Mood Music for Wesnoth

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Rain
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Mood Music for Wesnoth

Post by Rain » January 25th, 2008, 9:27 am

I am on it. Here is a piece I conceptualized for a 'Tragic Theme' for Wesnoth...

http://www.allacrost.org/staff/user/rai ... agedy5.mp3

It might be a bit too "sweet" to be a tragic theme though. I just want for the piece to be useful to Wesnoth, so any feedback to get me off on the right foot is much appreciated.

1) I actually based the thematics upon Solemn Autumn...

2) I am probably going to write this piece to loop. It isn't a battle theme and should loop pretty well if the need be. Any objections?

[PA] NotUncleDave
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Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » January 25th, 2008, 2:14 pm

it's *far* too sweet/optimistic to be a tragic theme. it starts out great, strings that draw you in- but mood music doesn't need the kind of buildup/thematics this has, and the tone of the piece is... rather nonchalant, rather than dejected and desperate. using the tritone (C-Fsharp and equivalents) interval and resolving it down into a major 3rd (or other minor/diminished intervals resolved down) is usually a good way to make things sound a lot more depressing. i'm probably not the best person to be giving advice, though- at least i talk a good shop :D

Rain
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Post by Rain » January 25th, 2008, 10:02 pm

[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:it's *far* too sweet/optimistic to be a tragic theme. it starts out great, strings that draw you in- but mood music doesn't need the kind of buildup/thematics this has, and the tone of the piece is... rather nonchalant, rather than dejected and desperate. using the tritone (C-Fsharp and equivalents) interval and resolving it down into a major 3rd (or other minor/diminished intervals resolved down) is usually a good way to make things sound a lot more depressing. i'm probably not the best person to be giving advice, though- at least i talk a good shop :D
Well to be honest, 'mood music' doesn't implicate itself as music which is resigned to the background, IMO. I believe that 'mood music' refers more or less to the emotional qualities of the given scene. I might be misreading you, but Mood music should be allowed to be as expressive as battle music, harmonically and in regards to orchestration.

As for your constructive advice involving the tritone voicing, much appreciated! I didn't want to make this piece dissonant but it might work better to put a few tritone substitutions in there.

However, I'd appreciate a few other opinions before making an ultimate judgment and/or unnecessary changes to the music.


Thanks

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Mist
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Post by Mist » January 25th, 2008, 10:38 pm

I'd make it shorter. Sure there are scenarios set in one mood from the beginning to the end, but there is much more of them without one or with a lot of mood changes troughout. Thus from my point of view it would have much wider use if it was condensed to the time it takes to read/see trough a medium length conversation or cutscene.
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Rain
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Post by Rain » January 25th, 2008, 10:45 pm

Too long? Strange. Being an RPG, I was expecting some of the Wesnoth dialogue/banter to be a bit more text-heavy!
Mist wrote:Thus from my point of view it would have much wider use if it was condensed to the time it takes to read/see trough a medium length conversation or cutscene.
I am not too familiar with how long cutcenes and/or conversation might last. Is there a general length I can consider?

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Post by Mist » January 25th, 2008, 11:22 pm

Hah, and that's the problem you see. I'd love the game to have more dialogue, more elaborate dialogue and in general be heavier both in text and in story (I'm an RPG too you see).

But.

This is linear to semilinear strategy and it has limitations. All text shown to player can be done so only once. There is no questions, no explaining, no going back, no repeating. That means to elaborate and to long conversations carry serious risk that player will not catch important information, or equally bad, he will get overhelmed and forget some things. You need to fine-tune the the balance between the desire of some players of 'just to get on with it already' and your intention of present some part of story.

An average conversation in these condition last between minute and two minutes of reading. I'd say you should aim for around two minutes. See the story intro to HttT. In wesnoth terms that's long. Sure, there are longer bits out there, but very few of them.
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Rain
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Post by Rain » January 25th, 2008, 11:36 pm

Okay, thanks for the information. I realize that battles, for the most part, define the Wesnoth experience. Some games do well with lots of text, some don't. It's understandable why lots of text might not work for a game like Wesnoth...
then again, I can't help but bring up Final Fantasy Tactics with the note that it can be done well. Great gameplay, lots of text, convoluted story. Love it.

Anyways, apart from the minor digression, I'd always prefer that if a block of text/cut-scene is 2 or so minutes long, that the piece of music be too long instead of too short. If the looping point can be evaded as the text dissolves on-screen, it keeps the music and the scene fresh.
As it is, this piece is about 2:16 long before it loops back to the beginning. If what you are saying about cut-scenes is true, this might be just enough extra time to take care of the seams of the looping.

Do you know what I mean? The length of the song WOULD be pretty close under those circumstances. If the music's emotional content isn't fulfilling a specific need, that's a bit more of a problem.

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Mist
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Post by Mist » January 25th, 2008, 11:47 pm

Wesnoth could well do with more text but it would scare away some part of the people who find it entertaining now. As it is it has much broader appeal than it would have when moved towards any end of the spectrum (RPG with strategy elements - strategy with briefings)

And yes I think I do understand what you mean, I also think it's better for music to be slightly longer than the cutscene. That's why I told you to aim for two minutes, because most of them would be shorter anyway. And whatever you want to do at the end (smart looping, or even better inteligent fading to let the piece meld with main background theme) there is deffinitely enough time to do that after the scene ends
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Rain
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Post by Rain » January 26th, 2008, 12:04 am

Mist wrote:I do understand what you mean, I also think it's better for music to be slightly longer than the cutscene. That's why I told you to aim for two minutes, because most of them would be shorter anyway. And whatever you want to do at the end (smart looping, or even better inteligent fading to let the piece meld with main background theme) there is deffinitely enough time to do that after the scene ends
Cool.

Ermmm... 'intelligent fading'? Sounds intriguing!

I'll keep these thoughts in mind as I continue to refine these 'mood cues'. Thanks for the assistance.

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Post by West » January 26th, 2008, 12:37 am

Rain and Mist having a conversation?

I wonder when Snow and Wind will be showing up.

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Post by Rain » January 26th, 2008, 12:45 am

West wrote:Rain and Mist having a conversation?

I wonder when Snow and Wind will be showing up.
Yes and I now look forward to 'East, North and South' coming in to blow the roof off of this thread. :) Nice catch btw, I didn't even know I was talking to my cuz all along.

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Post by Jetrel » January 26th, 2008, 2:32 am

Not to be rude, and I understand where you're coming from, but Mist, I completely disagree with what you're saying. There are many "story-esque" sections of levels that take a completely variable amount of time, depending on what the player does. There are many uses for this during the very long intros/outros/interludes to the actual RPGs we have coded into our game already - I've seen people spend over ten minutes in the dwarf town in that labyrinth rpg Bob_the_Mighty made.

And finally, the idea of -shortening- looped music like this is just absurd, because what do you gain by shortening it? Besides a meg of drive space, which is irrelevant these days. By having it longer, you can include more music, and by having similar permutations of the same motifs inside a song, the listener can lose themselves inside the loop, making it seem far longer. We have the capability to switch songs in the code upon the end of an in-game event, so there is no use in trying to size the song accordingly.

For all that their melodies/etc were great, the short, tight loops in most SNES games were hurt by the fact that they were short; they were short enough that they fell below the threshold for this effect, and it was obvious right away that the music was a loop. (The threshold is about at the 3 to 7 minute mark, depending heavily on the content of the music.)

Rain, please disregard this, please DO NOT shorten this piece.


[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:it's *far* too sweet/optimistic to be a tragic theme. it starts out great, strings that draw you in- but mood music doesn't need the kind of buildup/thematics this has, and the tone of the piece is... rather nonchalant, rather than dejected and desperate. using the tritone (C-Fsharp and equivalents) interval and resolving it down into a major 3rd (or other minor/diminished intervals resolved down) is usually a good way to make things sound a lot more depressing. i'm probably not the best person to be giving advice, though- at least i talk a good shop :D

I agree that it's not working as a tragic theme, but it's very good for something else. This feels truly excellent for the theme backing a "turning point" in the story; kinda the "team huddle" of the good guys as they decide what to do to overcome their obstacles.

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Post by Mist » January 26th, 2008, 2:55 am

Jetryl, but of course, there are such levels, and we do have the ability to cut music in mid-track and start something else. And now imagine.

The heroes in love meet each other after a long time, very long (few minutes worth) of love-mood theme kicks in, they have a conversation, the music builds, conversation ends, they move a bit, and then the bad guy shows up. And what? Yes we cut the love theme just before the climax to replace it with the bad guy theme, which should be probably replaced with 'general combat music' later on. This is both wastes the music and the players experience. In my opinion at least.

Of course there are storyesque levels and section of these. But there is much more dialogs that work against set mood of the level, or are concluded in a way that breaks the current mood or even change the mood in midway. And these dialogs are usualy not long due to the reasons mentioned earlier. Ther is no point in applying long mood pieces to them because they probably wouldn't even have the time to develop.

Now let's think short. Assume that instead having one elaborate, long and rich 6:00 piece of 'sad' music you have three 2:00 that could elegantly repeat themsleves or fade into eachother. They would be probably easier to do, and wht's more they could be used both to the things long music is apropriate and the things that are simply to short and to dynamic for it.

To conclude. Jetryl I don't mind people disagreeing with me, but I've given this particular thing really long and careful thought. And Rain do shorten it, and do few fore similar that could work with it via fade-pickup.
Somewhere, between the sacred silence and sleep.
Disorder.

Rain
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Post by Rain » January 26th, 2008, 3:11 am

Mist, I understand what you are saying. However, I don't really feel that making this piece shorter is going to be helpful and or worthwhile at this point.

A) The payoff probably won't be worth it. It'd be a bit of busy-work to trim the piece further. Might as well leave the content in for now.
As was mentioned, sometimes more musical material might give us a bit more track to utilize in the event that the scene/dialogue runs longer than planned.
If it is consensus, I do not intend to make pieces of this nature any longer than 2 minutes.
Since this piece is just a shade over 2 minutes before the looping point, it'd probably be best for the length to remain as is. This is especially true if the piece is deemed worthy of inclusion into Wesnoth. After that, we can tailor the track a bit better once we find a specific place for it.

B) From now on, I will plan on making the themes between 1:30 - 2:00 as a general rule of thumb. Do you think that should cover us?

C) Can you explain 'intelligent fading'?

Thanks

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Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » January 26th, 2008, 3:19 am

I know which character, and which scene especially this piece is PERFECT for.

Commander Aethyr, TRoW, The Plan.

In that context, it fits perfectly, it sounds sombre, and suddenly his impending sacrifice seems to carry more weight... a lot more...

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