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Diablo, Torchlight Composer Uelmen On Keys To Game Music

The composer of the soundtracks to the popular action-RPG games Diablo and Torchlight speaks to Gamasutra about what makes good game music as part of a new
July 16, 2010
The composer of the soundtracks to the two popular action-RPG games Torchlight and Diablo speaks to Gamasutra about what makes good game music as part of a new feature-length interview. According to Uelmen, game music is about more than providing a background to the game -- it also is integral to crafting the game's story. Says Uelmen, The thing about the narrative element is that you don't always want a strong narrative -- but you never want a bad narrative. It's hard to get right. If the game is emphatically not narrative-driven, but you still want the atmosphere that a good narrative gives you, that can definitely come from the writing or the music. Hopefully, both will give you some of that sense. It's hard to do right, because [narrative] is usually not the focus. It really shouldn't be the focus, because the whole essence of games is that you're supposed to be the one drawing the story forward, especially in [games like] Diablo or WoW. He also believes that game music must be live, not synth-driven, to really have an impact with listeners: ...You always want a live element in every track, even if everything else is going to be from a sample library. It feels a lot more musical if the listener has the image in their head of somebody physically performing the music. That's definitely good practice no matter what your soundtrack approach is.   I think a lot of times, people underestimate the ability of listeners to subconsciously notice when something is too sample-heavy, especially when it's the first texture you put in the foreground. That should be as live as possible. The full interview, The Real Story Of Torchlight's Music, which goes into much greater depth on Uelmen's history with Blizzard and the process of composing the soundtrack to Torchlight, is live now on Gamasutra.

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