Music in games

Foxbat

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It was watching the Starfield trailer in @Venusian Broon thread that made me think of this.

The first thing I do when I run a game for the first time is go into the settings and switch off the music. I have dozens of games on my hard drive and I have no idea what the music is like for most of them. I find music particularly irtitating in strategy games. I want to think without a distracting racket blaring out of my speakers. Sometimes, I even switch off all sound effects as well. That’s probably because I come from a background of playing strategy boardgames where (obviously) there is no soundtrack.

When it comes to FPS, I find it distracts from the realism. If I’m running down a road in real life, there’s no incidental music playing while I do so. I guess it could be argued that music makes the event more cinematic. But I want it to have a feeling of reality, not cinema.

So, my question is, am I in a minority here or are games creators perhaps simply wasting their time investing in a sound track?

I’ll end on a memory from my childhood. The Six Million Dollar Man was one of the most popular TV shows when I was growing up and the group I used to kick around with had one guy who became the butt of many of our jokes. It all came about because we eventually noticed that every time he started running, he’d sing the theme tune to himself (de, de de de de, de de de de de de). This guy had his own incidental music! And I bet he loves music in games today (where ever he is):)
 

Stomalomalus

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One computer game memory that sticks with me, even though the game itself disappointed me, is from Fallout 3. And it's a song.

I don't want to set the woooorld on fire!

The idea that you had access to the "radio" in game was genius.

But for strategy games, I used to listen to my own music, so I have all kinds of memories of specific songs attached to games like Civilization.

And also, the Halo theme is still in my head constantly, all these years later. The choir, the the overdriven guitar. Oh, and Final Fantasy VII. That music is still a huge memory.

So yeah, I think the soundtrack is very good.

And that's all the while I'm thinking Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim: those soundtracks are atmospheric!
 

Rodders

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I can't say I've ever thought about it. Personally, i like music in games.

Many games use the music for more than just the soundtrack and there are certain musical cues that are used to charge up the atmosphere of the game.

I've been playing Days Gone a lot over the last year and the game does this well. I'll be creeping along and suddenly, the music starts playing and i'm on my guard. It keeps the tension high and i think it's very effective. (DG has has an epic soundtrack, by the way.)

Movies do this often enough, so why not games?
 
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Foxbat

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Many movies (and games) use music as a dramatic crutch. The typical overly used overly loud and very sudden minor chord in horror. Often that’s what makes you jump and not the visual circumstance. Take away that musical transient and what you’re left with can often be distinctly underwhelming.
 

Venusian Broon

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I dunno, I generally like most of the music that games have:

Dorfromantic wouldn't be the same without it's gentle piano tracks; Total War's battle and map music; Oblivion/Skrim's various tracks (Although I don't like the radio on Fallout - prefer the ambient background tracks) . I agree with @Rodders, I'm consuming games like movies and generally I either don't notice the music or actively like it on both mediums. Definitely have favourites in all of the above that I've mentioned!

I suppose like many of my fellow apes, I have and can walk down the road listening to music.
 

jd73

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And that's all the while I'm thinking Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim: those soundtracks are atmospheric!
I have Jeremy Soule on my cooking and writing soundtracks on the strength of the music in these games. And I have never even played them!
 

SilentRoamer

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There are some games that have great music scores.

The Final Fantasy games all have some beautiful music scores.

Gran Turismo games have always had popular music soundtracks.

Grand Theft Auto games also have some good soundtracks.

Need for Speed games.

Then there are games like Assassins Creed Black Flag where I literally couldnt stop humming sea shanties for the month or two I played the game.

Good soundtracks should always add to the game.
 

Venusian Broon

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Oh, one I forgot, but I actually bought the soundtrack - Factorio - the soundtrack for that just makes the game!
 

Foxbat

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Well that answers my question. It looks like I’m in the minority.
 

.matthew.

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I also turn the music off in almost every case. It does depend on the game though.

So for example, in games like grand strategy, I'll turn it off and maybe have my own music playing instead, or even watch a tv show in the background while I multitask. Europa Universalis / Rimworld / etc.

I'll probably still turn it off for games that need more focus like an RTS, but I won't try to multitask. Company of Heroes / Iron Harvest.

For atmospheric shooters or games where the music has important gameplay clues, I'll leave it on. Deep Rock Galactic.
 

paranoid marvin

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Back in the day music really was a BIG thing in games. People would go out and buy the latest Ocean/US Gold title just to hear the loading, title and in-game tunes. Sometimes the music was the best thing about the game! Musicians names helped sell games; we knew quite often who had recorded the soundtrack. In fact musicians like Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway and David Whitaker (to name but 3) were equally - if not more - well known as the coders who wrote the games themselves.

That was as far as the C64 (and sometimes the Atari 800) was concerned. For Spectrum owners , we had to largely put up with the beeps and farts emanating from the basic soundchip in the machine. Occasionally there would be a good tune, but not very often, and virtually never any in-game music. Never mind, there was plenty of great 80s music we could play on our Walkmans instead!

There are a number of C64 games where the music made the game into something far better than it actually was. For example the C64 version of Ghosts n Goblins wasn't a great conversion, but the awesome music written for the game made it an experience to play, same went for Commando and Rambo.

In the arcade, sound was always a great part of the experience. Anyone walking into an arcade in the 80s would have been hit by a wall of sound, from speech "Welcome to the fantasy zone, get ready", "Warrior needs food badly" and "Skate or die!" to the audio waterfall that was Magical Sound Shower.

Over the years games have got bigger, graphics have improved, but nothing compares to the music being coded for the 8/16 bit machines of the 80s and early 90s.
 

Laura R Hepworth

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I loved listening to the music while watching my brother play the Half Life games. They had a great soundtrack! Sometimes, we'd just run the disks on a CD player to listen to the music. I also really enjoyed the soundtracks to the Myst series and Zork Nemesis. However, when playing mobile or Facebook games, I always turn the music off as I find it annoying in those games.
 

Toby Frost

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I remember that the Amiga had some great music, some of which I found on Youtube. Speedball 2, Dragon's Breath and the very old Dune were very atmospheric.

I did play so much of Morrowind that I got tired of the music, and ended up listening to Dr Octagon instead, which worked surprisingly well. The old Alien v Predator game didn't have music, but you could just play your own over the top.

These days, games are more sophisticated and so are the soundtracks. Jesper Kyd's work is particularly good: I'm very fond of the music to Assassin's Creed 2. There are also non-soundtrack songs used in games. This was very good and was used in The Walking Dead game.

 
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paranoid marvin

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Yes, the Amiga had some great music, and also some superb sampled intros. Blood Money has an amazing intro soundtrack, as does Sensible Soccer. And yes Speedball II and (Bitmap Brothers in general) had some memorable, distinctive musical (and graphical) styles.

Tbh though, I don't think that in-game music soundtracks have ever been bettered than those created by the SID chip for the C64.
 

Toby Frost

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If it wasn't for Supercars 2 on the Amiga, I would never have heard Sigfried's Funeral March from Wagner's Ring. I remember it coming on the radio and shouting to my friend "It's the Supercars music!"

The Fable games had good music, in a slightly twee Danny Elfman style. Fable Legends, which was never released, has a good soundtrack:

Here, because it won't show up as media

And then there's Mick Gordon's industrial metal soundtrack for Doom (2016):

 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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It depends entirely on whether I like the music or not. Some games I go "oh hell no" and mute it forever within the first 5 seconds; other I'll happily zone out and listen to the soundtrack in less frantic moments. (I'm not exactly a hardcore combat gamer, so there are plenty of those.)
 

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