This blog post was written by Karel Antonin, who co-composed the music for Miner Wars 2081, which was also later used in Space Engineers. Last year, Karel started to work on music for Medieval Engineers.
Karel: “The first notes and ideas started to form half a year ago when Marek invited me into Keen Software House to take a look at our new project. He had showed me a rough outline of the game and almost immediately the first ideas started to emerge in my mind. In that first meeting we decided that the score in the game should be theme driven, contemporary, with its roots in traditional music from around the world.
We also decided right from the beginning to divide in-game music into multiple categories based on the instruments and style of each track. Those categories were: folk and traditional songs of Ireland, Bohemia, Japan and China. For each specific category we selected a few of the key instruments from each region that we would later incorporate in the score – from Irish flutes, bagpipes, cimbal, koto to shakuhachi, duduk, didjeridoo and many more.
Then the process of composing the score started. The first step was to compose the main theme that can be heard throughout the whole soundtrack and in its purest form in the main menu. Because Medieval Engineers is inherently a game in which players tend to spend a lot of time, there had to be enough variety and length in the score to accommodate this. At the end, 3.5 hours of score were created over the period of four months. At first, the score was created using synthetic mockups in my studio (I used Cubase and several terabytes of virtual instruments) – these were exchanged every day between Marek and me multiple times until we finalized every aspect. Each track was firstly created in its shorter form, approved and then extended into its final length of around 3.5 minutes.
There were two exceptions to this rule. Because I did not feel my sampled vocals were nearly as expressive as I needed, right from the beginning I enlisted help of Agnieszka “Agu” Kapuscinska – a singer, musician and songwriter from Poland. During the recording, I at first muted the synth vocals completely, and told her the settings of the game and mood of each specific track. Then I let her improvise freely to the rest of the synthetic orchestra. In the end, most of vocals that you can hear in the finished score are a result of a few days’ worth of genuine improvisation.
The second exception came in the beginning of December with the scoring of the announcement trailer. That process was different from the rest in multiple aspects – at first I composed the trailer suite (a 2 minute long piece which featured all the key musical parts that were later used in the trailer) which then got extended to its full length in the beginning of January, once I got the final cut of the trailer. As soon as that was done, we sent it over to France to the orchestrator, Guillaume Tristant. He then took care of the orchestration, edited sheets and sent them the musicians. The next step was to produce the recording session (build a team, choose a date, and give musical intentions…). The next person in line was Samy Cheboub, whose task was to mix all the recorded material (strings section in this case) with the synthetic elements (percussion, horns) into one seamless mix. After that the final result was sent back to KSH where it was added to the trailer footage and (later that day) published.
The final piece in the production of the score was the recording of the in-game music – the moment which brought it to life. The music was recorded in multiple countries. First we recorded the orchestra in France, after which came the time to record additional soloists – violin, flute and guitar. Those instruments were recorded in a separate studio in the Czech Republic over the course of four days.
Medieval Engineers is one of the greatest and most intriguing projects I’ve worked on so far – in those four months there was something new every day. One day I felt the weight and grandeur of the majestic castles that players will be building, the next day it was the breath of a barbaric army trying to destroy them – and I enjoyed every moment of that process.”
You can hear the final result both in the game itself and on the OST, which includes musical highlights from the entire score.
Karel’s brief bio:
Karel Antonin has composed scores for over 50 projects, including short films, features, drama series, commercials and video games of various genres. In 2009 he won the award for the best score on Game Developers Session. In 2011 he won “The Best Score” award at the Underground Cinema Awards in Ireland. http://www.karelantonin.com/
Medieval Engineers – The Official Soundtrack Demo: