James M. Potter

writings on music, games, and culture

Tag: sound design

Playing: 140


Music games come in a variety of forms these days. Some have used music to generate or influence environments (such as bizarre ambient-em-up The Polynomial). Others use musical cues to prompt the player to do something. Most of the platformer-style music games have been of this latter type, using the soundtrack to cue the player into when he or she should perform a certain action. Sometimes they’re called ‘rhythm-action games’. They’re supposed to reward attentive listening on the part of the player, who responds to regular rhythmic events to time jumps and actions. Whilst that’s all well and good, there isn’t always much incentive to listen hard.

140, the new game from Limbo designer Jeppe Carlsen, makes you listen. Hard. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »