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Liontamer

"Has Video Game Music Lost Its Way?"

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Maybe this thread should be just "post great melodic OST/music from modern gaming" because I'm far more interested in being "wrong" and expanding my OST list than being "right" (and AAA music being "boring"/ambient) :)

Edited by Crowbar Man

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Maybe this thread should be just "post great melodic OST/music from modern gaming" because I'm far more interested in being "wrong" and expanding my OST list than being "right" (and AAA music being "boring"/ambient) :)

Yeah, this is a great topic.

Edited by timaeus222

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Maybe this thread should be just "post great melodic OST/music from modern gaming" because I'm far more interested in being "wrong" and expanding my OST list than being "right" (and AAA music being "boring"/ambient) :)

Then make a thread and ask for recommendations of melodic modern game soundtracks. You'll be met with lots and lots of replies.

Edited by Neblix

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Every time this discussion pops up it always amazes me though. People handpick the best game soundtracks from the 80s and 90s and fail to mention the ton of terrible crap that came from that era (and there is a lot of it). It really is no different now except there are about 5 times as many games coming out every year (so 5 times the garbage coming out and still a ton of good stuff).

True, but examples of modern games can also be cherry picked(Brandon picking individual tracks from games instead of recommending whole OSTs for instance). But it is true that given 20-30 years, you're going to stop playing the more mediocre games and you're left thinking of the best of each era. I probably played more forgettable SNES games than on any other console because I'd just rent random games a lot back then, but if you ask me about that console I'm immediately thinking LTTP, Super Metroid, DKC series, Final Fantasy III/VI, Chrono Trigger, SMW etc. It isn't really fair to the current era to compare it to something that you've had much more time to digest and subsequently ignore all the mediocrity

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True, but examples of modern games can also be cherry picked

The point is that if you're going to say that modern game examples are cherry picked (as everyone who is trying to assert that VG Music has "lost its way" are doing to save their argument), you also have to acknowledge that examples of what game music "used to be" are also cherry picked. That is what Shrack is saying. The claim that modern good music is rare is equally as unsubstantiated as the claim that bad old game music is rare.

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The point is that if you're going to say that modern game examples are cherry picked (as everyone who is trying to assert that VG Music has "lost its way" are doing to save their argument), you also have to acknowledge that examples of what game music "used to be" are also cherry picked. That is what Shrack is saying. The claim that modern good music is rare is equally as unsubstantiated as the claim that bad old game music is rare.

So, in a sense, proving either side is difficult. You can't just sift through >50% of ALL the games in the world, evaluate their OSTs, and list them ALL here, even though that would be the most fair and indisputable sampling method, because there are just so many. I mean, why else would "obscure games" be a thing? Because the games people deem as "more memorable" just overshadow the ones people deem "obscure".

But I don't want this discussion to just end, so... carry on. :tomatoface:

Edited by timaeus222

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I'm starting to sense some of this:

ref.gif

If we're going to post recommended modern OSTs, here are a few that I highly recommend as memorable:

- Bastion

- Starcraft II

- Rayman Origins

- Rayman Legends

- Shatter

- Shoot Many Robots

Also I kinda made a soundtrack recently so maybe see what you think? :-P

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Definitely like this thread. ^_^

Came in with an old game bias. Came out with none. :3

So a larger proportion of newer games have ambient music whereas a larger proportion of older games have melodic music? Is that the main change?

Music in the back vs music in the fore, so to speak?... *-)

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Definitely like this thread. ^_^

Came in with an old game bias. Came out with none. :3

So a larger proportion of newer games have ambient music whereas a larger proportion of older games have melodic music? Is that the main change?

Music in the back vs music in the fore, so to speak?... *-)

Not ambient, per se, but yes to the "more background than attention-grabbing". Ambient is quite literally a bunch of pads, arps, bells, and other ethereal textures strewn together to make a big expansive soundscape to lose yourself in, and it's one of those genres where the sound design makes the difference. These days, music for games is written to fit the mood, rather than to stretch the hardware limitations to accommodate for the limited sound design. i.e. chiptunes --> creative arrangements to sound cooler. In that sense, the older games were more "forced" to write melodically interesting music, and modern producers are less "forced" to do so, and they do so only if they can and they want to.

I suppose in a sense you could argue why old video game music is so prejudiced against. A lot of people dismiss video game music because they think of beepy music from before the 90's when they hear the phrase "video game music". Then, those people would be thinking the exact opposite of the topic of this thread. We'd be flipping this thread upside down and lefty-loosy (waitwut. btw I don't drink). :<

Edited by timaeus222

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Before this thread, I felt all dirty and weird because I actually listen to more "modern" game soundtracks than retro stuff.

In the grand scheme of things listening to old game music is probably more unusual, the aliasing in old chiptunes, low sample rates, sample loop zones being very small, the intense resampling...old game music has an aesthetic that isn't appealing to a lot of people. Personally I think it works great for certain kinds of music and I have a lot of those kinds of samples in my own arsenal, but I know that that makes me weird, and if someone said that I felt that way because I grew up on game music it would probably be a fair argument

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The oldest game music I ever listen to in original form is SNES. NES sounds just don't do it for me. :?

To be fair, you were born in 1995 xD

I think that's a big problem of this dude who wrote the article though. He's got the nostalgia goggles for that type of old music, and for whatever irrational reason finds it better than modern soundtracks...

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stuff changes, and with it qualities are lost and gained.

the limitations of the chips brought about a unique kind of sound (and composition style, to a lesser degree) that you didn't hear anywhere else.

that difference is no more, and as a result game music is less of an 'alternate musical universe'.

you can't really argue against game music sounding less unique today.

the old unique palette was replaced with a much richer palette, comprised of everything ever used in music (redbook audio). a worthy upgrade, and inevitable. still, less one-of-a-kind.

are the compositions better or worse? different story and completely subjective.

should game composers study the old limitations to find out how they connect to the quality of past OSTs?

definitely.

Edited by Nase

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I'm gonna go against the grain here and say, I don't really dig indie game music. There's rare occasions, like for Bastion, and Breath of Death VII, where the level of creativity surpasses the standard set forth by most indie games.

That's one man's opinion.

As for "classic vgm", one could easily say most classic NES music is awful compared to say, the

soundtrack. Or Silver Surfer. OR anything by Tim Follin.

Just like someone could say, the Call of Duty OST is awful compared to the NIER soundtrack, or choose whatever good modern OST example you wanna think of. I didn't wanna repeat myself from my previous post. Lost Odyssey?

To sum up what I'm getting at, technology changed, but the gap is still there. There was a LOT of crap in the old days compared to the few gems, just like there's crap today and gems. To say music was objectively better back then is just wrong. Just like today, a lot was crap, a lot was great. Music hasn't gotten worse. The good stuff got better. The bad stuff sounds better. Win/win.

It's all subjective. Too much crying over some dude's opinion. :cry:

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Different factors come into play here:

- technology restrictions

- nostalgia

- subjective tastes of the listeners/players

- general quality of the game (maybe)

I don't want to expand here because, my first games were on Sega Genesis/Megadrive, so the nostalgia factor isn't as strong as for other people (never played a physical NES for instance).

However, you can always find examples that contradict what people generally think:

- some old games had shitty soundtracks, and it was not because of the limitations, nor because the game itself was bad: it was because the composer/sound team was bad.

- some modern day games (which are NOT retro games that tend to play on the nostalgia factor, like Meat Boy, etc.) have great soundtracks, that are well-composed and memorable.

- some old/nostalgic/super games, that lots of players loved because they were good, had shitty music.

- some new super games, (either retro or AAA+ games) that players like because they are good, can have shitty/non-memorable music.

- some old games, that people disliked, had some great music (not memorable because people didn't like the game).

- some new games, that people disliked, have some great music (same as above).

In my opinion, it all comes to subjectivity. Some people will like a game, other won't. Some will like its music, some won't. And that's it! :wink:

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I see the expanding texture of VGM as a good thing. The fact that every song no longer has to be a catchy melody with a triangle bass line allows for better narrative elements. The Darksiders II soundtrack is melodic, but doesn't really have any fantastic traditional melodies (all right, it has a few, Abyssal Plains and Crowfather are pretty great). It's the combination of timbre and rhythm that made it have its identity. It's not anything compositionally amazing, but it is an amazing soundtrack nonetheless. It is unique and each track has its own place in the narrative. I listened to it at least 50 times before ever actually playing the game.

It boils down to your taste in music. If you only actually like and ever liked game music, of course you're not going to like non-catchy music. But with expanding types of gameplay and narrative means catchy music isn't always appropriate. We're not playing many side scrollers and straight up turn based RPG's anymore.

I do agree the generic factor that comes into play with very popular genres (FP shooters). The market is saturated with games that are all the same, which gives the illusion that game composers are writing the same music over and over again out of laziness when it's actually the market genre diversity. I think the problem is modern games, not specifically "game music lost its way". If we saw more, in AAA, turn-based RPG's, side scrollera, isometric games (Pokemon still has good music, surprised no one said that), we would see the catchy music comeback, because it's appropriate there. Of course this won't ever happen.

Edited by Neblix

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I see the expanding texture of VGM as a good thing. The fact that every song no longer has to be a catchy melody with a triangle bass line allows for better narrative elements. The Darksiders II soundtrack is melodic, but doesn't really have any fantastic traditional melodies (all right, it has a few, Abyssal Plains and Crowfather are pretty great). It's the combination of timbre and rhythm that made it have its identity. It's not anything compositionally amazing, but it is an amazing soundtrack nonetheless. It is unique and each track has its own place in the narrative. I listened to it at least 50 times before ever actually playing the game.

The DS2 soundtrack is a perfect example to me of something that was well done but forgettable. I turned off the music after the first 5 hours and started catching up on podcasts. The only track that was awesome to me is The Crowfather, and even that is aping the big filmscore style. It profoundly irritates me when a modern soundtrack starts flirting with interesting melodies like in DS2, but settles back into ambient underscore. That seems to be Jesper Kyd's style.

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The DS2 soundtrack is a perfect example to me of something that was well done but forgettable. I turned off the music after the first 5 hours and started catching up on podcasts. The only track that was awesome to me is The Crowfather, and even that is aping the big filmscore style. It profoundly irritates me when a modern soundtrack starts flirting with interesting melodies like in DS2, but settles back into ambient underscore. That seems to be Jesper Kyd's style.

Seems like chorus and strings = film score style and apparently that is bad?

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