For nearly three decades, music has been an integral part of the experience gamers get out of their favourite past times.
Just as with movies, music can help set the tone in a video game. It can get you pumped up for an adrenaline-fuelled action sequence, or lay the emotional tracks for a scene full of important dialogue.
But unlike movie viewers, the player has control over many situations they encounter in a video game.
In a game — but especially in an open-world game like “Grand Theft Auto” or Sony’s upcoming “Infamous: Second Son” — the music has to react to what you’re doing so that it doesn’t sound mismatched.
You don’t want percussion-heavy combat music when you’re just walking around taking in the sights, and you don’t want quiet, emotional pieces playing while you mow down dozens of enemies in an intense fire fight.
Today, I got to tour PlayStation’s state-of-the-art music studio, where I met the guys responsible for creating blockbuster-quality music for the games that make people buy Sony’s consoles.
A few more characters. I didn't expect to see them when I got out of an elevator and did a double-take.
This giant Sony TV and its ridiculous speaker setup makes my 32-inch set back home look downright puny.
A small statue of the protagonist from the upcoming PS4 game 'Infamous: Second Son.' They 3D print them on campus, so you can find memorabilia like this everywhere.
Inside the company's music studio. The projector and audio setup is so nice that employees sometimes come in here to do their gaming.
PlayStation Director of Music Chuck Doud gave me a walkthrough of their amazing setup and the studio's general workflow.
Like a good lens for a professional photographer, Doud says that besides the Mac, most of the equipment in this studio will be top of the line for years to come.
The studio has a wide range of instruments to handle the wide variety of musical genres used in their games.
As a guitar player, I had to stop to ogle the wide range of guitars, basses, and amps laying around the room.
Here's one of the musicians Sony brought in for the grungy industrial rock used in 'Infamous: Second Son.'
Connected to the recording room is another state-of-the-art studio. I stopped here to have a chat with the guys responsible for making blockbuster-quality music for PlayStation-exclusive games like 'Infamous: Second Son.'
He's responsible for all of the sound in Sucker Punch's games, from the musical score to the sound effects you hear as you walk around in the game's version of Seattle.
Mayer helps Meyer (I was confused, too) with the logistics of getting the music right, from lining up the right composers and lining up bands to the specifics of deciding what songs are working in the game.
I also got to meet Andrew Buresh, a music editor at PlayStation. He's the guy who makes it so that the music in a game changes appropriately when you enter combat or start a cut scene.
Mayer says that bringing music in-house lets PlayStation distribute common tasks among a core team while still letting the people making a game have the input needed to create a cohesive experience.
'I won't name names,' he says, 'but you can see it in plenty of games: you start playing and can instantly hear that the music just wasn't done before they shipped.' Mayer says PlayStation can do better, even while working on 25 or more titles at a time.
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