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RedRaider

Amount of music for a game

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Greetings everyone, I'm the Lead Designer on our current project, and I'm currently in the process of putting together an overview of the music requirements document. Apart from the style, which we have solid ideas on already, the document needs to include some kind of estimate for how -much- music needs to be written. We're aiming at an average play-through duration of approximately 10-12 hours for the game, beginning to end. Naturally this will vary slightly from player to player, but we feel it's about right. In order to really highlight the emotional impact of the music we're planning, we've decided not to have music playing -all- the time; the idea being that when music -does- play, it'll reinforce the desired atmosphere more effectively instead of being just 'more' music which has constantly been playing in the background. So, I would estimate that out of the 10-12 hours of gameplay, we'll probably be playing music approximately 60% of the time. As we don't intend to write unique music for the entire duration, there will of course be a fair amount of repetition of these tracks. We do intend to implement a few tricks (tracks can start at different points, and we will mix in short 'stinger' pieces semi-randomly and to highlight certain in-game events) to get some variety in there, but ultimately I think it'll be hard to -completely- fool the player into thinking we've written unique music for every part of the game where there is music. So, the dilemma is trying to find a balance where we write enough music to satisfy the player without either A) having -too- much obvious repetition or B) writing -tons- of music (and thereby use a lot more time and resources) to specifically avoid (A). My question is this: Is there some general rule of thumb used in the industry for how many minutes of music is enough to cover X amount of gameplay time? Pardon me if this is a silly question, but I've been trying to come up with estimates and it's doing my head in because without prior experience to go on it seems like such an abstract problem. Kind Regards, RedRaider

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Well keep in mind that heavily orchestrated music should be used only in intense cutscenes. Remember the power of silence. The less you use music, the more powerful it is when you use it.

For levels themselves, try to have entertaining, but progressive and unobtrusive music. Then have your real thrillers and dynamic pieces when you need them.

But I won't tell you everything about your music design. Do it the way you want. However if you know what you're doing as far as music design, you should already know how much you need. Your estimate is as good as mine.

Although I think for any game, an hour long soundtrack is always worth it. :)

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Hi,

Thanks for the quick reply and your 2 cents on the matter. The setup I have in my mind at the moment is as follows:

- There are 8 areas in the game.
- Each area represents an average of roughly 90 minutes of gameplay (some more, some less).
- Each area would have a music 'set', which contains the following:
-- 4 moods (Silence, Suspense, Adrenalin and Combat)
-- 12 transition pieces (averaging a few seconds each) to play smoothly from one mood to another
-- Approximately 5-10 'stinger' effects which are designed to fit in nicely in regular intervals of the music.

So...

- 3 moods(approx 2 minutes each, remember Silence is 0 minutes) x 8 sets = 48 mins
- 12 transitions (approx 3 secs each) x 8 sets = 4.8 mins
- 5-10 stingers at around 1-1.5 seconds each x 8 sets = 0.66-2.0(40-120 secs)

So adding up the contents of 1 set gives us an -approximate figure- of 54 minutes for the game in total.

Now, this is -not- including music scored specifically for cut-scenes nor for the menu music. I have yet to examine those figures. But the above calculations leave us at just undder an hour's worth of music for the playable portions of a 10-12 hour game.

Sound ok? Anyone else have any opinions?

Regards,

RedRaider:

PS: As Dr Mean rightly pointed out, one person's estimate is as good as another. I'm posting these queries anyway out of interest more than anything else. It's always nice to chat to others who are or have been in similar situations.

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That's a good breakdown you have there. It's certainly more thorough than what I consider when writing music (much more thorough). I should adopt your strategy to know where I stand in terms of development, because I sort of just hack away at it, hoping to realize when I'll be finished once I get there lol.

I don't really have anything to contribute to this, your method seems great, just thought I'd thank you for some inspiration.

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54 minutes in 12 hours? Its a good idea to use silence, but too much silence makes the game seem dull. Their are lots of seens in games where things are absolutely quiet as you walk. Unless its a really scary type theme too it, music helps alot in situations where nothing is happening. So music to fit no mood can be helpful as well.

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I think there may be an error in your estimate. Your moods (Silence, Suspense, Adrenalin and Combat) in the section where you turn it into math, you have assumed that they will be of equal value. Will the player really be held in suspense as long as silence? Or as long as they will be fighting?

It depends on what kind of game you're making, but some games the fighting is almost permanent, others it's just a few minutes. For instance - lets say that the player will be in suspense 3 times longer than fighting. So, your fighting cues will probably be shorter, and less of a problem in noticing loops, whereas your suspense music will probably be longer and/or more intricate in hiding its loop.

Sooo....what you'll need is a weighted adjustment, based on roughly what percentage of time the player will be doing those things.

I appreciate that you could argue that it all balances out in the end, but I would strongly recommend doing it. And include Silence in your estimations. That way, you can see what percentage of time the player will have no music.

Silence can work really well in a game, if the sound effects are great, especially if the player has to listen out for clues. Otherwise, you might be better off having some "Downtime" music, just something playing in the background to hide the fact that nothing exciting is happening. Hell, if you've got the coders for it, you could even use some nice soundfonts and create a code which randomly plays sounds over a long time.

Just my tuppence! Best wishes with the project.

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