Understanding interactive music

Successful interactive music enhances the gaming experience by providing a varied and meaningful musical score that adapts itself to gameplay. It can get more up-tempo and more driving during combat, for example, or calmer and lighter in peaceful situations. It can also reinforce special events through Stingers, or snippets played on top of existing music.

A successful interactive music project can also make the best use of scarce resources. Generally, the ratio of source music to video game score is very low: making one hour of composed music last for thirty hours of gameplay is not unusual. You can use Wwise to organize playback in a way that addresses this need for efficiency while providing variety. You can play individual pieces of music in sequential or random order, or even play the individual tracks that make up these pieces. In this way, you can create the illusion that your game has been provided with many hours of constantly evolving music, even if your original material could cover only a fraction of that time.

Using interactive music - example

Let's say you are creating an adventure/puzzle game. Your players take on the role of a dashing archaeologist exploring ancient temples in search of artifacts and adventure.

In your game, your players can perform three principal actions: exploring a temple, sneaking past traps, and fighting temple guardians. Using Wwise, you can define a game state for each action: Exploring, Sneaking, and Fighting. These states define which music Wwise will play at any point in game, ensuring that the soundtrack is adapted to the Action.

The following illustration demonstrates the effect you can achieve with interactive music:

You can also use interactive music to make your game music longer and more interesting. After all, if your game offers players beautiful, exotic settings to explore, they might want to spend several hours doing so. Players may become disappointed or even frustrated if the music accompanying their archaeologist's explorations becomes repetitive. You can use interactive music to take a limited amount of source material and extend it.

Overall, interactive music is a multi-faceted tool you can use to elevate your game from a simple pastime to an evolving experience. Your players will share the excitement and tension of their archaeologist character, and perhaps even spend a little more time investigating your game's carefully-designed traps and puzzles.

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