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Music to Play Avernum By


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Originally Posted By: Slenderman.
Is jeff going to put music in the remake of Avernum 2?

If so, then yes. Just yes.

Unlikely. Jeff has gone on record as saying he doesn't really like video game music, if I recall.

Anyway, I don't have any specific Avernum music, but Hail To The Thief will always be linked to Geneforge 2 for me, simply because of how often I listened whilst playing it.
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I sometimes think that I only play video games as an excuse to listen to music.


Unless the game is an adventure game (which are usually too dialogue heavy for music to work), usually the first thing I do when starting up a game is turn off the in game music so I can provide my own soundtrack.


I do this so often that I usually associate specific games with whatever I was listening to most while playing them, which is kind of weird. In fact, if you name any game from the past decade I usually have an album or two that goes with it (I have a really musical memory, so often times my memory of the game is inextricably linked to the music).

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  • 3 weeks later...
I do this so often that I usually associate specific games with whatever I was listening to most while playing them, which is kind of weird. In fact, if you name any game from the past decade I usually have an album or two that goes with it (I have a really musical memory, so often times my memory of the game is inextricably linked to the music).

As result of the same phenomenon, I will have to listen to Coldplay's Viva la Vida on repeat if I ever go back to replay GF4, and perhaps this may have been part of the reason I liked Avadon so much (Within Temptation's The Unforgiving).

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It is imperative that when I play Valley of Dying Things and I get near the end,

in the outdoor cave section with the Alien Beasts,

I must play Electric Light Orchestra's rock cover of Edvard Grieg's "In The Hall of the Mountain King". It played on shuffle the first time I played it in BoE, and every time I've played it since, I've put that track on.


I think I've only played it through three times, but nevertheless.

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I've recently discovered that E.S. Posthumous has some tracks that make for interesting dungeon crawling.


One problem i suspect with in game music is that it gets really repetitive,it's fine for 2-3 days but after that you just want to bang your head rather than listen to it.

That is probably the biggest obstacle to creating a proper soundtrack for the open, large-scale games that Jeff is inclined to make. With no truly random encounters, lots of backtracking to specific hubs, and a wide range of characters and attitudes, in a game that can easily take over 40 hours for a single playthrough, the soundtrack needs to be both extensive and versatile in order to remain both relevant to the in-game situation and fresh (or at least, comfortable) to the player.


Consider Skyrim: The average player devotes around 75 hours to the game; and while I couldn't find any information on average playthrough time, let's assume for sake of convenience that it's around 60 hours: do the main quest, end the civil war, handle two or three factions, get an artifact or two, crash and reboot countless times, the whole experience.

In that 60 hours, the player is exposed to a soundtrack of only 55 unique tracks spanning about three hours, not counting the stingers for ending music suddenly, musical sound effects, and multiple renditions of a silly little ditty about Ragnar the Red. In addition to this, there are a wide variety of musical parts, varying by leitmotif, tone, and instrumentation, that are layered in with the standard atmospheric tracks to help differentiate various regions and areas. And this doesn't even begin to consider that the music has to be internally consistent in tone, style, and genre, and likable on top of that.

It is no wonder that only the highest-end games get the best soundtracks: between composing, orchestrating, recording, mastering, and CONSTANT communication with the project director and sound director, the creation of such a harmonious compliment to atmosphere and gameplay takes notably longer than Jeff's annual production cycle.


I have considered the possibility of writing a soundtrack for the Avernum series many times, and have actually written a handful of tracks inspired by it and meant to play along with it over the years. Breaking it down by game, here's how I think it would work best (spoiler tags added to reduce page congestion):



Escape from the Pit:

  • As a rule, the soundtrack is more about atmosphere than leitmotifs. It should not distract from gameplay, and should only be used when it complements the situation at hand. Pacing is the watchword, and proper use of silence is as pivotal as the use of any instrument.
  • Each major city randomly draws from a pool of tracks with a similar atmosphere. Minimum three, though four or five would be better.
  • Villages and small settlements share a single single track or two. The same goes for forts, dragon lairs, and wizards' towers (though I am very strongly tempted to give Erika, Solberg, and Patrick each their own themes, given their carrying significance)
  • The caves themselves may have individual tracks assigned by region, so the Great Cave, the Honeycomb, the Ft. Draco/Formello area, the Cotra/Silvar area, the Waterfalls/rapids, the Abyss, the Northern Isles, the Western Wastes, that area east of Almaria...
  • Locations of in-world and plot importance would get unique tracks, so, the Castle, The Tower of Magi, the fortress of Grah-Hoth, the exit to the surface, the entire final assassination mission, etc. Maybe the GIFTS lair. Maybe.
  • There should be a pool of tracks for dungeons, though each dungeon would be assigned a single track. So it would be divided in a scheme like basic caves, bandit hideouts, crypts, slith forts, demonic areas, kitty lairs, goblin infestations, Imperial outposts, and so on. This list would probably need to be simplified for ease of production.
  • Everything mentioned here (with the exception of the caves, see next) would need to have an additional track to go along with it for.. COMBAT! or, in the case of dungeons, special combat.
    In friendly areas, music transitions into a more urgent piece when a hostile enters a given radius of the PCs, and transitions back out when there are no more hostiles within a certain larger radius.
    In areas that are already expected to be hostile, the music would already be appropriate. In the event of something special therein (say a boss appears, or, um, a horde of sliths suddenly responds to your merciless slaying of their unborn), a separate, more intense track is triggered to transition in through game scripting, and likewise transitions out when certain conditions are met.
  • Special/outdoor combat encounters could probably get away with a single track of combat-oriented music. A fun challenge (no idea how difficult this would be from the programming side) would be to include/remove various instrumental layers based on the types of NPCs (hostile and friendly) found in combat, making each instance truly unique. This could be as simple as having a different layer per creature type, or as complex as having the game reference classes (so separate layers for mages, archers, summoned creatures), depending on how ambitious Jeff and the composer want to be.

Crystal Souls

  • Import the music from above and add the following:
  • New regions to get music: the Rivers and Vahnatai lands. Possibly also the Occupied lands as well.
  • Vahnatai settlements draw from a pool of music, similar in concept to the Cities.
  • New dungeon types: ruins, Testing Areas, and Imperial Forts
  • Quickfire now gets its own track when let loose that supersedes all else (this will require scripted cues more often then not).
  • New areas to get unique music: Ornatha Ziggurat, Pyrog Labs, Angeriach, Garzahd's Fortress, the sanctuary of the Crystal Souls.
  • It may be interesting to create a separate combat encounter track for fighting Imperial troops.

Ruined World:

  • Again, import, where applicable, and consider this:
  • Valorim is homogeneous enough in outdoor atmosphere that it could probably simply have a pool of tracks to play. Any soundtrack would only play during the day, and the area behind the wall quarantining Footracer might get a unique track.
  • There are enough simple mining towns to justify creating a unique mining town track. The same goes for inns and Anama communities.
  • Each plague gets its own combat music. Likewise, each plague center gets its own unique track: Slime Pit, the Filth Factory, Castle Troglo, the Giants' caves, the Tower of Golems, and the entire trek back underground to the Keep of... well, you know; complete with badass boss music when appropriate (alien slime, that one doomguard, the Tower's controller, and... well, you know.).
  • The Cult of the Sacred Item, the Tower Crisis, and the Mad Monastery all deserve their own unique tracks. Fort Emergence might get its own.
  • It could easily be possible to simply reuse the City/town tracks from previous games, but it would probably be better to add to them.

I admit, I haven't played through the second trilogy enough to be able to go into as much detail, but you get the idea.


The Silent Assassin, on the rare occasion that I have caught him playing an RPG, favors highlights from Mozart's Don Giovanni

His other exploits for entertainment tend to involve the works of John Phillip Sousa, and not just his marches. Indeed, if I hear excerpts from El Capitan, my gut reaction is to fear for the kitchen.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I normally just stick with the sound loops that come with the game, and I'm satisfied. Sometimes I will play some music, but it's usually Beatles or Weird Al Yankovic.


I also have a small collection of MIDIs from various genres that I'll play, just to make the game interesting. Sure, things like "Yakety Sax," "Popcorn," "Day Tripper," and "Maple Leaf Rag" are well out of place in most situations (especially boss battles); but "Time of the Season" works pretty well in a long, hard dungeon crawl.

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I normally just stick with ... Weird Al Yankovic.
Polka Face?
Among others, yes. In fact, I play the entire Alpocalypse album.
no, Girls just want to have lunch (if plays all female party).
I've been known to play the Dare to be Stupid album too. Come to think of it, maybe I should get my copy of BoE out of mothballs, and play the various "chicken plauge" scenarios using "I want a New Duck" as a sound loop.
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