Jotunheim’s the word

The game that we are creating under the team name of Jotunheim (code-named Utangard), is coming along nicely and today we presented our ideas to our peers and facilitator’s. We are fortunate enough to have two industry pro’s helping us on our journey, Gaute Rasmussen and Ralf Muhlberger, the expertise between the two of them is hard to rival and is very humbling. So what did we discuss today and what changes have been made to the game? To start, this was not a games pitch, it was a presentation of how and why we are making the game, along with the methodology and the systems that we will use to realise our combined vision. We took turns in describing the discipline-specific areas of the game and because this blog is all about game sound, let’s delve further into the audio side of things. Here is an example of what I discussed;

  • Adaptive Music System
  • Instrumental Variations for Planning and Battle phases
  • Instrumental Variations of Main Theme for Factions
  • Positive Feedback for Factions (Incorporating Totem Animals)
  • Genuine Weapons, Recording Session (Ben Cook)

Adaptive Music System

There’s no denying that I love to get creative when it comes to the music for games and this one is no exception. We will be applying a music system that adapts to the gameplay and to achieve this, a vertical layering system will to be used. To make this concept a reality, different instrumental variations of the main theme will be composed, having seven in total.

Instrumental Variations for Planning and Battle phases

One variation will play when your planning the upcoming battle, this will be the main theme in its simplest form, with minimal instrumentation (traditional Nordic instruments). The second variation is for when the battle has commenced and will hear the main theme played by a large ensemble, the majority of instruments being a modern orchestra with the addition of the period instruments mentioned earlier.

Instrumental Variations of Main Theme for Factions

Five more variations will then be for when your faction is winning by a considerable margin and the win-state near (there are five factions hence the five variations).

Positive Feedback for Factions (Incorporating Totem Animals)

During a round of play, the end-user can have what I call a “minor win”. This means that the player may be losing the war but has won the round and will need positive feedback to have the sense of a “win”. The positive feedback will come in the form of a short musical sting that incorporates their totem-animal (each faction has a specific animal and symbol) and rewards the player sonically.

Genuine Weapons, Recording Session With Ben Cook

Ben Cook is a friend and lecturer at SAE-QANTM and after a discussion about what we are trying to achieve, has agreed to bring in his Viking weapons (sounds dangerous) for a recording session, yes! This means our battles are going to sound real! As well as helping with the recording sessions, Ben has been very helpful with resources on Vikings, loaning us books and is basically a walking library on this topic.

Our presentation ran smoothly and we were given the “green light” to commence production, we were told however, that we had a tinge of “amber” and were given some advice on how to turn our colour from yellowish-green to solid green (green, amber or red light is the system used for approving projects). Each discipline had a few things to improve for the success of the game and one of the comments about the audio was to think about the time that this event is taking place. I had composed a short piece to demonstrate the adaptive music system and this was received very positively, the one improvement that Gaute mentioned was to think about what century we were wanting to portray (my piece feels a few hundred years after the age of the Vikings). This was a great point that he made and gave way to a discussion after class about the musical direction.

We have come to the conclusion as a group that the instrumentation of the music isn’t as vital as the musical information itself (we will still be using traditional instruments, don’t worry). If you think about the track “If I Had A Heart” (Fever Ray, the title track to the hit TV series, Vikings) then most people would say this feels like Viking music, even though the instruments are historically inaccurate (did they have electric guitars and synths back then? lol). The musical information is the key to achieving the Viking-Sound and let’s face it, not everyone who likes Vikings and strategy games have the same level of expertise when it comes to musicology, so we do have a bit of leeway. I don’t mean to alienate any readers and I know that a lot of you are authorities when it comes to this topic, but we are aiming this game at a general audience (15+) and want to give the player a feeling of being in an epic battle and sometimes you just need a full orchestra to get the point across.

It was a productive day and our team has a really good dynamic, for everyone knows their role within Jotunheim and wants their contribution to be all that it can be. We all share the same train of thought when it comes to making games, that it isn’t about the individual, it’s about the end product. Shanks!

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