Music and its Impact on the Gaming Industry

Does a video game’s soundtrack go hand in hand in making a game succesful?

Yes.

Music can influence emotions in such a drastic way that it’s amazing really.

My first memory of a game with a memorable sound track would have to be the phenomenal Final Fantasy VII.

Even now, I find myself humming a song from the game unknowingly. But the soundtrack to that game, as well as the story telling and the dialog, made that game a success. The music of Final Fantasy VII has been turned into orchestral arrangements and symphonies play them around the world. The same can be said for the Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. The music of that game haunts me on occasion and brings back great memories of my brother and myself playing through it together. The sound track to that game also influenced it’s success too I believe.

But today, I think we are beginning to see a lack of the emphasis on the importance of the video game sound track. Games now are not really about the music while they are more about the intense realism of the graphics and game play. How many times can we hear a generic war theme in every Call of Duty installment?

This saddens me, because game music is just not what it used to be. There are still a handful of companies that still keep their music on a high standard, such as Blizzard, Bioware,  Bungii, and Rockstar when we talk about original scores. But Nintendo tends to just re-use the same scores over and over again and just remix them. I don’t think I have heard an original Mario song since back in the day with Super Mario World. How many times can you just re-use the typical ba-du-ba-da-ba-ba– ba?

Right now as I write this, I’m listening to the Minecraft sound track by C418. Absolutely phenomenal stuff. It’s all synth based mixed with piano, but it suits the game so incredibly well. It makes me want to go build.The sound track is so simple, but like Final Fantasy VII and Ocarina of Time, it encompasses the essence of the game that makes it so addicting and wonderful.

Music has a surprisingly large impact on video games, and I hope that video game companies now recognize this when creating their games. The music potential now is so much greater than it used to be just fifteen years ago. We don’t use anymore 8-bit, 16-bit, or 32-bit music anymore. Now, the music is symphonic based. Epic. Large. Impactful.

But is this better than what can be found on the Super Nintendo or Playstation? Are we losing the tight and simple theme music that we once had because of this?

It’s an interesting thing to think about.

Dooo be doobie doooo

My Epic Book Disorder.

I love high fantasy.

I love a good ‘ol knight and magic story.

Always have and always will.

But, I have a tendency that, to when I get into book one of a big series, I HAVE to finish the first book, no matter how good it is.

Even if it’s not good, I always tell myself “Keep reading, there’s twelve more books! It has to get good at some point!”

Many times this is true, but sometimes it’s not.

I love the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Granted, I have book ADD so I’ve not completed the series yet.I tend to read one book of a series, then read another book of another series. If I don’t do this, I burn myself out and will never finish a series. I remember the third book of the Wheel of Time took me like a half a year to finish because I was burnt out on the characters and setting. But anyways.

Thirteen books are in the series so far, and the final book comes out at the end of this year.

The Wheel of Time series has gone on so long, that the original author, Robert Jordan, actually passed away while writing it.

Crazy stuff.

So, Jordan’s son chose a author to complete the series: Brandon Sanderson.

I’ve heard good things about Sanderson from one of my co-workers, so I was pretty excited when I heard this.

He releases part one of this three part conclusion, but then he also releases part one of his ten book epic.

Way of Kings.

What set me back here is that a typical Wheel of Time book is around anywhere form 600-800 pages.

Way of Kings is 1000 pages.

1000.

That’s a brick. A door stopper. HUGE.

He’s finishing one epic, and beginning his own epic.

Wow.

The Wheel turns as it wills.

So I bought the hardback edition of Way of Kings excited. I was intimidated by the size, but something told me that this book was going to be a grand experience.

The reviews I read were good. The beginning of each chapter had pretty pictures. There were beautiful drawings depicting things that Sanderson described throughout the book.

So I loved it right?

A Highstorm is brewing...

Yes and no.

This was one of those books where 500-600 pages could have been shaved off, and I would have loved the book ten times more.

Sanderson had to build a universe from scratch. So he had his work cut out for him, and that’s where a lot of the filler comes in from.

He has to build the environment, the culture, and the religion.

He did a fantastic job.

But, there’s just so much I can take of reading about people waking up, feeling bad for themselves, and complaining about it. There’s quite a bit of that, no matter if there are a slave, or a noble.

The world is plagued by Highstorms.

Highstorms, in our world are basically just super cell thunderstorms. They cover the world, and are devastating.

The Highstorms generate Stormlight, which is used in the gems they used for currency to make them more valuable (i.e. when the gems glow).

The Stormlight is also used for dangerous weapons known as Shardblade, and fantastic armor known as Shardplate.

The Shardblades are essentially summon-able light sabers. Shardplate is kind of like putting on a robotic exo-suit that gives the user incredible strength and agility.

Only a handful of people have these two things. And if you do, you are the elite of the civilization, and most likely a leader in the military.

There are also people that have been Stormblessed.They can “lash”, which means they can control gravity around them.

Think of the book as a mix of Star Wars, The Matrix, and any high fantasy environment.

In the end though, if you’re looking for a long book with heavy dialog with a few good action scenes, this is the book for you. It is very dialog heavy… Very.

But, still a good book. I enjoyed it, even though I just wanted to get to the end. So give it a look, but don’t let the size discourage you.

Currently, after hearing many rave comments from friends of mine, I’m reading Game of Thrones. Hopefully I can get through it before the television show starts, but we’ll see.

Epic books, ❤

I know, I’m late. But save some cake!

Last night I beat Portal.

What a little magnificent gaming gem.

I’ve heard it was good, and I’ve seen all kinds of things about it online, but I just never got to playing through it.

I did it last night in one sitting. The game is a pretty short game, I believe I clocked in completion at right around two and half hours or so. But it was a fantastic experience.

For those who have not played it, you are a “test subject” in the labs of Aperture Science. You are set through a course of nineteen tests in order to test your skills in puzzle solving when dealing with portals.

Your “guide”, GlaDOS, talks to you as you progress, and drops a few subtle hints about having a “party” once you complete the tests.

This is where, as many of you I’m sure have heard already, “The Cake is a Lie” comes from.

I’m not going to say anymore because if you haven’t played it already (like me as of last night), you should.

Also, when I first heard of Portal two years ago, I did some research and found that the company that created Portal (which were bought by Valve) created a game prior to Portal that compasses the same idea.

Barnacular Drop.

You still have a portal gun, except think of a more fantasy setting. You are a little girl (possible a princess, I forget) that is captured and put in a castle. You must escape, and that’s where the portal gun comes into play. Almost exactly like Portal.

But, if you’d like to play through it, it’s free.

https://www.digipen.edu/?id=1170&proj=501

Play Portal. Savor it and enjoy it.

Get ready for Portal 2 which comes out next month.

Grab a buddy, because there is coop in it! (last video)

The Art Medium of Minecraft

The independent phenomenon Minecraft has exploded amongst gamers world wide. Gamers have recreated many iconic geek structures such as the Enterprise and the Death Star.

But what makes this game fun?

Your character awakes on an island. Alone. Giant spiders and green menaces named Creepers roam the world in the day time which put your life in constant danger. You roam around, find an area, and decide to build a shelter. Halfway through the shelter, the sun begins to go down. Zombies and skeletons begin to arise and appear in the darkness. You dig a hole, and hide until day break. Once the sun comes up, the zombies and skeletons have disappeared. Feeling safe, you continue building your shelter until completion. You’re hungry, and wild pigs can be seen nearby. You go hunting to get some pork to survive. Heading back to your shelter, you see a Creeper. It sees you and chases you as you run into your door. A hissing sound can be heard, and then a loud explosion. Your shelter is halfway gone. The creeper destroyed self destructed. You decide you need better materials to keep your shelter from being destroyed. You make a makeshift pick-axe from some sticks and wood you find outside. You begin mining into a nearby hill, and begin collecting cobblestone. You go back to your shelter to begin setting up the cobblestone, when a Creeper catches your eye…

Does this sound fun? No.

Is it fun? Yes.

Minecraft is one of those games that you can sit down and play from the afternoon until the break of dawn. it’s oddly addicting. Similar to the addicting manner of Animal Crossing. You’re doing nothing but working. Hard manual labor. But something about Minecraft leaves a very accomplished sensation once you build your first outstanding man-castle, mansion, tower, or underwater city. Some people go as far as to building recreations of real cities or towns.

Now, they’ve added music blocks into the game. So while people have built amazing constructions, people are now composing music.

Basically the creative possibilities of Minecraft are becoming near endless.

Absolutely amazing stuff.  And just to think that Minecraft is ONLY in beta currently. It’s not even in it’s final retail version and it’s already this popular.

If you haven’t tried to play, you can always go to http://www.minecraft.com and play it for free via creation mode. It doesn’t include the survival modes live I’ve spoken of, but it’s fun just to see what you can create.

The Electro-Social Bind

Thirteen million people play World of Warcraft. Millions play the games of the Call of Duty franchise. Who plays single player games anymore?

What happened to the days where one would get excited to just buy a new game just to enjoy it? Why are those types of games disappearing?

People are addicted to the social aspects that the modern online games provide.

What’s interesting about this, is that back during the original playstation’s prime, RPG’s and other singleplayer game’s worlds seemed alive enough to not feel like you are playing inside of an empty digital world. Final Fantasy 7 provided a phenomenal single player music score that no game has held a candle to in the last fifteen years. There were many NPC characters that gave the illusion that the cities and environments were alive.

Best game ever? Or, best game ever?

Modern day games can’t seem to recapture that kind of living world.

For instance, I’m playing Dragon Age: Origins currently. Great game. But, the world feels empty. Yes, there are people in cities, but everything feels very bare. Why would there only be twelve people in a capital cities trade district? It just doesn’t quite capture that illusion that Final Fantasy 7 presented with it’s alive environments (while in actuality, it’s probably more bare that Dragon Age’s).

Single player games just aren’t what they used to be. Multiplayer games are here to stay.

In single player games, the player doesn’t get the type of “social” outlet that he/she might get in a multiplayer game. And now, most single player games are throwing in some kind of mutliplayer aspect (i.e. DeadSpace 2) to prevent the lack of this addictive aspect of games. It is always good to have someone to talk to. Hell, it’s always good just to see OTHERS talk in chat while you do things in the game. I know in some ways it’s not, but just to have an option to talk to others in the same game community that you are in, it’s nice. Dragon Age is an offline, single player epic. No communication with anyone. Well, Cloud based game clients, such as steam, is here to save the day. In Steam, you can easily access the community of a said game in order to find help, or just someone to talk to.

Why is this such a good thing? Why do gamers need this outlet? One could say that it’s due to gamers being “nerds”, and not getting out as much as the average person. Well, I have a simple answer.

Gamers are spoiled.

World of Warcraft would not be a fun game on it’s own. If there were no other players in that online world, WoW would fail. By having other players join you on your quest to find : Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker, it creates a social aspect that is extremely addicting. I can vouch for this personally because if you do not have a circle of friends in WoW, it is not a fun game to be in. In fact, is extremely boring, and you find yourself wondering “why am I wasting my time with this game?”

But, when WoW brings friends to you, it becomes addictive as a drug. A person then gets every need that he/she might need entertainment wise. They get decent story telling, a social outlet, and a world that persists even when you are not playing. It makes it so people sit there and play the game for hours at a time, and become more likely to continue paying Blizzard’s $15 a month fee in order to continue their addiction.

WoW has spoiled me in this. Dragon Age is one of the first RPG’s that I have actually been able to sit down and play and not find myself bored because there are no other players in the world. Console games are a little different for me compared to PC games (which I prefer). Console games can keep my attention longer when it comes to single player games. Yes, X-Box live is an option for me to talk to people, but I believe it keeps my attention due to the lack of potential distractions that a computer has (alt tab, go to facebook, alt tab back in).

With this being said, I’m seeing more and more single player games tacking on some sort of multiplayer experience in order to continue it’s sales and to keep people playing. But, in some cases, games do not need this. Why in the world does Bioshock need multiplayer mode? It doesn’t.

The age of the single player only game is disappearing. Soon, we’ll be able to play any game with others.

Yet again, Blizzard has changed the gaming community for better or worse. WoW has changed the state of the video game. Whether we like it or not.

Also, sorry for the lack of posts last week. It was Spring Break, so I decided to… Break.

The Art of Trolling

Trolling.

It’s everywhere.

Especially when dealing with the internet.

I play a game with several friends called League of Legends, which is essentially a DoTA clone (a Warcraft III mod). LoL (League of Legends) has one of the worst online communities of any video game. It is not new player friendly, and it is not a forgiving game whatsoever. With this being said, one of the key aspects to LoL is trolling. The goal of the trolling is to cause the opposite team to argue amongst themselves which in theory results them in playing worse. So, let me give you a quick example of some classic LoL trolling.

l337kid11: Yo guys

Prodigyd00d: stfu scrub

l337kid11: Wtf bro? Come at me.

Prodigydood: lol, u mad bro? sound mad.

l337kid11: I’m not mad.

Prodigydood: Sound mad.

l337kid11: I’M NOT MAD.

Prodigyd00d: Cool story bro

l337kid11 has been officially trolled. He is mad, and he will play with determination to kill Prodigyd00d, which will wind up getting him killed.

I'm just going to face check this bush...

Trolling has taken a major role in gaming. It still exists in PC games, but it’s more commonly found on X-Box Live more than anything.

Trolling has been around for many years, and not only in digital media. What is trash talk during sports? Trolling.

What is tricking a friend? Trolling.

What is evading arrest? Trollling.

Trolling can be hard to spot sometimes.

You know, by like reading this specific post on trolling, I could be trolling you.

Or you could be trolling me by reading this blog just to post hateful comments.

You can never be sure.

But there is one video that exists, that no matter what the situation might be;

You are being trolled.

I mean, just look at that dance.

NEVA GANNA GIVE NEVA GANNA GIVE.

Oh, and this.