Journey and Stuff
Most recently, meaning within the last three hours, I finally got the chance to play the game Journey. I have been wanting to play this game ever since I heard what it was about–a game based on the experience and telling a story, or if you will, a Journey. My excitement was only fueled more after hearing Austin Wintory would be composing the music for Journey and his role as composer was much more integrated into the building of the game itself, rather than the sprinkles on top of the finished product like a lot of games. In fact, almost everything I read, heard, and watched about this game before it came out and I could play it got me excited for where it would go. I spent the time before I could actually play the game listening to the wonderfully crafted score by Austin Wintory.
The Adventure Itself
Today, to my excitement, I got a break from homework and composing to play through Journey with my friends. Just from the menu I understood I would love this game just as much as I thought I would. The starting menu is so simple and so beautiful, and flows perfectly into the start of a game. The player is given but a few instructions as to the very minimal controls of the game before it sends you off with almost no direction–just a simply visual cue at the top of a hill. As you reach the top of the hill the music builds as the player gets to the peak and see where your adventure must go. The game continues to flow in the manner ’til one moment where the lack of flow is used for a stunning impact. Perhaps one of the most surprising things of the game is that it uses no dialogue at all, but manages to inspire emotions purely through beautifully crafted art, camera angles, and music flowing together into one great piece of art. This game went beyond my already high expectations.
The Journey of the Music
Now to focus more directly on the music itself. I am quite glad I was actually able to learn the music and got to make my own speculations before I played the game. Something I love about a good soundtrack to a video game or movie, is being able to listen to the music and re-experience the emotions and moments I had playing or watching the game or movie. To me, listening to Journey’s soundtrack before playing was like reading a book before a movie–I had my own ideas and images as to how the story would go, and the knowledge I had of the game already only filled in a few things for me. While most movies tend to be a disappointment in regard to their book counterpart, Journey’s art and gameplay only added to the already great soundtrack. Perhaps one of my now all time favorite examples of how a game and soundtrack compliment each other is the moment the song “The Road of Trails” plays. Listening to the song before I thought that it was mostly likely describing a moment where the player really got to enjoy the openness and what would seem to be flow that the game had to offer. Here’s a bit of a description of the actual moment in the game: The start of the game is in complete mystery of both the story itself, and what exactly the player must do. The Road of Trails plays just when you reach a moment of what seems almost utter freedom. The player gets to speedily glide along the extremely well depicted sand giving specifically me a few moments of not caring about where I had to go what I had to do (in the game and in real life), but instead enjoy the beauty of the game with is complete flow of art. The soundtrack and game compliment each other like this the entire way through and it is quite the experience.
What This Means to Me
I aspire to compose for a game like this, and these kinds of games are my biggest motivation to write. They are really my favorite form of art, and I only hope to share my love of them with others. I wish more games tried to be like Journey and such, because they truly are fantastic. From the utter sadness and anxiety I have felt from the moment of Celes (Final Fantasy 6) deciding to try and commit suicide, the complete depression and realization of the end of “To the Moon”, to the absolute joy of Chocobos in every Final Fantasy, listening to the music of these just remind me of all the moments I had of these and the emotions I felt. It is my goal that my Journey will lead to create music for games (and movies) that give other people these same feelings.
Back to real life, the end of the semester is nearing for me, and I have a lot of exciting things coming up. I got a pianist to play my new composition “Variations on a Plain” in a week and a half and I am quite excited to hear how it sounds. Just to give a few of my own thoughts on the piece, this song will most likely always have a special place in my works of music. It’s been a long and hard process to write a solo piano theme and variations, but perhaps one of the best things that I could have done at this moment of my composing career. Listening from the Theme through the Finale, I can hear the extreme amount of improvement as a composer and musician it has brought me–more improvement than a one single piece has done for me yet. On top of this I’ve been working on a fun side project that is my own kind of idea of a Dubstep influenced song that is coming along nicely. My hope is to have it finished by the end of the semester. In the mean-time have a great week, and see you on the next blog!