Music in games

1 April, 2009 at 1:53 pm (game mastering)

For some games I’ve been using background music in games. I generally don’t want to fiddle with computer while gaming, so optimally I construct a playlist that the computer can play in the background as we happily roleplay. The problem, of course, is finding or building suitable playlists. Luckily, one of my friend is pretty good at finding suitable background music, even if he prefers fairly epic music.

Benefits

Mood and so on are the normal cited benefits of background music. I also use it as an improvisational tool: A significant change in the tone of background music is a good cue for making similar change in gameplay. Works as long as the music doesn’t change dramatically too often.

Recommendations

Arcana and Dargaard are great for dark and fairly ambient background music. Darkwave is the genre, I think, but I’m not expert on those. There is chanting, melodic music and rarely singing.

Ambient in general is fairly usable; for example, check Dreamstate.

Of course, sometimes someone else has done all the work and you can simply play it. Last.fm is free for some time still, hence it can be used. The best bet is to find a suitable tag or user who listens to very specific music.

9 Comments

  1. Stargazer said,

    I use background music a lot in my games. I will probably check out your recommendations soon, especially since I need some good music for an upcoming SF campaign.
    In the meantime, why not check out my music recommendations: http://www.stargazersworld.com/category/music/

  2. Tommi said,

    Hello Stargazer.

    The links on your blog certainly are very useful. I’ll check out Erdenstern immediately, as there seem to be some free tracks on their site.

  3. Gangrel767 said,

    I would recommend http://www.pandora.com. This site provides an endless stream of great music, which the project itself will match similar music for you. I usually just set up a channel for Howard Shore (LOTR Soundtrack), and it’ll play great music. try it out!

  4. Tommi said,

    Hello Gangrel.

    Pandore is unfortunately not available around here. Right now I’m investigating alternatives for Last.fm and Grooveshark seems decent, though the terms of use etc. are draconian.

    (I suppose I could access Pandora through some proxy services, but I don’t want to give them that additional bit of power. Also, intellectual monopoly/copyright and repercussions thereof suck.)

  5. Anarkeith said,

    I play in a group with a player who plays a Bard. He controls the music selection while we’re playing. It’s quite amusing, and often inspiring or eerie. Kind of cheesy sometimes, but an interesting bit of flavor (and brilliant RPing on the part of the player) that we all enjoy.

  6. Tommi said,

    Hello Anarkeith.

    That’s a good one. Does fiddling with music not take the player’s focus away from the game?

  7. Bruce said,

    Hi Tommi

    Great post. The recommendations from you and Stargazer are very useful. I’ve thought about using background music for gaming on a number of occasions but, as you say, building an appropriate playlist has always been a problem. Your suggestions makes me want to give it another go.

    Thanks

  8. Tommi said,

    Hello Bruce. I do hope it works for you.

  9. oberonthefool said,

    I like Apocalyptica for this sort of thing, but honestly, most of the time I like as few distractions as possible. My brain is small =\

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