AUDIO FOR GAMES I: CONCEPTS, ASSETS AND IMPLEMENTATION LECTURE ONE
WHAT IS GAME AUDIO?
GAME AUDIO include all the audio components present in a game which are Music, Sound Effects, Voices, Audio programming.
In this blog post you will find a short critical analysis about the music soundtrack of MASS EFFECT TRILOGY.
Mass Effect is a video game series of three Sci-Fi RPG third person shooter released respectively in 2007, 2010 and 2012.
For the music soundtrack of ME Trilogy, the composers used electronic music, orchestral music as well as a mix of both. Those genres suit very well the atmosphere of the games: electronic music emphasizes the science fiction side of the game while orchestral music gives a “human and organic touch” to this futuristic and high-technology world.
On the first game, the electronic music composed reminds the old electronic tracks used in sci-fi series during the 1970’s ad 1980’s. This gives an “optimistic discovery and exploration atmosphere” to the game like in the movie Star Trek. Music is also used as diegetic component; the soundtrack is playable in commander Shepard spaceship cabin through the radio, which creates an ambiance. This concept was kept for the whole Trilogy.
The soundtrack composed for the last 2 games is darker, and has more unity than in the first game. It brings vibrant emotions to the cinematic and in-game. The music suits the melancholic atmosphere of the game, especially in the 3rd one for in-game cinematic. It sounds like if the composers team worked with the same VSTs and plug-ins.
In most of the cut-scenes the music genre is a mix of orchestral and electronic music and is non-diegetic which allows the composers to bring and play with a large palette of emotions in their tracks.
The previous video shows commander Shepard living Earth under Reapers attack and the music has a very strong impact on players feelings.
The piano enhance the scene and increase tenfold the emotions, mainly sadness and melancholy because of Shepard leaving Earth and her mentor, Admiral Anderson, under a war without the possibility to do anything to help them at that moment. Strings are here to underline the piano solo emotional effect.
Moreover, the Piano solo used in the video makes the little boy death scene heartbreaking (Shepard had an encounter with him in a previous scene where the boy didn't accept her help). Therefore music seems also to express regrets of the commander nut as the track evolve with the images, it also shows the urgency/tragedy of the scene and announce a new journey coming.
An other element is present in the music: to represent the Reapers (the enemy) in the video they used sound of a Tuba or Full Brass section, to make them terrifying.
The music is also used in-game during battles or when you discover a new area to enhance and reinforce emotions like for instance on the following video. Composers often use French horns in battle track to emphasize the epic atmosphere during battles. The composers also often incorporate orchestral and electronic drums to express the stress and pressure your character experience in battle.