Music can be the Cornerstone of a Good Game
I have always had an affinity for music that seems to bring a game to life. What I’m talking about goes beyond a tune being catchy or fun, or even simply well put together. Some of the strongest feelings of nostalgia are brought on by listening to some of the older songs that were nothing but midis. Even the midis to this day remain a defining characteristic of those games.
More emphasis should be placed on the music in the games we play. It’s a form of expression unlike anything else. I’m guilty of forgetting that there’s more to a game than the mechanics and graphics. Now that I really stop and think about it, maybe games can and should be designed around more than mechanics — perhaps even entirely around something like a song.
Ultima Online – Stones
Stones is from one of my first graphical MUDs (old school MMO) called Ultima Online. Listening to this song reminds me of entering the city every day with my character and thinking about living in a quaint little medieval fantasy town. It reminds me of simplicity and how deep the simple things can be in a game. Music doesn’t need to be grand or sweep you off your feet to imprint itself upon you.
Listening to the Morrowind theme evokes a feeling of ‘beginning’ for me. I never even played the game! I always just watched Graev play, but I remember the hundreds of hours he put into exploration and loving everything about it. As the music begins to swell I can visualize the world of Tamriel and how infinite the possibilities are for the player about to begin his or her story.
Civilization – Baba Yetu
I think Baba Yetu was the first (only?) song for a video game to win a Grammy. Watching the video associated with the song adds to the experience, but even without the visuals you can just ‘feel’ the progress.
Keen’s lesson for the day: Take time to notice all the subtle things in the games you play. Whether they be MMORPGs or strategy games, when you look back 10 years from now it won’t be the items or the combat you remember.