Musical Influences on the Second Overworld Theme

I’ve been working on the overworld theme for the second level. It’s a snowy level—not holiday themed or festive, just a place that’s cold for a lot of the year, like where I grew up in Michigan. Here’s the piece in it’s current form, which I think is pretty much finished:

When I was writing the beginning of that melody that I had the feeling I was borrowing heavily from something but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. After I posted an early draft to SoundCloud I got this comment:

Ah crap! It was Wind Waker! Here’s the part he’s talking about before I made some adjustments to it to make it a little less similar:

The 3/4 time, the chord changes through the vamp and the first half of the theme, the first couple of lines of the melody were all very similar to Dragon Roost Island.

I’m okay with borrowing heavily from other sources but I want to be careful that people’s reaction isn’t indignation that I stole material from something else and am trying to pass it off as my own. After realizing what piece I was borrowing from, I was particularly concerned about one phrase—in my opinion the most iconic from Dragon Roost Island—that I was borrowing the most literally (the second half of the excerpt above). I decided to change that phrase from F-Bb-G to F-Eb-D-G, which differentiated it from Dragon Roost while preserving the melodic strength of the line. That section of the piece is still pretty similar to Dragon Roost Island but at least I’m not ripping it off quite as verbatim. Here’s the same excerpt after that change:

Thinking about it a little more, I realized how many influences went into making the piece—a lot more than just Wind Waker. Some were on purpose, and some weren’t. Some were more toward literal borrowing of melodic ideas, rhythms, or chord changes, and some were more thematic or conceptual inspiration.

The snare drum rhythmic texture throughout the piece was heavily inspired by the clanging percussive elements in Trilobyte from the Rogue Legacy soundtrack:

The second theme, at 1:20, is a variation on the overworld theme from the first level in the game:

That overworld theme for the first level was heavily influenced by the Overworld Theme from Link to the Past. In my second level overworld theme I borrowed parts of Zelda’s chord progression, including the distinctive Neapolitan second:

The use of the Neapolitan, a little bit of modal mixture, and some of the general shape of the melody is influenced by the otherworldly Harry Potter theme by John Williams, also a minor tune in 3/4:

To warm up for composing, I had been playing around with Greensleeves, another minor song in 3/4, to try to capture some of its cold, snowy atmosphere. Listening back to it, a lot of the shapes of the individual phrases and some of the note choices might have come from that:

I think the descending toy piano line during the opening vamp was subconsciously inspired by Zhivago by Kurt Rosenwinkel, another tune in 3/4 in a minor key that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. Specifically, check out the descending line at 1:37:

I lifted the horn line at 0:40 pretty much note for note from the second half of of the main melodic line from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot, which is a song that my elementary school teacher sung to the class when we went on a field trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and visited the museum where the bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald is on display. I’m kind of okay with borrowing that melody because I changed a couple of notes and rhythms, added some counterpoint, and I’m using it in a background part instead of the main melody. Plus it’s just a few notes!

The harp line at 2:25 is inspired by Shnabubula’s use of the underground theme from Super Mario Bros. on his cover of All Blues by Miles Davis on the album Kind of Bloop, which is an homage to Miles’s record Kind of Blue. That recording plays with chromaticism and superimposing rhythms like 4:3 on top of the underlying 3/4 meter. Check it out at 9:34:

I think my use of chromaticism and fourths in that phrase was also influenced subconsciously by Freedom Jazz Dance by Eddie Harris:

I think that’s enough for one post! I’ve gathered all these videos in a YouTube playlist if you want to listen to them all in a row.

Build for Seattle Indies Show & Tell

I’m showing the game at Seattle Indies Show & Tell tomorrow at the Living Computer Museum, so I made a new build with the changes I’ve made in the last couple weeks:

  • Made 3D models for all the upgrade icons.
  • Did some work on main menu flow so you can just mash buttons to get back into the game.
  • Added a girl character that you play as 50% of the time.
  • Added a soundtrack to the main menu.
  • Vehicles and fire hydrants react to the player hitting them while unarmed.
  • Cool skull over the gate to the boss room.
  • More quality options.

Meta Progression and 3D Main Menu

I spent the last couple of weeks working on revamping the main menu, including adding an upgrades menu. That means the game has meta progression now! When you play the game you collect computer chips, which you can spend in the upgrades menu to make your character stronger.

Here’s what the intro flow looks like at the moment. This is all work in progress, I’d like to at least give the main menu a background so that it’s not just a black background, and also do something more interesting with the loading bar.

Also new since the last update:

  • Gave the player model a higher-resolution texture.
  • The player model randomly selects different shirts, pants, shoes, and watches each playthrough.
  • Disabled manual camera rotation. The camera will sometimes rotate on its own when it makes sense to.
  • Made certain colliders frictionless so you don’t get stopped when you brush against a wall.
  • Added money bag pickup to replace jewels.

Check out the build and let me know what you think: https://dagambagames.itch.io/adventure-delivery-service

What’s New in 0.1.6

Here’s what’s new in build number 0.1.6, which is available to download on itch.io for free!

Beating up two spiders and bats

I added new models and animations for the spiders and the bats.

Zoom Dialogue

I did a lot of work on the initial dialogue with “The Professor”. There’s a circle wipe at the very beginning, the camera zooms in, there’s a watch on the player with a little hologram that pops up, the UI with the text in it is a new model, there’s a hologram effect on the animation in the UI, and if you look real close you’ll see that The Professor’s animation is synced between the UI and the model on the player.

Zoom into dungeon

I reused that circle wipe when you enter the dungeon…

Zoom into ladder

…and when you use a ladder. Which you do more now because the dungeon is three levels deep instead of two.

Using small key

I added keys that open special rooms where you can buy stuff.

Using boss key

You need a golden key to unlock the boss room.

Death zoom

And finally, I added a sweet zoom animation to the camera when you die.

Progress This Week

I made some progress this week! There’s a new build available to download on Itch.io. Here are some of the highlights.

loading

I have a new draft of the drawing of “The Professor”. I got the feedback at GE2 that he looked too much like a certain professor from another game, so I’m trying to make him a little more different. Might still be some work to do there.

ladder

The dungeon is now two levels deep! On the first floor, where the boss would have been, there’s a ladder that leads to the second level. On the second level there’s still a boss.

sword-comparison

I added a new UI menu to show a detailed comparison between the weapon you’re currently holding and the weapon you’re thinking of picking up. It’s based on a clipboard in order to have some thematic consistency with the “delivery service” idea. I added flavor text for all the weapons and shields.

pause-menu

I also used the clipboard for the pause menu, which shows your current player stats. The HUD slides on and off the screen when these menus pop up instead of just disappearing.

One last thing, I added a HUD icon for “unarmed” to show that even if you don’t have a weapon you can still press X to attack:

punch

Overall I’m pretty happy with the work I did this week. I’ve got plenty on my to-do list but there’s some stuff on there that I’m pretty excited about. Stay tuned!

 

 

New Dungeon Minimap

dungeon-minimap

I’m working on a new minimap to replace the old radar-style minimap. It shows which rooms you’ve explored and where there are hallways that you haven’t explored yet. I don’t think the old minimap was actually that helpful for navigating around the dungeon. People would often get lost once they had cleared out most of the rooms. Hopefully something like this will help people keep track of where they want to go next.

I don’t have a replacement minimap for the overworld. For now I’ll just leave it without one and see if people can still figure out that they’re supposed to go to the dungeon even without the blinking navpoint on it. Eventually I could create a similar grid-based map for the overworld but it’s a lot more linear than the dungeons so maybe it won’t need it.