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Crush monsters and get loot in a persistent world full of gorgeous 2D sprite work with a sweeping throwback soundtrack.
1,468 backers pledged $43,155 to help bring this project to life.

New Backer Rewards And Behind The Scenes With Zircon!

Posted by Jim Shepard (Creator)

Let's get the good news right up front:

Every backer at the $25 tier or higher will receive two of zircon's digital albums!

That's right. Every member of the Pioneer's Guild will receive digital copies of some of Andrew's great works. You'll get these two albums:

Fittest: Original Soundtrack

http://zirconstudios.bandcamp.com/album/fittest-original-soundtrack

A tribute to classic video game music, featuring twelve full musical tracks in a wide range of musical styles influenced by such games as Turrican, Mega Man, Donkey Kong Country, Contra and Dance Dance Revolution.

Return All Robots: Original Soundtrack

http://zirconstudios.bandcamp.com/album/return-all-robots-original-soundtrack

Inspired by classic soundtracks like Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country and Commander Keen, as well as artists like Vince DiCola (Rocky IV, 1986 Transformers), Kraftwerk and italo-disco, the RAR! OST brings together catchy melodies with electro drumbeats and nostalgia-inducing sounds.

As a member of the Pioneer's Guild, you'll receive a digital copy of both these albums, along with beta access to Dungeonmans and a digital copy of the Dungeonmans soundtrack!

Backers at the $25 or higher pledge level will receive a digital copy of Dungeonmans upon release, access to the Dungeonmans beta, a digital copy of the full Dungeonmans soundtrack, a digital copy of the Fittest soundtrack, and a digital copy of the Return All Robots soundtrack. 

You can't beat that.

Creating the Dungeonmans Soundtrack

The following is a blog post from Andrew Aversa, aka zircon, detailing his thoughts on the Dungeonmans soundtrack and how it meshes with and enhances the adventurous and style of the game.

I've been a huge fan of roguelikes and dungeon crawlers for as long as I can remember. My parents would get mad at me for waking up at 5am in middle school to play "Castle of the Winds" on our Windows 3.1 PC, and I recall seeing stacks of printed guides for Nethack on dot matrix paper. So, you can imagine my delight in being asked to work on the audio for Dungeonmans. The funny thing about this genre of games is that some of the more classic titles have minimal or no audio to speak of, and of the more modern offerings, there isn't much of a stylistic standard. This basically translated to freedom in picking and refining a musical style for the game, without feeling encumbered by genre expectations.

Before a single note was written, Jim and I spoke extensively about the aesthetic of the game and what sort of audio might be most appropriate. There's a certain temptation to fall back on a 'chiptune' style anytime you're working with sprite-based graphics, but neither of us felt that would really fit here. Plus, though I've had some experience with creating chiptunes, I think they are - dare I say - overused in a lot of indie titles. Instead, I looked to some of my very favorite games of the 90s that fell somewhere between the 8bit era and what we would consider to be modern graphics today.

"Final Fantasy Tactics - Apoplexy" 

One of the finest pieces of music ever written for a video game.

What that line of thinking led me to was a musical aesthetic inspired by soundtracks for 90s PC, SNES, and PS1 games; an era where instrumentation had evolved beyond basic chiptune sounds, but was still falling considerably short of 'realism' as we would expect today. As I think many gamers would agree, this type of sound is oozing with character and charm. There's something about soundtracks to games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Suikoden II, Chrono Trigger, and WarCraft II that summons great emotion in the player: to win a battle, to save the world, to lead an army to victory...

"WarCraft II - Human 1" 

The perfect background to sending downtrodden peons and soldiers to battle.

After refining our pool of reference tracks and music, I set to work in creating a palette of sounds to be used across the entire soundtrack. The most obvious choice for orchestral samples was the Roland SC88. Without getting too technical, the SC88 was a synthesizer released in the mid-90s that was quickly (and almost universally) adopted by countless composers and producers. At the time, it was far and away one of the most realistic-sounding sound modules on the market and its use persisted for many years. Needless to say, it was also a popular favorite among Japanese game composers and either it or other devices in the same lineage can be heard in many classic JRPGs.

Rather than using a physical SC88, I'm using virtual instruments that draw from the same sounds used in the Roland module. 

 "Suikoden II - Labyrinth" 

One of the major inspirations for our dungeon music - this is as good as it gets for dark exploration themes. 

 One challenge of writing music for a turn-based game is that the intensity of the music has to be able to match any number of situations. The player might pause for a little while and think about what they want to do; in that case, it wouldn't make sense to have very chaotic and intense drums and strings. On the other hand, the player might be in the midst of battle, taking actions every second. A score that is too ambient and unmemorable will leave the player without a key element of the experience that adds to their excitement and motivation. Striking the right balance is something that can only be done with lots of trial and error, plus lots of back-and-forth with Jim for key tracks.

"Final Fantasy 12 - Giza Plains" 

Though more recent than some of the above game references, the music production is quite similar.

In the last few years I've had the opportunity to work on some fairly major video games, including Soulcalibur V in 2012. For that project, only MIDI-based orchestrations of the very highest quality were accepted, and we also had to prepare scores (sheet music) for live orchestra to record. While it was an incredibly fun game to work on, there is something hugely liberating about not having to worry about 'realism' and instead focusing on pure composition. That's exactly what the Dungeonmans soundtrack is all about. I want players to really enjoy the music and the atmosphere of adventure it creates, not through super-fancy Hollywood orchestral recordings, but through the memorable melodies and harmonies of each piece.

I hope you're enjoying the game and its auditory experience so far. Jim and I would like the full, final soundtrack to be very comprehensive with themes for every type of dungeon and town, along with plenty of stingers and short pieces to reinforce those moments of great victory (or defeat). I can't wait to keep working on it, so *thank you* for playing and supporting Dungeonmans!

Livestream Recordings

Interested in seeing exactly how a track for the game comes together? I broadcast two writing sessions in real-time through livestream and recorded the results. In the videos below you'll see how the "Crypt" track was created, from a totally blank canvas to a finished result.



What's Next for Dungeonmans?

There's a new build on the horizon, one more adventure to finish the campaign strong! Here's a sneak peek! New in 1.08 will be Overworld Camps, battles in the wild where the enemy has set up camp, ready to raid neighboring villages or just engages in general (and unacceptable) villainy! You know what must be done.



Thanks again for the continuous awesome stream of feedback, as well as your efforts in spreading the word about Dungeonmans. It's working! Let's wrap up this campaign and coat ourselves in the mead-flavored sheen of victory.

Jim




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