2 June, 2007
Let’s go cross-disciplinary this week. Let’s think about designs that involve music.
Some of my thoughts below the jump.
I’m a but unusual for a designer. (Cue the chorus of “You can say that again!”) I never got into playing a musical instrument, unlike other designers that have CDs for sale on their sites. I actually tried to get into music in middle school, but music practice was during class, and I got engrossed in the class and forgot to attend my music class at school. (Plus my parents never really appreciated me practicing the clarinet at home, so….) But, I’ve always liked music. I just spent a bit of time putting music onto my Pocket PC, which serves as a glorified MP3 player these days. In college, I had a huge CD collection, and I still buy a fair amount of CDs. I like an eclectic types of music, with favorites in just about every genre. (EXCEPT “new country,” that’s teh sux.)
In most games, the music works best by not being noticeable. We notice if a loop is too short or is played too often, and it often starts to annoy us. In many games we go to the menu and turn off the music as soon as we get into the game. Sometimes it takes a few hours for the music to start grating our nerves. Thankfully, more and more modern games are starting to pay more attention to music and are starting to make exceptional music. I really enjoyed the operatic type scores in the old Heroes of Might & Magic games.
However, it’s interesting how music plays a very large part of many games. The fabulous Katamari games are even more fun for the strange collection of music that is included on the games. Most people who have even watched someone play it can probably hum the theme song right now. (And, those of you who will have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day: you are welcome. ;) The quirky music added to the overall quirky nature of the game and made it a lot more enjoyable, in my opinion.
Another game that used music to good effect was Rez. It was pretty strongly focused on electronica music, but the way that enemies made sounds when they died and added to the background music was pretty neat. Most people mentioned how the soundtrack was almost collaborative with the player adding to it by just playing the game.
Of course, there are the rhythm games that are are so popular these days. DDR, Samba de Amigo, and the more recent Guitar Hero all feature music as an important part of the game. The game would be a lot less interesting without the music in most cases.
So, discuss a design that involves music in a novel way. Perhaps a new style of rhythm game, or something that allows players to create their own music while playing a game. What are your thoughts?