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X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter from earlier in 1997 played John Williams Star Wars music in it, but it was the existing film recordings; Peter McConnell's original score was synth.

 

Quake from 1996 played Trent Reznor's score that would have been recorded, but it didn't use an orchestra


Elemental Gearbolt from 1997 had an original orchestral score, but it came out after The Lost World (no idea which was recorded first, however)

 

You know what?  I just remembered Bruce Broughton's Heart of Darkness is touted as being the first orchestral video game score.  However, the game did not ultimately release until 1998, after Lost World and Elemental Gearbolt.

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3 hours ago, Jay said:

X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter from earlier in 1997 played John Williams Star Wars music in it, but it was the existing film recordings; Peter McConnell's original score was synth.

 

AFAIR, XvT didn't have any original music (perhaps the expansion had). With the move from DOS to Win95 & DirectX and the technical improvements of the engine XvT was the first original game of the series to be released for the new platform, but they also released updated versions of X-Wing and TIE Fighter), LucasArts abandoned the original McConnell/Bajakian iMuse scores and replaced them with (rather poor) edits of the Williams film recordings. I think XvT even simply used standard Red Book/CDDA tracks on the game disc and switched between those while playing.

 

X-Wing Alliance later also used Williams edits, but much better ones and with a much tighter iMuse controller (now played from responsive samples rather than directly from the CD). Still, the original scores of the first two games are sorely missed and would deserve being arranged for a real orchestra (ala the special edition of Grim Fandango DoubleFine did a few years ago).

 

3 hours ago, Jay said:

You know what?  I just remembered Bruce Broughton's Heart of Darkness is touted as being the first orchestral video game score.  However, the game did not ultimately release until 1998, after Lost World and Elemental Gearbolt.

 

The Broughton is the one I've had on CD since around that time, and I do remember that at least back then it was advertised as the first real orchestral video game score.

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23 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

AFAIR, XvT didn't have any original music (perhaps the expansion had). With the move from DOS to Win95 & DirectX and the technical improvements of the engine XvT was the first original game of the series to be released for the new platform, but they also released updated versions of X-Wing and TIE Fighter), LucasArts abandoned the original McConnell/Bajakian iMuse scores and replaced them with (rather poor) edits of the Williams film recordings. I think XvT even simply used standard Red Book/CDDA tracks on the game disc and switched between those while playing.

 

The Wikipedia article says it has an original score by Peter McConnell

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_X-Wing_vs._TIE_Fighter

 

I played all these games back in the day, but don't remember specifics about any of their scores

 

23 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

The Broughton is the one I've had on CD since around that time, and I do remember that at least back then it was advertised as the first real orchestral video game score.

 

Right.  It's very possible it was commissioned, written, and recorded before The Lost World and Elemental Gearbolt's scores were, but it definitely did not ultimately release until after those.

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16 minutes ago, Jay said:

The Wikipedia article says it has an original score by Peter McConnell

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_X-Wing_vs._TIE_Fighter

 

Perhaps the expansion had an original score. Or perhaps there were bits of original score in between. I never played XvT much, because the original game was pretty lousy in single player mode (the expansion supposedly had a proper single player campaign like the other games, but that's the only one in the series I never had).

 

16 minutes ago, Jay said:

I played all these games back in the day, but don't remember specifics about any of their scores

 

X-Wing was rather ordinary, as far as I remember, but TIE Fighter has a brilliant score. McConnell used Williams' themes and added his own (like a "positive" theme for the Empire, since you're playing on their side), and the dynamic iMuse engine allowed them to seamlessly switch between lengthy context based underscore loops and leitmotif stingers.

 

The mileage varies depending on the used MIDI sample library, obviously, but this is a pretty great rendition:

 

 

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Both XWvsTF and balance of power campaign didnt had music not from the star wars osts tracks. I played those cds and jedi knight's a ton back in the day...as it was my only way to listed to star wars music . :P

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@Edmilson Well there was Bruce Broughton's Heart of Darkness and Lennie Moore's Outcast, but those were released 1-2 years after. So unless there's some forgotten game that has it, Gia could very well claim that particular title.

Funnily enough, the one Lost World track I am familiar with ("The Forest Explodes") always sounded a bit oddly mixed to me. Like it's definitely too natural sounding to be synth, but I do wonder if some of his demos got partially mixed in Gladiator style.

EDIT: I see the others already covered it. I was too blind to see there was another page. :pat:

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Yeah, from what I have researched, it's common sense that the first orchestral scores for games appeared by the late 90s with the PS1 generation. I'll check Broughton's Heart of Darkness and Gia's Lost World to see how good are these scores.

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1 hour ago, Edmilson said:

Yeah, from what I have researched, it's common sense that the first orchestral scores for games appeared by the late 90s with the PS1 generation. I'll check Broughton's Heart of Darkness and Gia's Lost World to see how good are these scores.

Broughton's Heart of Darkness was fantastic!  I remember playing that game in the mid 90's and the score was definitely a huge selling point as these games were now on CD rom and could finally offer audio recordings instead of limited MIDI.  I was also working at Sony Playstation (SCEA) at the time and remember the incredibly tight audio restrictions before and how it changed after. 

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On 7/29/2020 at 7:14 AM, HunterTech said:

So unless there's some forgotten game that has it, Gia could very well claim that particular title.

 

That would be Garry Schyman's Voyeur for the CD-i from 1993, which according to the composer was recorded with a small orchestra.

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Seems unlikely that Broughton's Heart of Darkness would have all that marketing about it being the first if this other game existed for 4 years before with one...

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3 hours ago, Jay said:

Seems unlikely that Broughton's Heart of Darkness would have all that marketing about it being the first if this other game existed for 4 years before with one...

TPM UE boasted that it contained every note composed by Jon Williams

 

AUJ deluxe sticker claimed it had the complete score.

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3 hours ago, Jay said:

Seems unlikely that Broughton's Heart of Darkness would have all that marketing about it being the first if this other game existed for 4 years before with one...

 

It seems unlikely, but if the release dates on Wikipedia and Christian's info are right, that's how it is.

 

Voyeur was released in 1993, while Heart of Darkness' "[d]evelopment began in 1992, with the PC as the lead platform. The game was not publicly unveiled until the March 1995 European Computer Trade Show, at which time the developers said it was near completion."

 

One might argue that since Voyeur was apparently an interactive movie, it doesn't count as a proper video game score. Or perhaps the "small orchestra" is a chamber ensemble or significantly augmented with synths, and Broughton's score is distinguished by being the first that uses a full symphonic orchestra.

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Interesting ideas!

I'm surprised googling around didn't turn up a nice, well-researched article with a timeline of all the earliest orchestral video game scores

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I listen to more video game music than film/tv music these days.

 

I can't get enough of the Final Fantasy VII Remake score, and also have never stopped going back regularly to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Hollow Knight, and Celeste since they came out, and recently discovered the glory of Bravely Default as well

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On 7/28/2020 at 10:33 AM, Jay said:

 

The Wikipedia article says it has an original score by Peter McConnell

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_X-Wing_vs._TIE_Fighter

 

I played all these games back in the day, but don't remember specifics about any of their scores

 

 

Right.  It's very possible it was commissioned, written, and recorded before The Lost World and Elemental Gearbolt's scores were, but it definitely did not ultimately release until after those.

I just got off the phone with him and asked about this and he questions how "live orchestra is defined" because some early 90's games used a live guitarist only and the rest of the score was synth.  Then had jazz band live and orchestra was synth.  Then had live soloists with synth orchestra.  Mike Land used recordings of orchestras for The Dig but pre-sliced them as a modern DJ might do.  It's a complicated topic. 

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I mean The Lost World and Elemental Gearbolt were definitely full size normal orchestras. 

 

I don't know anything about Voyeur though, I hadn't heard about that one before today. 

 

Again, it's certainly possible Lost World and Elemental Gearbolt's score were written and recorded AFTER Bruce's, but Heart of Darkness got delayed and those games ended up coming out first 

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11 hours ago, karelm said:

I just got off the phone with him and asked about this and he questions how "live orchestra is defined" because some early 90's games used a live guitarist only and the rest of the score was synth.  Then had jazz band live and orchestra was synth.  Then had live soloists with synth orchestra.  Mike Land used recordings of orchestras for The Dig but pre-sliced them as a modern DJ might do.  It's a complicated topic. 

 

So like Grim Fandango then. That always had a real band but only got a real orchestra for the remaster.

 

10 hours ago, Jay said:

I mean The Lost World and Elemental Gearbolt were definitely full size normal orchestras. 

 

Heart of Darkness was Broughton's usual Sinfonia of London, just in case we haven't covered that yet. And whoa, Broughton's liner notes literally begin with: "Recorded in 1990, the score to Heart of Darkness bears the distinction of being the first orchestral score ever produced for a CD-ROM game." (emphasis mine)

 

That should settle it I guess.

 

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1990!?  What sort of development hell lead to the game not releasing until 1998, yikes!

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It's odd, yes. Could it be a typo, or Broughton mis-remembering 9 years later when the CD was produced?

 

The Amiga CD32 came out in 1993 and was (I believe) the world's first CD-ROM based console. On the other hand, the CD-ROM version of Battle Chess (one of the earliest CD-ROM games I remember) came out in 1991, so it is at least thinkable that Amazing Studio started working on a CD-ROM game early enough to record a score in 1990, although it does conflict with Wikipedia's claim that development started in 1992. If both claims are correct, they would have had a concept solid enough to pay for recording sessions two years before they began to actually implement the game. On the other hand, a CD32 version was planned, and that console was long dead when the game was finally released, so they definitely spent several years more in development than they had planned.

 

Broughton's claimed date also doesn't really fit with director/designer Éric Chahi's Wikipedia biography (I wasn't aware until now that Heart of Darkness was conceived or at least directed by the same guy who made the famed Another World:

 

Quote

 

In 1989 Éric Chahi quit Chip to join Delphine Software International to work on the graphics for Future Wars, a game designed by Paul Cuisset. Then, over a period of two years, Chahi developed Another World (released in 1991) entirely on his own, from the story to the box artwork, only soliciting help for the music score; later that game received much critical acclaim for its atmosphere and minimalism, and went on to be considered as a cult classic.

After leaving Delphine, Chahi founded Amazing Studio and became one of several designers that were working there on Heart of Darkness, an initially ambitious side-scrolling game.

 

 

In any case, the first public presentation of Heart of Darkness was in 1995, and at that time it was thought to be nearly finished, so I imagine the score would have been in place by then, which still puts it firmly before The Lost World.

 

Perhaps someone who is friends with Broughton on Facebook could try and ask him?

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The 1990 in the booklet has gotta by a typo/mis-memory.  1995 is plausible.

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17 minutes ago, Edmilson said:

I know video games take a long time to be produced, but 8 years or more is a little too much, isn't it?

 

On the other hand, the indie game I'm currently working on has now been in (non-continuous) development for almost 10 years, and it's much less ambitious than Heart of Darkness. ;)

1 minute ago, Jay said:

The 1990 in the booklet has gotta by a typo.  1995 could be plausible.

 

Even easily 1994, I'd say, since the game was shown in March 1995.

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Sure, but if it had an orchestral score, the score would be recorded closer to the end of development, not the beginning

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Maybe the recording sessions did took place on the beginning of the process. Broughton recorded his score early based on concept arts, and then the studio worked to fit what has been recorded into the finished game.

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1 hour ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

So like Grim Fandango then. That always had a real band but only got a real orchestra for the remaster.

 

 

Heart of Darkness was Broughton's usual Sinfonia of London, just in case we haven't covered that yet. And whoa, Broughton's liner notes literally begin with: "Recorded in 1990, the score to Heart of Darkness bears the distinction of being the first orchestral score ever produced for a CD-ROM game." (emphasis mine)

 

That should settle it I guess.

 

 

Yes exactly.  Note we re-recorded it for the 20th anniversary with full orchestra and jazz band.

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1 hour ago, Jay said:

Sure, but if it had an orchestral score, the score would be recorded closer to the end of development, not the beginning

 

Nowadays, sure. But if it was the first game with an orchestral score, they might deliberately have recorded that score rather early when they *thought* most of the content was locked. A game that was that long in development certainly didn't always strictly follow clearly laid out milestones. ;) 

 

Anyway, we could have thought about just searching for more information earlier, because everything has been cleared up on the Intrada forum 7 years ago:

http://www.intrada.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=3686

 

Quote

Now a new book about Eric Chahi has been released, I finally have the answers to all of my questions. The book spends 2 pages to explain all the production of the score for Heart of Darkness, with a full picture of Bruce Broughton conducting the score.

Eric Chahi started the (very long) production of Heart of Darkness in 1992, following his Another World/Out of this World hit game. He wanted to have the first orchestral score in the history of video games and so he logically wanted to hire a film composer to score his game. He had been really impressed by the music of Young Sherlock Holmes and more recently by Rescuers Down Under (1990) and contacted the agent of Bruce Broughton in 1994 (once he had rough animated sequences ready to be scored). Bruce agreed to come in Paris to see the animated sequences and discuss with Eric. He was impressed by the game and got very interested in this atypical project and much inspired to write all the wonderful themes and cues needed. The recording sessions took place in London in january 1995 with the Sinfonia of London. Eric Chahi recalls that seeing the orchestra giving life to the score of his game has been one of the most memorable moments in his life. He was blown away seeing Bruce conducting the orchestra live.

So the score was recorded in 1995 (we finally now that for sure, the "1990" in Bruce Broughton's notes in the CD booklet was a typing mistake), the game was eventually released in 1998 and Intrada happily came 1 year later (thank god they did that!) to release the score on CD. 

It took 6 years to make this game, it took me 6 years since my initial post (and 15 years since the release of the CD) to get my answer ! 

 

So the 1990 info was wrong, Broughton came on board in 1994 and recorded the score very early in 1995.

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Cool, good info there. So his was the first recorded, but Giacchino and Wakakusa beat him to release 

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Regarding Voyeur, Schyman has a suite (with sheet music!) on youtube: 

The description sheds some light on the circumstances of its creation, so I guess the questions are "do interactive movies count as a games?" (whole other can of worms) and whether the ensemble size matters...

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Sure, Broughton might be the first, but I believe that Steven Spielberg was also instrumental on pushing for orchestral game scores. He said that Gia's score for The Lost World should be orchestral and not synth, and then he produced the Medal of Honor games, which also had orchestral scores by Gia, performed by the Seattle Symphony, I believe.

 

Spielberg has always been a video game aficcionado, and thanks to him games started to have a more cinematic flair.

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It's not about *wanting* a symphonic score for games though. There were plenty of those as soon as home computers were able to play samples (and "quasi-symphonic" chiptune music before that, on systems which could handle it - mainly looking at C64's SID), and probably even more once MIDI became common.

 

The step towards recording the score with a real orchestra was, I expect, down to several factors:

 

  • Conviction that a live orchestra makes all the difference and is worth investing in for a better game. Spielberg very likely was a factor here.
  • Money, i.e. being able to afford an orchestra. I imagine Spielberg was a factor again. Curiously, George Lucas doesn't seem to have pushed for LucasArts to go fully orchestral, even with all the equipment at their disposal at Skywalker Ranch (1995's The Dig, co-written by Spielberg, didn't have live musicians as far as I know).
  • Technology. At first, it was about memory and being able to store all the music in huge samples - CD-ROM solved that. But then it was still about what the game did with the music. As I mentioned earlier, when they replaced the scores for X-Wing and TIE Fighter with clips from the Williams scores, the games lost a lot, and not just because the music wasn't specifically written for the games, but also because it's much harder to handle dynamic music (seamless loops, transitions, possibly even live multitracking) with samples and live musicians.

Many of the first games to jump on the CD music train simply used an "enhanced CD", i.e. a red book/CDDA audio disc with a data track, and played the music directly from the CD. That basically limited the scores to "background music", because it couldn't quickly or seamlessly react to game state changes (to change the music, the drive literally had to seek a different track/position, just like a CD player does when you change tracks), and couldn't even play music at all when it had to load data from the CD.

 

Origin went for a fully symphonic (in style) score for the Wing Commander series, right from the first game in 1990. But even when they went for a huge budget with the third game and hired Mark Hamill, Malcom McDowell, and John Rhys-Davies for its groundbreaking film sequences, they didn't invest in an orchestra.

 

As with all MIDI music, the quality of the instruments very much depends on the hardware (and possibly wavetable) used:

 

With better hardware (

 

For the Amiga port, the MIDI score was converted to samples (the Amiga didn't have MIDI capabilities, but its 4 channel sample hardware was far ahead of any comparable system at the time), resulting in a much more convincing sound:

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

(1995's The Dig, co-written by Spielberg, didn't have live musicians as far as I know).

 

20 hours ago, karelm said:

Mike Land used recordings of orchestras for The Dig but pre-sliced them as a modern DJ might do.

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Ah yes. I did see that earlier and then forgot it applied to The Dig. I never got far into that game. It's supposed to be fantastic, but something about the actual gameplay rubbed me the wrong way. In my opinion, LucasArts weren't very successful in their first attempts to deviate from Ron Gilbert's classic proven point & click interface. I never played much of Sam & Max for the same reason.

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That's funny I never got too far into The Dig either, despite it seemingly being in every way right up my alley.

 

I played and beat Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, Indy Crusade, SOMI, Loom, SOMI2, Indy Atlantis, DOTT, Sam & Max, and Full Throttle.... then never finished The Dig... bought and beat COMI, then never grabbed Grim Fandango for whatever reason (I have the remastered version now for Switch) and finally bought EFMI but I can't remember if I ever beat it or not - I wasn't a fan of the new interface and graphics

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If you have a first year Switch you can hack it and play it via an emulator

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20 minutes ago, Jay said:

That's funny I never got too far into The Dig either, despite it seemingly being in every way right up my alley.

 

I played and beat Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, Indy Crusade, SOMO, Loom, SOMI2, Indy Atlantis, DOTT, Sam & Max, and Full Throttle.... then never finished The Dig... bought and beat COMI, then never grabbed Grim Fandango for whatever reason (I have the remastered version now for Switch) and finally bought EFMI but I can't remember if I ever beat it or not - I wasn't a fan of the new interface and graphics

 

Escape from Monkey Island really suffers from the interface (it was cumbersome in Grim Fandango, but you got used to it) combined with the graphic style (GF was designed to work well with the then limited 3D capabilities, with the calaca characters and everything, while the Monkey series' designs were really rather brutally squeezed into the GrimE engine and style) - and from simply not being very funny much of the time, as far as I remember (though I do have fond memories of a few moments). It's the only one from the original series I've only played once (yet the only one of which I own an original copy, actually) - I've played 1-3 numerous times and know large stretches of them by heart. The Telltale episodic game finally made the 3D thing work - the designs still were serviceable at best, but after a somewhat uneven start the story and humour kicked in and the whole affair felt like a proper Monkey game.

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Hey, I wasn't aware that this topic had veered back to vintage videogames, Lucasarts etc., which is what I played religiously in my youth. I have zero connection to  most videogames after the millennium turnover, except maybe FIFA and the Telltale games that are in that vintage style.

 

I consider THE DIG not only the  best videogame ever made, but also the best videogame score of all time. But I love all the Lucasarts stuff, really, as well as the Sierra. If there had been a separate topic about 90s point-and-click adventure games, I'd be all over it! :)

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9 hours ago, Oomoog the Ecstatic said:

YESYESYESYESYESYES

 

FFX and Xenogears are the two best soundtracks IMO for any film, TV series or video game, and this is a phenomenal fan remake of the latter.

 

Thanks for this, I'm gonna check out that Omega Xenogears album on Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/album/0K8EBLGTkIUj9TEuGVqPm6?si=LGi2iCT6TNqWJdzH9o5c0w)

 

I've been waiting to play Final Fantaxy X before I check out it's score.  I love Uematsu's scores to 1-9 so I'm a bit cautious about X to present; I've heard the highlight tracks on Distant Worlds and such, but none of those entire OST albums

 

And yea, Mitsuda is so great, I appreciate his music more and more all the time.  And he broke into the biz so young, we've got so many more years of Mitsuda music to come!

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On 9/4/2020 at 3:40 AM, Thor said:

I consider THE DIG not only the  best videogame ever made, but also the best videogame score of all time.

 

It can't possibly be both! The odds! It must be either the music that makes it so good, or the game that makes the music so good.

 

I know there's been a lot of praise for The Dig as a game, indeed. I always felt the best game ever was Grim Fandango and greatest soundtrack probably FFX. Though it's odd for me to realize that any soundtrack in history never feels like a perfect soundtrack, even FFX. There's always lots of extra tracks that I just want to skip. Never found that perfect music.

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20 minutes ago, Oomoog the Ecstatic said:

There's always lots of extra tracks that I just want to skip

 

With such a big game that would require tons of music to support it, that might by necessity be uninteresting, wouldn't it be part of the territory? I wouldn't see that as a blemish on the score as a whole. It'd be cool if more composers thought in album approach, like what McConnell did with Grim Fandango back in the day, or of course this forum's namesake. Video game soundtrack releases tend to be music dumps more often than not.

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56 minutes ago, Nick Parker said:

It'd be cool if more composers thought in album approach, like what McConnell did with Grim Fandango back in the day, or of course this forum's namesake. Video game soundtrack releases tend to be music dumps more often than not.

 

Although AFAIR the original Grim Fandango album didn't include some nice stuff from the score.

 

In any case, editing is much more of a hard requirement for video game score albums than for film score albums, and the more dynamic the score, the more editing is required to even produce a single linear cue from the numerous assets of a musical "piece" in the game.

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1 hour ago, Nick Parker said:

 

 It'd be cool if more composers thought in album approach, like ...this forum's namesake.

It wouldn't  be a problem if they did like Nick Suggested

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