Blog - Jump Ship Music
Jump Ship Music specialises in the production of sound effects and music for Video Games.
Video Game Music, Video Game Sound FX, Sound Design, Sound Engineering, Audio Production, Composition, Audio Editing, Post-Production, Audio Editing Johannesburg, Composition Johannesburg, Sound Design Johannesburg, Sound Effects, Sound Effects Johannesburg
21673
blog,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-1.7.1,vertical_menu_enabled,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.3.5,vc_responsive

Music in Indie Video Games: A Composer’s Perspective on Musical Approaches and Practices

Hi all. Been a long time since I wrote a blog post here, mainly because finishing my masters and getting married has taken up a lot of the year, however I am finally done with things and keen to get back to making music and sharing my progress with you all!

My final version of my thesis is available for download here: Music in Indie Video Games Thesis

The marking on my thesis took about 4 to 5 months ending in a very divided decision as to my final mark and also left me very little time to get my edits back in so the final draft might have one or two words that are missing spaces but other than those small typographical errors the thesis is in final form and full working order.

Here is a link to a Bandcamp album for my compositional work: Jumpship Music Bandcamp

(Apologies because I don’t have all the tracks in a lossless format I had to upload of few of the tracks straight to this page. The ones you can’t find on the Bandcamp album should appear below! Also my Journey videos will also be displayed below along with playthrough videos of some games I have worked on! The idea behind the Journey videos can be found in Chapter 5 of my thesis or more informally on this blog post here. Please have a read before getting angry at me redoing Journey’s music… I don’t think I can do better, I am just exploring concepts)

Audiovisual Examples relating to the thesis have yet to be uploaded. Will probably do those next week after the playthrough vids have been added.

Hope some of you enjoy.

Spheres version 1 and 2:

 

 

Canvas:

 

 

Scores:

Eno the Truth Score

incommensurable Part 1

incommensurable Part 2

incommensurable Part 3

incommensurable Part 4

incommensurable Part A

incommensurable Part B

incommensurable Part C

Spheres – Original Score Version

Spheres Mock Up

Canvas

Garden Section 1 G Harmonic Minor

Garden Section 2 F Pentatonic

Garden Section 3 B Harmonic Minor

 

Interactive Music in Video Games – Series of Journey Overdub Videos

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS AN OLD POST FROM WHICH I HAVE REMOVED THE OLD VIDEOS. IF YOU WISH TO CHECK OUT THE LATEST VERSIONS OF THESE VIDEOS REFER TO THIS BLOG POST ( http://www.jumpshipmusic.co.za/music-indie-video-games-composers-perspective-musical-approaches-practices/). THIS BLOG HOWEVER STILL SERVES AS AN EXPLANATION TO THE VIDEOS. IF YOU HAVE BEEN DIRECTED HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MY JOURNEY VIDES READ BELOW AND ALSO REFER TO CHAPTER 5 OF MY THESIS FOUND AT THE ABOVE LINK. THANK YOU!

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Over the past few months I have been working on videos to try and get some ideas towards interactivity in video game music. I came up with some interesting ideas and thought I would share this is a blog.

The first video I will link here and refer to the Make Games SA Forum post where I discussed what is happening with the video but I will give more in depth discussion into the second video.

Forum Post Here!

The second video will follow, here is some information on it:

This is my second attempt at using a linear video to garner compositional ideas around interactive music in video games.

Disclaimer (for the second time but necessary due to expected responses 😉 )

I am not using Journey as an example because I think I can make better music, Wintory is an incredible composer and I have great respect for him. My reasoning is to address something that came up while researching Journey and what better way to address the issue than to try something myself and see what works. This has brought up a whole range of new questions and firstly I will give a short background.

Though Journey‘s music is masterfully written and beautifully integrated I feel at certain times in the game due to the nature of Western Classical music, sometimes the process of audio implementation is complicated. Romantic/Filmic Western classical music usually involves long developed chord progressions and melodies and sometimes if the player chooses to play a game far quicker or slower than the average player you might get some inconsistencies and sometimes a loss of immersion may occur if loops and changes don’t align with the narrative. You can see this happen in games like Bioshock as well where loops of music finish before danger is over or before you have reached a pinnacle narrative point that should align with the music.

So I decided to address this by trying some ideas myself, as I believe I can’t criticise until I have tried myself to see what is possible. My initial idea was to try and incorporate loops and random factors to the music so it can almost always be applicable to the narrative.

Now I will go through the video area by area to discuss what I am attempting. I am not using Fmod though I am learning. The ideas I am discussing here I am hoping to translate to Fmod but the idea is that this can also be used purely as looped audio and multiple audio files with randomisation.

First cut-scene: Linear music. Sometimes I believe it is necessary and as a submission for my masters I felt adding some linear music would start and end the video off well.

First hill climb: Here the idea is chords will be selected and played at random (in the form of audio files, timing can also be randomised). The melody would be linear and ascending harp sound would start at a random time before you reach the peak of the mountain. The cello playing an F# sustained note can also be played at random. All sounds will fade to a wash and become silence as the title appears. This can be done with single audio files for chords and have them selected at random.
The long desert area up until the first wall drawing:

In this part I the idea is instead of having a chord progression that takes place over a short period of time, it will develop over the whole area. I used chords F# major, G# Minor and D# Major through this area. The idea is that at certain points in the area the chord progression will change to move with narrative events. This can be achieved by just looping a single audio file until a point is reached and then cross fading two chords (audio files). As the avatar reaches the first broken building the chord will change to G and then change to D minor as the avatar moves through the graveyard. Once he reaches the next broken house with the tablet the chord will change to C again. The last area after this will shift between F# and D# until the player reaches the end of the area.

My ultimate idea with the melody in this area is to make it completely random but with parameters to which notes work, which is practically any note in the scale. This would have to be achieved through something like Fmod and is something I am looking into. The other ways this could be achieved easily but not quite what I would like is to write multiple melodies for the area, say 5 or 10, and have the game select these melodies at random when you play the area. Though this may be simple it could still be effective for replayability. If the melody would be able to be randomised or “played” by the computer then could have the melody correspond with certain events by either playing much higher or lower to signify this, or if you did it with loops you could just have motifs for those areas and have them layered on top of the long melody.

The end of the game becomes slightly more linear with the C and G movement remaining however layers are added to create a more constructed sounding piece but that is still interactive. As the player leaves the little house (or enters the valley if he does not enter the house, or possibly not at all if the house isn’t entered), the ascending harp returns and loops till the end sequence. As the player releases the cloth from the tower, flute begins to play and also stays till the area end. As the player ends the area everything fades and another linear piece plays till the end of the video.

For a reference to the forum post check here

So that’s about all. If you have any questions or input please leave a comment below and I hope you enjoy 😀

 

Composing for Video Games, Bands and Film

This has been my first post in a while and hopefully some of you will find it interesting.

I recently met with Mijaelle who runs Heart-Beats and uses her time to interview people in the local music industry and get their opinions on certain aspects and practices associated with the local music scene. In this three part interview with her I spoke about composing for video games, bands and other forms of media and theatre. All three videos are below and the content includes is listed above the video.

The topics discussed in the first video are:
1. Composition for different genres and themes
2. How to match the genre to a game
3. When and why did you start Jump Ship Music?
4. How long is a typical game song and how is it structured?
5. Music for Indie (independent) Games
6. Tim’s Masters in Composition at Wits
7. The music for video games Braid, FEZ and Journey
8. Vertically layered music which is a style of composition used in video games

The topics discussed in the second video are:
1. How Tim makes sound effects
2. One of the coolest sound effects that Tim made
3. Tim’s dream set up for composing a film score
4. Writing music for personal projects vs commercial projects
5. Studio composition compared to performing live
6. Fridge Poetry, a progressive ska band where Tim was the vocalist and guitarist
7. Tim’s lyrical influences
8. Tim’s favourite songs to perform
9. Mad God, a doom metal band where Tim is the vocalist and guitarist
10. Tiger, an experimental rock band where Tim plays lead guitar

The topics discussed in the third video are:
1. When Tim realised that music was going to be his life
2. Tim’s journey with the Wits Choir
3. Tim’s experience with theatre and creating music for the production
4. Being a teacher at St. Stithians College
5. A good focus to have when you are studying music
6. Trinity exams, Rock school and practicing
7. Being supervised by Chris Letcher; a film composer and songwriter
8. Tim’s greatest challenge and how he has overcomes it
9. Tim’s ultimate music dream
10. A closing message from Tim!

I hope at least a few of these topics may be of interest to you. If you wish to follow what Mijaelle does with Heart-Beats check out her Youtube channel here and also her Facebook and Twitter accounts!

Music Composition In Video Games (Beat Games)

Hi there everyone. Thought today I would link a composition I made for the video game Beat Attack and discuss certain challenges faced when composing music for this type of game.

To give context this is a game made by Steven Tu from Twoplusgames (http://twoplusgames.com/) lovingly called Beat Attack.The game is still a work in progress, at least from a music point of view, as there have been several challenges faced while composing and applying music for this game.

The way we decided to make sure the music syncs up with the beats in game is to mix down the music in 1 second or rather 1 ‘beat at a time’ formats and then input the beats into the game. The game has varying tempos and initially stared from 100 Bpm to around 180 Bpm but due to the difficulty of the game the tempos have been decreased to around 80Bpm to 120Bpm.

The biggest problems found when applying the music like this to the game is that when the tempos are much faster or much slower than the original music is bounced down at, gaps and ‘clicks’ start to appear in the music. This is due to the tempo of the game being much faster or slower than the tempos of the individual slices of music. As the game is still being developed you can hear this in the game (http://twoplusgames.itch.io/beatattack). The ways we are discussing fixing this problem is by having multiple sets of samples mixed down at separate tempos and take note of where the samples start to sound strange and then use a whole new set of samples for each tempo increment. The obvious annoyance to this is having to mix down every beat of a minute pieces multiple times, however at the moment it seems to be the only way of combating this problem. If anyone has tackled this before leave a comment as to how you have combated this issue!

The next problems faced is in the actual writing of the music as I found the use of effects such as reverb or delay or extended, arpeggiated and/or legato synth sounds can call aural displeasure when the piece is mixed down in tiny pieces. Especially when those pieces are played at faster or slower tempos. The way this was dealt with was by using mainly staccatto sounds and quick synths with little decay or sustain. Fast and sharp sounds seem necessary for this kind of musical application but again it would be interesting to hear from other composers how they have approached this problem. Let me know in the comments if you have any interesting approaches to this.

As Steven has been busy with many other projects and is currently heading to GDC, Beat Attack has been on slight hold but I thought it would be interesting for other composers of video game music to discuss and address the issues of implementing music in a game such as this.

For interests sake I have linked the piece written at various tempos for people to hear.

I hope this is an interesting read for anyone making music for video games or applying music to a similar game such as this. And good luck! It is a hair pulling experience 😛

100 BPM: https://soundcloud.com/jumpshipmusic/kleine-beat-auf-100

171 BPM: https://soundcloud.com/jumpshipmusic/kba

200 BPM: https://soundcloud.com/jumpshipmusic/kleine-beat-auf-200

My favourite is the 200 BPM one but I don’ think it’ll ever make it into the game 😛

P.s I had to write this blog post twice due to a horrible misclick so excuse any mistakes. The second time I just wanted to get it done :P.

Introduction Blog

Ok so hello people! This is an introduction and a welcome to my website! I’ll keep this spot updated with what I’ve been doing lately along with some cool videos. At the moment I’ve been finishing up music for A Day In The Woods (http://retroepic.com/our-games/a-day-in-the-woods/) and will soon to be doing some sound for the trailer in lieu of release! I like to try keep it brief, so I have been working on video game music and my masters on the same topic for the past 2 years and a bit, you can check out the projects and their music in my portfolio section. I like to keep it updated with new music whenever I can and for my full range of compositions check out my soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jumpshipmusic!

While I’m trying desperately to finish up my Master’s degree I have been watching some cool videos on some of the video games I have been case studying. Here is an awesome tutorial by Rich Vreeland who did the music for Fez, check it out for an awesome Massive tutorial! 😀

Here is an improvisatory piece I wrote using his patch sounds: https://soundcloud.com/jumpshipmusic/jump-ship-what-is-the-computer

Enjoy browsing the website and I will try keep this updated with blogs and new content as often as I have something to say 😛