Monday, 27 May 2024

Creating No Man’s Sky’s Generative Soundtrack

No Man’s Sky, one of the most highly anticipated games of the past few years, has recently seen a delay in its release. This delay has also affected the game’s soundtrack, which is being created by the band 65daysofstatic. In this article, we will explore the process of creating the generative soundtrack for No Man’s Sky and discuss the challenges faced by the band. We will also delve into the influence of game soundtracks on the creation of No Man’s Sky’s music.

The Unexpected Challenges

When we last spoke to Paul Wolinski of 65daysofstatic in December 2014, he mentioned that time was a major challenge for the band. The uncertain nature of time seemed to accelerate and decelerate, making it difficult to stay on track. Wolinski compared this experience to being on the outskirts of an earthquake, feeling the tremors but not experiencing the full impact. Despite these challenges, Wolinski expressed admiration for Hello Games, the studio behind No Man’s Sky, for their ability to handle the pressure.

The Impact on the Band

Creating the soundtrack for No Man’s Sky has been a unique project for 65daysofstatic. Wolinski explains that being involved in a game of this magnitude has the potential to significantly impact the band’s popularity. While most of their work takes place behind closed doors, they hope that the exposure from No Man’s Sky will allow more people to discover and enjoy their music. Wolinski emphasizes that their primary goal is to share their record with as many people as possible and embark on a successful tour.

The Enigma of Sean Murray

There has been much speculation about the personality of Sean Murray, the creator of No Man’s Sky. Wolinski presents several theories, ranging from Murray being a savior figure sent to rescue society from a simulated universe gone awry to the belief that Murray doesn’t exist at all, and is instead a manifestation of the highly anticipated Half Life 3 game. Ultimately, Wolinski suggests that Murray is simply a talented individual dedicated to his vision and creative control, highlighting the pressures of his chosen medium.

The Journey into the Unknown

While 65daysofstatic has had limited hands-on experience with No Man’s Sky, they have had the opportunity to experiment with how their music responds to the in-game environment. The immense scope of the game was not a surprise to them, as they were aware of its grandeur from the beginning. Despite the extended timeline for the project, the band maintains their excitement and eagerness to release the music and perform it live.

Procedural Soundscapes and Generative Music

Wolinski explains the distinction between procedurally-generated sounds and generative music. While the creature sounds in No Man’s Sky are procedurally generated, creating unique sounds each time, the soundtrack takes a different approach. It combines pre-recorded audio with algorithms and logic to curate music that adapts to the player’s actions. Although the set of rules governing the soundscape generation is procedural, the sounds themselves are pre-recorded.

The Unique Process for No Man’s Sky

Creating the soundtrack for No Man’s Sky has differed significantly from the band’s previous albums. The band drew inspiration from a sound installation project that required them to create music that existed in a non-linear, unfixed arrangement. They wanted their songs to have a traditional structure, while also providing the ingredients necessary for the game’s “infinite soundtrack” concept. This approach allowed them to consider the soundtrack in an abstract manner, focusing on the overall experience rather than specific gameplay moments.

Influences and the Future of Game Soundtracks

Wolinski highlights some of his favorite game soundtracks, including the original Secret of Monkey Island music and the procedural music of 90s Lucasart point-and-click games. He also praises the soundtrack to Brigador by Makeup & Vanity Set. Looking forward, he expresses excitement about the possibilities of game soundtracks in the future. The innovative in-game soundtrack system of No Man’s Sky points to a bright future for procedural music. 65daysofstatic looks forward to exploring new ideas and being involved in similar projects to push the boundaries of game soundtracks.

FAQs

Q: What is a procedurally-generated soundscape?
A: A procedurally-generated soundscape refers to the dynamic generation of digital audio within the game, creating unique sounds each time they are heard. However, the soundtrack for No Man’s Sky takes a different approach, combining pre-recorded audio with algorithms to generate music that responds to the player’s actions.

Q: How has the process of creating No Man’s Sky’s music differed from creating a typical 65daysofstatic album?
A: Creating the music for No Man’s Sky has required the band to consider a non-linear, unfixed arrangement. While they wanted to create songs that could stand alone as a traditional album, they also had to ensure the music could be used in different ways to serve the game’s “infinite soundtrack” concept.

Q: What are some of the band’s favorite game soundtracks?
A: The band members have a soft spot for the original Secret of Monkey Island music and the procedural soundtracks of Lucasart point-and-click games from the 90s. They also appreciate the soundtrack to Brigador by Makeup & Vanity Set.

Q: Are there any previous game soundtracks that influenced No Man’s Sky’s soundtrack?
A: The band draws inspiration from the tracking scene of the 1990s, where people created music using low-res samples and basic coding. They were also influenced by various game theme songs from that era. They believe there is a bright future for procedural music in game soundtracks and hope to be involved in exploring new possibilities.

Conclusion

Creating the generative soundtrack for No Man’s Sky has been an exciting and challenging endeavor for 65daysofstatic. Despite the delays and uncertainties, the band remains dedicated to delivering a record that stands on its own and enhances the player’s experience within the game. The innovative approach to music in No Man’s Sky opens up new possibilities for the future of game soundtracks, and 65daysofstatic is eager to be part of this ongoing evolution.