Guest Blog: The Music of LightWalk

Today’s blog is courtesy of LightWalk’s composer, Earvin.

Hey there! Work is coming along in LightWalk slowly but surely, and everyone on the team is anxious to put out our first product as developers. It’s a first, brave step into a new world! One of the best things we get as a team is the feedback from the play testers, and in that feedback is positive reviews on the soundtrack. Why don’t we take a small walk through the soundtrack to give a preview of the background music that plays in game?

My name is Earvin, I go by the alias ☆みっつ☆, read as Mittsu, and I am the composer working on Lightwalk at Timeless Games. As you would probably expect of such a sci-fi inspired game, the music and soundtrack I’m making is heavily electronic. I came to be a part of the Timeless team at Cal Poly, where I was a music major at around the same time that Timothey was a student as well. Through a mutual friend of ours, I was recommended to craft music for the game as a small project. As development paused while we finished our degrees and moved on, I ended up graduating and amassing more and more experience creating music. Now that development has resumed and we’re getting ready to finish the project, I’m happy to be back on board to finish the game.

But enough about me, let’s talk about music! The inspiration for the soundtrack pulls from my experiences playing video games my entire life. I hope these influences come through as you listen to the soundtrack! Overall, half of the draw is supposed to be inspired by a mix of 8-bit era synths and 16-bit era synths. Specifically, the Ricoh chip built into the NES/Famicom and the Yamaha chip built into the Genesis/MegaDrive were the playgrounds I worked with. The other half is modern electronic synthesis and design that is currently influencing the taste of music globally. By taking harder hitting and popular styles and mixing them with the synths that drove the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming, I was hoping to create a soundtrack that feels modern and sleek, but also familiar and nostalgia-driven. With that in mind, I have prepared 5 preview clips so that people interested in the game can get a quick feel for what’s to come in LightWalk!

Oh, also keep in mind these assets are still a work in progress and are subject to change.

 

Glitched Ray

The first track to show is one we debuted with. We originally submitted a build of LightWalk, then called Hour1, to the Independent Games Festival. Taking the feedback we got and storing it for later, I looked back fondly on the release of our trailer. I thought of the most attention-grabbing style to write in order to get the attention of those watching would be just this: a post-dubstep take on what was popular at the time. With Skrillex dominating electronic music at the time and the world taking a cue from his style, I decided to make something that followed suit as a commentary on the scene. My aim was to blend my trance based background with post-dubstyle influence, wobbles and all. The song suddenly moves back and forth between the styles without reason or warning. I hope you enjoy chorus melody in both the dubstep and trance style! It’s like two sides of the same coin…

 

Frayed Wires

Our second track is another example of its time. Another song in the Hour1 build was “Frayed Wires,” a title I thought fit fairly well. The title comes from the synths themselves; in one of the background synths is a channel of bandpassed white noise that I always thought sounded like arc electricity or the static of a coming thunderstorm. The melody driving the track were synths that ended up sounding a bit like simplistic guitars from Genesis-era consoles. I hope this high energy track communicates the electricity that inspired it. Also, another fun behind-the-curtain fact, the oscillator that controls the passing of the arcing electricity synth is completely random, so no two renderings of the song are completely alike! It’s like getting a new song each time I render it…

 

Derived from the Quadratic

This third track is called Derived from the Quadratic. This was the second track written during LightWalk’s first development window, and featured in this snippet is the change from high energy to low energy by a large lowpass over a large selection of elements, which bring down the distorted and harder elements of the track to a quieter and introspective level, with a quiet melody line that feels like the eye of a storm. I think it’s the natural progression of Frayed Wires, keeping up its moment while suddenly hushing it as the eye of the storm passes through.

 

Linear Pressure

This fourth track is called Linear Pressure. While I had barely starting crafting the soundtrack for LightWalk, I had decided that adding punny titles for song would be a fun gag. So, in effect, this is a sister song to Derived from the Quadratic. Linear Pressure was made first, and references a line. Derived was made second, and the derivative of a quadratic function is a line. As a music major that hasn’t taken math in five years, I quickly ran out of steam and decided to lullaby and put this gag to sleep. However, I am still taking suggestions on more punny names. Hm… Oh, a fact about the music? Ah, I was wrapped up in my puns. Oh no, gotta think of something…Well, this was supposed to be the definitive “puzzle” theme for the song, taking all the factors and elements of a puzzle game’s writing style and producing an electronic song that followed the same rules. It has a plain, melody, plenty of repetitive themes that play over and over each other, and allow you to concentrate on the game itself but still adds value to the gameplay. I personally love that I wrote an entire section of music that fits over both chord progressions, as they shine different lights on the melody and changes the mood you interpret. I am a huge fan of the Professor Layton game series, and have finished all of the core series, so the inspiration of this game comes directly from that. We don’t have any hint coins in this game, so you’re just going to have sit and think…

 

Retroactive

Our last track of this blog post is simply titled Retroactive. I think it really rounds out the blog post and the soundtrack as calm, trance song. With the other parts of the soundtrack being high energy, speedy track, this quiet introspective song is a deep breath of air. When I was a kid in middle school is when I got into emulation and retro-gaming. My brother in law had a Dreamcast with a CD set of Nester and a huge ROM selection, so I would spend hours just flipping through the ROMs on the CD set. One small gem I found was Taboo, an old Rare game that was basically a poorly crafted tarot card reader. In general I like niche-y occult-y stuff, so it influenced me in a weird way. I would play it all the time, and it would have jingles and songs for the cards stuck in my head. When I made this song, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it sounded like or why it felt so personal and nostalgic to me. Then I realized it was largely influenced by the music in that game, and was really just a trance interpretation of an old, obscure NES game. Bonus points if you listen to the game’s songs and figure out which card influenced this track.

 

And that’s it! This is only a part of the soundtrack, we have a lot more tracks up our sleeve. However, one doesn’t really show their entire hand instantly, right? I feel this is a good assortment and sampling of tracks that I hope will get you interested in both playing the game and seeing what else we have in store for the soundtrack. We at Timeless have a couple of things planned for this, so far we’re confident that the game and the soundtrack will be available at the same time. We will be working out the details of soundtrack distribution and may bring in some help to spread the soundtrack. If you like what I have so far, drop me a line on Twitter at @ttrlovesmittens!

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