View Full Version : Tricks to Subtly Change Players Mood

25-04-2007, 02:20 PM
I've read a lot of stuff about music in games in more recent days. There is a lot of interesting stuff about how it can be used to encompass atmosphere and how it moves the player to think in a different set of ways than they would have, should the mood be set differently than it was.

For instance take Super Mario Brothers (any of them really) when the music is all happy and jolly and you are just happy to be there, you play the game as your would just exploring normally. However speed up the music or play a faster flowing track and that is a HUGE que for the player to say, 'Hey, I've gotta move my butt and get to the end or else.' So they immediately rush through the rest of the level maybe with a lot more anticipation then they would if the music stayed the same way.

I'm just wondering if any of our new musical friends could give us some tricks or ways that they feel could help change the players whole motivation or mood. At least in a subtle way so that they will be in that different mindset that you want them to be in. What tricks do you guys have or know of?

26-04-2007, 01:12 AM

A really good example of how the mood works in a video game is how the mood works in a film. Its sometimes difficult to pick out the subtleties, but for example if two people are having a conversation, and one says something important, a simple low string chord would let the viewer know 'oh man, no way..' if there hadn't been anything there the impact of the conversation might not register with the viewer. Its like that in video games too, I remember I was playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein couple of weeks ago, and I entered a new room, the music got really intense with fast brass sections and lots of timpanis, I just knew that once I stepped through that door I was going to get my head taken off. My favorite trick is the low pad or string section sound, its hard for the audience to put a finger on it, but they know something is up.

www.dreamlandscheme.com (my portfolio, I'm a composer :))

26-04-2007, 03:13 AM
Half-Life 2 seems more reactive than proactive in changes in music. Everything will be going calmly, then someone starts shooting at you. The music builds up pace. The shoot-out ends, the music still cranks along, finally returning to the slower music after a few seconds of no action.

26-04-2007, 05:02 PM
Hey thanks Levan. Thats pretty cool.

And to be honest when thinking about it, I do sort of notice that in say... BSG (Battlestar Galactica) where you have the Cylons drop in and the tension is all high because they don't know if they're gonna make it again. (Well, we know they will... for the most part. :P) Then someone discovers something and tells the Admiral and you hear something in the music playing in the background. You get that 'Oh crap!' feeling. :)

What do you find are really hard transitions that maybe you yourself have done or not done yet?

06-12-2007, 01:14 PM
Making fun of these conventions can be fun too. From an RPG I was working on a few years back that we never ended up finishing:

The party is exploring some caverns full of wild animals, with the suspicion that something much worse lurks within. Many crazy surprises pop out at them, and the fourth wall is broken repeatedly, much to the dismay of the straight man and party leader, Zeratul. (He was a big Starcraft fan.) Suddenly, they enter a new level with a "lava cave" motif, and the BGM switches to a "tense, creepy" mood song.

Seawolf: "Wow! It's hot in here!"
Hunter: "Uhh... Seawolf?"
Seawolf: "What? Doesn't it feel hot to you?"
Hunter: "Yeah, but I think the heat is the least of our worries."
Heal: "He's right. Haven't you noticed that--"
Zeratul: "Don't say it!"
Heal: "Don't say what?"
Zeratul: Don't play dumb with me. You were going to break the fourth wall again and point out that the background music has changed too, right?
Hunter: Well, we were, but now we don't have to!
Zeratul: ...