Starfield:Into the Starfield - The Sound of Adventure

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Into the Starfield - Ep3: The Sound of Adventure was an episode in a series of short documentary pieces on the creation of Starfield. This episode featured Audio Director Mark Lampert and Starfield Composer Inon Zur discussing the sound and music directions of the game. You can find the video here.


Inon Zur: I always say that music is the fourth dimension. It is the emotional dimension. And so, in order to create this you have to ask these questions. "Where are you going?" You know,

"What's your motivation?"

"What is your story?"

"What is really pushing us?" This is what really drove me more than anything else. These huge questions, they're as big as space.

Mark Lampert: Everything I've worked on at this studio the music started very early on, as early as the concept art for the game. From when I began here in 2005, at that time Oblivion was already well well underway. But as we went onto Fallout 3 after that, that was one of the first things I worked on music wise was the main theme, and that's always been the case. Where the main theme sets the tone, for everything else we do in the game. And there's time throughout the entire project for that to evolve.

Inon: That's true and I remember during a Fallout 4 visit, which was actually 2012, I was wandering through the corridors and I basically stumbled into the artists' room, and it was the first time I actually saw them do what they're doing. I was captivated. I was like "Wow, this is really what it is all about." And I felt so inspired and motivated, basically to go back and do the same thing with the palette of music. The biggest challenge is actually creating the signature.

Mark: I relax a lot once we feel good about the main theme because the rest is going to, it'll be work in iteration, but it's going to write itself. The way I looked at Starfield always is what I call "The Sanctified Triplet". Which is, everything is streaming, right? Everything is changing and everything is returning back.

Inon: "Ta-da, taaa-daaa." Here is your development, and then "Ta-da" and back.So basically it presents itself, it develops, it goes back. Some sort of circular journey.

Mark: Circular. You go out, you venture, discover, return.

Inon: Yes, there's always this drive to go back home. And that's what feels so complete for us. Right? We want to complete the mission. We want to complete our journey. We will find something, we will discover something, we'll take it with us, and we will go back home with it. When we built the traditional orchestral sound palette, we actually divided the orchestral group. For example, took the woodwinds and we created a whole woodwind layer that almost represents particle in space, because they don't play melodies at all. They play sort of like a high frequency sequence.

[Inon mimicking musical sequence]

You know, like together. So they almost don't sound like woodwind. They sound something between organic to synthetic. Then the strings, they will play these long chords, long melodies, and long crescendos and diminuendos. And these kind of things, along the line with the fast moving woodwinds, will create a nice blanket around these waves. Okay? And then comes the brass, and the brass, especially the french horns, are playing sort of like the beacon, the core of the brass.

Mark: Those instruments groups as well, a lot of times when you are looking at that whole main theme I'm kind of salivating thinking about "What can I do with that on a sound design side?" Not just to weave the main theme into different key points within the game, leveling up, discovering new places, but could we use that as straight up sound design? To take those woodwind tremolos and just slow them way down, let's reverse them. I'll take any of that music and turn it into ambience somewhere. The music is like the companion. It's the companion to the player and the single player game. We don't have control over how the player chooses to experience the game, so our sense of scale had to be totally readjusted in making a game on a planetary surface as we've always done before, and now where you have these very vast distances against this black starry background. It is a blank canvas, and a massive playground and all the pieces are there for you to write your own story. Whether you jump right in and you wish to follow the main quest, the main story and go to the obvious one point leads to another, leads to another. The music has a funny way of, playing the right chord change at the right time, and a lot of that just happens at random. You look over the valley at just the right moment and that just happens to be when this one chord change happens, and there are times like that, that feel scripted and they're not. And I like that each player has that experience for themselves, personally.

Inon: I believe that the game is a whole experience and music is part of the whole experience. I believe that the best music in a game is the music that you don't hear. Music that you feel. This is something that is bigger than us, I mean so many people worked on this game. And so my wish is that, specifically the music, will be present in a way that is going to magnify the entire experience.