Games need more real music

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I remember The Humbling River being used to excellent effect in the Fall of Cybertron trailer.

What I like seing, though, is when games make their own music. Not orchestral level themes, but stuff you would hear on the average radio.

lol, calling Orchestral 'Generic'

Im just going to be chilling here with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Every Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind, Assassins Creed 2, Two Steps from Hell and Age of Empires 3 Etc.

OP: What constitutes 'Real Music'? Oh, its just your subjective opinion? So that means any soundtrack is 'Music'? OK so its more of a choice where its more appropriate.

I don't know what the distinction between game music and...'real' music is meant to be, maybe you're implying that game music is more generic and doesn't make as good use of dramatic tension? Part of it would have to be prctical concerns of looping as background music and so on. Personally, I don't really like hearing music from real life in-game unless it's set in the real world, and furthermore most of my favourite music is from games' OSTs. So...gotta disagree.

Licensed Music (If that's what you mean by "Real") needs to match the mood/setting and or context that it is presented in. In game Vehicles and radios, background noise in sports games, clubs in games, the Music/dancing game genre are some of the easiest settings contextually they can be presented in.

One of the problems is that when you try to fit the mood of a specific scene or segment with licensed music, you may run into the problem of players recognizing it and having the focus be on the piece of music itself rather than the game play of the moment.

In saints Row 3, I personally had a harder time driving when they started singing "what I got" because I find open world driving a bit boring and now have a scene trying to distract me from it, as opposed to just driving around regularly.

And the Weed Mission from Far Cry 3. I'm really looking forward to playing that mission but I like the song too much that that's realistically going to be the highlight of that mission.

Brutal legend actually does a great job incorporating licensed music into it's battles. Especially in the case of the final RTS Battle, All the songs used enhanced the mood of the situation getting me more into the game play.

Personally I put a large part of the problem with western game music down to the fact that apart from a few bit tune artists hardly any musician is a known name among gamers. Maybe if it was more like the Japanese industry good talent might be appreciated more. I think it also is part of a larger problem with the west as all our big names tend to be more known for making stupid statements than their work.

Also with folk mentioning David Bowie I thought I'd mention that he worked with Quantic Dream in their game Omicron: Nomad Soul and also played the part of two characters, one of which was of himself and a band performing is bars.

The Wykydtron:


Otherwise you end up with..

Yeah, cool! I'm totally psyched to go and fight that dragon and explore that ruined castle now with my emotion of.. vague, generic upbeatness.

Congruity, you're doing it wrong (and not in a good way).

waitwaitwaitwaitwait you're quoting the Dragon's Dogma title screen as a BAD example?! What the fuck guy?! It's so awesome!

Did you hear the music in the DD demo? It was the most generic "this is a swords and magic fantasy game" orchestraly tune that was instantly forgotten. I'm positive that they changed it to this glorious atypical J-rock thing to say "No, this not us trying to cash in on the open world WRPG cash cow. We're trying to make something new and memorable"

Considering how skeptical people were of Capcom releasing such a game at the time and much of a sleeper hit DD turned out to be, the choice of menu music was genius. It instantly takes people's interest exactly because it is so atypical of the genre.

I totally agree, when I first heard that J-rock theme it felt abit jarring but all in all it got me pumped up to play a Japanese game rather than a 3rd grade rip off of a WRPG. As for the original theme in the demo, I can't even remember it, that's how generic it was.

I think the best example of licensed music in games is the boss fight with Brayko in Alpha Protocol, not because it makes the setting more "realistic", but because it emphasized and exaggerates how fucking crazy the game is at the moment.

Also, I think Hotline Miami's music was licensed from other artists, but I'm not sure.

It's horses for courses in my book - just like in film and television, there are moments when licensed music works really well and there are moments when original scores work well.

The Brayko boss fight in Alpha Protocol mentioned in the post above is one of my favourite example in gaming too, but it only works because a number of factors come together. It works because they've got a character crazy enough to fit in with the music (which is a big departure from the soundtrack of the rest of the game), and it works because it's being played in context inside the game (ie: it's Brayko that's playing the song through his disco's PA).

Spec Ops: The Line also comes to mind for great use of licensed music in context (being played over pirate radio by the crazy
DJ, and the disconnect between the music and the action served to reinforce the point of the game).

Long story short, I enjoy it when licensed music is used to good effect, but it can also be done very, very wrong. I'd be disappointed to see it being used purely as product placement in situations where an original score would suit better. Everything in its right place.

I dunno if this counts, but I really loved Heat by Camo & Krooked in SSX for the Kilimanjaro descent. That intro just sent shivers down my spine as I fell into the mouth of a dead volcano. Brrr...

Daystar Clarion:
Licensed music actually pulls me out of the game.

it makes me think 'Hey, I know that song!' and shatters all immersion.

Plus, I'm of the belief that music should tailored for the game itself, not simply pulling music out of nowhere with none of the context of the game.

Completely agree. I'd much rather have games use an original soundtrack. It's much more immersive. Sure there are examples of exceptions (like the radio in GTAIV) but it really only works well for specific situations

Daystar Clarion:
Licensed music actually pulls me out of the game.

it makes me think 'Hey, I know that song!' and shatters all immersion.

Plus, I'm of the belief that music should tailored for the game itself, not simply pulling music out of nowhere with none of the context of the game.

That's how you end up with Marilyn Manson tracks in Dragon Age -_-

That song was only in the trailers, Thank the Maker.

Unless there is a good reason for it to be in-game like: Galaxy News Radio, Radio New Vegas, and the songs that the Radioman plays during Spec Ops the Line then I would prefer OST's to licensed material.

Andy Shandy:
Actually I would say we have a great balance at the moment of when to use licensed music and original scores.

I don't think I could imagine anything other than the Suicide Mission score playing during the suicide mission. Equally, I adore Ain't No Rest For The Wicked, Short Change Hero and How You Like Me Now being used in Borderlands.

What I would say we need more of licensed music in are games like FIFA or Forza. I feel they don't have enough that I can listen to without getting bored of them and just sticking on my own music.

Those two games had licensed music? I don't believe you. I believe they have licensed NAMES to scroll along the bottom and they just play the same fucking track over and over again but it's so quiet you can only just hear it so you assume it's different. When I play FIFA or Forza I have Hollywood Undead or System of a Down playing...because their music is a hundred times more generic (and yet somehow licensed) than games with tailored OSTs. What is the point?

Yeah, most of the games I've played would have worked really well paced to a series of 2-4 minute pop/metal/hip-hop tracks - there's nothing I want more than to play through Portal to a random mix-tape of contemporary drivel, and that slow gregorian chanting over that opening in Halo? Seriously needed some Queen or something to liven it up a bit.

Custom-made music to enhance the character, mood, feel and pacing? With passages to adapt fluidly to the ebb and flow of gameplay? What a strange, outlandish idea.

The Wykydtron:
waitwaitwaitwaitwait you're quoting the Dragon's Dogma title screen as a BAD example?! What the fuck guy?! It's so awesome!

I know it has its fans, and I was braced for them. However, it was a common criticism which came up in reviews, and I personally didn't like it so there you go.

Like I said, it's incongruous, which is fine if you want your game to be quirky and ironic. With a fantasy game, however, I don't think you can get away with that. Fantasy as a genre is so damn goofy already that it generally needs to be kind of earnest and sincere, if it's too cool for its own subject matter, then what reason do you have to be invested?

Compare it with this:

This theme (and the score it's from) tells me everything I need to know about the game it is from. It has absolutely no shame about what it is, which is pure unadulterated whimsy. It's like an audio-cue to turn off your suspension of disbelief, regress to childhood and believe for a second that elves exist. It works because it's just as goofy as its subject matter, not because it's trying to be above it.

This is no comment at all on the quality of games. I consider Morrowind to be a pretty terrible game (at least without mods) but it does have a very strong and distinctive score which matches its story and art. Like I said, it knows its there to immerse you in the game and nothing else.

You also have to remember, some game studios hire a composer and have them make it. Then they get sweet bonus dollars from soundtrack sales.

I completely agree. I love original scores as much as the next guy but I don´t see why a good licensed song during gameplay or in cutscenes is a bad thing. I can not tell you how happy I was when Black Mountain started playing in Spec Ops or when Alela Diane played during The Walking Dead´s credits. Basically every single movie set in the real world has a couple of licensed songs in it. It´s a really underused tool in games.


Aris Khandr:
No. Mostly because video games are made for people with musical tastes vastly different to mine. They put real music in FIFA, in Burnout, in the WWE games, et cetera. And the very first thing I do in all of them is turn it off. If I want to hear music while playing, I'll put on my own. Why would I want to subject my ears to Kanye or whatever when I could listen to Queen on my own?

You have to admit though, the use of Kanye in Saints Row the Third was pretty fitting.

Eeeh, depends on your taste really. Personally that song irritates the fuck out of me, because I love the original, and I hate rap mixes like that because it just feels like cheating.

Plus I had the cockney gangster Boss, and he sure as hell wouldn't be listening to Kanye west. He even made that point clear in Saints Row 2 when he threatened to shoot pierce if he touched the radio again. I mean if you're playing the black gangsta blud Boss, it works very nicely I'll give you that. But then that's "easily" fixed by just modding it out of the game.

I both agree and disagree. Some games benefit from it, some don't. I can't imagine playing Assassin's Creed or Mass Effect with licensed music running in the background. It needs an original score to capture the soul of the game. Seeing how most games today are set in some kind of sci-fi or fantasy setting, they need that. Games like Saints Row 2 and Max Payne 3 don't because of their setting. That's why that song in the final level of Max Payne 3 worked so god damn well. But Max Payne original score also works well.

But if I had to pick a side, I'd choose original soundtrack over licensed every time. It provides better immersion because music evokes an emotional response. When that music is so carefully crafted by a professional for that particular moment, it beats licensed music every time.

Which is exactly what Michael McMann managed to do with Human Revolution soundtrack. He captured the theme of humanity transitioning to a transhumanist society perfectly.

...and Kingdom Hearts had Simple and Clean and Sanctuary. While these songs may have been made for the games, they are no different from pop songs out of the context of the games.

So...yeah. That's my two cents. I'm sure it can work, and probably can work in more places than it's used. And I can't really explain why it's not used apart from licensing fees. Just don't go knocking orchestrals :-P You don't know what's "real" if you can't respect John Williams or Howard Shore.

Especially when an orchestral version of these songs are made. When they added it to the end of Kingdom Hearts II during the credits, I felt like I couldn't breathe it was that beautiful.

It always makes me cry.

The only game I could ever feel bad about removing the music from would be Halo 2

That whole soundtrack gives me goosebumps.

I'll mute music depending on what the focus is
Stealth - Mute
FPS - Mute and put on my own music
RPG/Open world - Normally I'd mute it but recently I've been less inclined to
Horror/spooky - Leave it on
Simulation/RTS - Mute and Put on my own music

I remember playing the ending to Crysis Warhead and I was so disappointed with it, it felt so empty and thin - Then I realised it was my fault for turning the music off.

In SOME games it works. However most of the time. Songs are what make a game. The first thing you think of when anyone mentions any game is the music.

Pokemon anime? "I WANNA BE THE VERY BEST!"

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time? Song of storms or Lost woods.

Elder Scrolls? The main theme that's modified for each title.

Music is an essential part of a game if you want it to be memorable.

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