Hi everyone! While I'm still busy fixing and tweaking the things I discovered during the last live playtesting session, I might as well tell you about a little side project I've been doing over the last few weeks: designing how Olvand's new nights 'sound'.
The audio director
You might remember that Olvand's music is leitmotivic; there are several little melodies that represent various concepts in the game ('home', 'the forest', etc.). The Olvand audio director (which is an algorithm of course, not a real 'director') regularly checks which of these themes are appropriate, and then selects a track which contains most or all of these. Furthermore, the audio director manages the various soundscapes the game has (bird sounds, falling water drops in caves, etc).
Until now, this audio director completely ignored the time of day, which could lead to the odd situation that a happy bouncy track accompanied by bird sounds could kick in in the middle of the night. I never really noticed this before, because I was so busy improving the night from a visual perspective, but once I did I immediately knew that this should be fixed.
A quiet surprise
My first change was to quiet the birds; the soundscape now cross-fades into sounds of chirping crickets in the evening, and back into birds in the morning. But what to do about the music? I considered creating a 'night theme' for some time, but I eventually decided not to do that, because this would then become a melody I'm more or less forced to play very frequently (every night) without the player having any control over the concept it belongs to. I'd rather link the themes to something the player can control; for example, the city theme only plays when the player actually goes into a city (and is mixed with the 'home' theme when a player goes into his home city, etc.).
The alternative, then, is to create more quiet music that contains existing themes, so that's what I've been doing. Or actually, my first step was to go through to the stuff I had composed earlier... and what do I find? A really quiet version of the forest theme I had never used, and had completely forgotten about. It even said 'for the night'! Apparently, this idea has crossed my mind before:
What a surprise! I've added it immediately; now, when the audio director has to pick new background music, and it's dark, this has a serious chance to get picked as well.