Music in Interactive Fiction

(Robert Rothman) #21

I’ve been toying with the idea of a game which uses music not as background, but as an essential plot element. Specifically, the idea would be that the player is a musician who, by solving various puzzles, in effect learns elements of music which he then has to use. (Sorry if this is a little cryptic – I don’t want to give too much away at this stage.) I know this has been done before – Augmented Fourth uses a similar idea. In the context in which I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve been struggling with how to make it work in a way which does not require pre-existing knowledge of music theory.

Robert Rothman

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#22

Or perfect pitch. When puzzle games introduce a music puzzle, it’s usually a pitch + short-term-memory thing, which I find extraordinarily annoying.

(I quite liked Musaic Box, though, which is a neat little extension of the arrange-fragments-of-a-song-in-the-right-order puzzle; there’s a much simpler version of the general type in The King of Shreds and Patches.)

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#23
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(Robert Rothman) #24

Actually, the idea that I’ve been toying with would not require perfect pitch (or even a good sense of relative pitch). The clues to the puzzle would not themselves be auditory, but they would relate to putting things together in a way that makes sense musically. As I say, I’m trying to figure out how to make it work for a player without any background in music theory.

Robert Rothman

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#25

The music puzzles in Zork Nemesis were quite good, IMO. Worth checking out.

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#26

Just as a side note, I’d love to compose some music that could go in a game. I do soundtrack and sound design work from time to time. I do a lot of electronic music and ambient stuff, but i have a nice little studio with guitars, basses drums, a Rhodes etc. at my disposal, so if you’re looking for free music to go in a game, I might as well produce something new for you, thus eliminating the need to browse archive.org:wink:

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#27

Here’s another musician, willing to make game music if someone asks me to. The most obvious way for someone to hear music I’ve made is to play the game I made. I’ve lately been having fun on weekends by setting up a mic and do some recording. Here are some (unpolished - I’ve only spent an afternoon recording each song) results of that: An acoustic version of Daft Punk’s Around the World, Some Brahms (my parents recently had their 51st wedding anniversary), a traditional wedding march (recorded for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary), an old Easter hymn and another old Easter hymn, in a different style, and an improvisation based on yet another old hymn.

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#28

It would be great if we could maintain a list of graphic artists and musicians willing to collaborate on IF projects somewhere, with small portfolios; finding free stuff is one thing, but having something crafted to your particular needs is entirely another.

Sticky thread on the Collaboration forum, that kind of thing?

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#29

I proposed a “audio bazaar” thingy in another thread. A place where IF authors can post requests for some specific piece of music or sound. That is, asking for the actual sound rather than for a person. People can then step up and try to produce something.

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#30

both ideas are great i think, and not exclusive.

I think it would be great to have a list of resources available here somewhere. From what I can fathom, there are a lot of musicians here, graphic artists, javascript heroes.

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#31

I am happy to sticky threads like that.

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#32

Ok, I could start a musician thread tomorrow, presenting my portfolio etc. if noone does it first.

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#33

Okay, here’s an artist thread. First-draftish, so suggestions for amending it are encouraged.

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(Peter Piers) #34

It looks beautiful.

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#35

Yup to both of these. That’s what I’m doing in my WIP. There are some songs, but they are area-specific and atmospheric. Most of the work will be in sound effects. The trick is, I think, to not overdo them.

Of course, including sound complexifies the verb “listen”. You can’t rely upon sound alone in what is primarily a textual experience. Sound should support, but not take center stage.

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#36

Anyone who wants to incorporate some atmospheric accordion soundscape into their game, look me up! eastvanaccordion.blogspot.ca/

Deirdra of /The Play/ fame plays sousaphone in a Balkan brass ensemble and we were discussing what it would take to get that awesome music into a game. Available: a band to render it. Lacking: the singular vision needed to incorporate it into something playable.

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#37

Part of the reason I really like IF as a game writer is that it’s simple; I can make a game with nothing but text. I don’t need to be able to create images, choose fonts, pick color schemes, compose music, or do any sort of cross-fading and other music stuff that makes music sound good. Really all I need to be able to do is write a simple program and tell a simple story.

That being said, though, the more “rich” and environment is, the more awesome the experience. If you’re in a forest, the ‘music’ would be an idyllic piece, with bird calls and wind blowing through the leaves. Suddenly, something happens, and the music switches (seamlessly, in an ideal world) to a more menacing piece, and suddenly the bird calls stop, and the wind picks up. Some time later, a thunderstorm starts; rain sounds, and the occasional thunderclap. It’s a great way to add emotion that’s hard to convey in text - as you get into a scarier part of the game, the music gets lower and lower, until boom! Thunder! The screen flashes white! Suddenly, the hulking creature is standing in front of you!

That would be an awesome game, if it was done correctly - but that’s the trouble. It’s hard to make a really good game. It’s even harder to add all the sounds, images, and other media without overshadowing the game, or wrenching the player out of the experience. Plus, the perfectly orchestrated game would suddenly be hundreds of megabytes, and would only work in Windows, and various sound systems would play the wrong music, or introduce pops and clicks, or… you get the idea. Adding sounds and images (and any other media) takes so much longer than just writing and programming the game, it’s prohibitive.

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#38

My WIP has a soundtrack in the form of a YouTube playlist. While I think the idea of music tightly integrated with the game is neat, it’s preferable in most cases to give the player the choice of listening to suggested tracks if they want. It’s easy for many computer users to play music and a game in separate processes at this point.

The playist has a very small amount of original music that I repurposed from another project, but most of it is work by other artists. Is it safe to assume that creating a playlist of tracks uploaded by others bears minimal legal responsibility?

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#39

I’d guess so (but the usual IANAL disclaimer applies).

But the downside to that scheme is that it’s very likely that playlist will disappear sooner or later.

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#40

Yeah, I can live with that. I think it’ll be a lot less work that Aaron had to do to maintain Blueful.

I’ve been trying to obtain permission to use lyrics in the actual game. In the meantime, I rewrote the game to include indirect references to the important lyrics. I was actually pretty happy with the result, so if I don’t get any more response from copyright holders, I’ll still be pretty happy.

Except for one song that I ended up replacing with a public domain lyric instead. That was a disappointment.

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