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The soundtrack of SpellForce

Interview JoWooD – Dynamedion:

JoWooD: Early on you became known for the very extensive soundtrack of “SpellForce – The Order of Dawn”, as well as the ones of the add-ons “Breath of Winter” and “Shadow of the Phoenix”. The soundtrack of “SpellForce – The Breath of Winter” brought you the German developer award in the category “Best Soundtrack / Ingame Sound”, the main theme of SpellForce “The Order of Dawn” was the only title of a then current German computer game that was played as part of the symphonic opening concert of the Games Convention 2003. These are just a few examples of the success. How much did you focus on the previous SpellForce style? Where are the main differences of the music?

Pierre Langer: First of all, we were incredibly happy about the success of the soundtrack for the first SpellForce part. After all SpellForce was our very first project in the games industry; so it is all the more thrilling, the soundtrack has become so popular. We had a lot of time for the development of the music to “SpellForce – The Order of Dawn”, so we had the possibility to try out a lot of things and then only further develop the best parts. That is what turned into the specific “SpellForce” style which we even managed to expand for the two add-ons of the first part. With these we already covered a large part of the compository possibilities of what we knew would work in the game, so for “SpellForce 2 – Shadow Wars” we were aiming for a kind of quintessence out of the experiences of “SpellForce – The Order of Dawn”. We wanted to focus less on film music examples or other games, but instead get our idea of the world of SpellForce across as impressively as possible. After the title theme of “SpellForce2- Shadow Wars” was played with the singer “Talia” as a special feature on this year’s opening concert of the Games Convention and received a fantastic feedback there, we hope to match the success of the soundtrack to “SpellForce – The Order of Dawn”.

Tilman Sillescu: I think the main difference is the use of a real orchestra. This made the whole soundtrack altogether more cinematic and lively, the dramatic passages have become more emotional, more real, because a passionate 70 people orchestra played this music with devotion. That makes for a totally different effect than if the music had been programmed with samplers on a computer.

JoWooD: Just like in the first part of the game you will be responsible for the complete sound setting of the game – sound effects and implementation in the game included. Where are the specialties in that realm, what has changed compared to the first part?

Pierre Langer: Well, the special thing probably is that the interactive music system this time does not grow along, but its idea can be summarized quite clearly. The whole technical level had to be rebuilt, as "SpellForce 2 – Shadow Wars" is based on a different engine, but we can still simply optimize the experiences of “SpellForce – The Order of Dawn”, just like with the music itself, without having to test everything from scratch again. And stylistically we also try to stay faithful to the SpellForce universe there. So there is no revolution – but an evolution of sound.

JoWooD: What are for you the most outstanding elements of the soundtrack to "SpellForce 2 – Shadow Wars"? How did you deal with the challenge of composition?

Tilman Sillescu: Beside the main theme called „Shadowsong“, which the singer Talia recorded for us, there are especially the main themes of the single nations the player can play. We tried to achieve the widest musical range possible in order to create a subconscious emotional attachment to the different nations. So the Elf people are musically characterized by very lyric and fragile sounds, carried by solo vocals, mystical choir passages, Celtic harp and string instruments. The humans have a proud, down-to-earth theme with horns, the Orcs get a dark atmosphere by the archaic tribal rhythms of the ethno drums and a sombre “monster choir”. These as well as other guiding themes connected to the different people are being quoted, processed and developed in the background music, as well as in the action music, so that the story is emotionally supported like in a cinema film. And last but not least in some important passages we also quote the “SpellForce – The Order of Dawn” guiding theme as a connecting element of the SpellForce parts.

JoWooD: How important do you think the function and importance of music is in a game like “SpellForce 2 – Shadow Wars”?

Pierre Langer: In my opinion music in games is just as important as in films. The player has only got two senses that are being used while playing –the visual and the audio. While the visual stimulus works very directly and establishes the direct contact between the game and the gamer, the realm of sound offers more subtle possibilities to influence the player. The subconscious function of music is very high – you can musically influence the same scenes in different ways, so one time the player is scared out of his mind and the other time he feels joy, courage or whatever. In a game like that you can use this effect very well. Genres like adventures or pure role playing games are more suitable for filmic background music however, but beside the role playing features SpellForce also offers a strong story that you can use for music very well. So if you have the appropriate interactive music system and if you write the according moving and thrilling music, music and sound can enhance a game enormously.

© 2014 by Nordic Games GmbH, Austria. Published by Nordic Games GmbH. SpellForce is a registered trademark of GO Game Outlet AB, Sweden.
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