A soundtrack changes everything.
My favorite indie developer, Supergiant Games, has consistently remarkable music across their releases. It’s probably not a coincidence though, they have an in-house composer, Darren Korb, in charge of crafting each game’s soundscape. A few other game companies do this (DoubleFine being the only that comes to mind right now), but it’s not common. The impact, however, on games released through these studios, is undeniable.
Having somebody on staff who is as much a part of the company’s culture, mindset, and goals as any other team member is crucial. It’s not to say that composers hired on contract can’t make great work; the industry they’re in is designed around project-based employment, and that’s hard to deny or change from within. What we can do is bring attention to the groups that are doing things a little bit differently, and the difference that it makes.
Employing a composer/sound designer is one way to ensure that your game’s soundtrack gets the time, attention, and ultimately the soul that it needs to be an affective part of the game. The soundtrack and audio design of a game is as important as every other piece (yes, including the art). It shouldn’t be an after-thought, a budget cut, or a bonus addition. Create great games— and tell great stories— by using every tool available to you.
Paint with all the colors in mind; leave out some on purpose.
[ Today I Was Playing: XCOM: Enemy Within and Fire Emblem Fates Birthright ]
April 15, 2016