Creating the Music of War Ender
Let's get musical!
I've touched on the musical inspirations for War Ender early on but I've never taken the time to fully explain my process for creating the music for the game. To recap, the primary inspiration for War Ender's music comes from Doom 2016. The head banging, in your face soundtrack of the game lends itself well to War Ender. Like Doom (or at least this was the goal), I tried to make the game very in your face and cathartic. Though Red isn't blasting away demons from Hell, he gets into his own intense battles against The Outsiders. Were you to ask him, Red may tell you The Outsiders are demons.
Throughout development I've worked hard to make the soundtrack reflect that. There's some tracks from the game that can be heard on this very website if you go to the media page. These will give you an idea of what the music is like if you're not familiar with it already. So how does one go about making music like this? Well, I can only speak for myself, but I generally find that the first thing one must do to make music is to listen to music. Lots and lots of music. Before constructing War Ender's soundtrack, I was listening to a lot of the Doom soundtrack, new and old alike.
After listening to much music I would eventually sit down to start writing. Before beginning any project I tend to get a selection of instruments that I'm sure (or at least very confident) will be in almost every track of a game. In War Ender's case, this included electric and bass guitars, some drums, and some bleeps and bloops to top it off with. Once I had these sounds together I would begin experimenting. I'd start with the guitar sounds, since they'll be playing the melodies of the various tracks. Once I had something basic together I'd begin adding in some additional sounds, then adjusting the melody as these new sounds are added.
This experimentation would continue for a while longer until I eventually came up with the game's first track, Urban Destruction. Once finished I marinated on the music for a while, allowing a few days to pass before listening to it again and seeing if it worked with the game. As you can now see, I believe it does, and as a result it stays. The rest of the game's music has continued to develop a similar style to Urban Destruction and each other. The end result is a cohesive musical score that lends itself well to War Ender's themes and emotions.
Not all the game's music is meant to be a head banger though. The intro scene played at the beginning of the game uses music to set the mood more than it does invigorate the player. Again on the media page, the Truth of the Matter track is a quieter piece, played in a level that does not have as much action occurring. Similarly, there's a track near the end of the game that is also considerably different, but not so much because of a lack of action. Rather, it sets the feeling that you're approaching the end of the game and you're about to enter the final battle. As a result, it needs to be more dramatic.
Boss themes are especially fun to make. You can listen to an example boss theme by, once again, going to the media page and listening to the Wall of Lasers theme. Each boss theme needs to set a particular tone, and that tone will vary from boss to boss. For Wall of Lasers, it gives off the idea of being chased. In the battle against RAWM, it must set the tone one would expect for fighting a giant robot. Not only that, but I like to pretend as though the boss, Red, or both characters are talking to each other during the battle. Some of the boss themes make this more obvious than others. I want to give off the sense that the boss character and Red are smack talking each other during the battle. The battle against the Cyborg Soldier I feel is the best example of this. But alas, I cannot show off everything.
I felt inspired to right this after writing my last music track during the previous week. With its completion there's only a few more pieces of music to write (about three actually) before War Ender's OST is complete. And of those music pieces, two of them are boss themes. In the last dev blog I talked about War Ender being over halfway complete. Between the last dev blog and now that's changed considerably, and the short list of music to write exemplifies this. I am currently working on yet another boss (unfortunately I'm at the point where I can't really show off this stuff, lest I spoil my own game) and have been fixing various bugs found within War Ender. I look forward to reporting where the game is at in the next couple of weeks.
Until next time!