Game Design From Outer Space

Lorenzo write the story of how we have created a soundtrack with a hint of procedurality for Zwan.

Zwan Soundtrack

Zwan: How We Have Created a Procedural Soundtrack

Did you know I play the bass? Well I do! I play in a band called Palconudo (you can listen something on SoundCloud or Spotify and even “like” them on Facebook if you feel to).

This story begins in November 2012, we had a big gig in a theatre here in Genova planned for the next to come February, and lot of work to do. We’ve spent three months preparing SMPTE tracks, rehearsing with special guests and stuff like that. At some point our director told us we had to record an orchestral arrangement of one of our songs to play it at the end of the show. There were fifteen days left. Our fellow Lorenzo Marmorato made a great job and in a few days gave me a midi track, it was a very nice orchestral arrangement of this song.

When I finished assigning sounds to the tracks I made all the Urustar members listen to it, asking for feedbacks. That’s when it came to our mind that piece of music could have been Zwan‘s soundtrack. It’s airy, open, seamlessly loopable. Perfect for our purpose.

Zwan is an explorative game (well, for now it’s a prototype of an explorative game) and we wanted to add an explorative experience in the auditory part too. I started isolating parts of the track and experimenting with the way they could be scheduled in the musical timeline. I think of the isolated parts as Lego bricks, the invisible hand that builds the soundtrack is the visual exploration, where you go and what you meet. Once I made a functioning C# script that scheduled sounds as I wanted it was assets time.

Zwan Procedural Music Scheme

Flow diagram for Zwan’s soundtrack

I limited assets production to keep the soundtrack at a prototype level. Since Zwan is split in three phases, and every phase is a bit more dramatic than the previous, I started thinking of how I could make more dramatic the music too. It turned out to be quite easy (and I thank Gianni Martini, and my ten years long attending at his school, for that): the song is in a major scale, in phase two I changed the notes to make it in a mixolydian mode, and in phase three in a natural minor scale; this way I kept the same procedurality playing different audio clips (or audio bricks, if you want), changing the general mood but not the logic behind it.

I hope you feel like trying our prototype (you can download it here), feel free to let us know what you think about it. The gig went very well by the way, I think (and hope) Zwan is going to do great too; fingers crossed!

One thought on “Zwan: How We Have Created a Procedural Soundtrack
  1. […] of the most important features we have introduced in the last version is the soundtrack. As Lorenzo has already written, he mixed this beautiful orchestral arrangement by Lorenzo Marmorato of A Questo Mondo, a song […]

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