This is Andrew, the music composer of War of Velana, here this week for our third development blog. This week we’ll be focusing entirely on the music side of the game development and I’ll be going into detail on what we want musically for the game as well as how we are achieving it. We have shared a couple tracks from the game on Soundcloud, so if you haven’t yet, please feel free to take a listen below!
As you may have noticed, the music of Velana is not a high quality recording of the London Symphony Orchestra, or even a super realistic midi mock up. The spirit of this game is in it’s attention to detail, carefully woven lore (pun intended), captivating story and art, and also it’s feel. We want War of Velana to feel like the classic rpg’s you might’ve played on Sega Genesis or other older consoles/PC games. In order to do this, the music needs to be be sonically reminiscent of those older games and they certainly didn’t have the options for top notch orchestras or today’s vast wealth of studio equipment. In devblog 1, I mentioned a bit about our process and how it’s quite different from how most other games are being made. In this blog, I’ll focus on the process for the pieces that I’ve composed and produced entirely by myself, though as noted before both Matt and Justin have HUGE roles they’re playing musically.
Typically, most modern composers start with high quality samples and write in a DAW(digital audio workstation) like Logic or Pro Tools. This is great because it lets us write with great sounds and we have a real accurate, or even final representation of the music we’re writing. Then it goes to sheet music in the next step if it’s going to be recorded live. Often times the difficulty here is that there are CPU issues having so many instruments loading and trying to make it all sound real can take a lot of time.
However, with War of Velana I know that I have the luxury of writing a score that ultimately won’t sound real at all, so I begin with the notation stage as it feels much more musical for an orchestral sound. Much of the soundtrack has been created using, believe it or not, an iPad Pro. I’ve been using Notion (shown above), a sheet music app that allows me to hand write my scores digitally, so that I can write comfortably and on the go. My next step is exporting the midi files into Pro Tools, my DAW of choice. I then use a lightning to midi adapter and have my iPad hooked up to Pro Tools so I can use Roland’s Sound Canvas app, which is what we are using to get the sounds we are looking for. In the 90’s, many game composers were using Sound Canvas synths on their scores, such as the Final Fantasy franchise. You can see a screenshot of the app simulating the synth below.
Onto the actual composing of the music. My favorite thing about this game so far is it’s diversity. Between the classes, characters, locations, story and items there’s a lot to set music to and I want the music to reflect the vastness of the world of Velana. For me that means a wide variety of musical styles and ensembles. The music will contrast between locations in the same way that the art and styles of the game do. Take a look at the differences in instrumentation between my battle track, A Swift Death, and the music for a camp called Tales Between Travelers. There are huge shifts in the colors of the instruments, the time and key signatures, tempos, and the overall feel of the music.
These are just two examples of the level of contrast through the the score in War of Velana! So far we’re really excited about how the music enhances the feel of the game! We hope you’ve enjoyed this inside look at how we’re making the music for War of Velana. Justin will be back in two weeks with the next update on development. Thanks for reading and listening!
– Andrew Capone