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  • unmanneddrone 12:58 pm on October 4, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , Squadron of Sound   

    @bowlisimo Spot on with the Mechwarrior 2 soundtrack! Yeah, I agree with your description on the 90s PC CD-Rom sound…one up from midi, but still retaining that gorgeous synthetic sensibility. And just on the Adagio bit, I followed your enquiry all the way to Professor Wikipedia, and for something written supposedly written as an anthem of adoration, we’ve been using it for all the most tragic occasions of the 21st century! Presidents funerals, memorial services, the plight of the weak and powerless…still, if the glove fits! Lovely piece of music, and a lovely rendition for the Homeworld scene.

    In regards to reviews and whatnot, I enjoy reading them but don’t take them on board very often. I love James Allen’s Out of Eight site, because he’s a trustworthy guy who knows what he’s talking about…and more often than not, goes off the beaten track to review the tiniest and most obscure games. It’s that kind of breadth that gets my respect.

    Tom Chick is a very interesting character. He seems to swing from outright contrarian and champion of the underdog to a regular reviewer. He’s a smart fellow, but I think he’s worth reading just for his game diaries. It’s nice to see someone’s experiences unfold over the course of a week or so.

    And I finished up the new SoS. Great effort, gents. Nothing more to add, just really enjoyed the show.

    By the by, after the buzz @beige and co. had going for Enslaved, and after I played the demo and found myself thinking ‘I love everything visually about this damn game!’, I threw down the clams for it. Time has certainly become a thing of rarity as of last week, but it should be a lovely guilty pleasure to play slowly over the course of a few weeks. I was considering a cheapy on the same level, Viking: Battle for Asgard, but thought it would be better to run with this year’s sleeper Uncharted-esque character narrative.

     
  • bowlisimo 6:20 pm on October 3, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Squadron of Sound   

    @unmanneddrone Nice selection. The Lost Eden soundtrack has that unmistakable 90’s PC CD game, better than midi, but still synthetic quality to it, that you can also hear in Jeehun Hwang’s Mechwarrior 2 Score (1995) and countless others. Back when the music were still tracks on the CD that you could listen to in a stereo.

    An interesting note about Samuel Barber’s Adagio that I heard on the radio once, it was intended to be a piece about love, not about sadness and loss, which is what it is usually used for (Platoon, Homeworld, etc). Not sure if that is actually true or not, but still interesting to think about.

    Anyway, I have yet to listen to the podcast, but I’m sure I’ll be there to defend Mass Effect, especially since I think it’s damn good and I feel pretty strongly about game music in general.

     
  • unmanneddrone 3:08 am on October 3, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Squadron of Sound   

    Hey folks. Just wanted to say thanks for another terrific podcast. I only just managed to nab it last night and have been listening to the first part this morning. Perhaps it’s his background as a composer for a scripted and passively-consumed format of late (although I do dig some of the games he’s worked on), but I found Tilton’s view a little inflexible. But hey, more to listen to, though I’ve not any thoughts of merit on the topic other than there’s been some killer soundtracks in the past…

    My favourites include the following:

    Paul Ruskay – Homeworld OST (1999) – If it weren’t already right up my alley in subject matter and visual design, the soundtrack would have pushed it over the line. Like Dead Can Dance meets Biosphere, the spine-tingling middle eastern tinge worked magically in conveying the journey home; some sort of trial in the wilderness by the remnants of a chosen people. Thing is, this both works and goes against Tilton’s initial views…it works because it defines the space itself, rather than the “characters” moving through it. I think the actualisation of gamespace means its dimensions are far more important than that of TV and cinema. However, at the same time, Homeworld’s OST is evocation of time and space, whether it’s a campaign mission or a skirmish muck-around. All I know is…my little fighters in their sweeping delta formation arcing against the gentle yellow hues of immense Oort-esque clouds was burned into my audio-visual recesses thanks to Ruskay. To quote Kenneth Brannagh as the abominable Reinhard Heydrich, “The adagio will tear your heart out.”

    Examples: Tears of Karan (Adagio for strings) – http://bit.ly/dgFziW / Imperial Battle – http://bit.ly/aGE4NM

    Stéphane Picq – Dune Spice Opera Exxos (1992) – This was the reworked CD release of the original Cryo Dune game soundtrack, along with some unreleased tracks. Without a doubt, one of the most amazing game soundtracks of all time, an organic and rich tapestry that seemed to evoke the barren wastes of Arrakis, yet retain that gorgeous post-Jean Michel Jarre sound that Picq was known for. Sadly, when Virgin Records was sold to EMI, the rights were retained and no re-release permission was granted. However, Picq himself said regardless of the legalities, he encouraged everyone to find it by any means on the internet. The physical copies are still in the wild in limited numbers, but it’s well worth a listen – even if it’s only on youtube.

    Examples: Water – http://bit.ly/bBEVZi / Sign of the Worm – http://bit.ly/cKeTXH

    Stéphane Picq – Lost Eden OST (1995) – It’d be true to assume Picq is up there for me. However, as you could always count on with Cryo games, the soundtracks were killer. Lost Eden no exception. A strange amalgam of tribal ambience and subdued string accompaniments, tied down wonderfully by luscious vocal echoes. If anything, it’s like Banco de Gaia meets Deep Forest, and is a real joy to listen to.

    Examples: Lost Eden Theme – http://bit.ly/csQAs2 / Mother of Energy – http://bit.ly/bFuhrT

    Special Mention:

    Warp Records Various Artists – Hardw[a]r: The Future Is Greedy OST (1998) – Featuring LFO, The Black Dog, Autechre, RAC and Squarepusher, this Sheffield-in-spirit Designer’s Republic-drenched sci-fi sandbox game was, for my money, one of the coolest products on the market at that time. If you’re familiar with any of those names that provided the tunes for this despairing, wonderfully grit-Brit effort, you’d know just the kind of mood the game revelled in. Bleak and edgy, I used to throw the game CDs in my player and skip the data track to get my fix.

    Examples: Autechre – Second Bad Vilbel – http://bit.ly/9D4blg / The Black Dog – Raxmus – http://bit.ly/bUGca2

    Anyway, enough rambling. Thanks again and looking forward to more from the podcast with the remainder queued up for the afternoon.

    EDIT: @RedSwirl I personally don’t believe you needed to be “of that time period” in the 70s to fully appreciate the depth and beauty of what we’ve come to know of “that sci-fi sound”, but if you want something to listen into for an idea not just on the science fiction route, but the era itself, I’d recommend the following…I’m a huge electronica nut, both of yesteryear and today, so here’s my call:

    Early years – Jean Michel Jarre (Oxygene, Equinoxe), Klaus Schulze (incidentally, once a member of Tangerine Dream) and Brian Eno’s “Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks”. Maybe Robert Fripp’s Frippertronics sideproject (of King Crimson fame) is worth checking out, only for the live loop tech that became more mechanised down the line. Of course, Vangelis goes without saying. And anything by Steve Roach will drop you into deep and dark wormholes.

    Later years – Stars of the Lid (And Their Refinement of the Decline, especially), Biosphere (incredible Nordic soundscapes – Substrata is incredible), Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works II” is quite an atmospheric release, but it’s a little too warm in places to really effect that science fiction sound. However, big recommendations with the later years would have to include Robert Rich (Below Zero is enchantment, la prière de l’espace lointain!), Robert Henke (Layering Buddha has to be heard in a dark room with headphones to really engage with its monastic awe) and anything by Mike Cadoo – his Gridlock or Dryft projects are things of utter beauty.

    It’s the evocation of hard vacuum or alien worlds. An aural picture painting light-years to and from the redshift. The majesty of the deep and distant. Mass Effect’s OST isn’t the pinnacle of this portrayal, but it’s one of the best.

     
  • feenwager 1:13 pm on October 1, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Squadron of Sound   

    Good show this week, guys. I enjoyed it when I wasn’t shouting at my stereo.

     
  • feenwager 12:24 am on October 1, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Squadron of Sound   

    This may help you enjoy the show, and develop a better understanding of the topic.

    Everything Tilton is saying is correct. Everything Pete and Mark are saying is incorrect.

    See? It’s just like I was there.

     
  • Jeff Grubb 10:35 pm on September 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Squadron of Sound   

    And just unpaused the episode and heard Biege and Angryjedi make essentially the same point. I would just say that even a narrative game should be more concerned about the player than the in-game characters.

     
  • Jeff Grubb 10:26 pm on September 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Squadron of Sound   

    I really disagree with Tilton’s take on early videogame music having nothing to do with what is going on in the videogame. I think it is just the opposite in fact. Music in videogame in the past two generations is becoming more mindful of the characters and their motivations, but in doing that the music is losing focus on the player.

    Sure, music can be used to help tell a story in a game, but not all games tell stories. Even the games that do, shouldn’t be focused on conveying a specific emotion from a specific character more than they focus on the how the player feels while in control of the game.

    The perfect example is Super Mario Bros. Koji Kondo didn’t just do the soundtrack he also was the games sound designer. He designed the sounds and the music so that jumping and stomping on enemies fit into the score of the game. Since the player was in direct control of Mario this smooth integration of control, visuals, and sound caused a perfect harmony between three senses — touch, sight, and hearing.

    Modern games with their scores that are more concerned about in-game character emotions want to cut out the feel of the game, because the story is being force fed with visuals and audio.

    In that way, game audio has lost sight of what makes gaming different.

     
  • RedSwirl 5:15 pm on September 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Squadron of Sound   

    …But on the subject of favorite music, I don’t quite know what my favorite modern game music is, but I will be happy to bring up what I think is one outstanding underrated example: The last few Splinter Cell games.

    Chaos Theory is probably one of my favorite soundtracks for how unique it sounded (maybe it’s just my lack of exposure to electronica) and for how interactive it was. Amon Tobin’s sounds were just something that kind of put a new yet fitting dress to Splinter Cell’s espionage theme. On top of that there was how the music of each level would change based on what was going on: each stage had at least three different versions of its theme for “stealth” “suspicion” and “alert”. Just check out how the Bank theme progresses below:

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LOKM5xS-LE&feature=related
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHC-f3iHnEI&feature=related

    A similar example is how the music adds a bit of bounce between each round in Street Fighter III. I for one thought 3rd Strike’s hip-hop music was actually quite good:

    Crowded Street: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETP7R5ORk6E&feature=related

    Back to Splinter Cell though, by far my favorite theme in Conviction was in fact the sole piece for the game done by Tobin – the Main Menu Theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDNd0iosWyA

    On the subject of Halo Reach, I actually like that game’s main theme, a lot.

    With a lot of movies (and some games) there seems to be a sort of “main theme” that permeates throughout the score in different forms. The Halo composer even knows this. Where the previous games just re-played that (admittedly great) piano theme from all the escape sequences, Reach went and had its own unique theme which I thought was equally good at getting me ready to kill a motherfucker (like during the underground defense battle). The difference with Reach though was how that theme reappeared in equally awesome forms like what happened when the final waves of covenant started approaching during the campaign’s final battle:

    Main Theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d01tFnjYJlY
    Alternate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF7Bwt2Edsw (skip to 5:53)

     
  • Pete Davison 12:07 pm on September 30, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Squadron of Sound   

    @feenwager: YOU SHOULD TRY THE MULTIPLAYARRR

    Hah. No, seriously. I think you’d enjoy it a lot more. Campaign is infuriating, particularly on Heroic or Legendary. It just stops being fun when you die over and over and over, which is what put me off the series in the first place. Same for Gears. But I persevered and completed it on Heroic, and I’m glad I did. I ended up enjoying it. Now I feel I can go back and help other people out with co-op, which is infinitely more fun than single-player, incidentally, for the simple reason that one person dying doesn’t mean restarting the whole section again.

    Firefight, though, is super-fun. It keeps the good bits of the Halo shooting experience, strips out the indecipherable plot and gives you a good excuse to go wild with a variety of weapons. It’s also one of the most hugely customisable modes there is in the whole game, so you can make it as easy or as hard as you want. You can even make yourself invincible and provide yourselves with infinite-ammo fast-firing rocket launchers that you never have to reload, for example. So if you just want to blow shit up in a fit of rage… you can.

    @Tolkoto: I was exactly the same. I actually beat Halo: CE in split-screen co-op and really enjoyed it. I tired of Halo 2 well before the ending and same with Halo 3. I never even tried ODST. Actually, though, I’ve found that with Reach, I’m now more inclined to go back and play the old ones. Perhaps I’ll still hate them. But I certainly like Reach a whole lot more than any previous Halo title.

    @Beige: You’re quite right, we don’t need a Halo game every 2 years. As far as I’m concerned, the series is done. Bungie are setting it aside, the story is complete… I don’t need to play another Halo game unless they do something really significant with it, like make it into System Shock 2 or something. Which is never going to happen.

    Hope everyone enjoyed/is enjoying/is about to enjoy the new SquadCast. Thanks for the props, Beige. I figured a musical episode should have at least a little music throughout it. For those who didn’t like the background music in past episodes, it’s at a much quieter level than before. Should be very subtle. The musical interludes are a little longer than usual, too, to celebrate its musical episode-ness. (Sorry, Feen. :))

     
  • Pete Davison 10:58 pm on September 29, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , Squadron of Sound   

    SquadCast 2.4 Squadron of Sound audio http www… 

    SquadCast 2.4: Squadron of Sound

    Direct link

    Chris Tilton joins us for a discussion of video game soundtracks. We talk about the evolution of game sound, how dynamic music has a place even in non-narrative soundtracks and where things might go from here. Also, there’s the usual blend of Hot and Horseshit to enjoy.

    Music in this episode (not in the right order, as I forgot to write it in the correct order while editing and it’s late now)

    Reflections from Silent Hill 2
    46860 Choices from Geometry Wars 2
    Mass Effect Theme from Dragon Age: Origins
    Another Winter from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
    Brothers in Arms from Halo: Combat Evolved
    Black Wing Metamorphosis from Final Fantasy VII OCRemix album
    Otherworld from Final Fantasy X
    Painful Memories from Heavy Rain
    The Opened Way from Shadow of the Colossus
    Glass Halls from Shatter
    The Elite from Split/Second
    What You Are from Lost Odyssey
    Warhawk Theme from Warhawk (C64, not PS3)
    The Friendly Arms Inn from Baldur’s Gate

    If you want to discuss the topics raised on this episode, be sure to tag your posts “Squadron of Sound”, like this one is.

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