Interview: Behind A Valley Without Wind’s chiptune-inspired soundtrack

by Anthony on April 11, 2012 · 0 comments

in Computer, Featured, Interviews, PAX East 2012

As the composer for A Valley Without Wind, Pablo Vega has his work cut out for him. Not only is he responsible for the sound design, but Arcen Games hopes to regularly add to the game with free DLC and paid expansion packs that include new tracks. The first volume of the soundtrack for the yet-to-be released open-world RPG/platformer has 17 tracks. Vega hopes to do more than 100 tracks total in the coming years, and he started this project 14 months ago.

At PAX East, Vega talked about the unique sound he developed for A Valley Without Wind, seeing the randomly-generated world grow in size and how he finds inspiration. More details about the game can be found in this interview with Arcen Games founder Chris Park.

I love the soundtrack but I struggle to describe it. How would you describe the music in your own words?

Pablo Vega: The best way to describe it as trying to give a shout out to the old school 8-bit sound but sort of making it our own in the sense that we’re doing a fashion with more modern instrumentation and style.

That sounds right. It does have the sound but it’s a lot more cinematic in a way than those older games.

For me, I have a background in music composition so…doing that more classical composition is what I was trained in. With a game like this, we wanted to get that futuristic sound but still have that orchestral flavor.

I feel like it’s been a very unique sound. You have a very chiptune driven melodies with the backgrounds and everything that build it up.

What do you use to make the music?

In terms of composition, I just have a piano to get inspired a little bit. The programs I use are Logic Pro, and I use a lot of that for the chiptuney sounds. Any live recording that I do, I use Pro Tools for that.

How do the new tracks come to you? Are you shown a level and given some guidance?

The cool thing is now the game is really put together. Now that I can see the worlds, the artwork, the gameplay, that is a ton of inspiration. We have ever-changing backgrounds due to the procedural engineering, so as that changes I’m like “oh, this new backdrop is insane.”

For me, I have to kind of visually see something so with the music I try to interpret what I’m looking at. So whenever I see the [developers’] new work, it’s immediately inspirational.

Listen to volume one of Pablo Vega’s A Valley Without soundtrack on Bandcamp. This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

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