Sound and Music Productions / by Xiaosong Shang

Hello everyone! Sam Martino here.

Last time I said I would talk more about sound and music production, I want to note that I have not made the music for our games, but I have been able to work very closely with our two very talented producers, Jimmy Hemmig and Mikey Beatz.

I am a firm believer that you can create the best story, the most engaging characters, and a beautiful world, but if the music doesn’t complement it, things will fall flat. Because I was the one in charge of maps, I wanted to make sure that every area and faction had a theme, something that players would remember as “oh this Umbriol because this song is playing” or “I’m about to fight CODE because their theme has started”. I wanted the music to work with each setting perfectly and create a mood that would keep players engaged. The majority of the music for Ashes of Kanaka was composed by Mikey Beatz, a fantastic local producer who has worked with big names across the country. His works provided us with amazing material that could have (and almost was) sent to big name artists. Jimmy worked closely with me as we picked which songs we needed and where they should go, it was very important to make sure it all flowed properly and didn’t sound ‘off’.

The music in Ashes is very modern, they are essentially repurposed hip hop beats that I felt did a fantastic job setting the mood for a futuristic world. It would be hard for me to pick favorites, but two that stand out are Sunday Sinner and Brace Yourself (both can be found on our Youtube channel). These songs were designed for different factions, but they fit so well every time we used them. Sunday Sinner was used for the Mojing, the large criminal faction that the player faces across their journey. Them music conveys that you are fighting a group of sinister criminals, whose only goal is to make the most profit. We used this track every time you encounter them, and the dungeons that are based around them. You always knew you were in Mojing territory, even if the symbol was not obviously placed. Brace Yourself has a very special place in my heart as it is the first song that I fell in love with and said needed to be in Ashes of Kanaka. I feel it has such a powerful build up that you know something big is coming. We used this for all of the CODE boss battles, and I have come to associate it with Tempestine. I felt that whenever you knew something terrible was going to happen with CODE, you could tell as the build up began. From player reviews, it created this tension that was exactly what we were looking for.

Ashes of Kanaka in particular raises a question of what is video game music? I feel that it proves that any genre can be video game music. We went with almost entirely hip-hop loops, and it conveyed the feelings we were looking for perfectly.

Now that I’ve gone over music, next time I will start talking about voice acting, and how indie studios can do it without a large budget.

As always, please reach out to me at smartino@dogwoodgaming.com with any comments or questions. I always love hearing from you guys!