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R P G A M E R   -   R O U N D T A B L E

Topic II: What we Want
01.26.06

Joshua: I want music that will stick in my head, and give me something to hum or whistle when I'm bored.

Elliot: I want something to tie the game together, set the mood, and tell a story while moving the game along.

Joshua: But not bad sticking-in-my-head music, like that Chumbawumba song, I mean the good stuff :D

Janelle: I want music that will not irritate me or get extra repetitive, amongst everything else mentioned.

Jordan: I think what I want is for music to set the stage. I want it to take my breath away and excite me.

Matthew: I want contrast. Music of contrasting styles, genres whatever, just not the same old, same old the entire twenty, thirty tracks.

Janelle: J: Get your adrenaline pumping or the waterworks flowing, yes?

Jordan: And I want to know by the music when I've hit the last boss because it's so full of energy

Matthew: FFIX did that for me

Andrew: Oh, a game SOUNDTRACK

Joshua: It definitely has to fit the scene, period. I don't want a slow, tiring battle theme, when I could have something great like Feldschlact I from SaGa Frontier 2

Matthew: The Final Movie music had me jumping up and down

Andrew: I'm probably going to agree with Sensei here. Whatever fits the game best; even if this means less melodic stuff and more atmospheric stuff, that's OK by me. As much as I like the SNES soundtracks, with the state of modern games it would be difficult to write a soundtrack like that and still have it work.

Janelle: Something I'd like to see is more orchestral diversity. You know, break away from the typical concert flutey, trumpet, piano, etc.

Jordan: Since this topic is what we want, here's a question: Is it better to have a few repeated tracks that are better, or a variety of tracks that are only so-so?

Oddigy: Tiptail: That's part of the reason I like Uematsu's style. He's not afraid to break out the harpsichord now and again.

Elliot: Yes, with the move from 8-bit to more cinematic games, music has taken on a much different role

Elliot: From being merely entertaining, it's gone to being more part of the background and a setting-setter

Janelle: Not that any of those instruments are bad, but when a track pops up with a really different instrument, be it harpsichord or digireedoo.

Janelle: I can't spell that word, but you get the idea. ^^

Matthew: A soundtrack needs to set the mood, that's what makes Disgaea and Makai and Phantom Brave so great.

Elliot: Mitsuda is always busting out instruments that I've never heard and probably wouldn't be able to pronounce.

Joshua: I'd like to see more music like that in Xenosaga I, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and such. While the game severely lacked variety of music, the stuff that was there was great.

Matthew: Titpail: Agreed

Andrew: I would say having less tracks that are so-so is preferable, now if it was a matter of a few EXCELLENT tracks vs a lot of GOOD tracks, that would be a different story

Oddigy: J_Sensei: To answer your question, I would prefer a smaller number of memorable tracks... to a 4-disc soundtrack that is unmemorable filler.

Andrew: The music has to be above a certain quality

Matthew: J_Sensei: I think it's important that soundtrack's continue being a part of the game, and don't merely become background white noise. So I don't agree with the idea of removing memorable tracks. Sometimes humming a tune makes me go back and play it, just because of the nostalgia it brings me.

Joshua: I'd rather have a few tracks that are better. That's the way most games are, I think (with a few exceptions), and I never fail to have a perfect song in my head.

Oddigy: With an advertised feature of the new XBox 360 being the ability to load your own music to play during games, it seems even more important for a game to contain a score that keeps the player's attention. I can't imagine playing a game and not listening to its own music, though.

Janelle: barieuph: Ohh, agreed. Okage Shadow King comes to mind in regards to background noise.

Jordan: I love the music of DQ8, but I've heard the same dungeon song, and same battle song so many times they're losing their original appeal.

Matthew: I know when I play some MMORPGs, I put my itunes on in the background and disable the BGM. Is this where game music is headed with the 360?

Andrew: barieuph; unfortunately, yes, that's my guess

Oddigy: J_Sensei: I agree. I was disappointed when the overworld music didn't change after I got the supposed 4th member of my party like it did in DQ2 and DQ4.

Joshua: barieuph: I do the same thing. I used to love Guild Wars' soundtrack, but then it got old. Sigh.

Janelle: oddigy: Reminds me of the days when my brother would rename sound files for our old Macintosh games, so I'd be playing my JumpStart Grade Whatever and then some Final Fantasy midis would pop up. (This was a long long time ago.)

Joshua: Heheh...I did that with the Sims. *

Matthew: did that with Ragnarok

Joshua: Oh yeah, that game too. Heheh.

Oddigy: So, a winning characteristic of a good game soundtrack is that it has to keep the player's attention. Therefore, it seems that a dynamic assortment of tracks would be required. Does anyone remember Phantasy Star Online?

Oddigy: The music would gradually fade in from battle to non-battle mode. I always found that entertaining.

Janelle: But the idea of somebody taking a game with scores like the ones mentioned above and overriding it with their mainstream pop or hip-hop would almost feel like sacrilege to me.

Andrew: oddigy; yeah, that's interactive audio.. it's the new trend now

Oddigy: zircon: I appreciate the skill that's required to make music like that work.

Matthew: I can imagine a little kid playing FFVII, during the death scene, with Brittany Spears in the background

Joshua: Tiptail: Well, the problem is that it wasn't engaging enough. It got old. It's like every Avril Lavigne song known to man.

Elliot: I like that new technologies are letting us be more personal with the music we hear in games (perhaps movies too someday?), but yeah... it just seems wrong to do that.

Janelle: A la Shadow of the Colossus. Despite not being an RPG, that sort of fade-in, fade-out effect and the switching of tracks is demonstrated quite well there.

Andrew: barieuph; Yeah, that WOULD be kind of sad.. but keep in mind that your average gamer is playing games that you can just pick up and put back down in seconds (racing games, fighting games, FPS, sports.. these genres dominate)

Jordan: I can see the Brittany song fitting death.... I feel like dying when I hear that stuff, too....

Oddigy: Now... a game that comes to mind that allows the user to customize the music, yet still keep it original, is Animal Crossing. You can program in a simple 2 measure melody, and it finds its way into most of the tracks in the game.

Oddigy: Limited customization might be kinda cool..

Janelle: zircon: This is true. The minority of players who play RPGs might leave their soundtracks alone, then...

Matthew: Super Mario RPG music segment was fun?

Janelle: oddigy: Reminds me of that one section in Super Mario RPG.

Joshua: I don't think that we should be able to manipulate the actual songs to be something else, but I'd like to be able to choose from AMONG the songs given, a la We Love Katamari

Oddigy: That's a good idea - for stage-based games, at least.

Elliot: You mean like EA games letting you pick what song you listen to for a particular match or race?

Joshua: Yeah, like that.

Janelle: It's an interesting thought to have limited choice ability in an RPG soundtrack...such as perhaps a collection aspect where you accumulate regular battle themes and overworld themes and other common songs and set what you'd like once you acquire them.

Elliot: I usually don't bother with that though... I just listen to whatever is playing.

Joshua: If a game had, say, 7 battle themes, and I prefer 2 of them, there should be a menu option that lets me configure the one I want to hear, especially since I'm going to be hearing those tracks upward of a few thousand times a game.

Oddigy: Carlisle: Yeah, if the game's soundtrack fits the scenes well enough, I have no problem leaving it as it's supposed to be.

Janelle: For story-driven scenes it would be a different matter, but for repetitive common themes I like the idea of configuring tunes like that. Or setting it to random tunes.

Joshua: Tiptail: Just about to say that.

Matthew: That's a great point ourobolus, but that's also new options and more composing needed to be coded and written, game developers don't want to have to do that

Joshua: Not necessarily more composing.

Joshua: The same tracks are available, just options for the non-story driven sequences.

Oddigy: In most of the RPGs I've played, different battle themes at least signify a different type of battle. FF8 is a good example of that.

Janelle: Yeah. Some games have battle themes that shift according to your progress in the game, but it would be nice to switch between them.

Oddigy: Also, imagine if "Breezy" played in Galbadia Garden. Most of the feeling of that town would be lost.

Janelle: oddigy: Breath of Fire II comes to mind for some reason.

Elliot: Yeah... different themes specified for certain events like battles are a way to help set the mood.

Janelle: For special boss battles and whatnot, those could stay as intended. I'd prefer it that way.

Joshua: oddigy: Well, I'd think that most new players wouldn't change it on their first play-through.

Matthew: I do like the idea of having special boss battle music akin to Gilgamesh, Jenova, Ultros *

Joshua: prays they wouldn't

Oddigy: barieuph: Seymour.. <3

Matthew: It gives that mid-boss more character

Oddigy: It also usually scares the wits out of the player, making them think they're in for a pretty tough fight.

Joshua: Yeah, but I'm mostly just referring to non story-sequences. Namely, towns, fields, and random battles.

Janelle: Yes, that Ultros music makes me quake and tremble in my boots.

Oddigy: Haha

Oddigy: Similarly, the "fairy battle" theme in FF9 made me think "what the heck is going on here?"

Joshua: Hahahaha. Yeah, I remember scratching my head on that one.

Jordan: And it seems that we're ready to move on to a last topic. Any parting thoughts before we do?

Matthew: "Yeowch!! Seafood Soup!"

Oddigy: Muscle-heads? Hate 'em!

Andrew: rofl, nice

Matthew: I say we go for it, to the next topic

Joshua: Onward, HO!

Joshua: Wait, I mean, "Ahead On Our Way." :D

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