As an artist I released my new track "Nostalgia [Dub Chill Edit]" yesterday. Today I found the time to create seamless loops and music hits of the track and released it as a Level Kit under Imphenzia Soundtrack. This means that the music is available for non-exclusive licensing at a ridiculously low prices for indie game developers.
The easiest way to check out all the loops and music hits is to visit the Nostalgia Dubstep Level Kit page where you can listen to all the stuff in high quality. You'll find a full length theme track (4:09 in duration), 7 seamless loops, and 3 music hits. It's all available individually so you only need to license the ones you want to use - not the entire level kit.
The music is suitable for futuristic games and games with attitude.
It's now 1:55 am and I have just finished the task. It wasn't easy because I spent much of the day with my son (I am on paternity leave) and once he was in bed I watched a movie (True Grit) with my wife.
So what did I accomplish today?
I composed the following short pieces of music (in addition to the loops I composed yesterday):
Game Over loop
Menu Music loop
Boss music loop
Life Lost music hit
Get Ready music hit
Stage Completed music hit
I then down-mixed and mastered all 13 variations where 10 variations are seamless loops that have to be cropped (thank heaven for my seamless loop cropping script =).
Once all the mastered audio files were in place I watermarked the 13 tracks and created OGG and MP3-previews for my site. Then, of course, I encoded the audio files that you get in the license mail which is WAV, OGG 128kbps, OGG 64kbps, and MP3 190kbps versions for each variation. While uploading all the newly encoded files I also entered all the details, keywords, descriptions and meta data about each variation into the database.
All in all I am very pleased with my effort today and to finish it off I also had a few moments to spare to create a news slider for Once Upon a Platform. It uses some graphics from my friend Kenny Lex (thanks mate =)
[caption id="attachment_273" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Once Upon a Platform - News Slider"][/caption]
I'm truly enjoying making music at the moment and Imphenzia Sountrack allows me to vary the music genres a lot. The other day I was making orchestral battle music, today it was retro styled arcade music, so I'll flip my 9-sided coin tomorrow and see what the next genre will be. Any requests??
Today I've been working on a new addition for the non-exclusive music library and to totally switch from the orchestral music I composed yesterday I have taken a memory trip back in time. "Once Upon a Platform" is a new Level Kit of music mainly designed to be used in happy cheerful and cute platform games.
So far I have composed the short, medium, and long stage loops - but during a discussion with a good friend of mine, who listened to the preview of the long loop, he noted that the long loop varied quite a bit in mood - as if it should be split into two separate tracks. My initial intention was to keep the long loop interesting by alternating the music quite a bit, but I have to admit that he was on to something.
When he added (I translate from our chat conversation in Swedish) "In my mind I have just sorted out the first transition in the track... He [the player] just ate a mushroom."
This spawned the idea. Yes, [email protected] it, it's a classic Super Mario moment and what I'll do is break out the two loops into separate pieces of music and, since they run at the exact same BPM, encourage the game developer to play them simultaneously during game play (keeping them in sync) and cross-fade between the two to switch the mood.
Dim the lights please...
...and allow me to demonstrate with this simple video:
Before creating the video above, I must admit, I almost bought some stock Flash animations to put together a little demo video of a platform character picking up a power-up. After 2 hours of browsing for suitable animations to buy I gathered my senses and thought - let's just focus on what I really do - make music instead and just do something "good enough" for a change =)
More about "Once Upon a Platform"
If I've kept you reading so far, maybe you are sold on retro game music as well? This morning I launched Cubase with intention to create a set of music hits and loops for cheerful, child friendly, platform games. This meant a simple beat, a nice little base line, retro feel added by some background arpeggios, and a saw lead with portamento (gliding.)
It didn't take long until I had the beat and bass-line in place and after striking the keys on my Roland FP-7 stage piano for a few minutes I also had a cheerful piano added to the mix. I don't actually use the sounds from the FP-7 (other than while playing freehand.) Why not, it's a great sounding instrument? Yes it is - but I just can't bring myself to have ANY external audio hardware as it would spoil the amazing Audio Mixdown feature in Cubase which just renders the entire song into a WAV file much faster than in real-time.
Passion for retro game music
I use my headphones when I make music, a pair of Sennheiser PXC 450, so neither my wife nor my son could hear what I was working on. I always get a big smile on my face when I create (or listen to) retro style game music. It's something about the melody and the sounds, an in combination with my child hood memories that flips the little switch in my head making it impossible to remove the grin. This is when my wife walks into the room. I unplugged the headphones to reveal the source of my smile and let's just say that she doesn't share the same passion for this as I do. She is, by the way, pregnant again and she muttered something about that she'd rather give birth, with a long and painful labor, than listen to that ["that" being MY cheerful retro platform music].
Just as quickly as my wife left the room, my 1.5 year old son walks in. Apart from scattering some soil from the large plant onto the floor, something he feels compelled to do every time he walks past it, he walks straight over to me. I lift him up onto my lap and he listened to the full loop, twice, totally mesmerized. He is either frozen in shock (wife DNA) or unable to move in amazement (my DNA.) I choose to believe it's the latter. It's all the convincing I need to be sure I should continue and as a result I have now released the preview video.
Why the name?
I initially called my project "Platform Heaven." As I was out driving in the afternoon I had time to think a bit more about it. I remembered that some of my recent tracks (that hint on what game genre it may be suitable for) have the genre at the end of the track name, not in the front. I should stick to this pattern.
Coincidentally, this morning I also searched the internet for a web shop to buy the DVD box "Il était une fois… l'Espace", a french cartoon from 1982 that I fell in love with as a kid. The english name for the series is "Once upon a time... Space" and I plan to buy it so I can re-watch it myself and, of course, force feed this amazing series my son. I can't foresee any problems competing with the super hi-tech 3D animation masterpieces of today.
It goes without saying that I put half and half together = "Once Upon a Platform." which also reflects the retro aspect to the track. There. I said it anyway.
Equipment and Software used
As usual, I use my trusted Cubase 5.5 as a sequencer and apart from the percussion (which I use the Cubase native Groove Agent One for) it's all exclusively Nexus2 (by ReFX). I use the original sound banks along with the expansions Omnicron 2 and Omnicron 3. The SID / chip style arpeggios are also Nexus2 leads with arpeggio enabled with a rate of 64th.
This is what my project looks like at the moment (the combined loop of casual and uplifting moods):
Once Upon a Platform - Cubase Project View
I hope to finish Once Upon a Platform tomorrow and upon completion I will add it to the library of non-exclusive game music.
It may not be a new concept in the game industry itself, but creating what I refer to as a Level Kit is a new concept for me. Previously I've mainly created full length tracks and seamless loops of various lengths and styles but I suspect that game developers may appreciate these new Level Kits.
The idea is to create variations of a track or theme which will cover most stages and situations of a game. Today I have composed and released Battle Zone Level Kit which is an orchestral military style set of music files:
Of course you can license each variation individually and it's the developers preference whether the Stage Short Loop should really be the Menu loop and so forth, but all the moods are for the various music hits and loops are custom designed to be suitable for the different game stages. As I continue to release Level Kits I hope to offer a very wide selections where you may license all the music necessary for your game.
Battle Zone from a composer's perspective
If you are interested to find out how the music was composed, read on. I use Cubase 5.5 with my full EastWest Symphonic Orchestra Gold keyswitch template (described in this post) along with Stormdrum 2 percussion, drone sounds from Quantum Leap Goliath, and additional patches from the Hollywood expansion for Nexus2 by ReFX.
Stage / Game Play Loops
The stage loops are fairly static and background like with marching drums, strong percussion, and tense strings and brass. The boss loop which could be used for especially hectic situations and, of course, boss encounters is 20 BPM faster with many french horn rips and violin effects to emphasize the danger.
The Stage Complete Music Hit is more melodic with a positive mood portraying success and accomplishment.
The Game Over Loop is a longer version of the Stage Complete Hit with more melodic and emotional strings and brass to emphasize pride and glory. String ensemble playing in marcato behind the lead instruments in both of these hits also establishes heroic courage.
The Life Lost hit is short with just failure written all over it due to the rips and crecendo strings and horns.
The Menu Loop is a very mysterious soundscape with drones from the Goliath library mentioned above. The same drones can also be found in the long stage loop. Plenty of reverb and a deep bass note playing adds to the tension.
The Get Ready hit is just a simple marching snare with some additional percussion and repeating double bass strings.