Too cute for Wesnoth?

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West
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Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by West » October 14th, 2008, 8:29 pm

This is a short piece of music I wrote today. I've been playing my Bb tin whistle a lot lately, and this little theme is something I for some reason end up playing everytime I pick it up (hopefully I haven't stolen it from somewhere). So yes, that ugly flute part is just a placeholder for the whistle. I'm not going to record any live instruments until the piece is more or less finished.

Now, given the... shall we say general disinclination towards mood/emotion music, might this be a tad bit too cute for Wesnoth? I named it "Reunion" as I feel it might be right for a scene where lovers or long lost friends are reunited. Might also work as a coming home type of theme.

Of course, in it's present state it's nowhere near finished. It needs an intro, plus that I have an idea for a second part that is not very cutesy at all.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by vladikus » October 15th, 2008, 12:23 am

It does sound very "magical," but I don't think it sounds bad. For some reason it brought to mind Final Fantasy, which is a compliment. In my opinion, it's not too cutesy.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by Temuchin Khan » October 15th, 2008, 4:38 pm

My instincts say: Don't make this a stand-along song. Instead, insert it into "Over the Northern Mountains."

Also, it reminds me of one of your other compositions: The Silver Tree. Maybe it could be combined with that instead of inserted into "The Northern Mountains."

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by Rain » October 16th, 2008, 4:47 am

Sounds very lovely so far! Your instrumentation is getting sharper and more realistic with every piece. The cymbal swell sounds fantastic near the end of the song. The voice patches sound a little too sharp and midi-like, but are implemented in such a way that they don't distract too much from what's going on. I think this is a good 'mood' piece, imo.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by West » October 17th, 2008, 12:28 pm

vladikus wrote:It does sound very "magical," but I don't think it sounds bad. For some reason it brought to mind Final Fantasy, which is a compliment. In my opinion, it's not too cutesy.
You know, this is not the first time someone associates my music with FF and other Japanese RPG's. Which is quite interesting as I've never played a single one of those games. To my knowledge I've never even heard the music in question.
Temuchin Khan wrote:My instincts say: Don't make this a stand-along song. Instead, insert it into "Over the Northern Mountains."
I'd rather not. I just can't see how I could piece them together and make it sound like... well, like I haven't just pieced them together.
Temuchin Khan wrote:Also, it reminds me of one of your other compositions: The Silver Tree. Maybe it could be combined with that instead of inserted into "The Northern Mountains."
Yeah, they are kind of similar, now that you mention it. I must be running out of ideas. :/
Rain wrote:Sounds very lovely so far! Your instrumentation is getting sharper and more realistic with every piece. The cymbal swell sounds fantastic near the end of the song. The voice patches sound a little too sharp and midi-like, but are implemented in such a way that they don't distract too much from what's going on. I think this is a good 'mood' piece, imo.
Thank you Rain.

The question still stands though: is cutesy mood music really what Wesnoth needs?

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by West » October 17th, 2008, 3:16 pm

New version with intro, some unpolished whistle playing and various other tweaks.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by vladikus » October 17th, 2008, 4:16 pm

West, I absolutely love this and it has replaced the "King is Dead" as my favorite piece you've done so far. Though I will go off topic to say that the beginning of "Breaking the Chains" continually pops up in my head during the day--I'm unsure why, perhaps because it's catchy.

Anyways, the dynamics were awesome, although I must say I like the latter half more than the introduction. There is a beginning instrument quietly making up the background (I think they are violins). Out of curiosity, are they performing a quiet tremolo?

The second part of the piece, which I mark with the beginning of the flute (I think it's a flute) is very powerful and strong.

Excellent--absolutely excellent-- dynamics at the end. Though I was a bit caught of guard when the piece ended because it seemed like there was more.

Great piece though, I enjoyed listening to it.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by West » October 17th, 2008, 9:02 pm

vladikus wrote:West, I absolutely love this and it has replaced the "King is Dead" as my favorite piece you've done so far.
Wow, thanks Vladikus!
vladikus wrote:Anyways, the dynamics were awesome, although I must say I like the latter half more than the introduction. There is a beginning instrument quietly making up the background (I think they are violins). Out of curiosity, are they performing a quiet tremolo?
Those are violins, yes, and violas. Only the violas are playing tremolo, the violins just sustain two notes. I had them all playing tremolo originally, but it ended up too nervous-sounding.
vladikus wrote:The second part of the piece, which I mark with the beginning of the flute (I think it's a flute) is very powerful and strong.
It's not a flute actually, it's one of these babies:

Image

Technically it's a type of flute of course, but it's commonly known as a tin whistle. "Flute" generally refers to side-blown instruments, like the standard Boehm flute or the keyless Irish variety.
vladikus wrote:Excellent--absolutely excellent-- dynamics at the end. Though I was a bit caught of guard when the piece ended because it seemed like there was more.
I'm glad to hear the dynamcis are working, especially since I haven't paid a lot of attention to that bit yet. Also, there's more to come -- I started working on this only a few days ago. I'm going to move in a slightly darker direction now.
vladikus wrote:Great piece though, I enjoyed listening to it.
Good to hear, and thanks for the feedback.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by Rain » October 18th, 2008, 10:47 am

West wrote: The question still stands though: is cutesy mood music really what Wesnoth needs?
Well lets talk about what makes a good soundtrack stirring. Having one emotional characteristic only dooms a soundtrack to be a single shade of grey. Do we want that? Do we want an entire soundtrack to only indicate and speak for the validity of a singular emotional quality?
When I look at a good soundtrack, I hear many different characteristics. Let me be more precise. I hear color. There are so many emotional tools a composer can use to make a soundtrack pull more gravity and draw the listener and gameplay into the game.
This is what makes music making so exciting for me. The music we have so far for Wesnoth is great, but we need lighter (among others) pieces to fill things in and give the whole a much more broadened potential. Gray is but one shade and the colors have still to be accounted for. It's the wonderful world of contrast.

Look at Indiana Jones score from John Williams and you will see this contrast in full effect. Dark, light, mysterious, anamoros love theme, folk italian band playing anthems on their stringed instruments and gondolin representing the tunes of a village. This is intimate, and it's beautiful, So I guess I just quite get it when people don't appreciate its potential. Granted the hardest part about integrating these other mood pieces into the game will be finding out where they belong and finding a home for them where they will loved!, but I guarantee that if we find good places to put the musics in, they simply will work wonders in the long run.
I understand people aren't excited for this idea to make emotion music because it sounds too hopeful and cutesy. To be honest, I find this DUMB. The majority of the soundtrack is very dark and that is the leading tone of the soundtrack, which makes sense as this game is all about very long and hard battles where much is lost. Darkness is where the music is rooted strongly into the experience. That's good! There is no chance of all the music in the game becoming light hearted and we wouldn't want that either. Not by a long shot. To be honest though, and under the circumstances, I believe a "cutesy" song could absolutely be amazing for a battle. Btw, "CUTESY", implies nothing.

Example:
http://www.allacrost.org/staff/user/rain/memory.mp3

You will notice that this song is not cute, but it is positive and it is triumphant and it's absolutely incredibly well orchestrated. A song like this has every right to have a chance to make a presence in a battle on mainline. This is not my work unfortunately, or else I'd ask someone to try it out and note the results of how it worked.

Random idea. I believe each force (good/bad whatever) should have its own theme.
and in that case I would like to ask them to go play play Final Fantasy VI. Or better yet Final Fantasy Tactics. I just don't think the soundtrack is complete if the only thing we are hearing is morbid. There is so much to draw upon... and we simply aren't using them. One of the reasons I wanted to join the music making processes and decisions for Wesnoth was because I believe we can do something monumental. We are at a place where we are only really allowing dark pieces to sell the situation.
In my mind, this is NOT GOOD. (for lack of a better description) It's quite alright to have something 'cute' thrown in to keep the listener from getting used to only one quality. We are setting up the listeners to the frame work of the game. That's largely the musics job. Therefore we should use all the tools in the toolshed, IMO. That's just what I think. :)

After all, not everything is gloom and doom. There are always uplifting times to account for and these uplifting times serve as emotional relief from the dark times. Likewise, the darker music is actually made DARKER by the fact that it is held alongside tracks which don't share it's sense of EVILDARKNESS!

Let me know where your thoughts are on this, West. (along with anyone else who'd like to share an opinion.) What do you guys think?

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by West » October 18th, 2008, 3:54 pm

Rain, you make a lot of good points and I agree with every single one of them. I firmly believe that a game soundtrack should be muscially varied and contain both light and shade. Personally I find it annoying when a game has only one type of music, no matter how well crafted that music is.

However -- and here's the hitch -- Wesnoth is a strategy game, not an RPG. As with all strategy games, be it TBS or RTS, the focus is on war and combat and there's limited room for storytelling and emotional scenes. For a lot of players, I think, the narratives and dialogues are only unwanted pauses in the main gameplay, nothing more, and they couldn't care less what music is playing. I don't base this on a deep knowledge of the typical Wesnoth player, I base it on the fact that lots of gamers are uninterested in storylines and only want to get on with it already. You know, the kind of people who reflexly hit Esc at the first sign of a cut scene or other plot event. At this point it's tempting to start muttering about pearls before swine, but I try to remind myself that just like the campaign authors who spend lots of time on plots and dialogues I write my music for the other type of player, the one who enjoys good storytelling ;)

Still, the demand for non-battley music is not great. At least that's my conclusion from reactions here on the forum and various discussions on irc in the past. As one dev put it (don't remember who, might have been zookeeper?), in the end it's all up to the campaign authors and maintainers. It doesn't matter if you or me or anyone else writes a gorgeous piece of emotion music, if there's no fitting spot for it in any of the campaigns, it's just a waste of space and effort. That's why I'm asking if this or that is too cutesy or whatever -- I want to know if anyone sees a possible use for it. Having music in mainline just for the sake of "might possibly come in handy at some point in the future" is not good, IMO.
Rain wrote:One of the reasons I wanted to join the music making processes and decisions for Wesnoth was because I believe we can do something monumental.
Bingo. Same here, and I know Jetryl has said more or less the same thing on several occasions. It is definitely possible to do some great stuff with Wesnoth in terms of storytelling, and while I haven't played through all campaigns in the game, sometimes I feel that this potential isn't being explored to its fullest. The question is of course, should it be explored? Now we're back to the strategy game thing again. I for one would love to see an extremely story driven campaign with tons of dialogue and emotional scenes, but then I like RPGs better than strategy games. It might very well be that Wesnoth is simply not the right platform for that kind of stuff and by focusing too much on the storytelling bit we could end up turning a lot of die hard players off.

That Memory piece is lovely, btw!

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by doofus-01 » October 18th, 2008, 5:33 pm

West wrote:It is definitely possible to do some great stuff with Wesnoth in terms of storytelling, and while I haven't played through all campaigns in the game, sometimes I feel that this potential isn't being explored to its fullest. The question is of course, should it be explored? Now we're back to the strategy game thing again.
I apologize for pushing this further off topic, this will be my only post about it here. I just wanted to highlight the part about whether there is any room for RPGish mood themes in Wesnoth. I think Wesnoth has just about everything one would need to make a story-driven RPG rather than the standard TBS battles that mostly happen so far, but such a campaign is much harder to write. If the music is available, it might encourage someone, who knows? A replacement for "loyalists.ogg" or "northerners.ogg" may now be in greater demand than mood music, but inspiration strikes as it does, whether for campaign writing or music making. I don't know that it has to go one way (scenarios defining the music).

And as for turning off die-hard players, I believe there are already two distinct types of players. The multi-player players might not have much use for non-battle music, but I don't think that is the case for the campaign players.

That's my un-authoritative two cents. Keep up the good work, everyone.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by West » October 18th, 2008, 6:04 pm

doofus-01 wrote:I apologize for pushing this further off topic,
No problem. I welcome the discussion.
doofus-01 wrote:Wesnoth has just about everything one would need to make a story-driven RPG rather than the standard TBS battles that mostly happen so far, but such a campaign is much harder to write.
Yes, I do believe that might be the problem. The topic of a Wesnoth RPG tends to come up time and again so I doubt lack of interest would be an issue.
doofus-01 wrote:A replacement for "loyalists.ogg" or "northerners.ogg" may now be in greater demand than mood music
Ah, yes. This might be a good time to announce that I've begun working on a new Loyalists theme. No one else seems willing to take a stab at it, so I figured I'd give it a try.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by zookeeper » October 18th, 2008, 6:07 pm

West wrote:Still, the demand for non-battley music is not great. At least that's my conclusion from reactions here on the forum and various discussions on irc in the past. As one dev put it (don't remember who, might have been zookeeper?), in the end it's all up to the campaign authors and maintainers. It doesn't matter if you or me or anyone else writes a gorgeous piece of emotion music, if there's no fitting spot for it in any of the campaigns, it's just a waste of space and effort.
Yeah, it was probably me. I basically agree with what both of you have said about having variety in the soundtrack, it's just that happy/emotion music is harder to find a place for. Any kind of a clear battle tune can immediately be wired into a dozen scenarios, but wiring in a happy/emotion piece takes more work, because it's not as obvious where it can go.

The current problem, as far as I can tell, is simply that while we got you composers doing the pieces, no one is taking it as a project to start applying them across the various campaigns in suitable spots. When just wiring in standard scenario background music such as the regular battle tracks, all you need is to tell the game to "in this scenario, play this and this and this track", which is something anyone can do. When wiring in emotion music, you'll usually need to figure out at what point in the scenario it should trigger, how and when it should stop, and maybe even tweak the cutscene(s) in question somehow to accommodate it better (unless you're just using the piece as background music for a story-only scenario, playing all the time).

I've intentionally kind of sat back and watched what happens regarding emotion music, because I don't really have a clear vision of it. I know Jetryl is enthusiastic about this stuff, so maybe he'll want to get involved more? Other than that, frankly I think it wouldn't be a bad idea if you composers would play the campaigns a bit more and look for places where you think your music would work best. It doesn't need to be so that you only write the music and then campaign maintainers just do what they want, if anything, with it. Maintenance of most mainline campaigns is mostly bugfixing, and there's only a handful of mainline campaign maintainers around in the first place. I'm maintaining (or co-maintaining) HttT, TRoW, Liberty, DiD, SotBE, SoF and TSG, and I could wire in anything you want in those campaigns, provided that you tell me exactly what. However, since I don't really have a vision about the emotion music stuff myself, I'm most likely not going to try to figure that out myself (there's more than enough stuff that I do have a vision about that I'd need to be doing, after all).
West wrote:Bingo. Same here, and I know Jetryl has said more or less the same thing on several occasions. It is definitely possible to do some great stuff with Wesnoth in terms of storytelling, and while I haven't played through all campaigns in the game, sometimes I feel that this potential isn't being explored to its fullest. The question is of course, should it be explored? Now we're back to the strategy game thing again. I for one would love to see an extremely story driven campaign with tons of dialogue and emotional scenes, but then I like RPGs better than strategy games. It might very well be that Wesnoth is simply not the right platform for that kind of stuff and by focusing too much on the storytelling bit we could end up turning a lot of die hard players off.
Turning a lot of die hard players off maybe, but at worst just from that specific campaign. If even a small number of people enjoy some particular campaign, then that surely greatly overshadows any dislike might be felt by other people. If they don't like it, they don't have to play it. That said, I have a hard time seeing anyone getting turned off by a quality campaign, even if it stylistically doesn't fit their taste. If people get turned off by something, it'd be the really low-quality stuff out there, not any quality stuff with too much storytelling.

I'm personally not that much into the storytelling aspect of the game anymore, but I certainly don't mind that in a campaign.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by vladikus » October 18th, 2008, 6:43 pm

zookeeper wrote:The current problem, as far as I can tell, is simply that while we got you composers doing the pieces, no one is taking it as a project to start applying them across the various campaigns in suitable spots.
As of now, my life is very busy with job interviews, tests, and applications. But I would very much like to help with this. I haven't done any work with campaign creation, but I would think it would only entail an understanding of how events occur and then using this process to insert music.

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Re: Too cute for Wesnoth?

Post by West » October 18th, 2008, 7:17 pm

zookeeper wrote:Other than that, frankly I think it wouldn't be a bad idea if you composers would play the campaigns a bit more and look for places where you think your music would work best. It doesn't need to be so that you only write the music and then campaign maintainers just do what they want, if anything, with it.
I hear you. The problem is of course that the music creation process itself is quite time consuming even without having to play through all campaigns and look for places to wire the music in. Yes, I could cheat my way through the scenarios, but it's still a lot of work and furthermore I'm not sure if I'm objective enough to do a good job of it. It would indeed be great if we had someone in charge of this aspect, someone who could coordinate the efforts of muscians and campaign authors/maintainers...
vladikus wrote:As of now, my life is very busy with job interviews, tests, and applications. But I would very much like to help with this. I haven't done any work with campaign creation, but I would think it would only entail an understanding of how events occur and then using this process to insert music.
If you think you can handle it, I'm all for it. Knowing the game music more or less inside out would be a requirement, I think. You probably know better than me if you're up to the task though. :)

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