James M. Potter

writings on music, games, and culture

Month: September, 2011

Players: compose yourselves

Game designers use music in games to try and control or shape your reaction to in-game events and circumstances so that it fits into their vision. But what happens when players aren’t content with this, and substitute their own music for whatever the composer/sound designer has provided? The game experience can change in innumerable subtle and unpredictable ways according to what sounds the player is hearing.

In a fascinating recent study (which you can read in full here), Alexander Wharton and Karen Collins show just how disparate the game-playing styles of players can be when they are given (or choose) different music. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Kyoutenka’ from Motoi Sakuraba’s ‘Eternal Sonata’ sheet music

Google suggests that a lot of people seem to look for the sheet music to this piece, found at the end of Motoi Sakuraba’s soundtrack to Trusty Bell: Chopin’s Dream, better known to the West as Eternal Sonata. I realised this upon rediscovering a transcription I made of the piece when it first came out. Imperfect as it is (and it is very) I would consider it churlish not to share it with people who seem to want to download it so that they can play this rather lovely song.

Kyoutenka sheet music sample

Sample - full file at bottom of post

So…(the better to optimise search engines!)…at the bottom of this post you’ll find a pdf of the sheet music to ‘Kyoutenka‘ from Eternal Sonata by Motoi Sakuraba.

I’ve copied the ‘editorial notes’ from it (as ever, old habits die hard) here:

Transcriber’s notes:
This is a rough transcription made shortly after the game first came out in 2007. It’s not entirely accurate but preserves the sense, ending where the orchestra comes in on the recording. It lacks proper lyrics or a translation. If anyone is able to furnish me with these, please get in touch at the above website and I’ll update this file. Enjoy!

Copyright notice:
I’m not affiliated in any way with the composer or the game’s publisher and this transcription is made available solely for the enjoyment of fans of the music of the game. No profit should be made from the distribution of this transcription.

I hope this will be of use to some people! Please let me know in the comments if you’ve made use of it.


Immersion vs Realism vs Music

Is music in games ‘realistic’? Should it be?

One of the most important words being bandied around by games developers at the moment is immersion. It is an absolutely key concept for any designer who wants to create an experience that will draw in the player for as long as they play the game, and, crucially, keep them coming back.

One of the ways some games attempt to engender a degree of immersion is by mimicking as closely as possible the look and feel of what we perhaps rather arrogantly call ‘the real world’. The first-person shooter genre is a particular fan of this approach. Setting aside certain bold attempts at a more surrealist or satirical art design (Team Fortress 2 springs to mind), the most successful FPS games in recent years have been marked by attention to detail, and the thorough working-out of how events would proceed in worlds which closely resemble our own: in other words, realism. It’s not difficult to find examples of this new verismo, driven by advances in graphical hardware that make it ever easier to emulate the real world: the Half-Life 2 franchise, Call of Duty, Battlefield, to name but a few popular examples. Read the rest of this entry »