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Final Thoughts

Looking at the various areas and contexts that exist in video game music has given me a great understanding of them as a medium of entertainment and art (all though if video games can be considered art is a debate for another time) and the role music has in it.

One of the things I picked up upon while doing my CEP is that there isn’t a lot in the way of academic research/discussion or books written on video games and their relationship with music (which couldn’t be said for film scoring, for example). This is in part due to video games themselves being a relatively new medium and composing for them even more so.

I feel that my enquiry into video game music, as well as composing music for my own small game, has given me a greater understanding of what video games mean to me as a context for my practice as a composer and digital artist. It is my wish to compose  for more games in the future, whether they be my own or another game developers. I feel that my CEP has given me an advantageous understanding of video games as a context that a composer unfamiliar to the medium wouldn’t have.

Creating the simple video game for my CEP has made me interested in pursuing this aspect of my Digital Arts Practices further. Even though my game is fairly simple in nature, I have learnt a lot by making and scoring it.

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Video Game Music Outside of its Original Context: Remixes and Fan Arangements

This is an area that is significantly different from the other ‘out of context’ situations I have looked at. With the Original Sountrack releases and Live Performances the music has not changed in any significant way from as it appeared inside the context of the original video game.

With video game music remixes and arrangements the original music is modified, reinterpreted and rearranged in a significant way. Having musicians and composers putting their own original take on video game music is, I think, significant, especially for video game music as a ‘genre’ or practice in its own right.

Another reason why these remixes and arrangements are significant is because, unlike films or music that can remain popular decades after their original release, video games are constantly moving forward technologically. This makes it hard for games that came out in the 1980s, for example, to remain current or to have any contextual value today. This is also true for the music from these games. And it is for earlier and forgotten games that I think remixes have the most value and significance to, because it helps make the game’s original music relevant today and introduces it to a new audience who may never of been introduced to it otherwise.

To back up this claim, it is the older games that are getting remixed and reinterpreted the most. The principle video game music remixing and fan site – OverClocked Remixlists figures for the most remixed games with the year they were released. Here is the top ten (current from 10/01/11):

Chrono Trigger, 1995 – has 95 remixes and arrangements of it’s music.

Final Fantasy VII, 1997 – has 87 remixes

Final Fantasy VI, 1994 – has 74 remixes

Mega Man 2, 1988 – has 47 remixes

Final Fantasy IV, 1991 – has 38 remixes

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, 1991 – has 36 remixes

Xenogears, 1998 – has 36 remixes

Donkey Kong Country 2, 1995 – has 34 remixes

Secret of Mana, 1993 – has 28 remixes

Sonic the Hedgehog 3, 1994 – has 28 remixes

Looking at these figures, it is clear that the most popular games to have their music remixed and reinterpreted are those for the early to mid 1990’s. All of them are over a decade old and most a bit more also. I think these figures show that people are passionate about music from older games and want to promote and keep alive their music, which backs up why I think this kind of remixing is important for video game music as a whole.

But as well as this value, they also have value as pieces of music in their own right. Contextually, video game remixes have to fit two main contexts. They have to contain a significant amount of the original piece’s elements, be it melodies, chord progressions, structure etc. While remaining true to the original piece of music, it must also take it to a new context. An example of this would be where a simple chiptune piece from an 1980s arcade game has been rearranged into a  jazz piece. This piece would have to relate to the original piece of music, as well as fitting the new genre it was placing upon it, in this case jazz.

Here is an audio example of what I mean by this:

Here is the ‘Terra Theme’ from Final Fantasy 6 (The original)

Now here is an arrangement of that piece of music from professional video game composer Jeremy Soule:

Here the original piece of music, completely made in midi, has been turned into an imaginative orchestral piece. The original piece is quite basic with the main melody being supported by a basic bass line, some strings and brass and a drum beat.

The remixed version has been sequenced with orchestral samples and maybe even some live playing (it’s hard to tell, because the arranger didn’t say what they had used to make the arrangement). The arrangement is quite lavish and almost romantic in style.

I think in this instance the arrangement of the piece has brought the original piece of music into a more rel

Importantly, the practice of remixing video game music is a good way for composers and musicians to get involved and noticed by the video game community if that haven’t had the opportunity to score music for an actual game. And in some cases, people have gotten work by the strength of their video game remixes. It is my view that this should be an essential part of someones practice if they wanted to get their name out there in the video game music world.

In my interview with Andrew Aversa he confirmed that his love of remixing video game music led him to peruse a career which eventually led him to writing music for video games as a career:

“My love for creating ReMixes led to a love for creating music of all kinds, which in turn led me to focus on music as a career. Nowadays, I still make ReMixes primarily for the fun of it, though it’s also something that helps my career; many fans of my original works heard about me first through OC ReMix.”

Making the music for my game

As I have already mentioned, I wanted to stay true to the context of the retro look and feel of my game by taking the same approach with the in-game music. Even though I have been immersed in chiptune music since a young age, I still wanted to do some research before I wrote the fist note of music for my game.

There are two ways of approaching chiptune music. The first way is to adhere to the original context of chiptune music fully. This would mean using the original hardware to create the music, by hacking and modifying the original game’s consoles so you can use and manipulate their original sound chips to create the music. Also, this would mean adhering to the original limitations of that games console and sound chip.

So, for example, if you were going to use the original Nintendo Game Boy, as the context and source to create a chiptune piece, you would be limited to 4 audio channels and 3 note polyphony, for example.

The other approach to writing chiptunes is to adhere to the ‘sound’ and stylistic approach of the genre, but by using modern software and emulations of the original sound chips instead. This provides many benefits over the previous method in that you are not limited by the original soundchips and can use as many audio channels as you like, as well as the added benefit of using more modern production methods that would be impossible by using original hardware.

I chose to make my music using the second method, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I already had the necessary tools and equipment to make and produce music this way, owning a number of plugins that emulate the sound of various sound chips from old games consoles. And, as I have already mentioned, doing it this way would give me slightly more freedom musically, giving me more audio tracks to work with and allowing me to be more liberal with modern production techniques.

So, getting started on the process, I knew I wanted to adhere to the conventions and context of chiptune music by it being melody lead. I also wanted to evoke the beginning of a journey, as it was the first (and only) level of my game. I also wanted the music to be bright and catchy, and almost ‘cheesy’. This was so that it would effectively match the  bright and colourful array of characters in my game. Basically a game where the main character is a pink haired girl and the enemies are plants and other monsters, sets the tone aware from ‘seriousness’ and more comic-like and humorous.

Originally, I wanted the music to coincide with some in-game events. For example, when a new enemy appeared I wanted the music to change in some way or have a new element join in. I soon found that this was going to be hugely impractical. Firstly, the music needed to loop. This meant that once the track had looped everything would be out of sync again. So practically, this would of been an impossibility, but would of been doable if my game had a definite end, which it does not. So, in this instance I was limited with what I wanted to do musically by the context of the game I made.

Sound Effects (SFX)

As well as making the music for my game, the original intention was for me to also make the in-game SFX as well. But an unforeseen difficulty has made this problematic. After I had made the first sound effect, the sound of Pink Hair Girl shooting the ‘bullet, I implemented it into the game and tested it. The music was playing like it should of, but when I pressed the space bar to fire the ‘bullet’ the sound effect that I had made for it sounded but at the same time stopped the in-game music from playing.

Obviously this was a big problem. I tried to work out what was causing this problem. I double checked that the sound effect that I had created was in the correct place in the game engine. Which it was. I tried converting the sound effect’s audio file into different formats, to see if that would make any difference. Unfortunately it did not. I was still having the same problem. I looked to see if I could find a fix on internet forums and the like, but I could find no answer to my problem.

In the end, I felt that the music was contributing a lot more to the game in terms of enjoyment, immersion and atmosphere than any amount of sound effects could provide, so I decided to keep the music I had written for the game.

I would like to talk a bit about what I would of done with the SFX, if it had all worked correctly and Game Maker’s audio engine was a bit more robust/advanced.

Firstly, the things that would of had sound effects applied to them would of been:

-When Pink Hair Girl fires a bullet
-When each of the different enemies is destroyed by a bullet (matching the explosion animation),
-When each of the enemies collides into Pink Hair Girl (and again there is an explosion).
-And a separate ‘shooting’ sound effect for the two enemies that shoot bullets, to differentiate Pink Hair Girls ‘bullet’ sound.

Here is the one shot sample that I made of the SFX for what would of been Pink Hair Girl’s ‘bullet fire’ sound effect (This SFX was made with Magical 8bit, a plugin I talk a bit about when I come to make the music):

Which is okay by itself. But as it would sound every time the player pressed the space bar to ‘shoot’ they would hear this sound over and over again. To add an element of randomness, if the implementation of the SFX had not been problematic and the Game Maker audio engine was more robust I would of created a number of these sounds and made them slightly different by altering their pitch and e.q settings slightly. Then when these were all made It could of been set that a radom one of the shot sounds would play every time the player shot. Even if I had had no problem with implementing the SFX into the game Game Maker does not have functions that would of allowed this ‘randomness’. But it is certainly possible to do, and is something I found professional sound designers do a lot to make a single sound more interesting in the course of hearing it hundreds if not thousands of times in the course of playing a game.

Producing and composing the music

I primarily used two software synthesizers as the main pallet for my sounds for my composition. ReFx QuadraSID, which emulates the Sid chip and the Magical 8bit, a plugin that emulates the soundchip of the original Nintendo and Gameboy.

QuadraSID’s interface:

I also used a modern sound kick drum and modern production methods, like compression, e.qing and mastering on the track. I thought that this would give my track a modern edge, while still remain faithful to chiptune music.

The piece was built around a verse/chorus structure like most of early chiptune music. I wanted the verse sections to convey a sense of journey through space, and the chorus sections to be light and reflect the battle between Pink Hair Girl and the Plants and other monsters.

I added a short synth solo near the end to break up the structure somewhat, before leading back and re-looping.

All though I have posted the track by itself for reference, I would like it to be judged on it’s relationship and merits within my game and not as a piece of music on it’s own. Consequently I have made no effort to promote it in anyway as I feel it needs to be heard in the context of the game to see why I made the composition and stylistic choices that I did.

Here is the finished track:

Evaluation between the relationship between my Game and Music

I think the marriage between my game and music succeeded somewhat, if not completely. I think the main area where I was not completely successful was in the authenticity of the sound of my piece. While it is no doubt a chiptune piece of music, my inclusion of modern sounding drums and production techniques made the final track a bit too clean and lacking in the grit and unrefined nature so characteristic of original chiptunes.

Stylistically and compositionally I think I was more successful. Because my game is tongue-in-cheek in nature and the content (a pink hair girl fighting plants) is slightly comically, I wanted the music in part to reflect this, which I think the chorus sections do a good job of doing. I have no doubt that some people might view the sections as being ‘cheesy’ but that is what I was aiming for to get a good match with my colorful, over the top visuals.

I think the length of my track was suitable for a looping piece. Of course there might be an element of it getting ‘annoying’ after a while, but that was a common feature of chiptunes. And while my game can potentially go on indefinitely (the actual length will be determined in how long the player can stay alive) it is not a game I would expect people to play for any great length of time, so I don’t view that as a potential problem in  this instance.

Types of Game Music Part 6 – In-game Music (or gameplay music)

Finally we have come to perhaps most important music in video games – the music that will accompanies the actual game play. This will be the most significant amount of music written for the game in terms of length, as well as what will take most of a composers and developers attention. All of the other things I have looked at, such as the Main Theme, Menu music etc are all important, but the in-game music takes priority to nearly everything else.

It’s also important to note, before I go on, that the things I’ve looked at can overlap. For example, a player could be playing a game and be hearing the in-game music. An event could happen while they are playing that triggers a cinematic or cut-scene, and the music will be scored for that appropriately. After the cinematic is finished the player will be ‘back in the game’ with the in-game music playing again. Then they might pause the game to bring up a menu, in which case the menu music might start playing etc. All of these different sections within the game are ‘mini contexts’ which the music must address appropriately.

Where I have discussed locations as context also counts as gameplay music, as it will be playing while the player is actively engaged in the game in a specific location.

As you can see, all these different elements of video games are not isolated to their respective parts of the game, but intertwine and make up the larger picture of scoring music for a video game. Thus, it makes it even clearer that a game’s soundtrack must be a coherent piece of work as the various parts of the game are intertwined and the music must be able to support this.

In-game music can serve a variety of purposes, which will largely be determined by what kind of game it is, which will determine the overall context for the music. The majority of video games can be categorized by their genre. Some of which are: Role Playing games, First Person Shooters, Survival Horror, Arcade, Real Time Strategy, Action-Adventure, Platform and Simulation.  (There are of course many more types)

These genres will largely determine what main purpose the in-game music will have on a game. Survival Horrors (Such as Resident Evil and Dead Space) rely a lot on atmosphere, creating tension, making the player feel isolated and scared, with the odds stacked against them. So the in-game music will enhance and support this and will take a large role in creating the atmosphere and tension etc. And for a survival horror, it will usually borrow ideas and conventions from horror film scoring, in the use of strings, discordant harmonies etc.

Real Time Strategy games are fast paced strategic games where the player often has to concentrate a lot and plan ahead and react to sudden changes, manage resources and control a multitude of things at once (in real-time). Some examples of RTS games are: Age of Empires and Starcraft 2.

Because of this the music for RTS games will often be subdued, atmospheric and not overtly distracting. This allows the player to concentrate, while still being immersed in the mood and atmosphere of the game, which the music will help provide, but subtlety rather than overtly.

First Person Shooters are highly immersive, action packed, fraught with danger with lots of gun fights etc. The music will typically help create excitement, suspense and a sense of danger.

While the genre of the game will determine the main function of the in-game music, other factors will have a bearing on it as well. I have already looked at locations and how they can provide a context for the game’s setting and in-game music.

Types of Game Music Part 5 – Credits/Ending Sequence

The credits for a video game serve the same purpose that they do for a film or any other form of media: it lists everyone who worked and contributed to the making of the project. But slightly differently from some films, the credits on video games can frequently be viewed at any time from the game’s main menu. So this means that the player doesn’t necessarily have to complete the game to see the credit sequence (all though in some games they do).

I think this is quite significant because, often the credit sequence of video games have good production values and things to keep and hold attention, like moving images, artwork and, of course, music.

Aaron Marks (The Complete Guide to Game Audio) gives a good insight into credit sequence music, which shows how it is viewed by the game developers and players, but also why a composer might want to take a bigger interest in scoring them:

“This particular music is sometimes called ‘throwaway’ music. A player will only hear it once or twice in the course of playing the game and is normally considered unimportant to the rest of the project. But you, as the composer, could also look at it in a different light. For pure vanity’s sake, or as brilliant marketing, a composer could create their best music cue to attract prospective clients (who also play these games) or to gain some extra name recognition.”
It was quite important for me to hear that, because originally I hadn’t paid video game credits (and their music) with much attention. I thought that it would only be heard once, so the music wasn’t that important compared to the rest of the game’s soundtrack.

But now, looking at it in a new light, the credits music is probably where the composer has the most creative freedom of the entire game project. Credit sequences for any medium to large games are pretty long, so the composer has a lot of creative space to work with, unlike menu music, which maybe be only a minute or less in length. The composer isn’t tied to a cinematic, so they don’t have to score to a narrative and bar the fact that it has to keep in with the rest of the game’s soundtrack, there are very little (compared to the rest of the game’s music) contextual constraints when it comes to writing music for a credit sequence.

Time for examples, so we can hear this music in context.

-Here are the credits from Street Fighter 4

Interestingly, the piece is actually called ‘Staff Roll’. The musical approach here can be considered fairly common in some credit sequences because themes and motifs from the rest of the game’s soundtrack have been used quite prominently, along with new, original elements. I think this a really effective way to score a credit sequence because it neatly condenses the entire game’s worth of music, reminding the player of the ‘journey’ and time they have spent with that particular game.

-The Credits for Halo 3

The composers have taken a similar approach to the composer of Street Fighter 4, in that the scoring for the credits features themes and elements from the entire soundtrack. I think this approach is popular because some game’s take a long time and a considerable amount of investment from the player to complete. Finishing the game, and reaching the credit sequence is a reward in itself and a musical approach that reminds the player of the long journey they have been on with the game can reinforce the sense of achievement they have.

Now for an example that takes a different approach to the cinematic sequence.

-The Credits from Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Here the composer has had a lot of freedom to create a beautiful piece of original music. At around 1:56 the ‘Zelda theme’ does come in, and is used as a triumphant acknowledgment that the player has completed the game. The rest of the piece is made up of original elements. I think this is also an affective way to score credits: by completing the game the player has been rewarded by hearing a new piece of music to mark the occasion.

In my personal experience with video game credits sequences, one of the main things that kept me watching them was the music that accompanies them. Hearing a wonderful new piece of music, or a piece sprinkled with themes from throughout the game really  helped in holding my attention on the credits, and the fact that some credits sequences are also accompanied by art etc also helped.

Locations as Context

Video Games are a digital medium that centers around the creation and interaction of digital environments.  I believe the ‘locations’ and environments inside video games are as much a defining part of context as real-world locations can be.

For example, a desert inside a video game can provide the same contextual issues as a real world desert would, in terms of it being a location and context to write music for.

I think we can (and video games composers do) treat in-game locations as much as a context as real world locations, be it a city, castle, rain forest, airport, cathedral or sports stadium – all of which give and imply an added context for any music that would be written for such locales.

Music for video game locations is rife with cliché. Deserts tend to have some quasi-Arabic/Egyptian/African music with ethnic instruments, depending on the actual location of the desert, or even if it’s a generic, unspecified desert. Popular instrumentation for churches and cathedrals are organs and choirs. Locations set in the Wild West will no doubt feature guitars, harmonicas and whistling. These clichés are not unique to video game music and play in part to what most people would expect to hear if they saw a certain location. (I think most of these stylistic cliches have been brought over from film and television scoring)

Importantly, I don’t view the term cliché to have a negative connotation in this sense. By making use of these expectations and clichés composers can more fully enhance and adhere to the context of the location more fully. To go against this could confuse the player and be unauthentic. For example, scoring for the Wild West electronically with synthesizers would not be authentic to that location (synthesizers hadn’t been invented at the time of the Wild West) and would be detrimental to the game-play experience, and players would spot straight away that this wouldn’t feel ‘right’.

Because of these elements of cliché, there are definitely trends when it comes to music for locations in video games. Some of which I’ll look at. The first location I want to look at, where elements of cliché or a certain trend is used, are towns/villages in RPGs (Role Playing Games). Typically these kind of games are set in a medievalstyle world with fantasy elements, like monsters and magic.

Here is ‘Crysta’ from Terranigma (which is rendered in midi)

‘Home’ from Chrono Cross

These pieces are from two different games, from different generations of game’s consoles (One from the Super Nintendo, the other the Playstation). But because of their context – being used in a town/village situation in Role Playing Games, they share many similarities.

Both of the pieces contain acoustic guitar, which takes more of a background role in ‘Crysta’ and is more prominently featured in ‘Home’. Both pieces also contain flutes in lead roles. And beyond their use of instrumentation, both pieces are stylistically similar. They’re both easy-listening, pleasant pieces that function while the player walks around the village. The calmness of the pieces highlights that these towns are safe places and the player will be under no threat or danger while in them.

I think this is a good example that shows how some locations in video games have an inherent, or commonly used style of music to portray them.

But often, video games use and consist of fictional locations that the player has no association or point of reference with. I found that, in this case, music was instrumental in giving these locations an added identity, as well as helping the player be immersed inside these ‘fictional’ locations.

This became most apparent when I was looking at the game Bioshock. The game is set in a fictional underwater city called Rapture. Now, because there are no real-world ‘citys under water’, the players and the composer have no frame of reference to draw from.

This gives the composer a lot of freedom compositionally because there are not restricted by instrumentation, genre or style or preconceived notions on what a underwater city should ‘sound like’.

As a composer myself, I find the prospect of scoring for locations that don’t exist in real life to be a much more appealing proposition than scoring for real-world locations. The prospect of bringing new locations to life and making them more real for the player is a different challenge than scoring for a location that might have preconceived stylistic limitations.

In conclusion, video games contain a mixture of real world and fictional locations. These locations no doubt play a large part in setting the overall context of the game and the music used to portray these locations is very important. I don’t think it matters so much the nature of the location as long as the composer adheres to the spirit and authenticity of it, which will largely be determined and governed by the game developer when it comes to scoring for fictional locations, as it was they who invented the location in the first place and it is up to the composer to help them realise it with music.

Bioshock

As I stated in an earlier post, I wanted to see how much of a game’s soundtrack could tell us about the game before we actually played it. The game in question was Bioshock.

After playing Bioshock, I can firmly say that the answer to this questions is a resounding: a great deal.

I’d like to take you through some examples in the game to see where and how music is used in them to see if they matched up with my earlier expectations of the how I thought the music would be used in-game.

The first thing we see and hear, after starting up the game (after the company logos) is the main menu, which is accompanied by the main theme music. This serves to set the tone of the game. When I clicked on play for the first time I was greeted by a loading screen, which was accompanied by some (licensed) music from the 1950s with a visual of an old radio player. This immediately set the context of the era the game was set in. Using actual music from the era was a great way to do this as it didn’t need to be explained to the player beforehand. (All though, after this, at the begging of the cinematic, it states that the date is 1958)

After the loading screen had finished, I was in the game proper, which began with a cinematic (short film sequence), which we witness as if we were looking through the eyes of the player character (which is known as the ‘first person view’):

The opening cinematic:

As I had already surmised from my post on the Bioshock soundtrack, I thought the game would have some kind of ‘horror’ vibe to it. This cinematic, the first introduction to the game we have, confirms this. The whole film is quite macabre, with a small girl removing something from a corpse and preceding to drink it. A violent fight, with the main character using a drill to kill people culminating in the apparent shooting in the head of the main character. These all speak of a grim and dark content of the game, which I predicted from hearing the soundtrack.

The scoring for this is, as I thought of the soundtrack before I had played the game, very cinematic. The film opens with soft strings and then a solo violin as the girl leads us through the corridors. It is all very calm and serene up until when the girl screams for help, where the music dramatically changes with discordant harmonies highlighting that something is wrong. When the main character jumps down to fight the men, the brass enters for the first time and the music underscores the battle appropriately.  Then when the battle is over, we have silence until the woman says: ‘take the pistol’ in which discordant strings enter again, building up until the character apparently shoots himself.
That the scoring was very cinematic and narrative based was another point I picked up from the score alone, and this opening scene confirms that fact.

After the cinematic, it is ten years later and when we wake up, we can move around. Now we are actually playing the game as opposed to watching a cinematic sequence. The first thing that struck me when I had control of the character, as well as the striking visuals, was the incredible sound design. There was absolutely no music, but there didn’t need to be. There was the sound of creaking pipes, dripping and running water, lights flickering on and off and the sound of a girl talking from some way off.

Having this atmospheric introduction to the game was more effective, in my opinion, in creating an unsettling atmosphere than using music. Again, this is another thing that I had guessed correctly about the game, from the shortness of the soundtrack. And as I played through it more and more it became apparent that sound design had a big role in this game, perhaps as important as the sparse sections of music.

And the music was sparse, which I knew it would be, judging from some of the running times of the tracks on the soundtrack. But it didn’t matter that it was spares, because when it did come in it had a dramatic effect because there were long periods without music and when it did start to come in, like the gentle swelling of strings, you knew something was about to happen. Which is something the music did in this game, it helped give the player forewarning of situations a head.

As well as forewarning, the music also happened at important events in the game, like entering new areas of the game world; there was a section were the player is forced to swim underwater through the ruined city, which was accompanied by the game’s main theme music. Music also came in for ‘boss’ battles, challenging battles with other characters.

As effective and striking as the use of music was throughout this game was, I think this game in particular, opened my awareness to the importance of sound design to a video game. Sound design on Bioshock definitely played a more prominent role than it does in other games. Here the context of the game was a horror game, set in an under water city in the 19050s and 60s. While the music could convey almost all of that, the sound design really helped bring to life the context of being in an under water city, with all the dripping water, flashing lights, malfunctioning radios etc. It also helped in conveying that the character was wearing a massive old diving suit, from the stomping of his metal boots to the way the water sounded if you stood under a dripping pipe. All of this sound design and more helped in bringing this game’s particular context to life as much as the music did.

Here’s what audio designer Emily Ridgway had to say on the inspiration for the ambient sound design in Bioshock:

“System Shock 2  was a strong inspiration with its use of dissonance and tones in the ambient bed. It’s relentless psychological effect on players was a huge contributor to the cult success of SS2, and that’s definitely something we wanted to replicate in BioShock.”

Michael Kamper, audio lead, had this to say:

“I really wanted the ambiance to sell the fact that Rapture was constantly falling apart around the player. We put a lot of creaking and groaning throughout the backgrounds.”

In evaluation, I think that a game’s score can indeed tell us a lot about the game it was scored for. I think this is important in gauging just how much a game’s music brings to the game in terms of creating atmosphere and tension, as well as the part it plays in foreshadowing important things and, in-turn, giving the player chance to prepare for them.

In the case of Bioshock, sound design played an important, if not more important role, as music did. Granted, all games have sound design and sound effects, but in this particular case it played a much more prominent role in the game experience and creating the sense that this underwater city really was slowly falling into ruin.

In this particular case the music and sound design worked together in bringing to life a fictional underwater city. Bioshock was also a really good example in showing that not all video games need music playing all the time (which a lot of games rely on) and sometimes it can be more effective in having periods of silence balanced by subtle use of music to create, in this case, a sense of tension in the player.