Background music (constant play or short songs?)

Moon_Haven

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Hello!

I'm at the stage of selecting background music for my demo. Every map will have it's own song.

As a player, I usually turn off the music in most games (or lower the volume very low) as I find it distracting or downright annoying (eg: unending death metal riffs in Doom Eternal). Feeling that I can't be the only one like this, I'm tinkering with the idea of having a music when you land on the map, but the song would last only a minute or two, instead of being on repeat all the time.

I know I won't hit a consensus, but for sake of argument, let me ask you this: do you usually let background game music play? And if so, do you prefer when the music is continuous, or only plays a bit then disappear (and perhaps comes back a bit later? like 1m song, 3 minutes silence)

Cheers!
 

Kristina

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The music on my maps are continuous, but it's not loud and fits my maps well and I mix it will different sounds. The player can turn it off the music or lower the volume if they wish.

I think it's important to chose the background music carefully. Not one that's annoying and doesn't fit the game at all.
 

EpicFILE

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Most JRPG background music is constantly looping.
As long as the music is good and not overbearing, having
a background music is great (it may even improve player's immersion).

It still depends on the genre though.
Horror is better with ambient sound instead of background music.
 

Featherbrain

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Either effect can work depending on what you're trying to achieve. I plan to mix and match somewhat, having music playing continuously in most areas, but dungeons and dangerous areas may rely more on ambient sound with an occasional shortish musical cue (e.g. when enemies are near or chasing you).

That said, I would very rarely use literal "silence" (although that would probably work briefly, like for really tense scenes). If music isn't playing there should be some looping ambient BGS instead, imo.

ETA: I think there might be genre considerations, too. I think of JRPGs as really emphasizing the musical soundtrack and usually having music in most scenes. I think of WRPGs like Skyrim as having more "ambient", low-key soundtracks that kind of come and go.

ETA2: Oh, and to answer the first question, I almost always leave background music playing. The only exception might for for something like Civilization or something and usually only if I want to listen to a podcast or something in the background. I think of the music and sound design as an intrinsic part of the experience. If I don't like it I probably would stop playing period before I muted it tbh.
 
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Moon_Haven

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All good points. I think that cements my thoughts for exploration maps, thank you! I'm also wondering about when the player is in a shop trading with a merchant? All of my merchants have their own shops, wondering if music will get annoying when shopping or just browsing the wares.
 

MasterofRevels

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I think, like others have already said, it depends on the tone you are going for. I think the key is using music for an intentional, aesthetic purpose rather than as a kind of constant wallpaper. I love it when games strip away all of the music for certain moments (like most exploration in BOTW or all of the non-boss action in Dark Souls). But other games have nearly constant music and it still never gets old. Personally, I like the idea of separating your soundtrack into "cues" and "ambient drones." You only play the cues for significant moments and the drones are almost more like atmospheric sound design.
 

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