Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hey Crows!

Max Lancaster here, one of the producers on Crowfall. Today, I’m going to talk to you about the production process for creating music!

Audio-related tasks fall under my purview, which means that I get to work closely with our extremely talented composer, Nelson Everhart. Before I even joined the team, Nelson had written a slew of dark, powerful songs for the game. Anyone who has been with us for a while has heard these tracks in trailers, videos and at the in-game lobby screen. Take a listen to some of them!

Crowfall Theme

Combat Loop

Destruction Theme

These tracks held us over for a long time, but the musical score needs to grow with the game. Once Crowfall introduced more exploration elements (namely harvesting, crafting, and kingdom building), one thing became very clear: we needed new background music. What we had before was great for a fighting through waves of undead on a foggy night, or defending a castle from oncoming invaders, but these tracks did not work for cutting down trees in a tranquil forest, or for cooking grubs on a sunny morning inside of someone’s Eternal Kingdom.

With that in mind, Nelson, Todd, and I set out to produce a new series of music to be used inside the Campaigns and Eternal Kingdoms. These songs are tied to world type (Campaign World or Eternal Kingdom), time-of-day, season, and zone, and they are designed to elicit feelings of serenity, adventure, or fear... depending on the circumstances.

On the production side, Todd and I get together and talk about what parts of a Campaign we want to be highlighted by music. For each track on the list, we come up with a few “guiding words” for Nelson to work from. For example, a recent track we requested was for Campaign World – Beachhead – Daytime – Summer.

Obviously, it takes Nelson some time to compose, mix, and master the songs, so we can only get a few per milestone. We prioritize the ones we think are important to whatever content and feature sets we are delivering, and then I start the back-and-forth with Nelson.

Our beachheads are starting zones that serve as primary bases for each faction inside of a Campaign World. Since players start there, the music sets the tone for the entire Campaign. Originally, our guiding words to Nelson were “safe, no-anxiety, recovery” - very similar to what we already had for the Eternal Kingdoms. But like anything else, this went through some iteration. What we eventually realized was that the music here should be exciting! After all, you signed up for this war, and you’re ready to fight in it. So our next guiding words were this:

“Let’s go kick some ass.”

Of course, Nelson still keeps in mind the type of things you do at the Beachhead – harvest trees and rocks, hunt pigs, and do some basic crafting – so he didn’t want it to be too gung-ho. Still, he took our words to heart, tossed in some military drums and created this song:

Beachhead: Summer Day

To showcase Nelson’s range, compare that to the track he made for adventuring inside a Campaign World at night in the winter. The creatures in Crowfall change into horrible monsters at night, corrupted by an evil force called The Hunger. In the winter, the Hunger is even more prevalent, and food and resources are scarce.

The guiding words for this track were “Bleak, hopeless, sparse… less is more.” Nelson went full-on ambient horror, and we loved it.

Campaign World: Winter Night

When you couple these tracks with Bobby Moen’s awesome environment sound effects – which also change based on where you are, what time of day it is, and what season you’re in – the audio in Crowfall really brings the world to life… or death!

We hope you like the new tracks that will ship with our 5.8 milestone, and we’d love to hear your feedback for the music so far in the forums.

Max Lancaster
Associate Producer, ArtCraft Entertainment

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