year, and now you can check out a trailer for one of its more advanced levels – Rhythm Hell.
“No cuts, no overdubs. Just one minute of uninterrupted gameplay from one of Thumper‘s advanced levels. Thumper’s gameplay is simple, stripped down and accessible for both hardcore rhythm gamers and casual action game fans. But as you delve deeper, it won’t be easy. Our focus on simplicity lets us push speed and physicality to extremes never before felt in a rhythm game. Our latest trailer offers a glimpse of the unrelenting “rhythm hell” in store.” – Marc Flury – Thumper Co-developer
The game itself is set to be showcased at the MIX Patreon Developer Showcase next week in San Francisco, and both Marc and fellow Thumper developer Brian will be at this year’s Game Developers Conference to share more info about their game and offer demos.
Now that most of us have had our chance to call out some favorites from 2015, it’s your turn. This time around we narrowed down our categories to:
Let us know your top picks in the comments and feel free to throw in any special categories or mentions of your own. If you need some inspiration or missed them the first time around you can always check out our OSVOSTOTY picks for 2015: Michael, Brenna, Patrick, Ryan and Shawn.
If you ever wondered what would happen if Eggman (still Robotnik for some of us), Bowser, Ganon and Sephiroth managed to one day meet and combined their evil forces, you now have your answer: they’d form a boy band. Because what’s more nefarious than that?
Big Bad Bosses (or B3) is the collaboration between game composer Jake Kaufman (Shovel Knight, Contra 4) and a slew of faces from across the gaming community, such as Jirard Khalil (Big Bow) of the Completionist and Super Beard Bros, Nathan Smith (Sephy) of Nate Wants to Battle, Alex Faciane (Ronik) of The Dex and Super Beard Bros, Satchell Drakes (G-Ca$h) of Satchbags Goods, and several special guests. Their first album, Power Overhwhelming, features the team parodying some of gaming’s most recognizable baddies as they rap and chatter their laments of being the bad guys. You can get a taste of their antic in their released music video, “I’m the Boss”.
“Big Bad Bosses has been in the works for a long while. I’ve been wanting to work with Jake Kaufman for years, and after hearing the Shovel Knight soundtrack I knew it was time. I always thought it would be funny yet endearing to see into the hearts of the most famous videogame villains and to try to understand how they feel in the form of song, and the album came together better than anyone involved could have imagined.” – Jirard “Big Bow” Khalil
Power Overwhelming features ten tracks with a bunch of guests, including Grant Kirkhope (Banjo Kazooie), Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson (Game Grumps), DJ Cutman and a bunch more. The album can be purchased on iTunes and Bandcamp. For more, check out the official Big Bad Bosses website.
My day job has exploded into a whirlwind of spreadsheets and Word docs as everyone scrambles to do everything before the holidays. On the bright side, that means I’ve got more time than I’ve ever had at a job to listen to music. Not in the analytical, write-a-review way, more in the “know what I haven’t heard in a long time” way. I copied my entire game music collection onto a flash drive and while it is in no way complete, it’s full of soundtracks I love. Or as I would quickly come to realize: used to love.
For this installment of the Community Question we want to hear about your burnout songs. Those soundtracks you used to love listening to that aren’t in heavy rotation nowadays. The ones that send your finger flying for the Skip button that you used to insist on repeating at least two times in a row.
My go-to answer for this question is maybe a little controversial: it’s Super Mario Bros. There was a time in the early 2000’s when I loved hearing every marching band and high school choir turn in their rendition of the original game’s legendary themes. I grabbed remixes and arrangements, orchestrations and crappy band covers. But after thirty years with these songs there aren’t many treatments left that I don’t outright skip these days. It’s classic, iconic music without a doubt, I just don’t need to hear it very frequently anymore.
Less blasphemous are a lot of guitar rock and techno soundtracks from the mid-to-late 90’s. The early Need for Speed entries, Guilty Gear, GoldenEye, MDK2, Destruction Derby and many others were the soundtrack to my daily life back then. Today they typically generate only a nostalgic smirk before I proclaim “Next!” and hit the button.
Your turn! Let us know some of your old favorite songs or soundtracks you just aren’t that into in the comments.
Gaming and nerdy music has pretty much become a staple not of just video game conventions and festivals, but at anime-related events also. Going to concerts and performances after a long day of walking the halls of an event can provide some nice downtime, and sometimes can be the main draw for a lot of con-goers.
NekoCon, going on this weekend in Hampton Road, Virginia, had a three-hour block set aside last night for Nerdcore artists to perform prior to the DJ and dancing set later in the night. According to reports, after one song into the Professor ShyGuy performance, the artist’s mic was suddenly muted and after some confusion as to what might be going on, concert-goers were told to start exiting the concert hall – the block had been cancelled. This affected fellow artists MC Lars, Tribe One and Dr. Awkward as well. The dance party was then started early, and concert-goers were given this official reason for the move.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the Nerdcore concert has been canceled. The dance will begin at 8:15pm and go until 2am.
— Nekocon (@NekoCon) November 7, 2015
I emailed NekoCon to clarify on their reasoning, but got a similar response as the above tweet. “Per our official statement on our Facebook page, due to unforseen circumstances the nerdcore concert has been canceled. ”
According to sources and the artist, ShyGuy proceeded with his normal activities during a set, moving around on and off stage. That’s when concert staff began yelling at him and the audience to exit the concert hall, some staff claiming he “stage dived”. ShyGuy and those close to him report that nothing was ever communicated to them about restrictions or rules, and he was given no warning before everything was cut off and all other acts punished as well.
Just experienced one of the most unprofessional con events. I climbed off stage like sound guys have been doing & they cancelled all bands.
— Professor Shyguy (@ProfessorShyguy) November 7, 2015
Considering my previous article about the treatment of game music composers within the industry, the treatment of game and nerd bands and performers by events seems to be a topic worth discussing as well.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Nobody wants to think about it too early, but the Christmas season is a month away. However, you can get in early for the Golden Giving event in London coming this December.
Today, Games On Song, the UK games industry choir is proud to announce it will be returning to the stage for a LIVE Christmas carol concert, raising money for GamesAid.
Formed in 2012, the Games On Song choir is made up members of the games industry who volunteer their time and voices to sing and raise money for GamesAid; a UK based video games charity which acts as an umbrella to support a number of smaller charities who help disadvantaged and disabled children and young people. – GamesAid
So, the event won’t itself feature music from video games, but rather “classic carols and Christmas songs with a video game twist” sung by game industry members. What that twist is, exactly, remains to be seen, but it all goes to a great cause regardless and with members hailing from places like Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and others.
The event is being held December 16th in London, and tickets can be purchased via the Golden Giving website.
Delivering a little humor for your Saturday morning, the team from the band Starbomb (ie. Egoraptor & Ninja Sex Party) have added a twist to their rap parodying The Legend of Zelda called “The Hero of Rhyme”. Although not featuring music from the games, the references are plenty and the new animated video done by Studio Yotta is ridiculous and amusing and for once Navi is useful. (Not that it ends up mattering)
Far from the only animated music piece any part of Starbomb has done, it was nonetheless fun to watch. Player Select that “The Hero of Rhyme” is featured on can be purchased at CDbaby.
It just popped into my head the other day as I was (still, forever) cleaning up my music collection: what single game has the most music. The few that sprang to my mind were Final Fantasy games with their multi-disc soundtracks and Ocarina of Time that squeezes 82 songs onto a single disc. But that’s just in my own personal experience and I knew there had to be gargantuan soundtracks out there I was completely oblivious too. So I did what inquisitive minds have done for eons when a question exceeds their realm of understanding; I asked reddit. And, boy, did the r/gamemusic subreddit respond in kind. This is by no means comprehensive or scientific but here are some of the games that got thrown my way.
Runescape is a name I’ve heard for quite a while (14 years it turns out) but I’ve never known anyone into it or gone looking for myself. In the process of writing this post I finally did look it up and, oh, it’s an MMO. That explains why I’ve never gotten into it. Anyways, according to the Runescape Wikia there are 1,055 music tracks available in the game as of August 24th, 2015. Potentially more astounding, I’ve seen it mentioned that much of the music is presented in triplicate with new versions arranged for the Runescape 2 and 3 upgrades of the game.
Also out of my wheelhouse is Blizzard’s perpetual MMO, World of Warcraft. The closest thing I could find for confirmation is this YouTube playlist consisting of 547 tracks. As it was last updated in September 2014 it doesn’t include the 53 tracks from the Warlords of Draenor expansion which would bring it to an even 600. Blizzard also announced another expansion at GamesCom this year, Legion, which will surely add even more music.
Continuing the trend of games I’ve heard of but am mostly clueless about is EVE Online. It may not have the most individual tracks for a game but its base soundtrack of 74 songs is nearly seven hours long. Add in an extra 26 from the expansions and another 20+ tracks of mission-specific music and it’s another juggernaut of a soundtrack.
Finally, something I know. Well, I know most of the source material from Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, if not the spastic fighting game itself. You could argue against it as it’s basically a huge compilation of existing music but I’m throwing it in. Encompassing a huge swath of Nintendo’s history, and an increasing range of third-party properties, the current Smash’s soundtrack weighs in at over 450 tracks.
To round things up I also got mentions of this eight hour playlist from the original version of The Sims (with expansions), a link to Bayonetta’s ridiculous 5-disc, 150-song soundtrack and a great comment about the biggest soundtracks for the Commodore 64 and NES. Lastly, a few people pointed out that the most technically correct answer would be games with randomly or procedurally generated music. Proteus, Spore, Peggle 2, and Fez all use scripting to build a score based on what is happening to the player at the moment. These could result in thousands, maybe even millions, of different musical combinations that would never be repeated. It’s an accurate point but I don’t think it falls in line with the spirit of my original question. By the way, neither do games with licensed soundtracks like Rock Band which, at one point, was up to 1,692 tracks.
So, dear OSV readers, what do you think? Which individual game (expansions or not, it’s up to you) has the most music? Ring in with your own thoughts and suggestions in the comments and maybe we’ll get a little closer to a definitive answer.
Video game music lovers can probably recognize a video game track pretty quickly, even if it’s one they haven’t heard before. Even though video game music comes in a huge variety of styles and genres (which is part of why I love it), there are musical elements that tend to be very common in many tracks, common enough that many of them have become (well-loved) tropes. Today, I’ll be discussing rhythm, and specifically I’ll be taking a look at one of video game music’s favorite tropes: 5-beat patterns.