Interactive soundtrack for Kerkerkruip

I have a proposal. Well, maybe not so much a proposal, maybe just a brainstorm.

First of all, I’m obliged to say that I love Wade Clarke’s non-interactive soundtrack. I hope that Wade will join me in this brainstorm.

For a very long time, I’ve wanted to do a game with an audio component, but I never wanted anything so simple as a few clips that play at certain times. Maybe a little like Loom, though I never saw Loom.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the idea of writing a game AND writing music, though. But maybe there’s room for an interactive soundtrack in Kerkerkruip. Maybe not purely in I7 but maybe with the help of Vorple or some other technology. I’m most familiar with Supercollider but that might not hook up well with I7.

So, here’s my idea for how to generate the music:

Rhythms are determined by the game map. Imagine that sound travels across the room in one beat (or one eighth note, whatever. Maybe stairs are dotted notes or triplets). Every room in the dungeon then has a rhythm created by playing a beat and then waiting for the echoes to come back. The maze might be an area with no clear rhythm.

Room and furniture effects would modify the rhythm - they’d change the backing track or instruments, maybe add ornamentation to the rhythm or drone notes. Maybe rooms would have their own chord sequences, or maybe just single chords or keys. Related rooms, like Library, Drawing Room, and Quartering Room, might have neighboring keys. Perhaps the full rhythm and instrumentation would only be played during battle.

Tension increases musical tension in some way, maybe by increasing tempo or subdivisions of the beat, or by transposing upwards or playing higher notes, etc.

One-off effects might just be sound effects or short melodies.

Player abilities might alter instrumentation. Stats would alter parameters of the instruments being played. Low health might have more tremelo. Current attack bonus would have brighter tones or sharper attacks. Current defense bonus might be more legato or involve some harmonization of the theme being played.

Worn clothing and readied weapons might also add backing tracks.

Monsters of course get leitmotifs. Their stats and weapons would affect how their leitmotifs were played, of course.

Maybe this is totally ridiculous, but it sure is fun to think about!

Interesting post. I had some awesome fun creating a score for FINAL GIRL and figuring out ways to make pieces fit together.

I read an article about how It’s A Small World at Disney has “interactive” music. The Disney engineers when creating It’s a Small World experimented and figured out that having a different theme song for each land would very quickly become cacophonous as the boats moved between scenes and could hear two different pieces playing at the same time. What they ended up doing was writing one very simple song that was easy enough to write lyrics in every language for, so the experience is that you hear the same song with instrumentation and language and vocal arrangements fading in and out and changing smoothly.

Lucasarts did the same thing with their adventure games and the “IMUSE” system, where the composer used one general theme or melody that played in each area, and there were multiple tracks in the score that the game engine had control of. The easiest place to see this was in Monkey Island II when you row to the voodoo lady’s hut (forgive me if I don’t recall this exactly correctly): The score in the swamp is very sparse, just some occasional fiddling bass notes. When you saw the hut across the water some breathy wind notes came in over the bass. When you picked up the oar then a jazz organ kicked in and fit into the baseline so the music slowly developed into a gentle reggae tune. So by the time you got to the hut and the guitars were added this whole score slowly built itself up into the Voodoo Lady theme, and could continue to play and eventually break apart as you reversed the process and left.

When the comp is over I’ll probably talk more about the music in FINAL GIRL if anyone at all is interested. But the main principle that applies is “Less is More”. I got the most mileage out of the simpler tracks: A low horn blast that echoed and then held off for 16 bars. Some fiddly guitar notes that would add dissonance and variety to the echoing horn blast.

So from what you’ve written, it sounds like you’ve got good ideas, but you definitely don’t want the robotic score that would result from chairs and tables that added triplets and opening a door causes a slide whistle type of cartoon scoring.

Probably the easiest for a game similar to Kerkerkruip would be similar to LucasArts…have one long and entertaining piece of music that has different “feels” to it that change depending on the instrumentation. During a battle you add drums and lots of faster driving music that clash with the existing notes in the melody. When things are calm, you bring in some strings. Special conditions like turning into a ghoul might switch so the melody is played with a clarinet. If Malygris the big bad was near, you hear pizzicato strings and shuddering brass. When you go to the harbor, the music is the same but played on an accordion and hornpipe. Ideally if you get the character accustomed to the instrumentation and leitmotifs, then the uber concept is they can use the music to their advantage as an intrinsic part of the gameplay (which I attempted in a very small way in my game). IE, If you hear tympani, you need to run because you know the dragon has been let loose. That kind of thing.

That sounds like good advice. I think I could still include a lot of information, as long as it was included in subtle ways - I like to design instruments that have a lot of control parameters - brightness, noisiness, attack style, articulation, rhythmic looseness, chorus effects, spatialization, etc. Electronic music is often lacking in expression, and I think it helps to throw in some of the variation that an instrumentalist would naturally have.

What got me thinking was this silly-sounding website:

Which reminded me of Severed Heads’ “Sevcom Music Server” project.

This is a fascinating and incredible idea.

I’m not a sound person, so I have nothing to add, except I’ll be watching this space for developments.

Very cool!

Now I feel like I’m getting people’s hopes up! This is very technically ambitious, and my time is limited…

Oh, no, not at all. I’d love to see this implemented, but I’m like you–I don’t expect huge ambitious ideas like this to come to total fruition :slight_smile:

Well, I expect it finished and on my desk by Monday morning.