Making your video game score feel as natural as a film soundtrack

The challenges of making your video game score feel as natural as a film soundtrack is something our employee Martin Barreby is very familiar with. Here is his blog post about working in both industries and why it is a difference between composing for these mediums.

Born into a family of musicians, I have been fascinated with music since I was a kid. Starting with drums at the age of 10, I quickly progressed to guitar and other instruments as I grew up. I’ve always been interested in writing music and aspired to write for either the video game or movie industry, dreams that would become a reality later in my life.

Working on various upcoming projects, I have been involved in music production on everything from expansive RPGs to mobile puzzle games. In recent years I have also been involved in music production on video features, including an episode of the Angry Video Game Nerd on Shwarzenneger games. Most recently, I have been working as the composer on The Game Chasers Movie (Currently set for a January 2022 release date).

Writing music for the two different mediums share some elements, but the workflow is very different. In both cases, you still need to think of how my music can help to tell the story, but for movies, you just do it and you are done. With games, you need to break up your music into smaller parts that can stay, change and evolve at any time so it can adapt to the pacing of the player.

“One player could stay in one small area for an hour while another could run through it in 30 seconds, and as a composer, you will need to prepare for both cases.”

The adaptive nature of video games is both a challenge and an opportunity for developers to get creative. One player could stay in one small area for an hour while another could run through it in 30 seconds, and as a composer, you will need to prepare for both cases.

One can always compose a couple of minutes long music loop and just let it play, but in the first case, that could get very repetitive for the players’ ears and drive them from the fun activity they are participating in and leave the area. This is where an adaptive score really shines, where we can prepare for many different cases and simply let the music change and do different things depending on the player’s actions.

It is that adaptive nature that makes Elias Software a great tool in the development process and helps make a game score work just like a movie score. The gamer should not have to notice the music; they can just feel it. Soundtracks are no longer just a playlist of songs, but something more alive, created in the moment by the players themself, controlling the flow of the music with their actions, and no experience is like the other.

Martin Barreby
Composer and product expert
Elias Software

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