Scoring for Deadlock: Initial Idea - Step 1

published Tuesday, 10 May 2011, 12:00 by Reese

Ever wondered why composers are acting all weird and goofy in the game development process? Well, sit back and relax as we invite you on a unique music composing journey from the initial idea, and all the way to the finished music score in all its glory.

Deadlock banner
imageDownload or Listen to Interstellar Marines: Deadlock Idea 01 (320 kbit, mp3)
imageDownload or Listen to Interstellar Marines: Deadlock Idea 02 (320 kbit, mp3)
imageDownload or Listen to Interstellar Marines: Deadlock Idea 03 (320 kbit, mp3)
imageDownload or Listen to Interstellar Marines: Deadlock Idea 04 (320 kbit, mp3)

imageDownload finished music

image

Initial idea -> Composing-> Arrangement adjustments -> Mixing -> Mastering

image


Introduction

Greetings marines,

Welcome to my first Dev blog dedicated for Music since Scoring for IM:Prologue - You might want to read up on that one first as I cover the basics of my music scoring process. Yeah I know,- its been a while :)

As promised I wish to pick up on this previous music scoring blog initiative which provides any interested to follow and comment on the scoring process and my thoughts while composing for Interstellar Marines.

If you have been following the weekly SITREP you might already know that I have mostly been busy with time-consuming admin, investor and financial stuff.. but last weekend I was finally able to pick up on a more creative mode. So, I composed the above 4 short initial ideas (maybe) intended for our next multiplayer release, Deadlock.

I must admit, that releasing these pieces this early are with mixed feelings. On one hand I find this very exciting and I very much look forward to get your feedback and comments, but on the other hand I have a feeling that this is way to premature for release :) Oh well, this is what true Open Door Development is all about. Time will tell whether this will work or not but at least I hope you will find this interesting, and maybe even provide you with some insights.

Oh, and just to clarify before we proceed. I have a history of remaking stuff 50 times in the creative process so the ideas above may vary or be trashed if a new idea is more suitable for Deadlock. Please don't kill me when I change stuff.

Nics
(say cheeese)


The initial ideas

Scoring for Deadlock is first of all about coming up with some basic initial ideas. This is where I just play around with different themes, styles and maybe even genres to some degree.

Most game companies often hire external composers in the final phase and very close to final deadline. On one hand, this helps the composer as he/she can play the game and get inspiration with hands-on the final product, but on the other hand, the soundtrack often need to be composed within a very short period of time which tend to stress the composer and in worst, cut corners and with small time for iterations. We try a slightly different approach as I compose throughout the entire game development on a running basis. This provides Kim with a huge advantage and inspiration boost when he creates our videos. Also, the theme for Interstellar Marines can evolve over time through lots of iterations and be tested in-game and on you guys, our beloved community.

Anyways, (need to keep myself on track) I've been digging through the community comments regarding the previous released Interstellar Marines music and the common denominator seems to be a "love" for at least a piano part in the music pieces. Well, on that note I'm easily convinced. and do agree; so this time I've started out with some basics piano themes to set the right mood for Deadlock.

The rest of the ZPS team already got their own personal favorites which they think I should continue working with, so lets see if you concur.. or for some reason completely disagree ;)

The overall current idea and my initial thoughts is setting the mood with a piano part as introduction and then pick up on brass, percussion and choir.. you know, the whole shebang,- Deadlock is an action game and the music should support this. I've briefly tried that approach in the Idea 4 piece.

 

When Special Forces are tried out for the Interstellar Marines program, not even the best is good enough!
(Deadlock environment, concept art)

Besides working on a piece of music which will fit for Deadlock, I am also focusing on a somewhat more "joint" approach this time. Prologue, The Vault, The trailer-theme, BullsEye and Running Man all had their own respective function, but despite I managed to keep those scores within the same genre and style I am still searching for THAT specific theme which will characterize the Interstellar Marines soundtrack as a whole. That little music piece or call it "riff" that everyone will recognize and identify as Interstellar Marines. That piece which can be used in different moods such as sorrow, action and epic settings; I hope this makes sense.

I've had a little discussion with the rest of the team whether a common "riff" is necessary throughout x numbers of tracks or whether it really doesn't matter - My personal belief; I think if you ask 10 people you get 10 different answers on that one because it seems to vary a lot in both movie- and game scores.


'SARA' says: Closure ...

I expect to pick up the pace within the next couple of weeks in regards to music composing as I conclude several time consuming administrative tasks. So, comment, discuss, debate, do your thing and lets get this show on the road.. lets see where this approach takes us :)

 

For the love of the game (and music)

All the best and thank you for reading,

Nicolai (Reese),
"Sound makes it real; music makes you feel"


Comments

Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

My suggestion: scrap 3. It's too mellow, personally. Start with a small piano piece, not too mellow, like the first part of part 4, then transition to part 2 with the mixture of piano and the slightly more booming tone, then transition to part 1 with a faster pace, then finally transition to the last part of part 4.

So, we have slow, exclusively piano, then piano with a slightly heightened tone, then slowly the piano is drowned out or removed in the a booming, excited tone, then finally you get to the action and perhaps end on a piano piece.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

The first song has that gradual build up into something epic which sounds great.
The second track feels really fitting for a sort of mission briefing/intro style and listening to this song I can't help but imagine a spaceship slowly closing into an unknown planet.
The third track was pretty good but didn't feel as strong as the rest. Perhaps because it felt too ambient?
The fourth track is quite possibly the best of the bunch, it has the build up qualities of the first track and ends pretty epic and empowering. Perfect for an action game!

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

Yay music!!!!

glad you guys are serious about the open door development...even if it means releasing stuff before you normally would ;)

Here are my inital thoughts:

idea 1: Lacks "darkness" in my opinion. But becuase it is the shortest of the 4 ideas I am really not sure it is fair to compare this one with the rest. (meaning: I dont like it as much as the others!)

idea 2: My first thoughts was "rainbow six!". If that is a good or bad thing is up to you :) I think this got a lot of potential.

idea 3: The piano intro seems a bit long, and I kinda feels that this would be better for a movie than a game? Or maybe used for a cutsceeen or something where something dark and sinister happens. Not sure I like the slow pace of it if this is meant as a "theme song" for deadlock.

idea 4: I first started listening to this while typing this message and thinking "meh..sounds a bit like nr 3" and then BAM at 1:21 it really takes off! Those last 20-30 secs are really awesome in my opinion!


So to conclude this (potentially heartbreaking depending on what you like best Reese) feedback: Idea 2 and the last bit of idea 4 are spot on :).... mix those two bits up somehow and blow us away :D

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

I liked two a lot, it sounded so fitting... It also reminded me of the Bullseye theme a bit.

Same goes for one, but I'd use that for an important cutscene later on or maybe a moment that reveals something really important. It's too intense to use it as background imo...

Four is of course awesome; yet, I do not know wether one can fully integrate the first part in an action-based multiplayer shooter... The second part, however, would be perfect for the moment the heat of battle begins, so the piano part could be used for pre-game, when everybody is choosing gear or looking at the last game's stats, and then... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... BAM, epic second part of Idea Four.

Suggestion for three: Keep it and use it in the ending credits of IM: First Contact! It sounds so perfect for slowly releasing you into the real world again...

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

I kind of like the piano part in the middle, like in the Bullseye theme.

However, I also like Running Man, where is starts out slowly, and halfway through it comes at you with a bang.

Oh, who am I kidding? I like the entire soundtrack thus far! I have it on a CD in my car, and on my phone! :P

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

If I got this right, you are searching for the best idea to produce a title song for Deadlock with at the moment. So I listened to all 4 ideas (roughly 10 times each, at different volumes) and try to evaluate their potential for a title track.

Idea 1: Seems unfinished to me. I see potential at the very end of this bit, where you could add the main part, or at least a bridge to it. In it's current state, I see this is as a mere intro to a 'real' track. In addition, this intro feels too victorious for a title track. Works best at mid-volume to me.

Idea 2: Another intro here. This one feels more ambient though and emits an atmosphere of darkness and not-knowing what's next. Like when my marine enters a facility without any information about what's inside. Little scary, but not that appropriate for a fast-paced competitive multiplayer (you [your marine] knows the facility already). I like it on low volume.

Idea: 3: I love the piano-part at the beginning and imagine my marine breathing deeply before entering the battlegrounds of Deadlock. Then it's too bad, that this built-up tension isn't released, as it would be in a fighting-situation. This may be a very solid to base to continue working on, but I fear the result wouldn't be suitable for a title-track (GortosXtreme made a good point with the ending credits). I prefer it at mid-volume.

Idea 4: Seems like the most matured bit of these 4. Could well be more than just an idea, since it already has an intro, a bridge, and the beginning of a kick-ass main part. Have you tried making the high tune (beginning at 0:32) a more 'real' violin or trumpet? It was the only one to give me goosebumps at listening for the first time (and still does), what more to say? It should be played very loud!
Also, this one would fit perfectly into the curerent series of soundtracks. I listened to the previous tracks and found a detail, that they all have in common. You (more or less extensively) used that roaring sound (beginning at 1:20) in all the previous slices. Even in the Prologue (or I'm making this up). So maybe you even HAVE this kind of riff that you were searching for and which makes IM recognizable?!

Note, that all these sentences only reflect my opinion and personal feelings and please excuse my lame explaining-skills.

My regards, Kendzi.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

Wow, didn't think it would be THAT long in the end. Sorry for the wall of text (and double-post^^)

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

English:
I dont know how hard it is
but if you programmed the music so:
Normal=music plays quet and slow
Running=music plays a little faster and normal volume
getting hurt=music plays normal and high volume
getting really hurt fast=music plays fast and high volume
it would be really cool and works both for MP and SP
Dansk:
jeg ved ikke hvor svært det er at lave men
vis i programmerede musikken så:
Normalt=musikken er stille og langsom
løbene=musikken er en smule hurtigere og har normal lyd
lille skade=musikken spiller med normal hastighed og højt
stor skade=musikken spiller hurtigt og højt
det ville være ret fedt og det virker både i MP og SP

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

Absolutely Idea4! Is the best, got everything: piano, drums, choir. Sad but energetic. A perfect theme, but need to complete. :)

The other 3 are fine to, but 3 is a little dull. 1 and 2 good maybe for loading screens. They simply to short.

Love the previous themes all ae strong, epic and military which I think the main goal.
Keep it up!

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

These are my thoughts about the music:

Idea 1: I think that one is too short and somehow unfinished. It builds up a little bit but in my opinion it's too repitive.

Idea 2: This one somehow immediately felt connected to IM. Probably because of the high piano part in the background. Even though I don't think that it is the best one.

Idea 3: for me it is too slow for a title song (or at least as title song for Deadlock) but it fits into a spooky situation (I think reducing the volume of the piano would increase the spooky effect) GortosExtremes idea to put it in the credits is also great.

Idea 4: That's the best one. Combine it with the high piano part of idea 2, shorten the intro a little bit and it would be even better (at least in my opinion).

I can't really decide between 2 and 4. Idea 4 sounds better, but 2 made me immediately think about IM.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

Idea 3: That piece would be great for story moments but its too slow for what its supposed to do maybe look it it in the future.

Idea 4: The best and does get close to what would fit an action oriented game that has a great story behind it.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

If you ask me they are all good, but three seems lie its for a moment in campaign such as seeing a person for a last time or someone getting locked behind a door fighting enemies to by you time. Number one is also good and sounds like a victory tone. Number three also sounds like a victory tone. Number four however is like number three. IT should go to the campaign to give it emotion. in multilayer, many people are often hardcore gamers who do not seem to care about tactics and such, but focus on winning and getting revenge.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

Alright, first of all, great work! Really enjoy the music, one of the best parts in a game.


The first idea sounds a bit... different than what I'm used to hearing from you. I don't think it fits any situation in Interstellar Marines yet, especially Deadlock. Almost sounds happy for some reason. Could use some more work.

I like the second track, as someone stated earlier on, it sounds like briefing music, but it's very well done. Maybe not for Deadlock, but good nonetheless.

The third track is my favorite out of all of them. I like it when music brings out sorrow, an emotion that makes you sad, if you know what I mean. Not the music we'd like to hear for a multiplayer match, but I definitely think this should be used somewhere else. I can't tell you how much I love it. Suitable for another part of the game.

The fourth so called idea fits almost perfectly for this upcoming slice. Probably the most well composed (even though I love the third). The music builds up, and just becomes pure epicness. I say this idea should be used for deadlock.


Sorry if I don't help too much, I'm not someone who is very good with words.

Keep up the jawsome work!

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

I love the third idea. It certainly has great emotion and is very potent. It would be good for a slow and creepy level of the story, or a cinematic after a death, or a last stand, but is a bit slow and reflective for a multiplayer game track. I love the later bit of the fourth for that purpose, but the initial bit is a bit tame for a dramatic multiplayer feel. Still, the last part of the fourth is very impressive!

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

i really liked the last one. first it was slow...and then KABAM it was awesome.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

i like 3 and 4

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

Track 1 - this is a nice idea but as long as the timing and melody is work in progress, it's hard to guess the final quality of it. I don't like that the 1st 3 tones in the melody are followed by the same 3 tones again, the 3rd tone is delayed but I miss a 4th tone between the 2nd and 3rd. The tones between 0:10 and 0:15 could use different timing. I'm sorry for my confusing explanation, my music theory knowledge is very limited so I can§t say it more accurately.

Track 2 - very good as menu music

Track 3 - This is a Excellent piece of music and it will work for any cinamatic parts that dark or melancholic. The piano with extremely long reverb is an ideal instrument for presenting an image of dark and deep space. One of the instruments has it's channel overdriven (likely the strings).

Track 4 - Most people seem to like this one but I'd be against using it in the menu, for example. The beginning kills sci-fi feeling because it sounds very similar to music that is used in military movies situated in present or past time (18th century). But musically it's the best piece so I'd recommend using it in a special occasion that doesn't hurt the sci-fi feeling of the game. Military is about traditions and traditions are about history. So it would be appropriate if the beginning of the track was played during a military funeral or some other traditional military event, there could be even images of some historical statues, equipment or some other bits of history located onboard.

I hope you won't take this feedback too seriously. Reese may not have a better taste than all of us combined be he certainly has a better taste than the average of us. I trust him to do the right thing :-)

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

3: i see the most potential in this one, if the spinning/rushing sound in the background was quieter, i think it would sound alot better, as this background music has a tendency, at some parts, to overpower the rest of the music. (when i hear this i think slo-mo death)
1: to me, this would be perfect for a title screen, a marine standing of to the side, a slight breeze fluttering his webbing, perfection. (this is a more "patriotic" song imo)
2: could also be a title song, if you wanted to go for a kind of 'humanity's fate rests on a knifes edge" vibe.
4: as stated before, this is the most full and polished piece, it makes me think of a couple of bruised and battered soldiers getting up and back in the fight.

this probably wont help much, as this is just what a imagine when i hear it, but it might help you know if your going in your desired direction:)

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

hey first time typing on this site, but back to the Score

try playing nr. 3 and 4 at the same time...

maybe it's just me, but i think that those 2 fit together perfectly. when they are played at the same time. try and listen if you like what you hear. i know i do ?B;-1

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

hey again i tried something... again
but this time it includes nr. 1, 3 and 4 in following order (try to keep up, if you can, my bad) :

here we go!

start nr. 3
wait 1 sec.
then start nr. 4
when nr. 4 get's to 1 min. and 2 sec.
you start nr. 1

and then you should have a masterpiece...

now that wasn't hard was it?

or at least i think it is in my ears.

but that's just in my honest opinion

what do you guys think about it?

give some feedback if you agree or disagree

i just felt i would share my point of view ?B;-2

i will belive, for the love of the game ?B;-1

oh and BTW great pieces of music you guys will make us belive i have faith in that.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

Somewhat conflicted of my feelings towards these pieces. I was kinda expecting more mechanical sounds giving more "synthetic" feel for the world. This is cause in IM we are talking about era in human future where we are completely reliant on machinery, advances on science and we have "grown out" from our natural habitat. If anyone is interested to know what I mean with the synthetic feel you should hear these examples:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMO9GyrnhzU
http
://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8FhcOHXa-M

But as for the pieces Reese posted #3 struck to me most impressive while all of 'em sound, ok.
This all might sound abit negative, but I'm just trying to be honest.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 11 months ago

I love 4. I actually think that should be the musical direction the whole game takes.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 10 months ago

You've already made a masterpiece in For The Love Of The Game trailer, which is for me the best game introduction trailer ever made. And in this particular piece I can hear the main theme (the riff) which goes with Interstellar Marines vision perfectly.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 10 months ago

And from these ideas I like #3, it sounds like a secret, like something hidden. I don't know if it's suitable for Deadlock, but for some part of the game I would love to save this idea.

As an inspiration I recommend music from movie Inception (for example Time, Dream Is Collapsing) or My Name is Lincoln (movie The Island). I need emotions in IM, please.

Badge
Avatar

2 years, 5 months ago

Hi. I am an aspiring musician -well, somewhat.. and I really dig the demos! I really felt that this game could use some ominous orchestral music somewhere along the lines of Hans Zimmer! Something like his piece, "Time" would really fit into this game.

Badge
Avatar

1 year, 8 months ago

this game is of pease of cake!!!!!!!!!!

Badge

You need to login / enlist to comment.


Listing Development articles (sorted by date)