Realms Beyond – A classic turn-based fantasy RPG

Sound Design #2: Attentive music matters

On the technical side, modern computer game development, especially in the field of roleplaying games, it appears, is very heavily focused on the visual presentation. Eye candy sells, there can be no doubt. Many will argue that music and the sound design are somehow important, too, but for the most part, it is the graphics that draw players in.

Back in the early days of computer games, computer RPGs never really considered graphics as their key focus. A large part of the reason was that hardware limitations kept things in check and so, game designers turned to music and sound effects to create the proper atmosphere. Nowadays, we have come to think that a bunch of hyperrealistic graphics with some epic music underneath make for great atmosphere, but you really couldn’t be more wrong.

Music offers very subliminal ways to manipulate the player’s mood. Especially in computer games it can affect the mood in so many different ways. And that’s the reason why we care not only about adequate graphics but also about precisely-tailored music (and sound effects, as you already know). To achieve this goal, we pay a lot of attention to the creation of the music for Realms Beyond.

We are currently working on the different combat themes. To achieve a dense atmosphere, we decided that we needed not only one but several separate themes. The driving force behind this decision was that e felt it was important to underscore different types of combat situations with different types of music. A small skirmish has a very different feel than an epic battle and the music needs to reflect that appropriately.

But it goes beyond that. Skeletons, for example, are very different from human knights. Not only do they look different or fight differently, no, they also have to have a different sound design. It is our job to create different types of atmospheres for different kinds of encounters because after meeting the skeletons, an encounter with goblins or a diabolic demon should also have a different sonic quality.

DilrubaBy the time it is all said and done, every type of enemy will have it’s own rhythm, harmony or motif and, perhaps, even it’s own signature instrumentation. This will be in addition to the original Realms Beyond instrument setup, consisting of a string sextet, some large o-Daiko Drums and several other instruments that have very unique sound qualities to fit in with the dark and gloomy mood of our game.

But I get it, talk is cheap. You want to hear something. Alright. Let’s take a look at the Undead. If you get tangled up in combat with these guys, aside from the standard string sextet, you will also hear a scary-sounding Indian dilruba, along with the sounds of anklungs, which always remind me of rattling bones.

To illustrate this, here are three sound samples for you to listen to. Each one represents a different type of enemy. But please keep in mind, we have slightly reduced the quality of these MP3s to conserve bandwidth here on the web. In the final game, you will be able to enjoy music and sound effects in much higher quality, of course. I should also point out that music is still a work in progress and that what you hear is not a final piece of the game.

Music by Bastian Kieslinger.

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