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Music

Guild Wars 2 composer talks live orchestras and season two sounds

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Music, Buy-to-Play

If you're into MMO music, Guild Wars 2, or both, you'll want to have a look at the latest ArenaNet video that goes behind the scenes on the music production for season two of the game's "living world." The clip is hosted by composer Maclaine Diemer, who explains how working with a live orchestra enhances both the music and the gameplay experience.

"When you hear live music while you're playing, you feel it on a much more visceral level," Diemer says. "What we recorded matches the aesthetic already set in Guild Wars 2, and I also think that it stands on its own as something unique and fresh."

Click past the cut to watch the vid.

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Lion's Arch Lament dissected for Guild Wars 2 fans

Fantasy, Culture, Lore, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Music, Buy-to-Play

Nothing lasts forever.  Or revives forever.
The destruction of Lion's Arch formed the centerpiece of Guild Wars 2's first Living Story finale, an event with a big emotional impact for players who had grown accustomed to the city's presence. How do you summarize such a huge event? With music, of course. A new development blog on the official site details the creation of "Lion's Arch Lament," music that commemorates the destruction while at the same time walking through the history of the city in just a few moments.

The piece starts off with an homage to the music most strongly associated with Lion's Arch in the original Guild Wars, then ties in Scarlet's Theme and the city music from Guild Wars 2 to herald its return and destruction. If you're familiar with the game's music, you should give the post a read and listen to the song; it's likely to stir at least a few emotions about the city and its loss.

Jukebox Heroes: Dungeon Runners' soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Jukebox Heroes, Music

dungeon runners
Does anyone still remember Dungeon Runners? I do, at least. It was that quirky Diablo-style MMO from NCsoft that ran from 2007 to 2010, openly lampooning RPG and online gaming tropes while actually being pretty fun to play. I dipped in and out of it over the years, never being fully engrossed but appreciating its sense of humor -- and its soundtrack.

As Composer Tracy W. Bush put it in his interview with us a while back, "The music was a mish-mosh of straightforward Diablo-style dungeon crawly stuff in the exploration bits, but when it came to the boss fights, each of them was a specific sub genre of music. I did country and western, black metal, klezmer, an oompa loompa song, disco... I can't even remember them all. I had a blast."

I had a blast myself listening through the score, which lives on to this day, and have a selection of hand-picked tracks that I think nails the attitude that Dungeon Runners exuded.

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Lord of the Rings Online's Weatherstock returns this weekend

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Music

lotro
Weatherstock, the annual player-run music festival in Lord of the Rings Online, will be returning for its sixth appearance this weekend.

This year there will be two elements of the festival. The first is the Weatherstock Concert Series, which features longer sets leading up to the battle of the bands, i.e., Weatherstock itself. Ten player groups will perform for the crowd and compete against each other at the summit of Weathertop. Last year there were over 700 players in attendance.

Weatherstock VI will take place on the Landroval server this Saturday afternoon, June 14th. The Weatherstock schedule is up, as is a FAQ and a Twitter feed for important updates.

Jukebox Heroes: Guild Wars 2's living story soundtrack

Fantasy, Guild Wars 2, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Buy-to-Play

I'm going to make a bold statement here that might net me some haters, but here goes: I think that Guild Wars 2 is better off now that it's cast off Jeremy Soule and moved on to in-house composers. Soule's soundtrack was great in parts, but he's not the be-all, end-all of good video game music. And his company's unexplained decision to yank the soundtrack from its store (and not even offer a digital version) irks me beyond the telling of it. Good luck finding it!

So today I'm going to give tribute to the two men who have been forging ahead -- spectacularly, I might add -- with scoring Guild Wars 2's ongoing living story updates. Maclaine Diemer and Leif Chappelle have been whipping up a wide variety of tunes to go with the various story elements and events. To ArenaNet's credit, the studio has been posting these downloadable tracks for free on SoundCloud.

And while rumor has it that Diemer and Chappelle are already composing music for season two, I thought it'd be worthwhile to go back and share some of my favorites from their season one portfolio. I won't be dipping into Super Adventure Box, however, as we did that last year.

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The Think Tank: Listen to the music

Culture, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank, Music

Jupiter
When I logged into ultra-indie sandbox Villagers & Heroes a few weeks ago to explore its latest patch and arrival on Steam, the first thing that slammed into me was Jupiter. No, really: Holst's Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity, one of the iconic movements of The Planets suite that's been inspiring composers for a hundred years. I just wasn't expecting to hear it verbatim during character creation. It's... well, it's jolly and strangely annoying in a game context, even for someone who appreciates a good Holst-inspired game soundtrack.

For this week's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their in-game music preferences. Do they turn it off? Do they listen faithfully? Are they raiding to Bieber? I bet they are.

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Jukebox Heroes: A civil chat with Dawngate's Jeff Broadbent

Fantasy, Interviews, Free-to-Play, MOBA, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Dawngate
Massively: Today we have tea, crumpets, and the ever-so-delightful company of Composer Jeff Broadbent. Mr. Broadbent is here to talk about his work on the score for the upcoming MOBA Dawngate. So is working in the online video game world becoming a habit for you, going from PlanetSide 2 to Dawngate?

Jeff Broadbent: It does seem the online video games are becoming the norm! I am actually working on a couple of new online games also at the moment. The interesting thing about the game market today is that there are many different platforms including mobile, downloadable, online, and console, so it's quite diversified.

The Dawngate gig came about through audio director Caleb Epps. I was staying in touch with Caleb, and he let me know about a new project he was working on. He had me create a couple of demo tracks for the game, and based on that material, I was given the opportunity to score the game.

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Rebuild Lion's Arch in Guild Wars 2's Festival of the Four Winds

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Launches, Patches, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Promotions, Music, Buy-to-Play

GW2
Guild Wars 2 officially launches in China this coming Thursday, but folks in the rest of the world have had little reason to get excited... until now. ArenaNet and Chinese publisher KongZhong have just announced a global in-game festival to celebrate the launch, one we'll get to enjoy ourselves come next week. The Festival of the Four Winds arrives on May 20th for North American and European players, who will "get the opportunity to help rebuild the beloved city of Lion's Arch that was destroyed by Scarlet [Briar] in Season 1." Future game updates will be "synchronized" across the eastern and western regions so that they launch within days of each other.

We've embedded the (brief but beautiful!) teaser trailer for the festival after the break, and you can listen to Chinese singer/songwriter Jike Juan Yi's version of iconic Guild Wars 2 musical piece Fear Not This Night on KongZhong's promotional website.

[Source: ArenaNet press release]

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Jukebox Heroes: Elder Scrolls Online's soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, The Elder Scrolls Online, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Subscription

The Elder Scrolls soundtrack is pretty well-known and highly regarded, even outside of our tiny field of video game music enthusiasts. That's what you get when you have smash hit games and a conductor who knows what he's doing. Jeremy Soule helmed the musical side of the franchise from Morrowind through Skyrim, but with the MMO, that streak is broken. Soule returned only for the main theme and then headed off for more SOEish pastures, leaving Brad Derrick (Warhammer Online) and Malukah to carry on the legacy with Elder Scrolls Online.

I think that they did a fine job. It took me a while to listen through the 47-track album (and how awesome is it that it got released?), and afterward I let it stew in my brain for a bit. During a discussion with friends, I realized that while it's beautiful, there's little here that really pops out the way that past Elder Scrolls scores did. I think the music here would do a great job to enhance the gameplay experience, but on its own, it is pleasant and often lukewarm.

It's also a soundtrack that I could play from beginning to end without it grating on my nerves, which is another testament to how it goes down the ear canals smoothly. There's a good sense of cohesiveness and atmosphere, even if it lacks the rabble-rousing tracks that I was hoping to hear. Let's dig in!

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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls soundtrack available on iTunes

Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Diablo III, Music

Come on, baby, don't fear the reaper.
Sure, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls has the perfect soundtrack when you're playing Diablo III. But what can you do when you're not playing the game but you're just out reaping souls on your own time? You can't hum the songs; you'll just look like an idiot. Well, don't despair, because you can now purchase the expansion's soundtrack on iTunes and forever have access to the perfect reaping music in your day-to-day life.

The full soundtrack can be purchased for $9.99 and contains 22 tracks with a total running time of just over an hour. Clips are available on the official page in case you just want a couple of tunes and aren't quite sure what they're called; at 22 tracks, though, it's almost more economical to just buy the whole thing.

Destiny parts ways with composer, growing 'close to shipping'

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, MMOFPS, Music, Destiny

Destiny
Destiny Composer Marty O'Donnell was either fired or peacefully left Bungie last week, depending on whether you take his or the studio's testimony on the event. In either case, the fact remains that O'Donnell is no longer part of the studio.

Bungie Chief Operating Officer Pete Parsons refused to comment on the specifics of the decision but said that the game is still on track for release. He said that O'Donnell's contributions will remain part of the soundtrack, which is also being worked on by a few others.

"We have a fantastic team. We're pretty close to shipping. There's a lot of polish left to do, lots of tweaking and tuning, but a lot is already complete," Parsons said to Eurogamer.

Bungie claims that the studio and O'Donnell parted as "friends" while the composer tweeted yesterday that he was "terminated without cause."

Trove empowers community to pitch biomes and classes

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Contests, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Music, Trove

Trove
Trion Worlds is empowering the Trove community even further by inviting players to pitch ideas for a new biome and class to be added to the game.

A Reddit thread has the details of how this process will unfold. Players will begin by brainstorming ideas for biomes, and after some time, the dev team will pick the best (and top-voted) submissions and allow players to vote on the very best one. Following that, the team will poll players for decorations, dungeon designs, and enemy ideas, and then get the biome into the game within the month. There are also plans for a similar pitching-and-voting process afterward in regard to a new class.

On a phone call, Trion told Massively that it's looking to push the crowdsourcing aspect further and further as time goes on. The team is incredibly impressed with what the community has created so far with weapons, hairstyles, dungeons, and hats, and it can't wait to see what comes from this experiment.

One thing that the team revealed is the upcoming addition of music blocks: Physical objects that make notes (and even chords) when walked on. We asked if Trion was looking to crowdsource the soundtrack for the game as well, and while the devs said that no players had yet stepped forward, they promised that if some did with great tunes, those would definitely be included into the game proper.

Jukebox Heroes: Talking to HEX Composer Michael Shapiro

Fantasy, Interviews, Trading Card Games, Jukebox Heroes, Music, HEX

HEX
Massively: On today's column we have the composer of the upcoming TCG MMO, HEX. Now that's a lot of capital letters all in a row, so take a deep breath, get over it, and please welcome composer Michael Gordon Shapiro. Mike, can you give us a bit of your background in music?

Michael Gordon Shapiro: When I started my career I was only interested in film music. Game audio was just starting to emerge from the low-tech era, and there was a kind of stigma associated with it, much as there used to be with television music. As fate would have it, I was offered an in-house composer position at a game studio and was pleasantly surprised to find myself recording the same kind of live orchestral music that I loved doing for film. I also came to appreciate the high artistic effort going into both console and PC game scores.

So from that point, the stigma dissolved in my mind and my artistic palette widened. Today I love doing both film and game music, for both overlapping and complementary reasons.

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite MMO-related song?

Fantasy, Video, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Music

Malukah's Beauty of Dawn
We talk MMO soundtracks in depth here at Massively, but by and large our focus is on instrumental, orchestral, or electronic scores. Recently I've been setting my MP3 player on auto-repeat for a vocal track, though. It's called Beauty of Dawn and it comes to you courtesy of The Elder Scrolls Online and fan favorite Malukah, who rose to fame a couple of years ago on the strength of her Dragonborn cover.

What about you, Massively readers? What's your favorite MMO-related song (or artist)?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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Make your own kind of music in Guild Wars 2

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Music, Player-Generated Content, Buy-to-Play

And now the song is in your head, too.
You could be forgiven for overlooking the new drum in Guild Wars 2's cash shop -- it's just a cosmetic thing for roleplayers who stand around town, right? Well, not exactly, and a developer diary from ArenaNet audio programmer Aaron McLeran aims to explain why you should care (and buy all the things). The drum actually allows players to select from two modes: a pre-set groove mode, which lets you auto-play several drum tracks solo or in time with other players' tracks, and user groove mode, which starts to travel into Lord of the Rings Online territory. Says McLeran,
The first five skill buttons have five unique drum sounds respectively. Each sample can be triggered individually so the drum can perform like our previous instruments in free-play mode. The only difference is the drum will quantize beat events so that they always sound good to you – and in rhythm. If you push the sixth or seventh skill slot, you put the drum into "loop-record" mode. If this is the first time you've pushed it, you'll hear a nice little click-track (that only you can hear!) that gives you an idea of where the "global" pulse is. Think of it like a count off: "A one, a two, a one two three four!" Then, when you push the drum sample set skill buttons again, they'll actually loop back on themselves. You can build up ever more complicated and funky grooves.
We just have one question: Where's our Bard class?

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