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Jukebox Heroes: Ultima X Odyssey's soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, Ultima Online, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Ultima X Odyssey's soundtrack
Out of all of the MMOs that never made it to launch, Ultima X Odyssey could have really been something. It had a wonderfully stylized look, an immense amount of resources and talent behind it, the Ultima franchise legacy to draw upon, a cool morality choice system, and a pretty strong following. All of that fell apart when EA pulled the plug on the project in 2004, leaving fans in the lurch.

However, since UXO was far enough along in development, it's one of those cancelled MMOs that has an actual soundtrack (just like Project Copernicus, which I talked about a few weeks ago). Composer Chris Field completed and recorded an album for the game in 2003, and although it was never released, it was distributed into the wild for free, and certain portions of the soundtrack were repurposed for the game Lord of Ultima.

I have to say that it's a good (possibly even great) score, and it's a shame it didn't get to be in an MMO for us gamers to appreciate. That doesn't mean we can't have a listen right now and speculate on what players in parallel universes might be enjoying right now, yes?

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Lord of the Rings Online offers up the Helm's Deep soundtrack

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Expansions, News Items, Free-to-Play, Music

Music to get gang-rushed by orcs to.
All right, Lord of the Rings Online fans, another expansion is coming out really soon. It's only a week away. But maybe you still can't stand the wait. You're logging in and playing the game every night but you need something to make the next few days bearable. That's a bit of an overreaction, but Turbine has you covered with the addition of the Helm's Deep soundtrack to SoundCloud.

Yes, you can now listen to the entire soundtrack from wherever, although you won't be able to download the tracks for obvious reasons. The music is the same orchestral score that players have come to expect from the game, with an atmosphere of desperate conflict and impending violence. It's the sort of thing that's very well-suited to a protracted siege and a last stand against Mordor, in other words. Even if you're not a fan of Lord of the Rings Online you can enjoy the soundtrack.

Jukebox Heroes: RuneScape's soundtrack

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

Jukebox Heroes RuneScape's soundtrack
How much music does the average MMO contain? It depends, of course, but I doubt that many games are able to reach the number that RuneScape does. Are you ready for it? It's 982 tracks. I'm dead serious. It's not just that RuneScape has been out since the beginning of the internet but that the team continues to add new music regularly. It's really insane -- just check out this list of updates.

What's even neater is that RuneScape treats its music as unlockable content, just like other types of rewards. So while you start out with 70 or so tracks in your in-game music player, you'll have to go to certain places or perform certain feats to get the rest. Why have I never heard of this before? That's brilliant!

So obviously, even if I had all 982 tracks on my computer (which I do not), I'm not going to take a week off of work to review them all for you. I love you, but that love has limits. Instead, I've listened to perhaps a tenth of that (including the new stuff by Composer James Hannigan) and chosen a few tracks to share that I feel exemplify this MMO's score.

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Blink-182 will bring BlizzCon to an 'epic conclusion'

Culture, Events (Real-World), Miscellaneous, Music

Blink182 will bring BlizzCon to 'epic conclusion'
Blizzard's already starting its surprises for BlizzCon, announcing that the punk rock group Blink-182 will be closing the convention on November 9th.

The concert is scheduled to wrap up BlizzCon 2013, and Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime can't stop gushing about the big show: "After two days of hard work watching games and playing games and talking about games, we can't think of a better way to kick back and relax than to have your face melted by Blink-182. We're thrilled to have such an awesome band helping us bring BlizzCon to an epic conclusion."

While BlizzCon is completely sold out, fans can still purchase a Virtual Ticket from the site or a Pay Per View event from DIRECTV to see Blink-182's performance.

Jukebox Heroes: Halloween tunes

Events (In-Game), Opinion, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Halloween tunes
Darkness falls across the land. The midnight hour is close at hand. Creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize your neighbourhood. And whosoever shall be found without the soul for getting down must stand and face the hounds of hell. ~ Thriller

Is it thriller night already? It's just about, actually, and that means that we need to get a little freaky and a lot creepy in today's edition of Jukebox Heroes. Let's put aside our jaunty ballads and epic fanfares for music of the crypt. Let's dance with skeletons and play pin-the-wart-on-the-witch as these tunes fill our ears.

My advice? Turn it up. If you keep the monsters rocking out, then they'll be too preoccupied to eat you.

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Jukebox Heroes: Reader requests 2

Culture, Opinion, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Reader requests 2
It's been far too long -- going on 10 months now, in fact -- since we last had a reader request week here on Jukebox Heroes. My bad! I'll try to do these a little more often from now on. The idea here is to take all of your comments from previous columns, sift them for "oh man, why didn't you include [name of tune]? That's the best!" mentions, and compile a few of them to share with everyone. After all, I'm certainly not the beginning, middle, and end of taste in MMO music.

So here we go with several reader requests over the past year, covering a wide span of MMO scores. There's bound to be a few good listens in here, so give them all a try and let me know which of your favorite tracks we should cover in part 3!

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Jukebox Heroes: Lineage II's soundtrack

Fantasy, Lineage 2, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Lineage II's soundtrack
Once again, I must begin this column by advising you to jettison your attitude toward an MMO when it comes to evaluating its music. Lineage II doesn't have the rabid following in the West that it seems to overseas, and I've heard a lot of negativity thrown its way (some of it quite deserved, but this is me jettisoning). However -- and I don't say this lightly -- its musical score is absolutely superb. It's right up there with the best of the industry and deserves to be heard.

Its many soundtrack albums have a small army of composers powering them: Bill Brown, Jamie Christopherson, Inon Zur, Hyobum Lim, Chihwan Kim, Junyup Lee, Junghwan Park, Junghye Hong, and Changbeom Kim. Collaboratively, these folks have assembled a sizable body of work that spans a decade of video game music.

The Lineage II soundtrack is, at times, cinematic, tranquil, lovely, and exciting. Check out these six tracks for a taste of the best, and if that interests you, you might want to listen to my recent Battle Bards podcast in which we dissect this score.

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Jukebox Heroes: 14 MMO soundtracks you can check out on SoundCloud

Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes X MMO soundtracks you can check out on SoundCloud
I'm a pretty slow adopter of new technology and services, so I've only recently really started paying attention to the music-sharing service that is SoundCloud because I've started to see more and more MMO composers plopping down their work onto the site for the world to enjoy. Now that I've spent some time with SoundCloud, I've got to say just how impressed I am with what it can offer to the soundtrack community.

Composers and studios can put their soundtracks up on the site for people to listen through without that annoying arbitrary 30-second limit that certain digital distribution platforms use. In addition to providing music for the ears, musicians have the option to show where these albums can be purchased -- and in some cases, offer the tracks as a free download. In return, listeners can tag portions of the songs and have back-and-forth discussions with the composers.

I've done a lot of digging and have discovered quite a few MMO soundtracks that are available on SoundCloud, including some that you can legally download and enjoy today. Here are 14 to get you started, but if you see any more, please let us all know in the comments!

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Jukebox Heroes: The Secret World's radio songs

Horror, Sci-Fi, Opinion, The Secret World, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Buy-to-Play

Jukebox Heroes The Secret World's radio songs
With its contemporary setting, The Secret World has the opportunity to include not only an original score but regular songs as well. Funcom's handled this by broadcasting rock, techno, and other genre tunes over the many in-game radios, much as how Grand Theft Auto fans can tune into different stations to hear a wide variety of tracks.

Not so long ago, the studio even held a contest for fans and artists to submit additional tunes to be included in the game, ending up with 11 new tracks that you might hear while clothes shopping, hanging out at a club, or perusing records at a store. Some are pretty darn good, too.

So let's dispense with the traditional format of this column today and take a listen to what Radio TSW has to offer us. Alas, there will be no "Thriller." We checked.

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Jukebox Heroes: Tracy W. Bush opens up about WoW, Dungeon Runners, and DCUO

World of Warcraft, Interviews, DC Universe Online, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Tracy W Bush opens up about WoW, Tabula Rasa, and more
Odds are that even if you don't know who Tracy W. Bush is, you've allowed him to pipe music from his mind directly into your ears at one point or another during your MMO gameplay. Bush has contributed to tons of MMO soundtracks over the past decade-plus, including World of Warcraft, Tabula Rasa, Dungeon Runners, Auto Assault, and DC Universe Online.

It was actually this column's discussion of the Tabula Rasa soundtrack that prompted Bush to write in (fun fact: Blue Turns to Grey was the first track he wrote for the game, but the team held off putting it in until the very end), and I asked him if he'd be open to chatting about his collective work here. That didn't take much arm-twisting, no sirree.

So with that, I'm going to turn the mike over to Tracy Bush and let him share with you what it's like to create soundscapes that echo so powerfully in your memories.

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Jukebox Heroes: TERA's soundtrack

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

Jukebox Heroes TERA's soundtrack
Within the small but passionate video game music community, there's a common gripe that goes around regarding studios' haphazard methods of distributing and selling original soundtracks. My general thought is that it's not that hard to just make a soundtrack a digital purchase through Amazon, iTunes, etc. for those who are interested in purchasing it, but more often than not, one has to look high and low to figure out how to get the desired music.

What's even worse is when a soundtrack is released in different editions by region. Take today's subject, TERA, as an example. TERA's OST was at least released, but in two different editions: the limited 26-track edition given to Europe and Japan and the expansive 50-track edition that debuted in the US. It's just silly to do this sort of thing, but we see it all the time (and don't get me started on the way-too-expensive Japanese import of Final Fantasy XIV's Before Meteor).

Anyway, I have a burr in my saddle about this today because TERA is a tremendous soundtrack. It's rich, evocative, and just plain catchy in parts. If you've listened to only part of this score composed by Inon Zur and Rod Abernethy, then you owe it to yourself to scrounge up the full deal. Here are my favorites!

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Hearthstone makes three music tracks available

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Music

Hearthstone makes three music tracks available
Blizzard wants to give you an earful -- of Hearthstone, that is. The studio's released a handful of music tracks from the upcoming digital card game, and you can get them for free right the heck now.

If the score sounds a little familiar, that's on purpose. Lead Designer Eric Dodds commented on the soundtrack's aim, saying, "Ultimately, we wanted the music to convey three important things -- Warcraft, whimsy, and warmth -- to reflect the lighthearted nature of the game, and to make players feel as though they were sitting in their favorite tavern from Warcraft."

The released tracks are Hearthstone Revealed, Bad Reputation, and Tabletop Battles.

Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft's Mosaic soundtrack

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Opinion, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes World of Warcraft's Mosaic soundtrack
If you were one of the lucky ducks who went to BlizzCon in 2009 and you were a soundtrack fan, then life smiled upon you. It was there and there only that Blizzard sold a now-rare World of Warcraft soundtrack called Mosaic. I guess "Mosaic" sounded better than "Leftovers," although that's really what it was: a collection of leftover tracks that hadn't been included in an official WoW soundtrack to date.

The amazing thing is, Mosaic is quite good -- better, I think, than The Burning Crusade. I was pretty shocked to discover it a year or so ago, although I wasn't as shocked considering how much I've come to realize that studios just don't put out a lot of their game's music.

So what we have here is a hodge-podge of 16 tracks ranging from the silly to the sublime. They might not be as famous as some of the featured tunes from the other soundtracks, but chances are that if you played WoW, you'll recognize them even so. Here are my picks for the best of the litter.

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Jukebox Heroes: Age of Wushu's soundtrack

Fantasy, Historical, Opinion, Sandbox, Jukebox Heroes, Age of Wushu, Music

Jukebox Heroes Age of Wushu's soundtrack
You're probably not going to catch me in Age of Wushu any time soon. I mean, don't get me wrong, kidnapping and castration are definitely the innovative features we as an MMO community have been begging for, but "PvP sandbox" is like spraying a game with anti-Justin repellent.

But I will gladly listen to Age of Wushu's soundtrack because it is simply wonderful. I was really just expecting very generic Chinese music -- you know, the kind you might hear as muzak in your local take-out restaurant. Instead, this is a score worthy of a movie adjacent to Jet Li's presence. Perhaps that's why he's shilling for this game.

I couldn't track down the composer for this, so if any of you know, drop me a line and I'll make sure to give you credit. What I do know is that it was a great pleasure to listen through this entire score, and picking out just six tracks to highlight proved a challenging task.

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Jukebox Heroes: Wurm Online's soundtrack

Fantasy, Wurm Online, Opinion, Humor, Sandbox, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Wurm Online's soundtrack
When is a soundtrack not a soundtrack? When it's Wurm Online, of course. This cult sandbox has one of the most unusual scores that I've ever heard paired with an MMO. It's made up of sparsely used incidental music that just so happens to be folksy blues songs (with lyrics), composed by Joss Sanglier and performed by 21st Century Blues. It's catchy, don't get me wrong, but it comes with a case of mental whiplash if you were expecting the typical fantasy fare. Think of it this way: All of these songs sound as if they were originally made for a steakhouse commercial.

"In Wurm, we don't play music constantly," explained Lead Designer Rolf Jansson. "Instead we play a song every now and then often based on the setting or a special event such as when you form a village. If you ever played the Lara Croft Tomb Raider game, the rare music scores really enhanced special situations, and that's what I was aiming for as well."

To make matters more interesting, recently the Wurm Online team has sponsored the creation of not one, not two, but three concept albums that will be worked into the game itself. The first such album, Meditation and Work, is now out and is quite good. While we're going to look at the "classic" Wurm tunes today, I didn't want to overlook this new project. Perhaps we'll even get back to it some day!

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