Innovation In Game Audio
A few decades later and game development has vastly improved, a simple comparison between two generations, and the change is visible. This change is more apparent, when analysing blockbuster games from the 80s or 90's, to games of today, take the latest release of God of War (SIE Santa Monica Studio, 2018) as an example, the difference is undeniable. However, often overlooked for various reasons, is the audio implementation of a title.
In 1981, developer Konami created the game Frogger (Konami, 1981), for those not familiar, the purpose of the game is to safely cross the road (Trust me, it's harder than it sounds). There are various safe points during the crossing, at these points, the music can be heard abruptly changing providing feedback to the player (Safe zones). Little did Konami know, that this would become one of the first examples of adaptive music in video games, and with chip sounds none the less (Collins, 2008).
This post aims to shed some light on the title Remember Me (Dontnod Entertainment, 2013), which fell victim to the suggested oversights, and along with it, the games unique approach to audio implementation.
This oversight could be down to many factors, including the game's launch reception, critic reviews, and of course graphics taking presidency over other aspects of the game. Whatever the reason, audio is usually the forgotten in the discussion.
Other critics followed suit. Still, there were a few exceptions, GameSpot (2013) published how well the music responds to gameplay when compared to that of other similar titles. Polygon (2013) another exception, praised the game for its music implementation, issuing an 8 of 10, with the responsive music system contributing significantly to the review.
In Remember Me, the player jumps into the tale as Nilan, a memory hunter/freedom fighter for the underground organisation known as Errorists. In 2013, the game was praised for its world creation and ambition, but sadly that was it. Critics such as IGN (2013) slammed the title with a 5.9, classifying the game under their "mediocre" category, without a single word wasted in describing the audio mechanics.
layers, which lead to the music becoming big and epic, and in turn rewarding the player for their mastery of the game. However, if the player is performing unsatisfactory, the music becomes glitchy and less melodic. The music was played in London by the Philharmonia Orchestra and recorded by audio mixing engineer John Kurlander. In the interview with MCV (2018), Deriviere explains how the process had taken eight months to complete, including getting to grips with middleware WWISE, composing, recording and mixing.
Music composer Oliver Deriviere was responsible for delivering Capcoms 2013 Remember Me video game score. Deriviere performed an interview with media website MCV (2013) in the same year the game published. The conversation discussed the music implementation, as well as the ideas behind the score. The music was implemented using WWISE, with particular attention spent on the combat music system. This system is capable of reacting to player performance, introducing new
Plus a Vertical Layering system, which permits the game to introduce/remove various elements of the music, relating to player performance (Phlllips, 2014).
In the example below, the player got off to a good start during combat, as the extra enemies join the battle, the player becomes damaged, and as a result, the music begins to glitch providing audio feedback. Timecode: 1:38
Composer Oliver Deriviere was heavily involved in the music implementation, which catered for the attention of detail in Remember Me, especially with the music combat system. Referring to music systems as described by Phillips, (2014), the music system sounds like a combination of Horizontal Re-Sequencing (Transitional), which allows the music to branch to new sections and end appropriately.
Another combat sequence, this time later in the game with a more experienced player. Timecode: 1:17:18
However, Deriviere does explain, that parts of the theme can also be heard throughout combat sequences too, suggesting and hinting at the story through music. The technique is standard in film scoring, and although themes and motifs are prevalent in video games, they are difficult to implement in the same fashion as Remember Me, due to the amount variables that are in the control of players.
In another interview, this time with GameZone (2013) Oliver Deriviere explains how the musical score drops subtle hints of the music theme, which is consistently aiding the narrative throughout the game. Remember Me concludes with the full musical theme, which isn't realised until the final moments of the game. A majority of musical theme moments were more than likely taking place throughout cutscenes, executing linear based music in these instances to help drive the narrative.
Remember Me is a forgotten title, with a consensus of it being a mediocre game. Due to this, many gamers missed the opportunity of experiencing a unique, and adaptive musical score. The score is full of motifs that seem unrelated, yet somehow come together in the end, to make one coherent theme, that's in synchronise to the player discovering the meaning behind the game's narrative.
It's clear there is something to learn from Remember Me on its music implementation. A lot of thought went into the composition, musical system, as well as the placement of motifs throughout the story. This combined shows particular attention to detail with the audio system, that isn't common in video games, even by today's standards.
Collins, K.C. (2008) Game Sound. eBook edn. United Kingdom: MIT Press.
Game Spot (2013) Remember Me Review [online] Available at <https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/remember-me-review/1900-6409154/> [Accessed 01/05/2018].
GameZone (2013) Interview: Composer Olivier Deriviere talks the unique soundtrack of Remember Me [online] Available at <https://www.gamezone.com/originals/interview-composer-olivier-deriviere-talks-the-unique-soundtrack-of-remember-me/> [Accessed 01/05/2018].
IGN (2013) Remember Me Review [online] Available at <http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/06/02/remember-me-review> [Accessed 01/05/2018].
Konami (1981) Frogger. Computer Software: Sega.
MCV (2013) Heard About: Scoring Remember Me [online] Available at <https://www.mcvuk.com/development/heard-about-scoring-remember-me> [Accessed 01/05/2018].
Phillips, W. (2014) Composer's guide to game music. eBook edn. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Polygun (2013) Remember Me [online] Available at <https://www.polygon.com/2013/6/3/4389162/remember-me-review> [Accessed 01/05/2018].
SIE Santa Monica Studio (2018) God of War. Computer Software: Sony Interactive Entertainment.