The Music of Godfall: Fire & Darkness – Interview With Composer Ben MacDougall


The music of Godfall, the looter-slasher by Counterplay Video games, is one which helps inform the story of Aperion. The world filled with ruins, historical past, battle and betrayal are conveyed expertly by composer Ben MacDougall within the soundscape of Godfall. From sweeping orchestral actions to a extra mechanical, ethereal vibe, Godfall’s soundtrack covers a large gamut of sounds and feelings.

Persevering with the world of Godfall is the discharge of this week’s DLC, Fireplace & Darkness. Forward of MacDougall was the duty of constant the story of Godfall by way of its soundtrack with the acquainted, whereas additionally making certain that the music being crafted for the brand new DLC instructed the persevering with story. One which explores Fireplace, Darkness and extra. We had the possibility to talk briefly with Ben in regards to the problem of making music not only for a recreation, however a brand new IP altogether, in addition to how he approached Fireplace & Darkness

MMORPG: Going again first to the unique recreation soundtrack, how difficult was it to convey the developer’s imaginative and prescient to life by way of music? How do you’re taking iconic scenes or moments to create an evocative feeling within the participant by way of music?

Ben MacDougall: Serving to to convey a world to life by way of music is all the time a difficult job – and positively not one to be taken calmly. Godfall isn’t any exception, particularly when the developer’s imaginative and prescient is so big!

All the things on the planet of Aperion is on a complete different scale. All the small print mix into an expertise that’s fantastical and immersive – and music is a key a part of that, emotionally talking. Whereas a giant mission like this could appear daunting, it additionally means there’s plenty of materials to work with and inspiration to attract from. Ardour and collaboration are an important pairing in any surroundings, and the keenness and drive of everybody at Counterplay Video games is second-to-none.

I’ve been working with Keith Lee at Counterplay for years now, and over that point we’ve established a good way of speaking about music – actually digging in and reducing to the center of who a few of these characters are, in addition to the locations they inhabit. It’s about a lot extra than simply driving drums and low brass and so on. Positive, they’ve their place, however exploring the emotional intent behind musical decisions is the important thing to creating a rating that’s each plausible and true to the story it helps to inform.

There’s a ton of distinction throughout the unique soundtrack, from sweeping, quick paced battle themes to low, deliberate, sluggish themes like what you hear within the Water Realm: how do you strategy these variations, particularly by way of deciding on what voice (or instrumentation) you need to put with every temper?

Protecting in thoughts the thought of emotional intent being key, plenty of it comes all the way down to intestine response. I might play issues up towards cutscenes or alongside different visible materials to see how nicely it match. It’s fairly apparent that means when one thing works or not. On the sound-creation aspect of issues, there could be instances after I wasn’t intentionally engaged on Godfall and experimenting with issues within the studio, and through these periods I might give you one thing and immediately know the place it match within the rating. For all these eureka moments, there have been additionally numerous hours of sluggish iteration and parameter-tweaking to make one other sound pop in simply the way in which I’d imagined.

Irrespective of the method of attending to the top outcome, there was usually an essence or vibe from these early writing-to-picture periods that clung on all the way in which although – even because the music advanced throughout the writing course of. Belief your intestine!

One of many issues I’ve seen in each the unique soundtrack, in addition to the preview observe we’ve been in a position to pattern for Fireplace & Darkness it feels extremely orchestral, but additionally has a way of a mechanical really feel to the sound palette. How did you strategy creating this distinctive sound and did you do something attention-grabbing or unique to assist create what has turn out to be the soundscape of Godfall?

It virtually feels such as you’ve taken recognizable devices (like a cello or flute for instance) and actually amped them as much as create a particular sound that simply matches the tone and timbre of Godfall (such because the aggressive cello opening to Ascending the Tower, or the ethereal, watery nature drawing the bow provides on the cello in Waters of Aperion – if that is sensible!)

I like discovering new sounds and creating new sounds from issues. A few of the deepest, rumbling drums you hear within the rating truly began life as issues I recorded utilizing a flute, which as everybody is aware of is just not a big instrument able to deep sounds! Taking ‘pure’ sonic components, and reinventing them in new, attention-grabbing methods is one thing I’ve all the time completed – and is likely one of the most enjoyable elements of the job! The interface between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ is a selected level of fascination for me – and it positively comes throughout within the rating for Godfall, the place there’s a blurring of high-technology, historical magic, and fantastical lore.

Shifting on to the upcoming enlargement, Fireplace & Darkness, did your strategy change any when embarking on this new soundtrack versus once you began Godfall altogether?

As an enlargement, it was necessary for the music to seamlessly evolve together with the gameplay. On the finish of the day we’re all telling the identical story, and music performs a significant position in that. The Fireplace & Darkness enlargement introduces an unbelievable, new realm and a complete new mode of play, known as Lightbringer, and so each of these provided me the possibility to discover the world of Aperion and GODFALL much more. The music within the Fireplace Realm sounds very totally different to the opposite realms, and definitely has its personal sonic identification, distinctive tone and sense of place, whereas concurrently feeling prefer it belongs on the planet as a complete. Lightbringer is a complete totally different beast, however we’ll get into that a bit of later I’m positive.

The preview observe we got, Embers of Conflict, the percussion within the background actually provides off a way of one thing driving in the direction of a purpose, constructing in the direction of one thing. Nearly a mechanical have to drive the listener in the direction of, nicely…battle. How did you go about creating this really feel, particularly when juxtaposed with the lengthy tones of the cello and different strings within the foreground?

Embers of Conflict is the primary observe on the album, so the sense of anticipation is actually deliberate! It’s as a lot about visible scene-setting as it’s emotional scene-setting. The Fireplace Realm is filled with thriller and drama – from lakes of lava to towering, sharp mountains, bottomless chasms, and the haunting howls of distant enemies. This observe was about encapsulating that darkish majesty and driving all of it ahead with foreboding urgency and the sense of inevitability you’ll (or ought to!) really feel when first looking over the ashy, smoldering panorama.

Fireplace & Darkness takes gamers to new places, considered one of which being the brand new Fireplace Realm. Together with your expertise creating distinct soundscapes for Air, Earth and Water within the unique recreation, how did you strategy the sound you needed to create for hearth? Was there something particular that you just have been making an attempt to convey by way of the music particularly?

The musical content material of Fireplace & Darkness is two-fold, as you’ll hear on the soundtrack. Firstly, there’s the Fireplace Realm, which regarded very totally different to what I’d first imagined! I had been naively assuming that the realm could be shades of purple, orange, and yellow – as should you have been caught within the earth’s core or one thing. Think about my shock when I discovered myself standing in a jagged world laced with shades of deep blue and luminescent purple! The musical strategy I’d been planning modified proper there, as a result of to me, red-hot sounds very totally different to blue-hot. Fireplace is one thing of a duality, in that it’s stunning however lethal. It floats, shimmers and dances, however as everyone knows, it burns, and may kill as nicely. I needed to attract a musical parallel to that, so the signature sound of the Fireplace Realm turned this burning flute sound, which is equal elements hovering, searing and wild.

Secondly, there’s the music you’ll expertise within the Lightbringer mode, which takes place all through Aperion, and introduces a brand new, palpable sense of horror and suspense to the world – fairly in contrast to something that has come earlier than. Music has actual energy to floor a scene (in each emotion and place), and consequently, the themes of earlier realms have advanced into new, darker shadows of themselves …reflecting what has turn out to be of Aperion. By the use of instance, what as soon as might need been a hovering, shiny motif is now twisted, fragmented and knurled – by way of a combination of prolonged instrumental methods and inventive audio processing. This new mode was a extremely cool a part of the mission to write down for and was an opportunity to train a accomplished totally different set of musical muscular tissues, all whereas constructing on the established and colourful tapestry that’s Godfall, and the world of Aperion.

How has engaged on Godfall, particularly as a brand new IP, helped or possibly modified your strategy to different soundtrack work throughout the assorted mediums you concentrate on? Is there something you’ve realized that you just’ll harness in future work on account of creating the music for Godfall?

Each mission is a journey and inherently a studying expertise, so should you don’t study one thing (irrespective of how small), then you definitely’ve in all probability completed it unsuitable! I found a lot alongside the way in which – about so many issues: Tuned tongue drums, harmonic distortion, HEPA filter background noise, some very particular (and boring) writing / enhancing methods that we don’t should get into… and a lot extra!

With all that stated, the important thing takeaway for me isn’t a lot a brand new studying, however a reminder that the most effective factor we will all do is problem ourselves. It’s the challenges we rise to that make for the most effective tales. | The Music of Godfall: Fireplace & Darkness – Interview With Composer Ben MacDougall


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