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Posted on SOCOM.com

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Hi SOCOM folks,


I'm a music editor at SCEA, and I wanted to share with you some of the cool stuff our department is doing with Slant Six on the music for SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation.


Our main goal is to musically score each player's experience in the game on a personal level without being too informative or distracting. When the battle does heat up though, expect some incredible tracks from Justin Burnett to accompany gameplay. I've included one in this post to give you a taste. Also, if you preorder from Amazon, you'll get 5 more.


The main way we determine when and how to play music is by what we call the "Combat Intensity System". Game events are tracked - enemies letting off rounds, bullets whizzing by your head, someone chucking a frag grenade - these are all factored into the combat intensity. When the value of intensity reaches a certain threshold, combat music kicks in to accompany the ensuing chaos. Over time the total combat intensity value goes down so that events from too far in the past don't affect the system.


The analogy we like to use is it to imagine a bucket. Whenever something exciting (gunshots, explosions, etc) happens in game, water gets poured into the bucket. Now imagine that this bucket has a small hole in the bottom that water leaks out of slowly. If enough water is thrown into the bucket at one time, the bucket overflows and at that point we play music.

When you're not engaged in serious combat, the music largely goes away to give some breathing room. Because, let's face it, you're going to be playing this game for hours! When things have quieted down even further, the Combat Intensity drops below what we call the "mood threshold". Here we play brief ambient clips every once in a while to heighten the experience of being in these exotic and richly detailed North African spaces. In a multiplayer FPS, music does have the potential of interfering with being able to hear important audio cues like enemy footsteps. As a competitive gamer, this was a big concern - especially after Scott, in the office next to mine, ran up behind me in game and put a few rounds in my back while a mood was playing. Something had to be done! Now the mood music will not play when enemy footsteps can be heard. (Bring it on, Scott!) Also, combat music will only kick in when there are enough gunshots and explosions going on around you that you wouldn't be able to even hear something subtle like footsteps.


Another cool thing we do to further tailor the score to the game experience is to create multi-layered pieces of music. We start with getting what we call "stems" from Justin, the composer. The stems are separate audio files each containing a different instrument that makes up the song. The song gets sliced and diced then we recombine the instruments to make two different arrangements - one for a medium intensity combat and one for a higher intensity combat. If a battle is exciting enough, the audio file containing high intensity instruments gets played on top of the already playing medium combat music. Again, this is all determined by the Combat Intensity System.


One challenge with designing music implementation systems for video games is that they can become too literal and lose their musicality. So there are all kinds of other things going on that take into account issues like music ping-ponging between intensities with game states, number of players on the map, differences in weapon fire rate, etc. Ultimately, we try to find ways in which to track the game experience musically, but we also allow the great music that our composer delivers be heard and 'breathe' in the way it was intended.


It gets pretty deep, but at the end of the day I think music is going to add a lot to the SOCOM: Confrontation experience.


Cheers,

- Ernest

I think this is pretty cool. MGS4 had something similar but it was largely based on your detection level. What Slant Six is doing is taking that to a whole new level.


Your thoughts?
 

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Sounds like a normal method of doing in game music.
 

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Originally Posted by gooki /forum/post/14192747


Sounds like a normal method of doing in game music.

It sure does but remember Slant Six also pretends they invented the "Party" system for online gaming in the Qore content. Either they think PS3 fans live under a rock or they do. lol
 

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The first Oddworld game did this.
 

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May sound like it's been done before, but considering Confrontation is an online only title and they'll be tailoring a specific score for each player's current situation is pretty impressive. All other games that have done this have done it in the single player campaign, which is very controlled.
 
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