A brilliant —but troubled—philosopher once said, "Without music, life would be a mistake." In gaming, music is often the only familiar companion on a journey to strange places and new worlds. With that in mind, it's surely a good omen that developer Obsidian has given us a chance to preview the soundscape being written for its upcoming RPG, Pillars of Eternity .
Pillars of Eternity audio director and composer Justin Bell has detailed in a new post some of his thoughts regarding the writing process for the game's soundtrack:
"While we are following in the footsteps of the Infinity Engine soundtracks in terms of style and implementation, we have decided to tweak that formula a bit," Bell writes. "Most of the in-game tracks for the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale games are between 1-2 minutes in length, and in some cases those tracks loop immediately."
But there's a risk to this type of looping, which Bell goes on to discuss:
"We call this 'listener fatigue,' and from a usability perspective, it can negatively affect the way a gamer will feel about a game," he writes. "It's a psychological effect; the fact that the music is short and repetitious can make long playthroughs tedious. On the flip side, a benefit to having short loops is that we can write more unique pieces of music, which will by nature increase variety throughout the game. Approaching it this way would allow us to make specific areas feel “special” because they will have unique music."
Ultimately, Bell concludes in his post that PoE will balance the looping effect between areas of the game that ask players to spend different amounts of time in them, presumably to combat the fatigue he is referring to. And since we heard way back in 2012 that Bell's favorite game soundtrack of all time was The Elder Scolls III: Morrowind, I feel I can safely say we are in good hands in terms of the RPG's sound design. Obsidian's recent release of the sample posted above only confirms this for me. In any case, be sure to take a listen and check out Bell's complete post for his breakdown on audio design for PoE and his own life as a game composer.
PoE has also recently partnered with publisher Paradox Interactive, which means the game—and its music—is set to "absolutely ship this year."
Hat tip, Joystiq .