Making Sweet Beats

One of the things that we’ve learned while learning to do our indie game jobs is that doing our jobs is not enough. I mean, once you have the basic jobs covered, you’ve got to make sure that you have everything else covered. We have dev, story, art, and business. But there’s so much more to be done.

Some of these tasks are little things that are not “fun” but should probably be done assuming we want to run a semi-respectable operation — filing legal paperwork, figuring out how business checking accounts work, archiving Dropbox files etc.

But some of these tasks are big things, which on a sane team should be roles in and of themselves — things like soundtrack, design and QA. Well, the good news is we decided to solve the problem with some novel strategery — simply have Rich and Austin do more than one job!

We’ll probably spend some time in the future talking about each of these things. Design and QA will fall under Austin’s purview after he finishes writing the story. So, there is definitely much more to come on that front. However, for now, I want to give a bit of love to what is perhaps one of the most fun areas of extra work —  the soundtrack department.

Fortunately for our team, it turns out that our developer also loves music. In another age, I lived in a house with Rich, Austin, and a bunch of dudes (it was super clean and not gross at all). No matter what was happening in that house, one constant was that Rich would be making or playing some kind of music. In fact, you really couldn’t walk to the kitchen without him yelling at you about his latest hipster electronic rock group discovery and pulling you into his room to listen. In retrospect, this was a good thing because our kitchen was occasionally a public health hazard and was probably not a place anyone should have been walking.

For real though, Rich is talented at this stuff, and he’ll be doing the entire soundtrack for our game. While it’s not the first priority at the moment, we all think that a good soundtrack can actually add a ton of depth to a game. So, of all the “other things” that need to happen, soundtrack is one of the most important. Most of it is still under wraps, but Rich has put up a few samples of some of his early soundtrack work which hopefully you saw on our SoundCloud. Overall, the sound so far is dark an drum driven. That said, we want to have a good variety of music to fit the mood of different planetary settings, combat situations, and plot points.

For fun, we also spent some time in our last meeting talking about some of our biggest gaming and science fiction soundtrack inspirations. The most popular contenders were soundtracks from Halo, Battlestar Galactica, and Deus Ex. I think some thematic similarities with music from these soundtracks will become apparent as more of our soundtrack is released. However, I know already that as I sat and listened to this music, I could see AOTW unfolding. That was a really cool, really powerful feeling.

If you’ll permit me a slight digression, I feel that I should note I also owe a special debt of gratitude toward the original Halo soundtrack for another reason. This might be weird but I often listen to it at work while doing important corporate finance things. It’s inspiring, energizing, and haunting. Plus, I just like to picture Master Chief walking around the office and stepping into meetings from time to time.

Long story short — there’s an army of tasks to battle if we are going to finish this game. Headphones and bad ass music will be our weapons of choice.

Stay tuned for more sample tracks in the coming months!

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