In This Chapter
Planning for Music
Working with a Composer
• Licensing Music
11.1 I
usic is an effective tool for setting the tone of a game and makes the
game world more immersive. The Silent Hill series uses music and
sound to great effect to enhance the creepiness of a world inhabited
with demonic creatures. In some cases, music is the one of the last things consid-
ered on a project, and the producer starts looking for a composer well after the
game has started production. In other cases, music is an integral part of the en-
tire game and planned for during pre-production. For example, the Tony Hawk
series of games is known for licensing music from well-known bands. Licensing
music on this scale requires planning and legal negotiations. If the licenses are
not secured before the game is code released, the music track will likely be re-
moved from the game.
Things to keep in mind for game music include technical considerations,
budgets, schedule, and how music will be used in the game. In addition, you
might want to license music instead of having original music composed. This
chapter will give a general overview of how to plan for and use music in your
Chapter 11Chapter 11
As with any other elements in the game, music needs must be discussed during
pre-production. You don’t necessarily have to finalize the entire music plan at
this point, but it is advisable to determine how much money you want to spend,
decide whether you are going to license music, compose original, or both, and
tentatively put together a schedule for getting the music assets finalized and
integrated into the game. Also, if you expect the music score to evoke a certain
atmosphere, discuss this in pre-production to ensure that the music meshes well
with the art and design elements.
Music Design
The sound designer will work with a lead designer or creative director to deter-
mine the music needs for the game. For example, if the game is an action-adventure
game where the player spends a lot of time exploring the world and part of the
time fighting the enemy, one type of in-game music can be used while the player is
exploring, and another type of music can be used when the player is fighting.
When determining the music needs, consider which major areas of the game
will need music:
User Interface (UI) shell
This can then be broken down within each category. For example, if using
in-game music, is the music coming from an ambient source within the game
world (such as a car radio), or is it constantly playing in the background? The UI
shell might have one piece of music that continuously loops or consists of several
songs that cycle while the player is in the UI. The cinematics might be scored di-
rectly to the image, or several generic music loops can be composed and placed
in the soundtrack by the cinematic artist.
After you have an idea of where music is going to be used in the game, es-
timate how many minutes of music are needed. Most composers charge by the
minute when creating original music, and the rates can vary from $300 a minute
to upwards of $1500 a minute. The rate depends on who the composer is, whether
the music is recorded with live musicians, or whether the music is created digitally.
Additionally, if live musicians are used, you might also need to compensate the
musicians; your composer can work out the details with you and the musicians.
The amount of music varies for each game and might be budget depen-
dent. For example, if you need 30 minutes of original music and can spend only
$10,000 on music, you will need to find a composer who can do the job for

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