Dramatic Music in Calm Moments
During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!
This week: This time, I think about the importance of a game’s soundtrack and the necessity to implement additional functions that check if a certain music theme has to be played.
A computer game’s music has a similar purpose to the soundtrack of a movie. It contributes to the game’s overall atmosphere and underlines key events of the gameplay. For instance, many stroy-based linear games implement an atmospheric background music that fits the overall setting of the game, but play more dramatic, energetic, and dominant music during a fight.
Depending on the style of the game, this also influences a player’s interactions with the game. During explorative gameplay that requires players to solve puzzles or to move from one spot to another, a player can interact with the game without any pressure. This more relaxed gameplay is supported by atmospheric background music. However, when a fight begins, one has to react quickly and accordingly in order to overcome the challenge. Thus, some more dramatic is played to emphasize the importance of the player’s gameplay and to induce some artificial pressure.
In addition, a change in the music theme can also provide players with hints about upcoming events, such as an encounter with a strong enemy, or an upcoming key moment in the game’s story. As a result of this, music is also used to guide the player through the story.
However, although music fulfills a similar purpose to a movie’s music, the implementation of theme changes is critical for the believability of the game’s atmosphere. In contrast to movies, a player can control the progression of the story by stopping at a certain spot to enjoy the scenery or taking a different approach than anticipated by the developers. This potentially can create unwanted effects that render the gameplay almost hilarious.
For instance, a player can trigger an event causing the music to change to a dramatic theme indicating the existence of enemies. However, when the player then decides to turn around because they want to check if there might be a different path, then they are continuously listening to the dramatic music without being in a fight. This potentially results in a very hilarious moment for the players as this music will not stop until they returned to the point where the story continues and the fight begins.
Therefore, it is also important, like with any other game mechanic, to anticipate any player behavior and to implement functions that change the music back to the previous theme or the general background music when a player takes a different route or starts to move away from the position where the next event would be triggered. Overall, music is an important part of each computer game and greatly affects a game’s atmosphere.