Subtle touch

10561099_259068917615062_1473883867_nPlayers sometimes ask me what soundtrack I recommend to listen to when they play one of my games, like Stronghold or Robinson Crusoe. I am known as thematic designer, my games are all about story and engagement of players and soundtrack seems like obvious choice.

Well, it is not.

I don’t play with soundtrack.

When I was playing RPG games I was all about building atmosphere and building tension and I was using music like a madman (or rather like DJ). I was changing songs and CDs all the time, I was playing slow music, fast music, epic music, depending on scene, depending on scenario I had everything earlier prepared – whole OST with different songs for each part of scenario. I was crazy.

Today when I play board games, I don’t use any music, I just focus on rules, games mechanism and I don’t want to be distracted by any soundtrack. OK, except the moment when I play X-Wing. You just can’t play it without OST, right?

Being that said…

Last week I watched Ricky Royal video dedicated to Voyage of the Beagle. And I have to say, little, subtle trick Ricky did struck me like a bolt. Ricky did not use a soundtrack. He used sound effects.

Play from 5:18 to see what I am talkin’ about. In a split of a second the theme is build. The same trick in his second video. Watch at 3:06

I think I am still not for soundtrack and music when I play board games. But such a special effects here and there… That would be freaking awesome. Watching these movies, hearing these sounds I felt like I was there. It was just a subtle touch, but hell, it worked!

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One thought on “Subtle touch

  1. I agree. I used to try and score my RPG sessions which in some moments made them really spectacular, and other times suffered from me fumbling with iTunes to find the right spot for the moment. Then I missed the moment. 😛

    One thing that did work really well was ripping the ambient background sounds (like your gulls) from games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Go into a tavern, have a murmur of conversation and the clinking of glasses. No time specifics – no chorus. No verse. Just noise. The right noise.

    I think those would work in a board game setting, but you’re also right about capturing mood in RPG vs board game (remind’s me of Vlaada’s contribution to your book). Little bit of both worlds probably works best.

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