Developer Diary – 88 – Music Process

In this diary, I talk about the process working with the composer for creating the music for Neverending Nightmares.

Hello! So today I’d like to talk a bit about the musical process. So Skyler McGlothlin is the composer for the game. He also composed Retro/Grade. I’m not sure how other games work with their composers on AAA titles, we seemed to be pretty hands off like we would just give them descriptions of things and then get music back. Fortunately, I have a sort of collaborative working relationship with Skyler.

Basically, the way it usually starts is that I describe what I’m looking for and the level to give him a sort of an idea of the theme. The music you’re hearing right now is a first draft for the music on the first starting level. I think before he did the starting level, I found this Phillip Glass piece that I really like, I think it’s called ‘Prophecies’ from one of the “-qatsi” series, I think the first one which is ‘Koyaanisqatsi’. I felt like it had sort of a creepy vibe, and in a previous developer diary, I talked about how we’re sort of doing this theme of descent, so the starting level, I didn’t want to be as creepy or have that same level of darkness as the second level. I think he nailed the melody in this version of the song, I think the ambience is a little scratchy or rough, so I gave him that feedback, and then he prepared the final version which is spot on. I’m really happy with it, I think it really fits with what we’re trying to do in the first level. We wanted a melody to make things more grounded, less dark and I think this really sets the mood.

So the next track we were doing is for the eventual level that will use the enemy prototype that we’ve been working on for a while now. I pitched some ideas to Skyler, I had some reference music and some things that I felt would really match the theme of the level. Yet again, he puts together a version and we go back and forth, so it works really well as I’m in the loop. I remember on one AAA title we just got our songs super late in production and the music didn’t really line up with what we wanted but by then it was too late. I guess that’s just the way it works!

I think the music is something that is very important to our game so I can imagine working in that way, you know keeping in the loop with Skyler is extremely helpful and really makes the game much better.