6.1) Sequencing und Layering
One important element of a game’s soundtrack is still missing: the music. Music in video games serves to set the mood and enhance the emotion of what the viewer is experiencing. The dissonant drone of tremolo strings can foreshadow what’s about to happen, and a symphonic crash can punctuate what has just occurred. These ideas echo principles used in music for picture going back to the days of piano players performing live beneath the glow of a silent picture upon the big screen. Of course, the primary difference between movies and video games is that in the former, the viewer only plays a passive non-participatory role; while in the latter, the viewer is an active participant, directly affecting the action on screen. With video games, the sequence of events can change each time a player plays the game, leaving the traditional linear approach to implementing music extremely limited in the ever-changing environment of video games. Even more, music in video games can offer players a feedback mechanism that can reward them for their success and chide them in defeat.
It’s the sense of unpredictability and/or the reactivity to gameplay that has coined terms like Interactive Music, Dynamic Music and Adaptive Music; these terms are necessary to distinguish video game music from traditional linear scores, but what’s the difference between them? Depending on whom you talk to, the answer ranges from nothing at all to very defined, albeit sometimes contradictory differences. Simply put, there’s no consensus on what these terms signify individually. But what they all have in common is that the music has a degree of non-linearity. In other words, it changes or evolves due to factors ranging from simple randomization, specific player actions, or general overarching circumstances like the time of day. Within Wwise, anything to do with musical non-linearity is typically managed within the Interactive Music Hierarchy, as this section of the software provides many distinct features that address the unique needs of video game music.
Generally speaking there are two different approaches to building a Dynamic Music System: the Sequencing approach (=horizontal Shuffle) or the Layering Approach (= vertical Remix). Both methods are widely used and can be mixed and matched depending on the needs of the game. For this particular Platformer Game you will use the Sequencing approach for building a horizontal playback system. It will change the playback of Music Segments depending on checkpoints the player passes by when running through the level. Before you start building the playback system, let’s quickly look at these two different approaches with the help of some good examples.