Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Gearbox Handles Music

I think I like Gearbox a little more now. In the development of the latest Borderlands 2 DLC, also known as Tiny Tina’s Assault,had a challenge to overcome when it came to the music. Tiny Tina is very much a play on the Dungeon’s and Dragon roleplaying genre. It takes elements of the table top and infuses them into the action-roleplay-adventure style of Borderlands 2. And music was a concern.

”There was some back and forth initially on whether to go overboard with all sorts of fantasy music tropes and make much of the music silly, or do something that sounded a bit more interesting. There was also a question of whether to just score the environment or somehow try to follow the story and bring some of Tiny Tina’s craziness into the score somehow.”

Raison Varner, Gearbox’s lead sound designer took the challenge, focusing on quality and settling on a few ground rules: no brass or leading French horn sections, strings are okay only as a plot device, and electric guitars encouraged! He pulls in multiple sources of inspiration, everything from Uematsu (the FF6 soundtrack inspired him to get into music), to Ni No Kuni, and Alice in Chains. Versatility was the key to this DLC’s music and it really worked well.

Verner also goes into the discussion on how developing music for a game is vastly different from a movie (mostly because movies are linear and games are ever-expanding universes that need to have constant musical attention). The audio needs to be about the player’s experience, and it’s measured on how the person reacts to the game while playing. Music is a big part of the interaction of the game.

And you know me. I’m an FF fan girl. I love that something as “hardcore, men only, bombs, and blowing up stuff rawr!” can have such a diverse team that inspiration came from Uematsu.

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