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"Has Video Game Music Lost Its Way?"


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I disagree with the article entirely, and it seems very biased. As great as game music during the 16-bit era has been, I feel that some people can become too stuck in the past. There are still plenty of games with amazing soundtracks, that focus on more than just "bland orchestrated music". And even orchestrated music can be amazing (examples: Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, etc). And as for the argument that limitations forced creativity, this is true. However, I feel like most of the time, that statement is used in a way, to say that because limitations forced great music, developers have gotten lazy now that their are less limitations. Statements such as these are insulting to how hard current developers work, to continue to produce great music. Anyways, below are five examples of great modern soundtracks that really stand out to me. I just thought I'd share. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmxR486CYgk

Edited by crf_stewarje
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Anyways, below are five examples of great modern soundtracks that really stand out to me. I just thought I'd share. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmxR486CYgk

I think all of these tracks have something in common, which is, they have potential to be really memorable. But they don't hit that spot for me personally. I think it is mostly the lack of arps, vibrato, intrumental variation, interesting melodies, etc. Here are some examples that stand out a bit more in my opinion:

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"The bombastic symphonies of Shadow of the Colossus, the J-pop arias of Kingdom Hearts, and choral psalms of Halo: Combat Evolved were certainly wonderful themes. Halo specifically demonstrated music that’s become iconic with its series and memorable to any passing fan. But while these examples are truly wonderful performances, ignore them for a second."

wait what? why? these are exactly the types of vgm that is amazing.

i'll explain why the music in newer vgm isnt as memorable and i'll use movies as a example.

When we think of memorable movie themes who do we look to?

100% it will be John Williams

after all who can forget memorable themes like the

,
or the

now what am i suggesting? well basically john williams was a master at his craft for one but the other fact is that he took a simple approach to alot of his themes that could be whistled to or sung to without missing the main part of the song.

have you ever tried to whistle to say... dream theater?

not impossible but highly difficult.

i think that is what the crux of the problem is, simplicity, which is exactly what the older gen of games had in spades. but that's not all of it, after all who remembers themes from consoles like the commodore 64 or the spectrum?

no i think the other part is having the themes be uplifting or catchy, and being a non-musician i cant say what defines as catchy but the uplifting part i can say for certain will make people remember the track.

so what am i saying? whats the tldr;

i disagree with this review that vgm has lost its way but i will say that nowadays with the extra sound and musical instruments given to the vg musicians i will say it is more difficult to cultivate a memorable theme.

my solution to this?

make the musician work with the Nes/gameboy soundchip to cultivate a track that sounds good then take that and turn it into a real song with whatever musical tools they choose.

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my solution to this?

make the musician work with the Nes/gameboy soundchip to cultivate a track that sounds good then take that and turn it into a real song with whatever musical tools they choose.

The problem with that is that then the composer would have to rewrite much of what they just wrote in order to adapt to the new instrumentation. I think it may be easier just to write with the intended instruments and just think about the musicality they want to incorporate and do it carefully. It's not that writing with restricted timbres forces creativity; it only emphasizes it. Anyone can write a track with various C64/Genesis/NES/etc timbres that just isn't good--it takes musical skill to write a nuanced one. Also, forcing that might actually limit composers' creativities. How would we know if they are actually musically talented, or if they are just inspired by special instrument timbres that they love? What if those inspiring timbres were chiptunes? What if they weren't? If they were stripped of inspiring sounds, they'd really have to work hard to make something good.

For all we know, bad modern composers may just be coincidentally born cursed with oodles of writer's block err day without inspiration to guide them, and earlier composers were just that good.

Edited by timaeus222
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For all we know, modern composers may just be coincidentally born cursed with oodles of writer's block err day without inspiration to guide them, and earlier composers were just that good.

There are good modern game composers too but there is definitely something to the previous generations of composers just being really freaking amazing, you don't get Super Metroid or Pokemon RBY just by giving an average composer limited polyphony. Outliers don't appear with the same frequency throughout history, even if you could objectively say that game music is in a slump(you can't really), it would be waaaay premature to claim that game music has lost it's way based on a little under a decade maybe?

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Is that gasoline I smell? (Flammable article. :D)

Summary: Dislikes music used on a purely functional level to back up whatever is happening in the game by means of cliché motifs we've adapted to recognize as "sad" or "suspensful" or etc.

While I don't like bland music in games or TV series, not all music can have center stage all the time, which leaves room for a greater impact when you do get a melodic ditty for some event.

There's too much bias involved in this article. Whatever fond memories you form early on will skew your perception on things later in life. Your awareness of this fact will help increase insightful reflection powerbar.

Oscar Araujo - Dracula's Theme - "16-bit style ditty"

Oscar Araujo - Titanic Struggle (original title) - "Just epic"

As soon as you pick up a guitar, it's expected to be used as a guitar. It would be out of place not to use an orchestra as an orchestra with its quirks, functions, and requirements for performing a score.

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There are good modern game composers too but there is definitely something to the previous generations of composers just being really freaking amazing, you don't get Super Metroid or Pokemon RBY just by giving an average composer limited polyphony. Outliers don't appear with the same frequency throughout history, even if you could objectively say that game music is in a slump(you can't really), it would be waaaay premature to claim that game music has lost it's way based on a little under a decade maybe?

Yeah, I did mean the modern ones that we don't consider good aren't necessarily going to be good if forced to a limited sound palette. They could be good, though, if they actually are musically adept.

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There's too much bias involved in this article.

This. The guy paints nearly all modern game music with the same brush, and also asks if there will ever be a modern soundtrack that that matches up to games like Sonic or Banjo Kazooie. Hundreds upon hundreds of games have come out since then, and if someone cannot find anything that has matched up, then there is definitely a bias involved.

Edited by crf_stewarje
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If you have the time, watch this part of an interview with george sanger.

some great perspectives in there on aspects of early game design and music that haven't come to fruition as much as he'd have hoped.

I feel what he's saying. It's not the simplistic nostalgia based argument, it's about pioneers working in a setting of highly creative anarchy, and how that freedom can be compromised when the industry 'grows up'.

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