Welcome to the fourth installment of my five-part article series discussing music composition techniques that heighten tension and suspense for video game projects. These articles are based on the presentation I gave at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, entitled Homefront to God of War: Using Music to Build Suspense. If you haven’t read the previous three articles, you’ll find them here:
Before we move on to the next music composition technique in our suspense-building arsenal, I’d like to briefly revisit a video game project we discussed in our last article; the popular Dragon Front VR game for the Oculus Rift, developed by High Voltage Software.
Welcome to the third (and final) article in this three-part discussion of how video game composers (like us) can make strategy gamers smarter! We’ve been exploring the best ways that the music of game composers can help strategy gamers to better concentrate while making more sound tactical decisions. During this discussion, I’ve shared my personal perspective as the composer for the popular Dragon Front strategy game for VR.
In part one, we discussed the concept of ‘music-message congruency,’ so if you haven’t read that article yet, you can read it here. In part two, we explored the meaning of ‘cognition-enhancing tempo’ – you can read that article here. Please make sure to read both those articles first and then come back.
Are you back? Awesome! Let’s launch into a discussion of the third technique for increasing the smarts of strategy gamers!
In psychology, the term ‘affect’ refers to emotion, particularly in terms of the way in which such emotional content is displayed. Whether by visual or aural means, an emotion can not be shared without some kind of ‘affect’ that serves as its mode of communication from one person to another. When we’re happy, we smile. When we’re angry, we frown.
Welcome back to our three-part discussion of how video game composers (such as ourselves) can make strategy gamers smarter! In these articles, we’re looking at ways in which our music can enhance concentration and tactical decision-making for players engrossed in strategic gameplay. Along the way, I’ve been sharing my personal experiences as the composer for the Dragon Front strategy game for virtual reality. Over the course of these articles we’ll be covering three of the top concepts that pertain to the relationship between music and concentration. In part one, we discussed the concept of ‘music-message congruency,’ so if you haven’t read that article yet, please go check it out and then come back.
Are you back now? Good! Let’s move on to the second big technique for increasing the smarts of strategy gamers!
As video game composers, we create music in a wide variety of tempos designed to support the energy of play and the pacing of the game’s overall design. From leisurely tracks that accompany unstructured exploration to frenetic pieces that support the most high-stakes combat, our music is planned with expert precision to shape the excitement level of players and keep them motivated as they progress.
Can video game composers make you smarter? Well, video gaming can be a pretty cerebral activity, requiring astute problem-solving skills and disciplined concentration in order to excel. That’s especially true for any game built around strategic and/or tactical gameplay, such as real-time or turn-based strategy, tactical shooters, multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs), and online collectible card strategy games. To succeed in these types of games, players must assess the current situation and formulate a plan that accounts for future developments and variables. Without this type of tactical forward-thinking gameplay, a gamer has little chance to win. So, can music enable gamers to think tactically, stay focused and make smart decisions? Over the next three articles, I’ll try to answer that question, while exploring the role of music in enhancing the concentration of strategic/tactical gamers.
Along the way, we’ll be taking a look at some scholarly research on the subject, consulting the opinions of experts, and I’ll be sharing my experiences creating the music for the recently released Dragon Front strategy game from High Voltage software. We’ll check out some music tracks I composed for the popular Dragon Front game (pictured at the top of this article), and we’ll discuss methods for supporting and enhancing concentration for strategic/tactical game players. But first, let’s take a closer look at the Dragon Front game.
My work as a video game composer has lately included some projects for virtual reality games (more info on that in the coming months), and as a result I’ve been thinking a lot about the awesome potential of VR, and have also been writing lots of articles on the subject. Earlier this month I began a two-part article that focuses on the experience of the end user, and the gear with which they’ll be enjoying our video game music and audio content (you can read part one here). So, let’s now continue our discussion about the new generation of headphones designed specifically for VR!
In this article, we’ll be discussing two headphone models:
Plantronics RIG 4VR
So let’s get underway!
Entrim 4D headphones
This March at the famous SXSW convention in Austin, Samsung showed off a piece of experimental technology promising to bring a new dimension of immersion to virtual reality. It’s designed specifically to complement their popular Samsung Gear VR device, and it works by virtue of electrodes that send electrical signals right into the wearer’s head! As if virtual reality itself weren’t futuristic enough, now we’re talking about a device that zaps us to make the VR feel more real! It’s called Entrim 4D (pictured right). We’re talking about it here because (among other things) Entrim 4D is a pair of audio headphones built specifically for VR.
In this article I’d like to turn our attention towards the experience of the end user, and specifically, the primary interface with which users will be enjoying our audio content. So, let’s talk about headphones! More specifically, let’s talk about the newest incarnation of this device… headphones built specifically for VR!
This will be a two-part article (since there’s a lot of ground to cover!) In part one, we’ll be discussing these two headphone models:
Since I’ve been working recently on music for a Virtual Reality project (more info in the coming months), I’ve been thinking a lot about VR technology and its effect on the creative process. Certainly, VR is going to be a great environment in which to be creative and perform tasks and skills with enhanced focus, according to this article from the VR site SingularityHub. I’ve written in this blog before about the role that music and sound will play in the Virtual Reality gaming experience. It’s clear that music will have an impact on the way in which we experience VR, not only during gaming experiences, but also when using the tools of VR to create and be productive. With that in mind, let’s consider if the opposite statement may also be true – will VR impact the way in which we experience music, not only as listeners, but also as video game composers?
Simple VR technologies like the popular Google Cardboard headset can be a lot of fun – as I personally experienced recently (photo to the left). However, they offer only the rudimentary visual aspects, which omits some of the most compelling aspects of the VR experience. When motion tracking (beyond simple head movement) is added to the mix, the potential of VR explodes. Over the next three articles, we’ll be exploring some interesting possibilities created by the motion tracking capabilities of VR, and how this might alter our creative process. In the first article, we’ll have some fun exploring new ways to play air guitars and air drums in the VR environment. In the second article, we’ll take a look at ways to control virtual instruments and sound modules that are folded into the VR software. And finally, in the third article we’ll explore the ways in which VR motion tracking is allowing us to immersively control our existing real-world instruments using MIDI. But first, let’s take a look at the early days of VR musical technology!