Tag: hyperinstrument (page 1 of 9)

The wacky world of Jazzpunk

jazzpunkComedy adventure game Jazzpunk is a total sensory overload. From the very start of the game, Jazzpunk’s music pulls you right into its bizarre universe. Like the game’s punchy visual style, the game’s soundtrack is a perfect fit for the off-the-wall content of the game.

Necrophone Studios (comprised of Luis Hernandez and Jess Brouse) is the masterminds behind this gem of a game. The music was composed and recorded by Luis. This was done, of course, in a totally unconventional way: he set up his own studio space, recording the soundtrack with the use of an array of vintage tape machines and homemade analogue synthesisers. In a blog on the subject, he writes, “I use this approach in an attempt to capture the feeling of old sci-fi, experimental horror, and spy movies, which used a lot of analogue synthesisers, spring reverb, and tape echo for their monsters, computers, gadgets, and sound effects. Jazzpunk takes place in an alternate reality 1950s, so I wanted to mimic the production style from that era.”

Like the game, the soundtrack has enjoyed critical success and was included in Indie Game Reviewer’s top 10 indie game music soundtracks of 2014, placing fifth. A commenter writes, “I would pay $200 for this on vinyl. Jazzpunk takes a huge departure from standard fare; it’s like Terry Gilliam exists in the gaming universe.”

This player is far from the only one who feels this way. On Steam’s Jazzpunk forum, a long-running, still-active thread is dedicated to the soundtrack, with commenters lamenting the fact that it can only be listened to during gameplay – that is, the soundtrack itself is not available for purchase at all.

Hopefully the developers will, at some stage, release the soundtrack. That way, fans worldwide can return anytime, and anywhere, to Jazzpunk’s fantastical world of espionage, cowboys, and crocodiles.

 

game audio / game music / game soundtracks

 

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The Last of Us – One Night Live

TLoU2There’s no denying that post-apocalyptic survival horror game The Last Of Us was one of 2013’s greatest gaming triumphs, both critically and commercially. Its experimental approach made giant leaps forward in the use of gaming as a medium for storytelling.  Still, the game’s gripping tale would not have been done justice without its knockout voice acting performances and compelling score.

In celebration of this, a one-night-only performance of scenes from of The Last Of Us was staged in a theatre in Santa Monica in mid-2014. At the helm was the game’s original writer and creative director, Neil Druckmann of Naughty Dog. The audience was treated to live performances of selected cut-scenes by the original voice actors: namely Troy Baker (Joel), Ashley Johnson (Ellie), Annie Wersching (Tess), Merle Dandridge (Marlene), and Hana Heyes (Sarah). Between the various scenes, songs from the game’s soundtrack were also performed live by a band led by composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

In an effort to take the performance beyond the theatre and bring it to a wider audience of gamers worldwide, Naughty Dog made the performance available free of charge as a livestream on YouTube (where it can still be viewed in full). This has been widely regarded as a good move. Unfortunately, the gesture was tarnished by the fact that the livestream was cut short for home viewers while the in-theatre audience was given an exclusive, previously unseen performance many fans would have loved to witness: a scene between Joel and Ellie which takes place many years after the conclusion of the in-game events.

Despite its conclusion leaving a slightly bitter taste in the mouth of some, the event has nevertheless given its fans something special. Perhaps more importantly, it has paved the way for other projects to make similarly experimental approaches in extending game audio beyond the game. Many would put theatre and gaming on opposite ends of the spectrum of entertainment, but this event showed that that does not necessarily have to be so. Bringing the acting and music from a game to a live audience allows gamers to experience the now-familiar material in a different context, giving it more meaning, more depth, and ultimately making it more powerful.

 

 

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Evolve – Game Audio

EvolveEvolve is the latest release from Turtle Rock Studios, yet another co-op shooter from the developers who made a name for themselves with the Left 4 Dead franchise. Evolve follows a similar structure to its zombified predecessors in terms of gameplay, with the whole game revolving around a premise of kill or be killed. Once one of these outcomes has been achieved, the game is over. You would think that with such a narrow and unchanging gameplay, it would be difficult to conceive of new creative ideas once a central musical theme has been established. But British Academy Award Winning composer Jason Graves uses a number of interesting tactics to keep the soundtrack fresh and original.

Often games use a style of audio presentation called ‘reactive music,’ which is music that fits specific events that a player experiences in real time. The difficulty for soundtrack composers on multiplayer games is that reactive music is no longer an option as every player is experiencing something different. To overcome this obstacle, Jason uses what’s called ‘stingers’. Stingers are snippets of music that last only a few seconds which are used to emphasise particular events that happen during gameplay. Jason made hundreds of these stingers and set them to background music to be triggered by each player during gameplay.

Apart from stingers, the OST for Evolve could be considered ‘atmospheric music’. This means that the music focuses mainly on the atmosphere and tone of the game, which makes sense in the style of game such as Evolve where the emphasis is placed on the gameplay.

Another interesting quality of the Evolve soundtrack is the instrumentation. Although it sounds entirely computerised, Graves actually created much of the soundtrack using a myriad of percussion instruments, guitar effects and even household products such as pencils, a pizza box, part of a bird cage and a roller chair.

Graves also has his name on over 50 other game soundtracks, including EA’s ‘Dead Space’, Square Enix’s ‘Tomb Raider’ and Sony’s latest release ‘The Order: 1886,’ which was released on the 20th of February 2015, only ten days after the release of Evolve. He is also the winner of 31 awards including the British Academy Award for Best Original Score (Dead Space).These accomplishments add up to a very well established career in the gaming audio world for the young composer who will no doubt continue to please gaming audiences around the world.

 

 

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