Music playlists

Two (okay, three) questions.

One: If you are given a playlist to play along with a game, but it is on a different site, will you listen to it while playing?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Depends/Other (explain below)
0 voters

Two: Can you focus while listening to music with lyrics in the background? This one really interests me, because I know I can focus better with lyrics.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Depends on the music (explain below)
0 voters

And, finally, third question: Which sites are you happy with listening to a playlist from? (eg: Spotify, YouTube, etc.)


I’m assuming by “game” you mean something text-based? It really depends on the density of the prose, but generally I have a hard time focusing with music with lyrics on in the background. I have an easier time of it with instrumental music, and I can tolerate lyrics with certain graphical games even if I usually prefer to listen to the in-game OST — in my teens I went through a period of playing Zelda: Twilight Princess with Tool’s Lateralus as accompaniment, because of course I did.

If you’re asking players to indulge you with your own playlist, then to be honest I’d rather you just incorporated music into the game. I get that this might not be viable if tracks need to be licensed. In terms of platforms, YouTube is arguably the most accessible service even if I’d personally prefer Spotify.

Hope this helps!


My “it depends” answer for the first question: I’m not going there if the site requires an account.

I do have an account for a music platform, but I don’t have one for Spotify, for example, and the main point I’m trying to get across is it’s unlikely that someone has an account on enough music platforms that you can pick one for useful availability overlap.

You’d be better off writing out the playlist by song titles and artists, and each player can assemble the playlist on their platform of choice.


I turn off sound in all games 99% of the time. This is abnormal, I gather. It just irritates me.


Yeah, I know that makes me an outlier, but I turn off all sounds almost all the time. Computers should be seen and not heard. :stuck_out_tongue: (not-old man yells at clouds)


I too am in the turn-off-sound club - more due to the context in which I’m usually playing games than any deep preference, admittedly. Not to say that it’s not worth spending time on playlists and stuff if that’s exciting to you! But I think it’s good to be mindful of the fact that whatever you do, a good chunk of people aren’t going to hear any audio so hopefully they can still get a reasonably-full experience of the game.


If anyone wants to see a game in which I love the sound (and also if you want to play one of my favorite games): Kami 2

Every single sound that game makes is perfectly geared to release a little pop of oxytocin in my brain.

But any kind of soundtrack is a no for me.


Wow. I certainly find this fascinating. But I guess fair enough! I assume I should still put the playlist down, in case people want it? (Or is that something that irritates you in blurbs? It does for me :man_shrugging:)

(The reason I wouldn’t do “assemble yourself” is my playlist is designed specifically so that when played with a 5-second transition on Spotify, the songs blend together nearly perfectly.)


Yeah, I’d still like to see the playlist - it’s fun to see songs I might recognize and extrapolate the vibe from there. A link rather than putting a long playlist in the blurb might work better, though.


I’m in the turn off sound club too! Maybe it’s less abnormal than we think.


I will make a playlist for every game I make, and presently those will live on Spotify. I haven’t really investigated any other services. It isn’t exclusively for playing the game; it can be treated like a feelie. However, the order and selection are meant to correspond with the direction of the narrative.

I’ll share the link at the game’s site on itch. I’ll also provide a tracklist and url within the game itself.

I make the list while writing, and listen to it while writing. It helps me vibe with things. I have playlists cooking for my two WIPs, and edit them often. I put a lot of thought into this stuff, primarily just because I enjoy it. Not many have commented on this aspect of RTE, but it’s nice when they do (the Spotify list has 14 saves).

[while this post is in future tense, these are all things I’ve already done with the game I’ve made]

e: so far as how I present this…


(I used a short URL because the native one was so long)


When I am playing any IF that doesn’t come with audio, I try to figure out what kind of music best fits the setting and possible tone/mood at the start, and assemble a quick instrumental playlist to loop as I game.

For some reason, even while on medication, I cannot functionally read new fiction material without music playing. The music also has to be devoid of lyrics, too, or else I can’t focus on the words of the IF game.

If there are sound effects but no music in the game, I play my self-selected playlist at a lower volume, so that it doesn’t obstruct the foreground sounds.


1.) If it’s new music I haven’t heard before with lyrics, no. It’s too distracting, typically. Instrumentals are okay though with a new listen.

2.) It’s just too distracting to play an IF game with lyrics (or anything that requires critical thinking or a higher level of concentration. Otherwise, I’m just ignoring the music, and then why bother. I’m with Amanda and Josh on this one where I prefer no music and turn off the music most of the time. Though I have played some games where the music almost makes the game. The Mass Effect games come to mind.

3.) Spotify and YouTube. The reason being is I have a Spotify account. Otherwise, I’m like Joey, and I’m not going to create an account to listen to a specific list of songs. That’s why I always share music I’m listening to (in our favourite thread) with YouTube videos because it’s accessible right there. If someone likes it enough, they’ll add it to there own playlists.


Totally agreed with everything here. Especially since the playlist can’t react to what you’re doing, I’d see it as a nice touch but totally optional and would maybe put it on if its a genre I like but ignore otherwise. If its built in I’d assume its an integral part of the experience and leave it on unless it got too repetitive or annoying.

I find it very hard to read text while listening to lyrics.

YouTube is the only site that’s not being a paywall, though if you’re just handing out links ,might as well make one for every major platform


Also: I published the playlist maybe six months before the game released. It changed over time, but yeah. Some people definitely listened to it, but probably not a lot.

e: the comments here have inspired me to make a copy on youtube. I’ll add it to the itch page, and will think about a new release (there’s also a default message from the Standard Rules related to a bathroom sink that I’d like to get rid of).

  1. I love music and have music going in the background of basically everything that I do, but because of that, if the music isn’t incorporated into the game itself I’m unlikely to turn off the music I already have playing to check out a playlist on another site. I’m lazy! If I like the game, I may or may not look up the playlist later when I’m in the mood for new music.

  2. Songs with lyrics have never been a problem for me when reading, or even puzzle-solving! The only situation in which I sometimes can’t handle lyrics is when writing.

  3. I generally prefer YouTube.


My answer re: question 3, playlists, is all snobbery, but I’d never use one. But I will listen to a mix that someone crafts in music in general.

Back in non-general, I’m all for trying the original soundtrack that comes with any game, but I do find they’re often not used well in IF, or just interrupt thought. I’ll always try if someone offers one. This is as opposed to a playlist, which I won’t start.

I valued playlists in the period where, if it was done by an individual, they had to put multiple kinds of physical world effort into it. Considering the music, getting access to the music, copying to a tape, writing out a list, giving the tape to people etc. Now that everyone can go to Spotify, tick a bunch of songs and say ‘Here’s a playlist’, and there are a zillion, I find I don’t value any playlist.

One of my dreams was to guest program Rage for our national broadcaster in Australia, but my music is too obscure to put me in a position to do that. I also tried to achieve it by entering the odd competition with the prize of programming Rage.

The closest I came (and which I was satisfied with) was being invited to put together a one hour radio mix for 2SER FM. The new Twin Peaks was airing and the music nods broadly in that direction (angelic to the weird to the frightening) including pieces from myself, Twin Peaks, Autechre, Basil Kurchin, and games Silent Hill, Dino Crisis and Burn Cycle. This is not what I’d program if given the keys to Rage; it’s too strange and aggressive for that. If you’re open to such a mix, my post about it with info and player is here – hit space to jump down a screen when you land.



These comments about turning off sound amaze me. I’m definitely in the majority here, but I can’t imagine turning off the sound in any game I play unless it’s really awful, and even then I might just turn down the volume. Sound is a huge part of any game for me. A lot of the games I play are ones I discovered through their soundtracks.

I’m kind of in the same boat, though Spotify is the only offender here I know of that actually needs you to make an account to use it. I think Youtube and Soundcloud are fine for playlist sharing and I’d be fine with using those. Also, I don’t listen to music with lyrics that often unless it’s in another language or I’ve heard it a lot of times before and can filter out the lyrics. If the lyrics are loud or whatever, it can be annoying. But I’d be fine with a game playlist if the lyrics weren’t too obtrusive.


Ooh I haven’t played Kami yet but I absolutely love the sound in Lumino City, another game by the same developers (State of Play)

For me, I really like sound effects in certain games, so I will generally leave on the sound

I’m very similar here, though on the last point, it’s a bit of reverse for me – quite a few of the songs that I listen to are discovered from games that I play

I also feel the same generally here.

About the topic of music and interactive fiction, that reminds me: I haven’t played Stray Gods before, but I’ve heard that the music changes depending on which choices you make.

The music is by Austin Wintory who did the soundtrack for Journey (nominated for Grammy), Abzu, The Pathless and more.

Stray Gods is a narrative-based game where you play as Grace, a singer with the power of song. You have one week to prove your innocence in the death of the Last Muse and face the Chorus, a group of mythological beings.

Stray Gods : The Roleplaying Musical is an interactive narrative experience like no other, with a brilliant score and engaging mythological mystery.” 4.5/5 - ScreenRant

There are voice actors/singers Ashley Johnson & Troy Baker (who do Ellie and Joel in The Last of Us), Laura Bailey (Abby in The Last of Us 2), etc.


I prefer soundtracks that correspond to the current state of the game rather than playlists that simply loop.

Here’s what I learned when I put together the soundtrack for According to Cain:

The fun part was finding the appropriate song for each section of the game. I keyed TADS’ sound player to fade-out and fade-in as the player unlocked new portions of the world, and played “reward” music that plays when a puzzle is solved or a new region opens up.

I certainly prefer music without lyrics, especially for IF which is heavy on the reading. That said, choral music or music where the voice is being used as an instrument, but not lyrically, is okay, and can work well.

Definitely give the player an easy way to enable/disable music at any time. I asked the player up-front about it, even before displaying the game intro, to avoid annoying anyone.