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Awesome soundtracks for all games, for no cost.

2011.07.18.01.32 · No Comments

How can you give every game (indie or not) a blockbuster (and meaningful) soundtrack? It’s easier than you think. All it takes is a little work, and a little cost (Okay, it’s not “no cost,” but, considering the payoff…)

All you need is an online database, users to populate it, and API for developers to use it.

The database notes each user’s library (just taking the track titles, paths, and metadata, not actually uploading the music,) and asking users to tag the tracks by context, for use in interactive media when the appropriate context arises. Bam. Free million dollar soundtracks for anyone who wants to implement the system. The only cost being the user buying the music. It’s like playing music over games on consoles, only smarter.

(Sidenote: I don’t think any cloud services offer APIs for other developers, but it may be possible in the future to ask users for that data too, if you feel like streaming their music.)

Of course, users won’t be required to tag ALL of their data, but some should be required to lighten the load (and better personalize things.)

So after users’ data is pinged, the tags are of the veins “fast-paced, thrilling, scary, romantic, sexy, slow, energetic, sad, etc” to fit mood. But also consider an extra layer of “8bit, by instrument, etc.,”. To make it pitch perfect, ask users to rate each tag’s value. Especially if you want to do this after a game. (For instance, play the music, and ask “Do you feel this music was appropriate suspenseful during the standoff with ?” Let users pick if they want to use yes/no, a five point, or a ten point scale.)

It will take time for an entire library to populate. New users should be required to tag at least ten tracks, but power users (anyone logging in and investing the time) can categorize to their heart’s content. Maybe a deal could be struck with Pandora to import their categorization metadata? Power users should also be able to specify portions of songs instead of the entire track. (“Start this track :10 in, bypassing spoken words.”)

The idea is to give any game that wants to use the system a soundtrack custom-built by context needed in the game, with music already knowingly enjoyed by the user, at zero dollar cost to the developer at point of purchase. The only investment needed is the time investment required to learn the API to use it in your game.

Now, am I over- thinking the problem? Probably. But I’m okay with that. This is a blog post, not a plan to actually do this. Now, how does this get done? Get Microsoft to do it. Or Valve. Someone with a large interest in PC gaming. (Of course, Microsoft doesn’t REALLY have that, but, they like to claim they do with “Games for Windows Live.”)

But, it has to include a large, open music selection as well, like http://www.freesound.org/ populated by tracks available for public use and distribution, so developers can pack that music in, giving the install base something to begin with, to make sure bases are covered.

Okay. Done. Just had to get that out of my brain. It was bugging me. Thanks.

Tags: Development · Free · Gaming's future · Idea · Music · Project X

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