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City music

This week, Super Space Galaxy just got a new music track! This time it’s for the cities in the game, an important addition since you start the game in a city. The composer, Allan Zax, has proven to be a real asset as he’s already made music for the galaxy-map and solar systems, as well as the combat. I think having so much music from one musician is helping give Super Space Galaxy more of a cohesive style.

As it turns out, Allan was able to produce the city-music straight away in the form of ‘unused tune’, a piece he’d made earlier. He can consider this ‘unused tune’ used now! It was a good fit and conveyed a sense of hustle to the cities.

If I had been going for a traditional approach, I’d probably have just accepted this music track for the city-planets, programmed it to play, and thought no more about it. However, Super Space Galaxy is not a traditional game and I wanted to have the music respond dynamically to the player’s actions in some way. I was inspired by the soundtracks for Monkey Island 2 & 3. As you explored the towns in those games, the music changed into many variations on the same theme depending on which shop you were in. I wondered if I could do something like that myself here.

Allan and I discussed what we could do, and we decided we couldn’t really have the same approach as the Monkey Island games. There, you were expected to be in the same shop for at least a few seconds, maybe minutes at a time, giving the soundtrack time to play you each version of the music. In Super Space Galaxy, the action is much faster. Allan asked me how long players might use a menu for, and I admitted that it could be less than a second. Any long-winded musical approach was out.

I decided a better move was to make a second, muffled version of the city-music and switch immediately to that if the player was using a shop menu. For you number-lovers out there, the muffling effect is done with a simple lowpass filter with a cutoff of 1373.5Hz. This would give a sense of being in a different state without having to take even a second for a transition. (Have a listen to this video which demonstrates the effect.)

This satisfied my wish to have dynamic music that responded to the player’s actions. I think the normal city-theme gives a sense of a bustling city, while the muffled version makes it feel more peaceful. It sounds a bit like a shopping mall, which is rather appropriate since you’re essentially shopping in the game’s cities.

I also arranged that when you stop and meditate in the park, the city’s music fades away to silence, leaving you with the sound of birdsong.

This helps convey what’s happening much better and should give a much clearer clue about the existence of the ‘Serenity’ bonus that is otherwise rather hidden.

Have a listen to the full track below! If you want to listen to the complete muffled version, I also made a video for that.

Thanks for reading,

Kenneth Dunlop


Published by Kenneth Dunlop

Earth's Mightiest Game Designer. Making Super Space Galaxy. Previously made Super Space Slayer 2.

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