This post originally appeared at http://tacticstudios.blogspot.ca/.
This is part 2 in a series of articles describing how I approached each aspect of creating Immortal Empire as an independent developer. You can read the whole backstory here.
One of my favourite things about gaming, in particular when playing RPGs, is enjoying the musical score. From Jeroen Tel, to Nobuo Uematsu, to Jeremy Soule, there are so many talented composers out there, and I just love listening to game music both in game and out.
So when I started working on Immortal Empire, I knew I wanted it to have a full orchestral score. Somewhat surprisingly, I don't have an orchestra in my basement, so all the tracks had to be created digitally. I wrote five of the twenty tracks in the game, the remainder came from a mix of outsourcing to Symphony of Specters (they worked on Castle Crashers, among other things), and a group of composers from the exceptionally talented Renoise community. The Renoise composers contributed their songs effectively for free (I hosted a small competition with a few prizes), and I was blown away with the quality, community spirit, and overall generosity of this group.
Now while I'm not a professional, I should point out that I do have a background in music, which does make things much easier for me in this area. I've had formal training in piano and classical guitar, and have been composing MOD music for years as an extremely remote, essentially non-existent member of the demoscene. So naturally I write music in the excellent, tracker-style program, Renoise.
This article will be discussing how I approached writing music for the game, which you can learn about more in the following video! (Image is just a link to youtube, not an embedded video)
Obviously there's no right or wrong way to create a song, and truthfully the method I use changes depending on the style I'm working on. But, this is the approach I took for this particular song, so maybe you will find it helpful. To summarize the video, the steps I took are:
I'd also like to briefly touch on another important element of finishing up your song which is audio mastering. The basic premise is just to take the music you have already written and make it sound better. Again I am no professional here, but I can give you a few rookie tips to make your song sound more put together.
So that's my process! Writing music is by no means easy and there are a lot of professionals out there who can produce simply amazing results. But when you're on a budget and can manage with something simple, hopefully the above tips will help you out.
If you want to listen to the soundtrack, you can hear it all for free or download a full quality digital copy for only $7 at http://tacticstudios.bandcamp.com. Since Immortal Empire is browser-based, the in-game music was significantly reduced in quality to keep the download size small. The soundtrack of course is mastered at full CD quality, and boy does it make a difference!
Whether you're a professional composer or an amateur, I'd love to hear any stories you might have with writing music, so feel free to comment below!