Monthly Archives: October 2015

A Journey to (Game) Music Making

I remember one day when I was still in college, I am sitting next to my friend on a commuter train that goes to our university. He is a musician and a person that broaden my musical knowledge. I still remember when he asked me to listen to a particular record. “I know you will like it!”, he said. I was mesmerized by the song the first time I heard it and I still do whenever I listen to it. It was Pat Metheny’s ‘Last Train Home‘.

I said to him,”You know, I often have music in myself that is unique but I just don’t know how to write it into a musical piece.” He just laughed at me,”Really? It could just be your imagination. C’ mon!” I became quiet after that, and begin to doubt myself. How can a person like me without any musical training write music? For a long time, I forget about this ‘urge’ to unleashed the music within me. But all kind of tunes have always been playing inside my head from time to time, creating a unique music when I’m sad, happy, melancholy or fleeting in a moment.

I listen to all kind of music since I was a little kid. I still remember the tunes of Engelbert Humperdinck, Nat King Cole, Paul Anka, Daniel Sahuleka, Earth Wind and Fire, Benyamin Sueb, Bing Slamet, and others that were introduced by my parents. When I was in Junior High, I have a friend who introduce me to the Beatles, Queen and Elvis Presley. For me the best band in the world is Queen, and it still is until now.

But one day, I heard a music from the television that beat all others that I have listened before. Actually before, I didn’t understand this kind of music and always feeling sleepy whenever I listen to it. The music suddenly just struck my heart and I feel a new sensation poured into my deepest conscience. It was Beethoven (as stated in the TV)  but I didn’t know which piece. The next day, I asked my mother to buy me a couple of classical music recordings. Luckily on that day she also needs to go to a shop that is near to a music shop. As fate would have it, one of the two cassettes that my mother bought contain the music that has ‘awakened‘ something inside me the day before. It was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 ‘Pastoral‘. The other cassette contains Mozart’s Flute Concerto.

For me, the ‘cream of the crop’ of my musical preference are Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. For me nothing beats their music, and it still are up until now. Actually the music inside me started to sprawl and to grow after I listen to an extensive classical music recording libraries. I also listen to Handel, Bach, Vivaldi, Pachelbel, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Listz, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Puccini, Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka, Ravel, Berlioz, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, and many others. Since I also listen to blues, jazz, swing, soul to pop, rock, dance and techno, the range of the ‘music’ inside of me are actually quite diverse.

Since now I know how to make music using the aid of modern software and technology, I am very happy. I am still learning to make a more complex composition. Most of the time my song composition only uses 2 or 3 tracks. Up until know I have produced many short pieces for my game music. The one down there (previous post) called ‘Melancholy‘ is one of them. I plan to release all my future game music in this website for you to freely listen to it. I hope you will like it!

P.S. The musician friend in the story above now support and believe in my (amateurish) musical capability. I hope I can make him proud!

Opening Menu Design of My First Mini Game

In these last two weeks, I poured my sweats on refining the opening menu of my first mini game. It is almost finished. I only need to add two last pieces: the back button menu for exiting the game and the background music. I always aim to make my opening menu interesting, engaging and colorful. I have done simple animations for the title, start button and copyright font. If you touch/click the copyright font, it will open a window consisting information about my identity as a developer and the address of my personal website. I also have added a nice animation of the main character in the opening menu, with a simple interaction option. If you touch/click the character, it will create a new simple animation. Some of the animations are made using the tools inside the game engine while other more complex ones are made using Adobe Flash Professional. I also have added sound effects for the animation of the main character and the corresponding ‘clickable’ objects (start button, option button, copyright font, etc).

In the option menu, the player can choose to turn on/off the music and/or the sound effect. Creating this kind of options required some focus in writing the code. It might seems simple but it actually does require some mental thought in refining it. For example, to achieve a seamless effect when you choose to turn off the sound effect while it is playing require a ‘trick’. If you code it the wrong way, the sound effect will be off only after it finishes playing. But with the ‘trick’, I can turn off the sound effect instantly while it is playing and back to play immediately if I choose to turn it on again.

Making the exit button option is quite straightforward. In android, you can click the back button to open the window of this option to exit the game. Although the presence of this exit option is actually not that necessary (especially with modern phone that has a manual button to exit an application to the main/home menu), it is a standard option that exist in almost all phone applications. Regarding the background music for the opening menu, I want to create an atmosphere where you can sort of imagine the game play that I will present after you touch/click the start button. I hope the opening menu can lure the player to try the gameplay.