Role: Composer, Micro Manager, Scolder of Josh
Favorite Game(s): Final Fantasy 6, Super Mario 3
Bio: When not composing music for "Shadows of Adam", Tyler can be heard tootin' his trumpet all over Nashville, TN in recording studios and with artist such as The Mavericks, Sam Moore, Tim Rushlow, and others. He also leads his own 18 piece big band, The Tyler Mire Big Band which plays his own original compositions and arrangements.
Hello everyone! As you may have noticed we did not have a post last week. This is because we were busy trying to get our demo ready to send out to testers. Since our start in October 2013 we have reached a staggering total of 3000 commits to github. The Something Classic machine has been in high gear creating one of our most productive periods as a team.
Beta Demo has been sent to testers!
As mentioned before we have finally sent a playable demo to testers. This is the first time anyone outside of the five of us has played the game. The testers will help us get the product to the highest level of polish for our public demo release in mid Jan 2016.
Look out for a kickstarter/demo release in Jan 2016 !
As Josh mentioned in our last post, we are planning to release a kickstarter in Jan 2016. The kickstarter will be released in conjunction with a free playable demo. The demo is around an hour or two of game play that covers The Tangle through the Misty Woods.
2015 was an amazing year for Something Classic, which has seen a huge update in the quality of our project. It was a long and tough road but we are finally nearing the end. Thanks for taking this journey with us.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at Something Classic!
Weekly Content Blog #36: Visual Preview of Misty Woods
This is Tyler from Something Classic HQ, located in a bunker somewhere in the mountains of South America. This month has been exciting as we are finalizing our design choices on our new Battle UI. As the game’s composer, I have also seen myself evolve into a sort of “all purpose” guy for the team. I do minor map making, scene design, and lots of micro edits. This has led me to do some battle system testing and UI adjustment.
The game’s battle system has gone through a lot of changes as the game’s scope evolved. Originally when it was a two person team, Josh whipped up a quick and easy turn based battle system. This system ran smoothly, worked well, but lacked a lot of options.
Somewhere along the way we decided to update graphics and add more options to the battle system, such as counters and flashier attack animations.
Eventually after months of fierce debate, chairs thrown through windows, and decisive arm wrestling matches we decided to completely redo the battle system from the bottom up to allow more flexibility, smoother UI, and easier customization.
We also moved towards a % based AP system. This system sets each character with a finite pool of AP which does not change. Skills and Magic have fixed % costs, but the skills scale throughout the game. No Fire 1, Fire 2, Fire 3 – but rather a dynamic set of unique skills with morph and grow with your character. This opens up many possibilities for the player to customize how your characters grow. Possibilities we will share in a later post.
In general though, a good UI design must balance:
2. Ease of use
3. Visual aesthetics
We can all think of our favorite menus that do all of the above. Older retro rpg games are known for their clunky UIs. Final Fantasy 1, Pokemon and Earthbound are the most notable examples. The games that stand out to me as having exceptional UI design are Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7, and Super Mario RPG. What do you guys think?
Wow, week 26! It sure has been a ride in Something Classic land, we are bustin’ our butts to get you this demo. We are taking time to make sure no corner is cut and no stone is left unturned. We want to put the highest quality product we possibly can into your hands! On that note, I will use this post to continue with our character teasers. So without further ado, let me introduce you to our main heroine, Asrael!
As the composer I was tasked with composing a theme for her character. You may recognize thematic material from the Main Theme and Curtis’ Theme. What do you think?
Originally this post was supposed to be a live blog detailing my quest to write our title screen theme. But after staring at a blank manuscript pad for a few hours without producing anything I figured to instead talk about my musical influences from the gaming world. Hey, it might even inspire some new music out of me once I finish!
I will admit, I’ve always been a fan of 8bit, 16bit and first generation 3D console music the most. To me the limitations in the hardware forced the composers to find creative ways to write good music. Put simply “Limitations breed creativity”. What I mean is, that with the file size limitations, lack of instrumental sounds and other confines, composers were not giving many options in which the modern composer or sound designer has access to today. The music needed a strong catchy melody, great but simple orchestrations and clarity in form and harmony. The composer could not rely on high production values to save mediocre music. Some of my favorite music is a result of those limitations. Let’s start from the beginning shall we?
Where would we be without this theme? Think about it. At most Nintendo games had 4 tracks to work with, two melody tracks, a mid/low track to serve as accompaniment and what sounds like a combination between a toy gun shot and a guy poorly beat boxing for percussion sounds. The result is one of the most memorable melodies in video game history. Stripped down to its most basic level, the source material – the tune if you will – is superb. The use of syncopation and multiple sections (four in total) displays a lot of creativity in finding ways to create variation without relying on different sounds. Remember composer Koji Kondo had few options with the technology at the time.
Moving to the next console, Super Mario World delivered on some exceptional music. The limitations were lifted a bit allowing Koji Kondo a few more sounds to use for different colors. Still, the composition itself is very simple but strong. The clear delineation of elements (melody, harmony, accompaniment, bass line) really give the composition clarity. Another thing worth pointing is this game’s strong use of themes. The theme found is this piece is found elsewhere:
You can hear it reintroduced as a more waltzing three feel. It gives the game a bit of cohesiveness. From wikipedia:
“Koji Kondo composed the music used in Super Mario World, using only an electronic keyboard. The entirety of the music heard in the game, with the exception of the music played in the title screen, credits, maps, and fighting Bowser, is a variation on the same melody. The melody, played in F major is heard normally on the standard overworld levels. It is slowed down and made to echo in caverns, whereas it moves in a slow, wave-like fashion, a slow (in 3/4 or waltz time) in underwater levels (a recurring musical tradition in underwater levels played in Super Mario games); in the athletic theme, it is played quickly and energetically to suit the more risky and lively nature of a level taking place in the air. The castle theme is a symphonic variation of the melody in F minor, then C minor, giving the song an overall ominous tone.”
This is also employed in lots of jRPG such as:
Ah good ol’ Nobou Uematsu! While Final Fantasy V was not a crowd favorite I always thought the music was a stand out. The use of simple orchestration and strong melodies really made this sound track great. And that bridge! I’m pretty sure those harp arpeggios are impossible to play by real humans, but Mr. 16-bit synth didn’t know the difference. I was heavily infleunced by this game’s style when I wrote our airship theme.
Similar to the Super Mario World example, Uematsu uses this theme in several pieces in the game:
The overworld theme utilizes the main theme of the game. Hey I think I know another game that does that!
Even the epic escape theme incorporates the melody as well! This could very well be a pragmatic approach taken by Uematsu (and Kondo) to reduce the amount of new material he would have to generate, but it does add a nice cohesiveness to the game.
Video Game composers also utilize the 19th century compositional technique of leitmotif. This is used everywhere from opera, video games, and even movies like “Star Wars.” One game that stands out as really using this well is Final Fantasy VI. Uematsu assigned each character his or her own leitmotif. Locke’s is probably the most recognizable:
This leitmotif tells you everything you need to know about Locke. He is brave, upbeat and cunning with a spirit for adventure. Another memorable leitmotif from that same game was the one that represented Celes. While it was tied into a specific story event, the nuanced theme does well to represent the complex character that she is:
My favorite musical moment of the game (or any game) comes in the ending. Spoiler Alert: When the party is escaping Kefka’s tower there is a scene showing Locke diving to save Celes from falling to her doom. While the scene itself is emotional what really gets me is the use of both Locke and Celes’ leitmotifs used in counter point. Holy crap! Just incredible. You can hear Locke’s leitmotif start around :24.
Well that wraps it up for this installment. Hopefully this post was a nice glimpse into some of the earlier video game music that influenced me. By no means is this list comprehensive, but a look back at some of the games that still resonant with me today. What do you think? What video game music do you like and why? Reach out to us on our facebook page or our twitter account.