Dev Blog #28: Music in Battle Brothers
With our Steam Greenlight campaign still running and us busy working on the strategic worldmap, this week we’ll get some insight into how music is created for Battle Brothers and how it helps to shape the experience of playing the game.
We’ll give the floor to Dennis and Patrick, our talented musicians from Breakdown Epiphanies, who will give you a tour of the music in Battle Brothers in their own words and even reveal several brand new tracks for you to listen to. If you want to be always up to date regarding new tracks for Battle Brothers, you can also follow them on Soundcloud or Twitter. But for now, let’s listen in..
Hi there! Today we, Dennis and Patrick from Breakdown Epiphanies, get the opportunity to talk about our musical background and give you a little insight on the music we've been writing for Battle Brothers. On top of that we're happy to share some new tracks that offer a first impression of the games' upcoming features like the strategic world map, the Orc faction and villages.
We have been making music together for more than ten years now, mostly in rock/hardcore bands but we always experimented with more electronic sounds and production on the side. The other thing we did a lot of since our childhood was playing video games. We share dear memories of some themes from games like Terranigma, Secret of Mana, Unreal or Shining Force.
Early this year we decided that it was time for a leap of faith, to put us out there and talk to game developers all around the web. Luckily, we ended up meeting the awesome guys from Overhype Studios who not only work on an incredibly promising game but also live (for the most part) in our hometown, Hamburg. Battle Brothers immediately struck a nerve with us due to its charming art style and its reminiscence of the old X-Com and Jagged Alliance games. So we stacked up on new digital instruments, orchestra- and scoring libraries, started learning about orchestration and began composing.
As Battle Brothers' gameplay revolves mostly around desperate battles to the (perma-)death, the soundtrack has to convey a sense of danger and tension. So the general mood we aimed for was reasonably dark while still evoking a notion of adventure and exploration. The first thing we came up with ended up to be the main menu theme which already points in this general direction.
At the moment, the guys from Overhype are working overtime on the game's strategic world map layer so we are happy to present our first track for this slice of gameplay. We really wanted to emphasize the feeling of exploration and discovery on this one. The player should immediately recognize this as a part of the game that has its own pacing and set of choices. For the sake of continuity the harp used in the menu theme plays a role in this one, too, starting out with a short, memorable cue that can be identified with changing screens to the world map.
We plan on having several tracks playing in this section of the game, so certain themes can be put out of or added to the rotation depending on the players progress, i.e. the music will become more dramatic and sombre as the threat of the "Greater Evil" conquering the lands becomes more imminent.
The music accompanying tactical combat has to be a totally different beast. Players will have to focus and concentrate on small decisions over a long period of time and the soundtrack isn't supposed to dominate the experience and to distract from the core-gameplay. Nevertheless battles are supposed to feel tense and hazardous and each faction will have it's identity reflected in the choice of instrumentation and style.
Regarding the Orc faction we had a lot of established tropes to play around with: Orcs are perceived as chaotic, fierce, almost savage-like opponents, yet they usually maintain a sort of military hierarchy. Our track ended up being a mix of soundscape and score, dominated by menacing drums but interrupted by swift tribal percussion. Generally we went with a lot of low end on this one, from the staccato celli and upright basses to deep drone-sounds and a (hopefully memorable) brass cue.
Last, but not least, you can have a listen to the first village theme. It will play in the background as our fellow Battle Brothers stack up on equipment and hire new recruits. We grabbed our guitar for this one and came up with a classical medieval sounding finger picking piece. The time that players spend in villages and towns will hopefully be a welcome opportunity to relax between all those deadly battles:
We hope you enjoy the tunes! If you want to be kept in the loop regarding new tracks for Battle Brothers, follow us on Soundcloud or Twitter. We'll be regularly sharing our new compositions up to the game's release.