As soon as I saw art from The Hadron Effect I knew I had to write some music for it.
The Hadron Effect is a Sci-Fi FPS developed by Craig at 530Friday. It tells the story of the real life Hadron Collider in CERN and what happens when it goes wrong.
This post is a look at what I did for the music and how I went about doing it.
Why The Hadron Collider? Craig answers this in his site by saying he wanted to include elements of his favourite sci-fi movies and games. So why not? It certainly lends itself to Sci-Fi being made up of 27-kilometres of superconducting magnets!! Nothing could go wrong with that though right? It’s not like the world could end or anything…
The game centres around and accident in the collider which leads to the player being transported to a strange new world. The Game isn’t about running around inside the lab of the Hadron Collider though. You need to explore the new world you have arrived in and try to get back home.
Getting A Feel For The Project And Initial Thoughts
Craig and I were first in touch about the game a long time ago. I remember we had a Skype call to introduce ourselves, like I do with all potential clients, and Craig explained all about his vision for the game and his thinking behind all the different elements at play.
Because of the subject matter I knew the music would have to be epic, so straight away I knew I would be using strings and some heavy percussion. But I also knew I wanted to leave space for some brooding atmospheres and electronic effects.
Story based RPGs or FPSs etc are exactly the type of games I love to do, so I couldn’t wait to get started.
First Things First – I Needed A Suitable Melody
I first pulled out The Giant, an epic cinematic piano by Native Instruments, and one of my favourites. Here’s the piano part I wrote first which really makes up the whole melodic element of the theme. As you can hear, it’s a large, slightly melancholy, but also tinged with a bit of hope as well.
Because I knew the players would be able to explore the outside world and because at it’s heart the game is essentially a struggle, I wanted a human emotional element to my theme. This is where the strings came in. They were epic sure, but they also balanced out the synthetic elements of the score to reflect the human angle. Had the game been set in a claustrophobic lab inside I would almost certainly have made the theme much more synthetic and dark.
Here’s how the strings are introduced at the start of the theme:
Once the main section kicks in, I knew I wanted a hybrid of orchestra and synths going on and the piano would take up far too much space in the mix. So I let the piano go and opted for some other instrumentation to replace the melodic theme the piano was contributing. This was mainly made up of some synth effects, brass and (very distorted) electronic guitar. here’s how that backing sounded on it’s own:
The Enemies, And How They Would Sound
Part of what I knew the game was about (and is fairly obvious from it being a First Person Shooter) is that there would be enemies! Here’s one now:
To help ensure the tension was at its maximum in my theme and to really seal the action aspect of the game I wanted REALLY great percussion. So I brought out the big guns and really let rip:
Bringing It All Together
The arrangement needed to be a journey, in the same way the game was. It starts off quite quiet with the haunting piano, then… something happens, much like the collider accident itself. I wanted the change in tone to be noticeable so it was obvious things were happening. I used an industrial sounding percussive loop and let the build up increase in energy until the drop:
So the full track was pretty large – I had around 60 separate tracks in total which were happening at one time or the other. Big tracks like this with lots going on can take a while to mix, so I did what I often do with pieces like this and bounce all the music down to audio files, and then set about mixing that as a separate session:
Craig really liked the track, in fact he said:
it’s fantastic, love it, you’ve got just the feel I was looking for, very clever!
Sometimes of course I might not get get the theme right first time. The developer might have comments or views about the way the music is progressing and the game in general. This is fine and all part of the composing process. With a bit of back and forth and a couple of revisions, we can nail it.
It’s not about my music though, it’s always about the game! I always keep that in mind. On this occasion though I got it bang on, so it was Pina Colliders all round… sorry! Here is my finished main theme:
The Hadron Effect is due for release towards the end of 2017 and you can read all about it here. I was so pleased I got the chance to contribute to what I know will be a fantastic game.