I’m not very good at putting myself out into the open. Sure, I post here on Destructoid, and love the community here, but most people who do know I exist have probably noticed that I keep my distance, generally not being too involved with things. People are scary and it's hard to open up, you know? So it makes sense that having people critique any creative work I make is terrifying to me. It’s rather ironic that what I hope/plan to do for a career is work in the music industry, with an end goal of composing for games. But that all changes today! Kind of.
Sure, the composition and production are amateur-hour, and the mixing is garbage, but god dammit, it’s MY amateur-hour garbage. Now, I’m going to go into some of the songwriting process and thoughts on production and such, so if that isn’t your bag, you can just listen to the tracks if you so desire. I’ll put the track in first, then the explanation, so you can listen before I tell you about what you heard. Anyways, some backstory.
So, a buddy of mine has sort of wanted to go into game design, and his first project was basically going to be a simple RPG to learn the ropes of RPG Maker before doing something bigger. However, he just kept going and going in that one project, and it got a little out of hand. I thought it would be really cool to do some music for it, since I was/am studying various aspects of the music industry, including composition and production. So, I started working on some songs for this game. I’ve decided to share these and talk about each one for a little bit in this here blog. Will the game ever come out? I have no idea, maybe, maybe not, but regardless, it’s not an official project so I’m totally allowed to show this music off.
The first piece here is called Mount Sunder. It’s not the first thing I worked on for the game, but it’s definitely the one I spent the most time on. Now, I was given a lot of freedom when writing most of these, so when I was told that there was going to be an area with a volcano, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Sure, the instrumentation isn’t all that groundbreaking, but I really like the melody, and think it does an active volcano area well. It was a big undertaking at the time, a grand total of 50 tracks or so. Now, that’s not really a lot to me at this point, but a year and a half ago, yeah, it was pretty daunting.
The second piece here is Mount Sunder Summit. As well as an active volcano area, one of the areas that was being made was on the summit after the volcano went dormant. For this, I thought it would be really cool to use the same general melody from the main theme, but switch around the tempo and instrumentation, with a few little accents here and there to differentiate the two songs. I also added a stock wind sound to really sell the idea that you’re on top of a mountain. I think it’s really nice. This track is on the opposite side of the coin in terms of size, I think it has 10 tracks total, no layering, no doubles. Just individual instruments, each with a place and purpose.
Number 3 here is City of Light. I went in a completely different direction for this, and I think it turned out really well. I was given one instruction for this song. It was to be a theme for a city of light, but not in a heaven sort of way. So, I took that as to be a city made of beams of light, a la Portal 2. So, lots of delay, lots of synth effects, really cool stuff. The B section of it is still missing something in my eyes, but I can’t put my finger on it. The main piano melody was surprisingly easy to come up with. As soon as I was told about what he wanted, I just picked up my guitar and played out the exact notes that would make up the main piano part. Then, I basically just built off of that.
This next piece is called The Mire. So, it’s a fantasy video game, so obviously there’s a swamp area that poisons you. This one was definitely the hardest to write, and it still sounds off in a few ways, but I still think it’s pretty alright at this point. It definitely went through the most revisions and mixes, and more than any other, this sounds a lot different now than when it was first written. It was hard to write because I don’t know what poison sounds like and I wanted to avoid looking things up for reference as much as possible. I think the bassoon was a good fit, at least.
Next up is the Capital Township. My friend basically just wanted a nice, upbeat theme for when walking around the main city, which was a bustling castle town. So, I did just that. It’s really upbeat, very major, and is a bit of a different flavor to the rest of the songs I’ve done for him. I like it quite a bit, this one also went through a few changes, but mainly just getting instrument balance right. It’s still got a few small issues, but nothing too major at this point. I put a little extra time into the writing for it after the initial writing. Originally the ending part just didn't exist, and obviously that just made the entire song seem incomplete and it kinda fell flat without it. I'm glad I was able to come up with the ending or I may have actually just scrapped the whole thing. I've done that to dozens of pieces over the years. I can't figure out how to end something, so just give up on the whole idea.
The last piece that I really consider a song here is called Saltus Vitae. (That’s Latin for Forest of Life) Basically, the idea for this was that a forest that used to be the source of clean water and resources and such for a specific area suddenly turned dark and started spewing monsters, so the player’s party would have to go in and find what was going on. Now, there’s nothing particular about the song that ties into that, I just wanted to make a kind of creepy song with a cool woodwind melody for it, so I did! This is actually a remake of the first song I wrote for him, which was largely the same except with god awful sounds, and was played live, of course not to a click track because screw things actually being good.
And last, and certainly least, is Abandoned Manor. Now, it does have a melody and such, but it’s more or less just there to be atmosphere. Basically, it’s for a dark, old, abandoned mansion full of ghosts and crap like that, so I wrote something that would fit for it. Lots of dissonance, reverb, and low droning. Fits really well for the concept, at least.
So, that’s that. Now, of course these aren’t all the things I’ve done for the game, those are just the ones I feel are the most complete and least terrible. I’ve got another half dozen in the works, and I have just been told what the final boss theme should be like. (Spoilers, I have to work on my guitarmonies) All of this could just be for the portfilio, and the thing may never actually come out, but either way, I am glad I had the opportunity to do it! Anyways, if anyone actually does listen through to all of these, give any feedback or criticism you have, and thanks a lot for giving them a chance! If anyone actually likes this stuff, I may get enough confidence to post other stuff I’ve done, including fully produced songs where I even sing and shit. That’ll be the day. Also, I haven't gotten them up anywhere for download, but let me know if I should, because I will!