There are many things to think about when considering what music to put alongside your game. As a game music composer (Ninichi), I’ve had the honour of working with many indie game developers and helping them to choose the right music for their projects. Here are a few key elements to think carefully about when trying to determine what kind of soundtrack will most suit your game…
1. The Style of Music
Depending on what style of game you are creating, you will most likely want the music to reflect and complement this style.
Do you want:
- Orchestral / Epic / Cinematic scores?
- Piano or Guitar or Strings?
- Rock or Pop feel?
- Electronic / Digital vibe?
- Chiptune / 8 bit music?
Perhaps have a listen and exploration of my game music soundtracks to get a sense of what’s possible.
2. Knowing Your Audience
What is the vision for your game and who is your target market? What kind of music would be best for them? You will want your music to help ensure that your users are engaged with your game, that they can relate to it and that they find it fun to return to again and again. What music will help you to achieve this?
3. The Feel & Mood of the Game
Music can be an incredible tool for helping to create a certain atmosphere and mood. Well chosen music can evoke certain feelings which will help to enhance the gaming experience.
What mood and feelings are you hoping people will experience whilst playing your game? Excitement / adventure / mystery?
4. Pace & Tempo
In classical music, there are many different words that aim to describe the tempo of a piece. This is because composers and musicians know that it is so important to get the tempo right in order to play it well and for those listening to it, to get the very best experience from it.
For the music for your game – think about whether it should be fast, medium-paced or slow. Perhaps there are different parts in your game when the tempo may need to change. Take a look at some other games and see what might work best for you.
5. Original Music or Not
Do you want original music for your game or not? This is a big question to ask.
There are many production music libraries around that offer a wide range of music that can be used for a variety of projects – from film, TV, games and adverts. The great thing about these is that they are affordable, there is often a decent selection and you can listen to the music before you buy it. You aren’t tied to any one composer and you can explore a range of tracks. (See my article on: Pros and Cons of Using Royalty Free Music)
Having said that, there are many advantages to working with a composer to create original music specifically for your game. It means that you can be a part of the creation process and that the music composed fits your game perfectly.
Your game will end up with it’s own music – which could become a signature style for you, your game and your brand. Working with a composer also helps to ensure that the musical style across your game is consistent.
Explore a few of my other articles to explore this further:
6. What will the music be used for and with?
Do you need background music to be played during an introduction the game, during a storytelling scene or with a voiceover? If so, you will need a different kind of track than if you needed music for gameplay.
Make sure that you don’t have too much going on as that can make things look and sound messy and muddy to your listener. However, in games such as role-playing games, try to find music that help to bring the scenarios, surroundings and story to life.
This article was originally published and brought to you on Ninichi’s blog, which is part of Ninichi’s game music website and offers insight & advice around game music, indie games, films & gaming channels, as well as the opportunity to work with Ninichi (composer for games, film & media).