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This chapter is from the book

Analysis and Critique of a Game Score

In this section, we begin to explore what makes a good game score versus a bad one. To analyze game scores in any way, you’ll need to form a language through which you can express your judgment of a composition’s effectiveness within the context of gameplay. Developing this language is a key component in developing the most effective music for your game.

Composition is a purely creative endeavor; therefore analysis of the music is purely subjective. Decisions regarding music are qualitative as opposed to quantitative. Unfortunately, there is no right answer to the question, “Is this music good?” Therefore it’s important for you to establish a set of criteria of what satisfies the needs of the story so that you can best judge the effectiveness and determine whether you’ve reached your goal after the music is written. A style guide is generally an excellent way to begin narrowing down which kinds of music work for your game. Better yet, it can define what’s not appropriate for your game. In addition to the previous criteria, there are several other ways of determining whether a game score is effective:

  • Do you notice the music, or are you enveloped in the storytelling of the world?
  • Is the game succeeding in the goals outlined in the audio design document?
  • Is the music score seamless, or does it jump from one piece of music to another without a transition?
  • Does the music effectively enhance and support the overall story or experience?
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