Blog Archives

Why it’s time for a video game music Renaissance

Hum a melody from a video game that came out in the past 10 years.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Chances are, you can’t, unless you cheat and use melodies from a Mario remake or the Halo anniversary edition. But why is that?

Well, let’s give a brief history of video game music (again [again {again}]). You had bleeps and blips with pacman, then someone came along and invented MIDI (woohoo!). Gameboy and Nintendo had 3 wavetable oscillators (pronounced “instruments”) and a noise machine for percussion. Then you get 16-bit stuff, samples, FM synths and some pretty rad stuff with Super Nintendo, Sega, etc. etc. Playstation comes around and supports digital audio! Woohoo again! Then from PS2/Xbox/Gamecube onward, you get mostly high-quality crystal-clear audio with amazing processing, either recorded by a live orchestra or painstakingly crafted from magnificent music libraries (like the main theme of Game of Thrones. You thought it was live, didn’t you? Nope, libraries). With the most modern consoles, adaptive music has come into play that defies the very idea of a soundtrack and offers a smooth blend of music from one place to another.

Whew, that was a crash course if I’ve ever seen one. Point being, the blinders have been removed, the constraints are nonexistent, and the audio processing capabilities of the newest consoles/PCs are so powerful that it’s the compositional equivalent of a kid in a candy store. It really is that good. And therein lies the problem.

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The Birth and Death of the J-RPG

Sorry for not posting on Friday! This idea has been rolling around my head for a while, and it took me a lot longer than expected to get it down!

Kind of a dramatic title, but Japan has dominated the video game market for about as long as it has existed. That’s started to change in recent times, but certainly every big title in the early days came from Japan, from Tekken to Mario to Zelda to Final Fantasy to Bomberman to Street Fighter to Pacman to Poke’mon to… well, you get it! One in particular piques my interest more than the others: Final Fantasy. It is the epitome of the J-RPG (that is, the Japanese Role-Playing Game), and in a large sense has defined the genre of RPGs as a whole. Not much more I can say to make that clearer. You’ve probably heard of them even if you don’t play any video games at all. If you’ve played video games for a long time, you’ve probably worked your way through three or four of these games at some point, and even if you hate RPGs you probably at least had a soft spot for one of them.

They’re a big deal. One of the biggest deals in the whole industry, actually. Moving on.

This crappy montage courtesy of yours truly...

This crappy montage courtesy of yours truly…

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Adaptive Music and Video Games: A Love Story <3

Hey folks! I’m starting this on Friday (a little late, to be honest), but it may not be done till tomorrow. Sorry in advance!

So. Adaptive music. It sounds like something you’d hear at a Borg nightclub. But seriously, what IS adaptive music??
It’s music that adapts.

Yep.

Well, that was a short blog post. See you next week!…

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This isn’t the blog you’re looking for.

That was a Star Wars reference but I’m not sure it was readily apparent. I’ve had a really busy week (playing tuba for a conducting workshop [and you thought I was just a gamer]), and I utterly lack the time spent gaming and the time spent writing to actually put out a blog I’d be proud to publish. So, you get some random thoughts about gaming from yours truly:

The Papa’s Somethingeria games are really too long. I’ve never beaten one.

I beat Sword & Sworcery. I think I may like that ending less than the one for Mass Effect 3, and that’s saying something.

If you haven’t already, watch “Indie Game: The Movie.” It’s totally awesome.

As a corollary to the two above statements: Jim Guthrie is a god.

I am considering building something large in MineCraft. I am certainly open to suggestions, as this will take a large amount of planning.

For your entertainment and enjoyment, a game: Snakes on a Cartesian Plane. For the unmathematical, a Cartesian Plane is a 2-dimensional surface, like the grid on which graphs are made. True story.

That’s all! I’ve got a couple topics that I’ll have this week to ruminate on, write, and edit to a manageable level of sanity, so look forward to Friday. And as for the MineCraft thing, I’m serious! Please comment and suggest ideas! I like having something to work off of. Until then!

~Another Gamer

P.S. Check out my SoundCloud. I’ve been given permission to upload some of the tracks I made for the video game in development. There are only a couple up now, but more will come soon. You’ll enjoy them, I promise!