Arquivo da tag: game music

Bruma: an unusual game needs unsual timbres

First of all, sorry for the delay, guys! These last weeks I had a lot of sounds and music to do. I’ll write about these projects once they come out!

As I mentioned in my previous post, this one will be about the last game that Critical Studio was working on, before we shut our doors. We all look forward, however, to getting back together and finishing it sometime in the future!

HelpingChar_02About the game
Bruma is a turn-based tactical and strategy game that is set in a dark low-fantasy world. Try to picture a combat system as in X-Com paired with a Civilization-ish socio-economic system and all of it taking place in a medieval and sinister, unforgiving world, like the one of Dark Souls, though with only a few, albeit decisive fantasy elements. I hope I’ve drawn your interest. 馃檪

I won’t give away too much about Bruma’s mystery-filled storyline, so in short, you will lead a small group of nomadic people, struggling to survive in an unfertile land that is constantly covered in a thick supernatural fog (in Latin and many Romanic languages “Bruma”, hence the name). Your desperate search for food and shelter will have you face a group of strange beings in a fight to the death over the scarce resources.

First steps for the music
So what would be a fitting musical approach to such a premise? Knowing what the gameplay and especially the plot and the overall lore had in store for the player, I decided in the first place, that all instruments had to be natural, even if I should in some way alter them digitally afterwards.

As you may have guessed, the fog, the Bruma, is an essential part of the game, almost as if it was a character by itself. With that, the inspiration for my first musical ideas came up quickly, thanks to its haunting nature. I decided to gather dozens of glasses, cooking lids and bottles, and recorded a few hours of glass harping and bottle blowing. After throwing them all together and using a bit of reverb and delay, Bruma had come to life:

The rusticity of what I had already recorded made it clear, that it was the perfect opportunity to do something I had already planned to a few times, but had never really had the time for: building a new instrument. 馃檪

The vioj贸n
To make things short, the instrument, that had in some way to embody the player’s characters constant feelings of fear, anxiety, and forsakenness, became a mixture of a 12-string mandolin and a caj贸n. I call it, the vioj贸n:

At this point, I’d like to thank the great luthier Wagner Brito from S茫o Paulo, for carving the neck that was used for the vioj贸n.

To be honest, since this was the first time I was creating an instrument, I wasn’t really sure if it would even make a decent sound when finished. But that was okay, I wasn’t looking for a replacement for my guitar, I was actually looking forward to something crude and different. In the end, the vioj贸n was a positive surprise, because I really enjoyed the sound, and the fact that the large caj贸n body keeps the notes ringing inside for almost an eternity.

After recording a miriad of sounds with the vioj贸n and playing around with them a lot on Cubase, these are a few examples of what came out:

The berimbow
To increase the palette of unusual timbres, I also added what I called the berimbow. It is simply the Brazilian instrument berimbau聽being played with a bow. Although this simply means playing a string with a bow, the wah-effect when the opening of the calabash聽is closed by your belly makes some interesting sounds. Here some examples (not processed):

The main theme
So, I had found a few textures that would represent different elements of Bruma, but what now? Where was the music? I knew that apart from my rustic sounds, I wanted to make use of medieval and orchestral instruments, but most definitely wouldn’t be looking into composing some epic run-of-the-mill fantasy soundtrack. The instrumentation had to be related, in our modern sense, to the historical setting in the game, but the compositions had to be about feelings, the usual fantasy/historic composition and orchestration tecniques kept aside.

With that in mind, I composed, what ultimately became the main theme of Bruma (this is NO final mix or master, only a mockup, best listened to on headphones):

Unfortunately, apart from the vioj贸n chords, everything in this piece is played by virtual instruments. But should things work out and Critical Studio get back together to finish this project, we will do everything to have the soundtrack recorded live. 馃檪


Concept art

That’s it, folks! I’ll be glad f you’d like to ask or comment anything! And to finish this post, here’s another track for Bruma. This one is a quick sequence of three important gameplay stages in the tactical phase; first, the heroes delving deeper into the fog, second, the moment they are seen by the enemy, and third, the enemy combat turn (this is also NO final mix or master, only a mockup, best listened to on headphones):聽

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There is no creating games without working with tight deadlines.聽But every now and then you have to cope with some really REALLY devilishly tight deadlines. So what if you had to do everything from scratch to finish with a group of just 4 people and in no more than 48 hours? How would it be to produce all of the music and sound effects featured in such a project in the same time period? Former Critical Studio鈥檚 artist Erica Milhomem, programmer Caio Cesar Lima, game designer Mark Venturelli, and me banded together as Team Snail, and just recently found out.

Before knowing the theme of this year鈥檚 Indie Speed Run competition, only revealed to you the moment you activate your personal 48-hour countdown, we had already decided for ourselves, that our game would be both a shooter and a rhythmic game, besides featuring dinosaurs. Yes, that actually does make sense! We simply wanted to work on something we had never done before. (alright, we had a dino on Dungeonland, but just that!)

We hit the countdown button, and there it was鈥 Theme: Cybernetic, Element: Vines. So a rhythmic shooter in a world of cybernetics, dinosaurs, and vines. Now that sounds like an indie game!

"It is the distant future: The yeat 2002."

“It is the distant future: The yeat 2002.”

Since we quickly ditched the idea of working with rhythm, it became much easier to think about the music and sfx. At first we had no idea about how the mood or setting would be, but I thought to myself, that having dinos meant that there had to be some kind of tribal drums. I started laying out a few African percussion loops to get things going and soon came up with an unexpected funky guitar riff. At that point it was already clear that the game would be sci-fi, so the music sounded totally out of place. But instead of trying to come up with a new approach, how about pulling things toward the music? The concept art was still in its beginning, since our artist had to leave earlier on the first day, so there was still time to think about its direction.

In the morning of the next day, I was sure that we could join sci-fi-ness and funky guitars by making the game feel like a cheesy 70’s space-adventure movie. This only crossed my mind after having the idea, that the enemies could play some big band brass falls in the tune of the music every time they were killed, sounding like the POW!s and SMACK!s in the classic Batman series.

From this moment on everything went really smoothly. I had to produce 2 songs, one for the menu and one as bgm, and 12 sounds, the most repetitive ones having 3-6 variations, making up a total of 38 sfx. I left the funky guitar song aside, and started working on a new one which would take up almost all of my time of the second day. Before having to spend too many hours on it, I took a drum and percussion sequence from an old song I never finished, and refurbished it so as to work in my new song. Hey, it鈥檚 only 48 hours! 馃檪

The last few hours of that day were very productive, and I managed to produce most of the sounds, especially the most important and complicated ones like weapon shots, special 聽skills and pickups.

By the next day, everything was already coming to an end, and we had to race the clock in order to implement all art and audio, build the project and upload it to the website before 4 pm. Especially mixing was a problem, because our programmer had to create a little tool, so that I wouldn鈥檛 lose time going through code lines by myself. Until then I had some minutes to finish the few remaining sounds, and the funky song I started out with, which became the menu theme of the game.

In the end, we were doing the finishing touches literally 5 minutes before the countdown had reached 0, but apart from a few cool features, we thankfully managed to get everything into the game without breaking it. And thus, Dinomancer: Ghost in the Eggshell was born!

We’d love it, if you鈥檇 try it out sometime! Feel free to grab it at the following link: 聽

Until the next post, have a nice week!

Indie Speed Run 2013: 48h to create a game and its sound!

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