The Power of Music

This is totally random, but I was browsing through music and came across the Dark Age of Camelot Soundtrack and felt compelled to share it with you guys. This is not only my favorite MMO soundtrack, but it’s one of my favorite CD’s. It’s interesting to note here that only four songs from the entire soundtrack are actually in the game: Main Theme, Albion Dream, Hibernian Village Dance, and Midgard Dawn.

The rest of the songs are collected from various artists to represent the feel of each of the classes in the game (16 of the classes) hailing from the three realms which represent Nordic, Celtic, and Britain realms. There are selections from each of them that I really enjoy, but the Hibernia classes are, by far, the best. I swear there is something in my blood that draws me to the Celtic stuff — Christmas songs, folk music, and just about any kind of music is better when it’s Celtic.  Listen to The Ranger (sums up all of my feelings for Hibernia), The Bard, and The Champion.

Listening to the songs that were actually in the game reminded me of just how important the music is to the atmosphere.  I don’t give music much thought in today’s games because all of the music feels like it has no soul.  Sure, there are some really great pieces of music but they feel like they’re composed to stand alone and not augment the setting.  In Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, and others which I could name (like SWG wouldn’t have been Star Wars without those famous pieces of music), the music transported you into the setting.  It’s in part what helped me to respect the setting of so many MMO’s of old.  Just listen to Albion Dream; I’m swept away to a small thatched roof town of the middle ages peacefully sitting in the shadows of Camelot where life is slow and worry-free.

Don’t underestimate the power of game music.  I know some of you write it off and even turn it off.  Don’t be so quick.  I’m telling you right now that if you’re jaded about MMO’s, pining for the old days, or simply think something is missing from today’s generation then don’t dismiss music.  The simplistic little melodies, even in midi form, are a huge part of what made the great games great.  At this point we have to start branching out and bringing in every little detail about the older games in order to try and recapture that feel — it’s not all about gameplay.

  • Oh and btw if people are interested in game music, I think one of the best guys is Jeremy Soule. Just check out the amount of quality games this guy has done. I know he is currently doing GW2 as well.

    Icewind Dale music sticks out in my mind.. it was so epic.

  • I love the DAoC music. I always got hassled by my gamer friends for not just turning the music off.

    “I want to hear the enemy coming, not listen to that crap! If I am going to listen to something it will be mp3s!”

    I’ve always thought the music was important to get immersed in the setting. I can still hear the DAoC intro music in my head that I heard every time I logged in for so many years like it was yesterday.

    Now going back to play on Uthgard, running around in Skona Ravine or Yggdra Forest, listening to the ambient music and my avatar’s footsteps in the deep snow…I love the atmosphere it sets, and there is great nostalgia there for me.

  • The DAOC theme is permanently ingrained into my memory. It’s the same with EverQuest. That’s another point to make: MMO’s no longer have real ‘Main themes’. They might have some big musical numbers used in their trailers and recognizable arrangements, but they’re not ‘Main themes’ anymore.

  • I was going to make a smart alec comment about the love theme from wing commander 4, but Keen is right on. Every 6 months or so i resub to daoc and when that starting music hits, it really takes me back.

  • Wow has pretty good music too, i remember constantly going into some boss fight or dungeon and seeing people randomly go “cool music”. Not sure i remember AOC or WAR’s music at all. How was Darkfall?

  • I too greatly enjoy music, I think I’m one of the few people in the world who doesn’t turn off a games music when playing. As for the celtic stuff, I have a celtic station on my pandora 😛

  • @St.Pierre

    DarkFall’s music is crap. The ork music is rather tribal and cool, but its still not worth having on. If anything it just gets you killed faster because it masks people approaching.

  • Lol, I was just thinking of ingame music. Finally finished Mass Effect 2 and was watching the cinematics and listening to the music, the score really set the mood.

    But my 2 favorite gamemusic scores are
    EQ1’s Kelethin score:
    OUTRUN’s Magical Sound Shower (after 0:40)

    They stand out becuase well, I don’t have any certain memories to go with them, I just love the tunes and the tone they set.

  • Imho two best MMo soundtracks are Daoc and Guild Wars 1 (no wonder, cause Jeremy Soule composed it).

  • i love Celtic stuff, that’s why my brief time in DAOC i went straight for Hibernia, didn’t even bother looking at the others.

    sadly enough these days i find myself muting the in game soundtracks, and playing my own music in the background.

  • Celtic music fan here too maybe its in my DNA. Anyway, I’m a big music guy in general and when I find a game with great music I’m always excited. I’ll listen to game music over and over again if its good. If not, its Pandora or iTunes. I thought some of WoW’s stuff was pretty good. I cant think of anything that was really really bad off the top of my head.

    This can be detrimental to your gameplay too though ..or at least mine. I cant tell you how many times I had EVE’s music going and died. Seriously ..mining or waiting to ambush someone and that soft beautiful sci-fi music coming through the speakers would put me right to sleep. Especially if you had the voice over still going that British lady is whispering at you.

    Woke up more than once in a floating pod or a clone chamber.

  • You are right. The music plays an important role in every MMO to actually take you to that place what you see on the screen. Listening to old game tunes will make you feel you are in the game again. One of my favorite is Allods music, although I quit the game after the midsummer patch.

  • Whatever Jeremy Soule touches turns to gold in terms of game music – Oblivion, Guild Wars, Icewind Dale, etc. I’ve pretty much bought all of his tunes on, especially since the GW songs integrate into the Guild Wars game for an expanded soundtrack experience. His music uplifts the storyline into something truly cinematic.

    The coolest thing is that he supports game remixes, and passed Overclocked Remix his “Squaresoft Variation.” It’s fantastic, Final Fantasy and Jeremy Soule mixed up into one.

    For other MMO music, the rest are fairly forgettable. City of Heroes attempted to incorporate some into their latest Going Rogue missions, but it is a gasping pathetic attempt at best. Music is not one of CoH’s strong points.

    LOTRO had pleasant, lore-appropriate music for the most part, nothing too memorable with one notable exception: inside Tom Bombadil’s house.

    Non-MMO-related, I also loved the music that played when you stepped into Erana’s Peace in Quest For Glory.

    Guess there’s just something about the whole ‘here is a tranquil place to rest after your journeys in the wild’ schtick going on with the above two examples.

  • I wish I listened more to the DAOC music, I turned it off early on so I could hear what was going around me when I xped at Yggdra gate.

    I think it is something our genes music and setting wise. From my genotype my ancient ancestors were some kindof intermix of Rus, Turks and Slavs. So I always loved Viking(Rus) stuff, went straight to Midgard in DAOC. BTW for a badass Viking movie check this out

  • I’ve been wanting to do a post on MMO music for at least a year, and have never gotten around to it. I think music is just as important to video games as it is to movies (to which it is hugely important.)

    However, one important thing to note is that in games, as in films, it’s both the music and the visual and other cues that accompany it as part of the complete sensory experience that gives the experience its weight.

    So I can listen to some of that DAoC stuff (and I did,) and say “that’s pretty good music” at the end (and I did.) But to somebody like Keen, who has images and memories to associate with that music, it means a great deal more, because hearing the music brings back the rest of it as well.

  • Unfortunately, music is the first thing to get shut off for me, then ambient sounds and then overall sound gets reduced. I blame use of Voice Chat, since that’s the main reason I adjust any of that.

    Still, I turn everything back on or up when I’m not in VC… when I remember. 🙁

  • Jeremy Soule is definitely a great composer. Really enjoyed his work on Guild Wars, Oblivion and Morrowind. Back when GW was released I got myself the collector’s edition (which has the soundtrack) and ended up listening to the music outside the game (which I though was kinda strange somehow, I was young back then though :D). These days I mostly listen to my own music while playing games. One reason for that would simply be the fact that I am constantly searching for new music and it’s easiest to listen to it while on the computer.

    There’s one song that I especially like:

  • WoW has some interesting tracks here and there but more than anything the music actually makes me sleepy ><
    When I went back to try on GW again after having played WoW for like 4 years the first thing that struck me when I logged on was the atmosphere, I immediately felt "home" and thought to myself "my god how well made this game is, and it still looks pretty damn good!".
    So background music makes a huge difference if it's well made, and in GW it was indeed awesome.

  • The main theme for EQ2 is my favorite. DAoC and EQ are close behind. The EQ2 theme sounds like an enhanced version of the EQ theme to my tin ear.

    The forest sounds from EQ (like you would hear in Nektulos forest, for example) were awesome. They stick in my head. I tried to find a cut of it on youtube, but couldn’t.

    The best overall game-type soundtrack that I’ve ever heard is the Orange Box soundtrack. Two versions of Still Alive and the awesome music from Team Fortress 2, Half-life, and Portal.

  • I still remember the music from UO when you first log in, and the music that would kick in during combat, and after combat. That music added so much to the game for me.