Vanguard Saga of Heroes Character Select Music…

I need to thank Massively for a foray down in music in gaming.  I have to agree that EQII is one of my favorite character creation music..

but I TOTALLY forgot about VSOH character creation music… This clip almost wants me to reinstall the game!  This song is amazing!

But a nod to to the game I am waiting for w/ bated breath.. WildStar.

Jeff Kurtenacker also did the theme for PotBS which holds a special place in my MMO experiences heart.



I Hear the wind rustling the newly formed oak leaves. A neighbor’s child crying in delight as he plays. My wife is humming a tune as she takes pictures of newly sprouting hostas. I am posting this from my phone as I patiently wait for the grill to cook the first corn on the cob for the season. Life is good.

That something something..

Well I had the pleasure of playing in Neverwinter Online and recently on a whim took a gander at Defiance. I have read online many a naysayer about Defiance. But, after last week watching the pilot episode I figure it just may be interesting to look into the game.

Both Neverwinter and Defiance are really missing that something something at times when it comes to gameplay. Neverwinter I just cannot place what bothers me so much about the gameplay. Defiance, it is glaring obvious. I have played FPS games before and since this a 3rd person shooter it feels odd at times. When you think you have a bead on a MOB around a corner you don’t due to the physics of the third person and parallax. Plus, the inventory system is less than desired. This seems to be the common issue w/ console ports on PCs. However, in terms of being fun to play I would say Neverwinter and Defiance are about even.

So the burning questions is which would prefer to play now? Oddly, I would say Defiance. The reason? The story is much better. That is pretty sad when it comes to game that uses the IP of Dungeon and Dragons does not have as strong a story. So my weekend working on the home was broken up w/ some time in Defiance.


Music in Gaming

I am sorry for writing this later than I had promised. First I would like to give a hat tip to Syl due to listening to her on her podcast Battle Bards.

If you have read some of my other posts you will have come to an understanding that I have a love of music. I would argue that it is a love all forms of art be it prose, music, or graphic. I used to be a fairly good at drawing in charcoal and pastels when I was younger. The only reason was due to repetition and practice. It was most definitely not due to talent. However, I have never had a musical bone in my body. I have tried several instruments much to the chagrin to my mother when I was younger. However, I took after my father who was an audiophile of sorts. So I just learned to have a love for music.

Music in gaming in my opinion is very much like music in movies. Music in movies can is either diagetic and non-diagetic. Now I am going to bust out what I learned in my film appreciation class. More often than not it is non-diagetic; it is over the standard dialog and audio. A good example of diegetic would be like Bing Crosby singing White Christmas.

Dorothy Kirsten & Bing Crosby in Mr. Music - t...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music can add to an audience’s emotions. How many car chases have you seen that did not have some kind of non-diagetic music going? I have yet to see a movie that has. I feel that it even has the ability to not only add to the audience’s emotions it can evoke an emotion as well. Billy Boyd singing The Edge of Night in Return of the King is a perfect example for me. It is tempered by the diagetic sound of Denethor crushing the chicken bones. The diagetic sound of the crushing bones is a nice foreshadow of the outcome. Plus, it is a symbol of Denethor’s action which will cause needless deaths. You can just feel the futility of the charge almost an modern day homage to the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Music in gaming can have similar impact on players’ experiences. Early gaming music had more difficulty evoking or adding to players emotions. This was due to the nature of the music being limited to midi style music. But I bet that many people my age would immediately recognize the following themes:

That may not have evoked a response back when it came out. But I bet many my age would immediately recognize it if they hear it today and thus evoking an emotional response. Mine would be of gamer rage. I sucked terribly at Super Mario Brothers.

The first MMO that I absolutely loved for the music in was Everquest II. Nektropos Castle’s music added so much to the experience of the dungeon crawl. I always called it the Scooby Doo castle. That and Stormhold my Scooby Doo dungeon. I loved and hated Nektropos; loved the ambiance, hated the bugs.

The embedded preview for Stormhold seems busted so here is a link.

Most notably the the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. That expansion’s music was epic in terms of getting the player in the mindset of the continent of Faydwer. I loved the Kelethin/Greater Faydark music.

To me a music for a MMO should give the underlying tone of the zone that the player is in. It can evoke a Sense of Wonderment, Sense of Exploration, and a Sense of Urgency. (Sorry had to use link outs instead of embedding. The embedding in Youtube for most of those was not working).

Manic April Part 2

As I said the other day I went to see the Milk Carton Kids.  We saw them at The Ark which is the same venue we saw Frank Fairfield.  It is a perfect small venue I would hazard about maybe 200 people maximum.  If you are ever in the Ann Arbor area I would highly recommend going there.  The tickets are always affordable they have ranged from as low as 15 dollars to 40 dollars for a big name like Cowboy Junkies.  Often the general admission tickets we get are literally two feet from the artists.


Now on to The Milk Carton Kids.  They are an up coming modern folk duo.  They both play acoustical guitars and sing in harmony.  How I used to always describe them was one part Simon and Garfunkle, and one part Everly Brothers.  Their harmonies are amazing and Ken Pattengale ‘s is amazing on the guitar as well.  Their passion for music, much like Frank Fairfield, is one of the many reasons I love their music.   Their love of music even goes as far as they allow people to down load their first two albums for completely free off of their website.  Now how cool is that?  So how did I find out about them?  Well the same friend who has a blog on cooking posted a link of them playing in a NPR’s Tiny Desk concert.

It was a bit ago when she posted it.  But I think she summed it up perfectly with “Absolutely beautiful.”  I was enthralled with their work immediately.  They have only been together since 2011 and they already have three albums out.  Their latest just came out the other month.  The other two are free to download.  Did I mention that already?

The concert at The Ark was the first I saw them live.  It will not be the last.  It simply was the best concert I have ever been to in my life.  I have never enjoyed a concert as nearly as much what they put out.  It goes up there w/ the Violent Femmes concert I went to.  Which I might add was amazing as well.. Men At Work, Smithereens and the Violent Femmes in one concert.  I now have to reassess how I describe their style now.  They are not only a combination of Simon and Garfunkle and The Everly Brothers. They are a combination of Simon and Garfunkle, The Everly Brothers and The Smothers Brothers.  I have never laughed so hard in a concert in my life.  They had a banter between songs that to quote Claptrap from Borderlands 2 “was absolutely highlarious”.  You get a bit of the banter in the NPR clip from above.  However, it does not do them justice.  The lyrics of their songs go from melancholy to happiness.  One of the sadder songs is the song that got Joey to want to work with Ken.  It is written from a dogs perspective as he writes down his memories as he dies due to being run over.

If they are the future of modern folk then the folk genre is in good hands.

Lastly… this a rather long one but worth listening to all the way through..

I would like to add that the opening act Aoife O’Donovan was rather good as well.

Lastly… if Ken or Joey you ever happen to read this your sound man knew his shit!  The guy had you guys spot on!  He is an amazing sound man.

Manic Monday! Make it a Manic April! Part 1

Yesterday I went to the best concert I have been to in a rather long time.  The Milk Carton Kids are an absolutely amazing group live.  Yes, I know I was all gaga about the Great Big Sea concert I went to a couple of weeks ago.  Plus, Frank Fairfield the other week was amazing as well.

First, Frank Fairfield is a bluesgrass artist from California.  He is a true throwback to earlier music styles of the pre-war era (as in prior to WWI).  He takes sheet music from that time and interprets it.  He has a very unique style with the banjo and his fiddling is amazing.  The man is a veritable fount of information of pre-war south western music. He is also an exceedingly humble musician as well. I first saw him at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival this year.  I was utterly amazed by his love of the music.  It just exudes from him as he plays away with a hoot here and a holler there.  It seems he plays each song with the same abandon and a complete ardor for the music. His emotions comes through in his music so he may seem a bit more rough than other old time musicians.  The funny thing he does not consider the music he plays old time music or Appalachian music.  He calls it urban music.  His reasoning is that all of his music comes from sheet music.  All of the sheet music was done in the big cities like New York and the like.  I had a quiet self chuckle because I had a vision of an anachronistic Eminem.

His love of music is not only for bluesgrass he is a collector of old vinyl.  One of the albums he released was a rerelease of old music from his personal 70rpm collection.  There is music on it from all over the globe from Japan to even Africa.  He has 2 solo albums of his own that are out a self titled one and Out On The Open West.  I was lucky enough to recently get a self released album he did number 120 of 500.  He made the CD to look like an old 45 vinyl record.  The recording was a bit rough since it was most likely a personal studio (ala his apartment in LA).

I will be talking about the Milk Carton Kids tomorrow.  These will be a nice segue into some thoughts on music in the gaming industry.

Here are some other tracks by him before I leave.

Two versions of an old standard Hesitating Blues (AKA Hesitation Blues)

Lastly… out on the street AFTER a performance.. the man loves his music.