Creating Music for Games
Have you ever watched a horror movie with zero volume? Or played an RPG game without music? Without even trying any of that (for obvious reasons), I’m sure everyone would agree that the experience would be negatively affected in the absence of aural information. Same here - at Music Studio SG, we believe that music and sound constitute 50% of the film and gaming experience.
When people converse about music, the first thought that comes to most minds would either be classical music or more likely, pop music like the Top 40s. However, composed music is everywhere! Just take a minute to think about it. For every movie, every commercial, every stage performance, even every desktop or mobile game, there is music. And there was definitely some thought put into making that music work for its purpose – someone decided what mood was best for the scenario, and someone composed the music. (There would also be other post-production work like sound editing or mixing involved, but let’s leave that for another day.)
In this article, we’re going to talk about the music creation process for games. Composing music for games can be a fun yet challenging thing. So now, how do we value-add to gamers and game development companies by creating an immersive soundtrack for a game?
Step 1: Identify the genre of game
Music for a game is not simply a piece of music, it actually helps to create a brand around the game. It subconsciously shapes our perception of the game. If iconic or hooky enough, people also get motivated to play the game whenever the music comes wiggling into mind (in the form of a earworm :D).
Identifying the genre (and sub-genre) of a game increases our understanding of the project and enables us to have a vision or develop a reference for what we are trying to create. Some genres of games include action, adventure, sports, role-playing, casual, strategy etc.
Check out this video for a few examples of tracks created for racing (sub-genre of sports) games:
Step 2: Understand what people are seeking for in a game
Why do we play games? Some people play games for excitement, some because they enjoy the feeling of winning, and some play just to relax and get a break. Regardless the reason or motivation, as a service provider, we need to give people what they are searching for. What we’ve identified in ‘Step 1’ can help us with this. Not every game or track needs to be loud and exciting. There are also casual games like ‘FarmVille’ (farm simulation) and ‘Gardenscapes’ (match-3 mechanics with well-developed storyline) that aim to simply provide a mini escape from our fast-paced city lives. In that case, we may probably need something like this:
Step 3: Determine the genre/type of music you want
Multiple scenarios or settings may be encompassed in one game. Hence the brief would be important in understanding the particular scenario to pinpoint our target genre of music. With that, we can now start working and go with the flow, or brainstorm specific music elements or instrumentation that would be good to include in our piece.
Also have a listen to what existing games in the same arena are using for their music to get a rough idea or examples of reference tracks you may want. However, do not let that confine you into a box. With intent, the music can also be something 100% contrasting to what people would normally visualize to create an effect unique to your game.
Step 4: Create or Commission
If you are a music producer, get started on your project now! Or if you are still in the process of building up your portfolio, start with something you’d enjoy and create for existing games/genres.
If you are a game developer or brand and would like to have customized and bespoke music for any purpose, tell us more! We would love to hear from you - questions are free and you are also welcome to check out our article on 4 simple steps to commissioning music.
Thanks for reading this article. If there are any questions/comments do comment in the box below and let us know :)