Art – The curse of expression
Art by definition is a form of self-expression and could be labeled–in some circles–as the pinnacle of human existence. Despite it being one of the most polarizing substances known to humanity. As art is entirely a subjective matter, both in terms of value of appreciation and associated value of currency. Both, especially the latter can vary a lot: Can–either–worth the entire wealth of a nation, or be rendered meaningless if deemed so. The catch is that value, one that is associated with art, and what can easily lead to its demise, is tied to what the given standards are in any particular society (or what may or may not be universally acceptable on a global scale), what is favorable and in fashion, what is thought after by enthusiasts, what price is embedded in said Art (both intellectually and/or materialistically), and could be only gained–truly–if endorsed by certain "governing" bodies (e.g., famous artist, critics, curators, collectors, influencers, etc., in the most strict sense). Art is a form of privilege that is mainly bestowed upon those who deemed worthy: Be in the right time and in the right place, and have the necessary connections and tools to reach an one's (target) audience.
The above bears great significance, because of the nature of human beings, the market–whichever field one might participate in–is generally overly-saturated (and highly disruptive, hostile and envious) and is mostly driven by fierce competition; stemming from the misconception that Art, just as many other profession, could be taken up and mastered quickly, by anyone; and that it requires no effort and dedication to master. This translates to the fact of how a plethora of work is being created each day, and as in most cases, the Art of the ordinary people never get to see daylight; so to speak. And with such grim prospective, on an already difficult terrain, one can easily find themselves questioning one's abilities and motives over and over; or even question the "authority" to pursue such ambitions, and cloud the mind to a great extent. Not mentioning the obstacles that lay ahead, if one is hoping to reach any-form of success, purely from a materialistic form of approach: Struggle becomes "The style of living"–more so a constant companion of austerity. So-much-so that it has the power, this "Great barrier of neglect", to deter and crush ideas and aspirations, way before those could fully mature and come to fruition. Apart from a selected few, who gained acceptance and fame to be able to fully commit themselves to their form of Art, or be born into it, many either feel discouraged and unwilling to continue with their pursuits. Or in rare occasions, live long enough to witness their slow mental decay and degradation of their self and their art, in an ever growing "bubble" of aspiration–this be the classic "Sunk Cost Fallacy" paradigm. This also has profound implications on one's ability to create and see a future of possibilities . . .
To a great degree, this is where one found themselves over and over: Constantly pushing beyond what could be seen, and be blanketed by the illusion of self-belief that there has to be someone–out there–with similar inclinations towards Art (with the main focus being on deep, complex and thoughtful storytelling and experiences), after decades of obscurity and agonizing conditions and adventures. The implications of such are that patterns began to emerge, after such long existence, ones that clearly have been seen before, and be known of their not-so-fortunate outcome: And one is just about to reach its end and begin its endless course again. This . . . this relentless cycle is where it all began, and all will end–allegedly.
The goal, the ultimate goal and belief is that there is still a market for creating quality-rich content that reaches beyond the nowadays mass-manufactured abominations, that many now call entertainment. This decline is not unique to video games, nor Art in general: It is the result of corporate min-maxing, gating, a great deal of misinformation and aggregation of services. One does not need to look too far, as such complaints of art usually appear every now and then in the media; making little to no difference at all.
Life's but an endless flow of problems, wanting to be solved
Almost three months have passed (which roughly marked the 1 year of production) since the announcement of the technical completion of the game (which name had to be reveled with the writing of this article below, due to unforeseen circumstances described later) over at Twitter, yet there has not been any updates of the final release (in a blog form) since the production went into its last phase: Let it be called post-production for creating cinematics, sound and music. Generally, the game should have been released by now (according to the schedule), but there were–and still are–complications that derailed all previous calculations and expectations–unfortunately, not in a positive way.
The announcement, commemoration art for the project; for how long it took, and what hurdles and sacrifices it took
The burden of not being able to reach a desired outcome with one's art, has been a constant companion alongside one's career, and somehow managed to struck again (admittedly due to not being able to produce marketable content over the years), and forced the entire production to a halt; to some extent. On one hand, the technical completion should have been quickly followed up by the making of 3 short animations, then by the addition of sound effects and music; to finish it all. All was according to plan–well mostly–and the majority of production was indeed completed for the cinematics (see the image below), and was almost set up for the final composition and render: One where the animations would have been matched up to the length of the narration and underlying music. That is when all work slowly came to a halt–or rather abruptly was turned upside down.
Scenes and props
As mentioned previously, there are 3 short cinematics in production: 1 introductory, and 2 end scenes (depending on the end-game conditions: Win or Loss). Around 95% of the modeling work has been done, of which you can see a small sample in the picture above. This scene took the longest, as it required a fully built interior space, with numerous points of interest (unique design features, elements and solutions) and atmospheric lighting. The total work amount was roughly two weeks (for this scene alone), for the dozens of models and apparatus.
Others were luckily less demanding, like making transitional shots that is, or exterior scenes, however there was this one exception, where an extensive zooming was applied. Which is a technical challenge on its own as it is still impossible to do extra-long-distance camera movements, without breaking the scene into smaller chunks. The modeling software used, and all other, cannot cope with floating point precision (which is a technical limitation of computing), and renders any scene useless beyond a given threshold (think of a few kilometers in distance). This was then mixed in with the fact that there was an exterior shot planned, with multiple levels of detail, which would have been traditionally either sculpted by hand or with custom height maps (or both). Obviously, there was not enough time for that to happen, and compromises have been made to achieve a certain look and feel–hopefully, seen in the final product.
(Indie) Video games are still considered a liability
As mentioned in previous articles, the scope of the game has been cut immensely, to better fit the available tools (dated development architecture), experience, skills and irresponsible and impractical schedule that was initially "agreed" upon; all within the scope of a one-man's-army. It was and still is a gamble–making this game that is–but there were simply no other options to tackle one's freedom of choice.
Among all this kerfuffle, the idea of using narration was there from the get-go (a staple of the design), to enhance the player's experience and to provide helpful feedback during a session, in case a crucial information has not been read, and more-so provide a more immersive experience, closer to what was envisioned in the first place. And above all, introduce the story to the player and provide closer for the end-game when the time arrives. To achieve this, preparations were made, to ensure that the cinematics were limited in length, and that the overall count of required lines (as in word of text) would not exceed a few paragraphs (mainly for budgetary reasons).
Having some experience with Pro Bono (unpaid) productions before (see this fan made voice-over video), there was enough confidence in the pocket to conceive the idea of using "real" voice actors (sourced from online databases mainly set up for use in commercials, not for movie, animation or theater productions). Albeit, this time with payment in mind; without the use of public casting calls–was a personal preference, as much as a cost saving method, as casting calls usually cost money to post in the first place (of which there was no budget for). Countless of weeks have been spent, full days each, browsing and sifting through thousands upon thousands of applicants, to be selected for the two roles that were required for the production; ensuring that a certain level of quality is being met, and that the voices fit best what was envisioned for the characters; finding a suitable match was more difficult than first thought. Admittedly, this was not the most efficient or enjoyable part of producing the game, but was confident that listening to all those samples would be beneficial and essential for the project.
The first signs of complications began to surface when submission replies did not flow as expected, and only trickled in by the few. Despite the fact that in both offers, a generous amount (in accordance with GVAA's rates and buyout approximations, which are accepted as industry standards) was offered (incline with what one would call minimum, indie rates; well above what an average person would typically offer for a voice over; e.g., $20-50), in parallel of making sure that all the usual extra work (like mixing, and cleaning) would be alleviated from the deal (to be handled by the developer themselves). In the end, it seemed that the deal was not quite fair enough (although, have been told, by a participant that the rates were indeed acceptable and that there was nothing wrong of them, considering the circumstances), or something else was in the wrong that might have been missed; despite all that research of industry standards and practices and so forth (e.g., following active discussion boards of voice actors online).
As the enthusiast and commercial world are vastly different, both in term of monetization, communication, procedures and expectations, there were still a few surprises along the road that in a way seemed questionable, and hit hard: Knowing how difficult it is to get a voice acting gig (especially since the beginning of the pandemic, which managed to further dilute the whole industry) and how this production was clearly labeled indie. In hindsight, for the level of quality that one was expecting (home "studio", adequate sound, some acting capabilities and matching tone), which are not really that of a far-fetched, came restrictions that would not give way, no matter how inconvenient those were (from a budgetary perspective). Technically, when money is involved, suddenly everything changes, all courtesy flies out the window, and only the size of one's wallet dictates what can or cannot be done, and for how long. The means of flexibility seizes to exist, and is only expected from one (the developers) side. That is why, typically all commercial recording happen in one session, where the talents are usually treated quite harshly: to make up for the time and be the most efficient–not the most humane approach might add, but the most business centric. Furthermore, adding to the mystery, in a way there seemed to be a form of disgust towards this project, or indie (mobile) games in general; again, this claim cannot be confirmed, as there are no information about the viability of such allegations; only assumptions.
The appearance of what was thought to be a reasonable budget, gave leeway to false expectations that there would be enough reason to handle this production with above average flexibility; if someone were to join this indie project. However, this dilusional-notion was quickly overturned, especially after a subtle reminder from an irritated agent who explained that video games, along with one's location (that is outside of the US), having no previous business history (with the agency or in general in the industry; as in being untraceable), and being technically anonymous (contradicting the fact that there are over 10 platforms where this game is being regularly advertised, or been advertised, some of them, with the developer's real name and photo; Google knows best) is such an underlying reliability that there is not a good reason to do business with. None at all, and a great favor is being done in this regard, for having a conversation of said low rates in the first place . . . This combined attitude of aforementioned events, are akin to how video games are still not considered proper entertainment (or "adult", only labeled mere kid's play, despite the fact that the industry is continuously expanding, and its production worldwide managed to surpass the sum of movie and music production a long time ago; gaming has truly become the playfield of billions of dollars; there are already plenty of predatory examples out there) and worth of a career to pursue (of course, if systemic changes are put in place to prevent misconduct, exploitation and crunch, and so forth), and the fact that many of the requests have been left unanswered, left a growing pain in the side.
Often, the question of giving up all seemed to be inching closer and closer, as among this disarray, developing a game that has a questionable (technically and realistically non-existent) profit prediction from a business stand of view, yet professionally (market supply wise) it was met with such high standards that appeared to be in the league of AAA titles. The irony is in all this that technically this game is made out of cardbox and duct tape; being an artist more than a programmer that is. Furthermore, to add to the confusion, it could not be stressed enough how important voice acting was–and is–for this project, and how quickly it could turn into a repelling force if done wrong; one of the pet-peeves of indie production these days.
In addition, hoping to secure the required amount for the roles (which translated to the fact that it was the full amount of the entire project's budget) seemed to slowly fade away as time passed (for numerous reasons, outside one's scope of abilities and reach), and that a new threat to Europe, to the World and Democracy in general occurred: The unjust war between Ukraine and Russia broke out. Inflation and supply chain issues were already causing problems around the globe, due to the ongoing pandemic, but this latest action just topped it all, and butchered the already limping hope of securing the roles. With raising food prices, and ever weakening currency against the dollar (which is now at an all-time historical low), it proved to be challenging to make ends meet even more so than usual; and knowing how the budget was razor sharp in the beginning and did not account for leaps and erratic changes of exchange rates, and political changes (both in land and abroad). Not to mention the panic and fear that swept through Europe in the first days of war . . .
Hoping not to dive further into the subject, as it is "only" loosely connected to game development (well technically, it has all the right to be here, as it is as much as a business and development issue as much an ethical one, of which, the prior have some knowledge about). However, after seeing how the standard values of democracy have been deteriorating (or just been more aware of the general state of it) over the years in most parts of the World, on top of certain parts of Europe, how old and rising dictators were hoping to build their new, shameless medieval kingdoms (stemming from the idea of an even earlier–classical period–notion of "bread and circuses", or how they hope to rebuild their nation's former glory), how these actions were inspired by (one) megalomaniac(s), who is not shying away from committing war crimes against humanity, causing great deal of pain, suffering and trauma . . . all contributed to a rather unsettling period; all the while constant firefighting was a daily necessity for the production.
The final stab in the chest occurred at the convergence of the outside pressure reemerging with all previous concerns that haunted the venture ever since–the looming sense of vagrancy. There is only so much a person can do in order to keep a project alive, at what cost . . . Of which energy, at some point, began to diminish after a never-ending encounter to make it happen. With the advent of these occurrences, the project was shut down with immediate effect, and for the first time in (a) year(s) it seemed that all has been lost, and that this small game would be simply tossed into the pits of the market with no sound, music or explanation as to what triggered the events–and truly be a half-baked product. Although, as sanity has no tangible limits, as to how corrupt it can become, there was one brief moment, where the "brilliant" idea of allocating resources crossed one's mind, to supply extra cash-flow for the production, taking away from essential expenditures such as food . . .
As this game was supposed to be The Debut (for the commercial market, for the developer's), and as life forced one's hand far-too-many times before, another solution had to be found immediately: That was the moment when the concept of releasing the (then non-existent) soundtrack came to be, to be able to somehow earn enough to afford the seemingly extremely-expensive nature of voice acting (speaking of several hundreds of dollars per hour/per voice actor (easily reaching over $1,000), for a game with around 300 words of text, essentially doubling/tripling/etc. the initial target-budget). At this point, hiring a real actor (with theater experience and acting/art degree) and renting a studio seemed to be more economical; if given the chance.
Last but not least, as the process of creation is fueled by a wide range of internal and external factors, it is not difficult to see and understand how damaging such a challenging environment might turn out to be, and how that could leave its imprint on the ability to bring the imagination to life. Thus the absence of creativity was only a matter of time.
The "sound" of choice
According to the original design, there were not supposed to be 19 tracks included in the soundtrack. More so in fact, the concept was to quickly produce one or two for the absolute necessary parts (like in-game or the cutscenes), and exclude the rest; to focus on delivering the final product on time, and to better fit one's abilities. However, as the production was turned upside down, all had to be changed accordingly: A new fierce, and more-so absurd idea emerged, greater than anything from the past: The creation of an entire (classical) album from scratch, with little to no time to spare; in the leagues of more talented/established composers.
To illustrate the difficulty for achieving such an immense and demanding task, the creation of an entire album, a list of obstacles were collected below:
- Lack of classical composing experience, albeit some music were created before (and have some vague musical experience), but nothing on this scale (think of simple, one or two instrumental scores)
- Having no experience in using DAWs (software to compose), or routine of using one, called for to need to learn on the fly and find solutions for workarounds (similarly as to how the issue with cubemaps, or the in-game animations were created)
- The project not having any budget meant that there were no professional instrumental libraries available (usually those cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, for creating realistic notations such as portamento (bending), tremolo (rapid alternating tones) musical expressions and tonal/mood/time changes, changes in volume that is related both related to style of play and dynamics; which also require specialty software (fully licensed DAWs) plugins and other proprietary libraries & tools, and hardware such as midi instruments (keyboard with velocity meter) and control devices, which also cost a fortune), causing more of a headache to be able to compose various tempos with one standard set (as these libraries operate on a set BPM (beats per minute) basis).
- Emotionally overcoming the challenge of the inherited "rigidity" (lack of tonality) of the libraries that continuously hindered composing. In a way, this was just another obstacle to overcome (as in working within restrictions), however, it also meant sacrificing a great deal of what makes music personal (to a composers' style).
- Having little experience in translating composed music from the head into actual music (such as complex cords/discords), combined with the limited arsenal, and being untrained of having the right instrumental association. Meaning that it takes time to develop the sense of what instruments, tones go well, and how one can transcribe those onto paper.
- Lack of foresight into how a simple (monotone) melody could be transferred into a musical piece. Orchestration might seem an easy task at a first glance (speaking of classical composing), however even the simplest of music uses complex harmonics and chord progressions. Ones that usually cannot be deciphered by the everyday person, as those blend seamlessly together, to create the final piece. Thus, one has to have the ability to be able to project all of those onto a piece of monotone melody, which would become the final musical sentence in the end; speaking of scores that are not purely emotional driven and more modern.
- No backlog of musical sentences to build upon, as there were no melodies or rhythms to call upon for this production (as those have not yet been created)
- Expanding on musical ideas, and carrying of musical sentences (how to expand upon a short melody)
- The need for high quality music that is above a certain level of expectation (both in terms of execution, sound and purpose), preferably memorable, unique music that may or may not be able to stand alone from the game
- Having music direction that is closer to classical than that of popular music, which in turn usually requires a greater knowledge of music theory, orchestration, composing, notation, musical knowledge, conducting and instrumental experience (e.g., piano, violin, woodwinds, etc.), and experience to turn musical ideas into reality
- Have the album some form of consistence storytelling as well as charm to it, whilst fitting the overall theme
- Needed to be done as soon as possible, whilst adhere to a "standard" set of (quality) requirements
[A note on expanding why tonality matters. Traditionally speaking, a lot of components affect the tone: How sound leaves the instrument (what part of it generates the sound waves, how it is transmitted through the body of the instrument and how it is channeled, how the musician performs said note, which part of their body), what key those are in, what techniques are used, how skilled the player is, what the environmental factors are (temperature (even the temperature of the instrument itself, as it tends to warm up in some cases as the music progresses, which alters the notes themselves), acoustics, humidity, etc.) and how well made their choice of instruments are (a great example would be the well-known Stradivarius violins, that were made with a special preservative that presumably gave their signature sound; which recipe is now lost). When using a sound library, opposed to a real orchestra, all of the components above are standardized (in some ways sanitized, to fit certain technical limitations), and a lot what makes music special, the essence which comes from its tonality, is being lost. Much like how it is almost impossible to tune a piano correctly (generally, all pianos are tuned at an equal distance (the musical notes), which does not work on the entire scale, albeit only those with good ear to music can decipher it easily, that is why for each song, for each key a piano would needed to be re-tuned, which is quite impractical in a real life scenario), each instrument has to be tuned before playing (that is not the case of a the pre-recorded) which can cause disharmony down the line if not corrected (hitting the same notes on similar brass might sound good in unison, or might not). This is where the technique, the performer's, comes into play, as certain notes are more difficult to play than others (e.g., high notes on a woodwind tends to "strangle" the tongue and the mouth (or the reed if there is one) and strain the lungs, as those require more force to produce, and can become difficult to play, especially if the note has to be gentle). There is a good reason why musicians have to learn for several years (in an orchestra and in their own field) before they could become fully aware of where their capabilities lie at, and what they could achieve. A skilled musician can turn, twist and change any note to their liking or to fit a particular composition/mood. That is why the same note could sound bright, sorrowful, playful, and so forth. Which becomes of importance, as notes usually never stand alone, rather shift from one to another, in a dynamic way to create the final composition; which the pre-recorded note cannot adequately adjust to and replicate (even with the limited amount of automation that were present in these libraries). Music, by its nature, is a living a breathing phenomenon, the likes that allows us to portray our emotions through their means, to echo what is inside of us and enables us to present it to the World. That is why music has the ability to not just entertain us, but to communicate with us at a much deeper and psychological level: at the core of our soul.]
The main challenge was to–technically–get-up-to-speed from "zero to hero" in just a few days/weeks. This was one of the more demanding obstacles of recent, which hit unexpectedly hard. There were moments of utter despair of how and what should be done, as a lot of information needed to be digested and utilized, under tight surveillance and pressure, on top of having learning difficulties (ASD with dyslexia).
The only reason why the whole idea of producing music was not thrown out the window right away (as any other sensible person would do), was in the belief of knowing that all the ingredients were there (more or less) and were only waiting for the right moment–in a different context of course, as composing could have been a choice of career perhaps. Thus, marching through the countless creative-blocks, "learning" to walk again, became the number one priority; in a way, the experience was not unfamiliar. As the saying goes: The only thing that others cannot take away, is having the ability to believe in one's self.
Inspiration was difficult to find and inventing melodies out of thin air gave a looming sense of despair whenever the imagination was needed. For each song, hundreds of samples were created, just to be tossed away, for not meeting certain standards, or failing to see how they could have been turned into a song. The biggest hurdle of not being able to hear back a rhythm or melody right away (or in the right context), was that by detaching one's self from the moment of conception consequently removed any further possibilities of proper associations (the rebuilding of the musical expression, chord progression, etc.) when it came to continue working on a song. Hearing (as in imagining) a complete orchestra, with multiple expressions stacked on top of each other, simply cannot be reproduced the day after conception from just on person's humming/singing–not to one's limited experience that is.
On average, around 3-4 days were spent on each track, not counting the additional time for experimenting with melodies and forms, or refurbishing of previous ones; as composing became more of a comfortable playfield. And it is possible that due to being inexperienced, a lot of plausible, perhaps more suitable melodies were scrapped in the process of refining. More or less, the entire production was (self) perceived as immature, and the work of an imposter: This is just the nature of achieving something that is way-out of a person's comfort zone . . .
Exhaustion, nightmares, sleepless nights and the continuation–the definition of a weird Groundhog-day–of the non-stop crunch were all present, and what contributed to the pieces seen in the album. The hope is that anyone who listens to the songs will appreciate the care and thought put into those, and see the greater picture within.
Music in the making
The uniqueness of music could come from its recurring aspect of sudden harmonics that could struck at any given moment, and transport the listener to another level of consciousness. There were times, when in the midst of composing, these unexpected events would occur, and for a brief moment, everything else but the music seemed to exist: Nothing else, but the feeling of being part of something greater . . .
The return of the volumetrics, with a vengeance
The background for the album was created by using volumetric lighting, same procedure as discussed in previous entries, to achieve a certain level of realism. Once again, there was this debate of where and what to do with volumetrics; as they are notoriously resource intensive, and difficult to make look professional; "traditional" approaches such as using procedural generated noise and image editing software, were outside of the capability of one's.
This was one of the more labor and time consuming parts of the process, as it took a lot of patience, trial and error, and compromising to achieve a desired result. Due to the extreme-high fidelity requirements, to achieve a certain dissipating appearance for the dust clouds, a lot of (modern) computing power was required; a lot more than what is available for the production. Which resulted in that the final print could not be larger than 1500x1500 pixels, otherwise the risk of memory errors and system failures/lockdowns increased exponentially, due to the age of architecture running the software.
It is still incredibly exciting to see that how a simple setup (depicted in the picture above) can turn out such pleasant outcomes. Would note that obviously, there are much more advanced techniques and applications for achieving the same or better results, simply by applying a more complex shader to the scene, or using different kinds of compositions, media mixing, and so forth. However, due to the slow and almost unresponsive nature of such expert techniques, as in being able to use the machine at all, a more simple approach had to be used. That is why, the entire production was made by excluding ray-traced renders, and complex scenes and shaders for that matter.
Of course, there are a lot more to this cover than what meets the eye as everything was built from the ground up (apart from the 3D model of Earth and the Moon, those are from the actual game). It may be difficult to discern, but a lot of layering and shaders are at work (especially on the planet), to achieve an overall sense of time and space.
Originally, much like the loading screen for the game (as seen here), the design goal was to make it appear as if an asteroid was just in the middle of colliding with the planet. However, this idea was soon overturned, as it would not just appear to be an overused concept (a quick search for asteroid impacts revealed its true nature), but did not seem to fit with the overall aesthetics of what was possible to achieve with special effects. If this production were a fully professional environment, physics simulations would have been used to create accurate and convincing particle and dust clouds (or traditional/digital illustration techniques), to convey the gravitas of the impact (excluding the fact that usually other external image editing software are used to deliver the final polish). Ultimately, that is how the concept of "being in the perspective of the incoming threat" came to be.
The reminder was then compiled using simple composition techniques, to prevent the bleeding of lights from all the different layers, and light sources (as there is a hard limitation for Blender 2.92, where the Eevee render has no control over how light affects volumetric shaders), and create the illusion that everything is in one scene, without the need to create unstable and oversized environments; in total there were 4 layers. The final product (shown at the end of this article) has that vague, yet familiar early 2000s presence, which was equally the aim of the final product and–admittedly–the work of pure-chance; much like how the game turned out to have its charming & dated aesthetics. With most things in life, the devil was indeed hidden in the details . . .
When plans have to change
With this many moving parts, speaking of the sole-responsibilities as an indie developer, it was inevitable that no amount of careful planning, or previous production experience would suffice in covering unexpected diversions, whereas the entire spectrum of production had to be covered, and sooner or later considerable alterations would be required to execute; to keep the project afloat. On the contrary, this time however it was more of an artistic preference, rather than a technical obstacle: The game's title had to be revealed, along with written-snippets from the intro cutscene. In the grand scheme of things, well . . . in all earnest, mostly in the mind of the developer's, the grand reveal was meant to occur with the release of the final game, but now that has become a forever lost dream.
[Note: Right at the last minute, before releasing this article, the title of the game had to be changed, to avoid naming conflicts & confrontations.]
If interested, feel free to give this album a listen (classical, modern orchestration with an extended musical library) and learn more about how this cosmic soundtrack was created and what inspired it:
As mentioned before, the desired goal for this album, with its 19 studio-quality tracks (rendered at 96k, 32bit, instead of the industry standard 44k, 16bit; some tracks are extended versions as well) and one hour of music, was to not just provide background noise for the player–even though that would have been more than acceptable for the scope of this project–but to tell a story of its own; most reflected in the naming of each track (e.g, Track 6: Anger and torment, temporary reconciliation, and resurfacing needs). Making sure that at all times, the listener is driven deeper and deeper into a sense of distress over the failures of the past (which originates from the story of the game), and that there is no time to rest (a not-so-subtle reminder of how challenging the production was).
[On an interesting side note, the majority of the sound libraries are from Spitfire Audio (an established music company), which album production otherwise would not have been possible if not for their libraries. Cannot be more thankful for their work.]
That being said, as the only way is by going forwards, no matter what the future holds, the game will be released as closely–as envisioned–as possible. There are things in life that cannot bear the weight of compromises. This is the case with this particular project as well.
At this very moment it is difficult to tell what the future will hold, and if the game will be completed as envisioned, or be a lesser version of itself. The outcome now heavily rests on the success of the album (the successful hire of 2 voice actors). The release of this album does not necessarily mean that all work has been completed; far from it. On the contrary, as there are still missing pieces here and there to look after (especially after having to change the title, for the artwork), such as finishing the cutscenes and altering existing ones in-game, fixing additional bugs (and code revision) that were scheduled and come up since (including fine-tuning), adding sound effects and touchups for some in-game art and merging all together for the final release.
Over the years, there have been numerous occasions where a much needed change was required in order to keep a project on float; some were more, some were less successful. But the spirit of determination never managed to die. A single drop in the ocean may not change a tide, but be patient enough to be carried where even the tiniest of drops make a difference . . .
Addendum – A new page
With the advent of this album, a new website was created for the project, to be the aggregate of all game related content. Visit Endomorium.com for more!