We Wrote a Game Soundtrack & This is What we Learned
About this time last year our company laid out all of the things we wanted to accomplish in 2022. Now that Fish Fish Idle is officially live in the app store, I want to share some of what we learned while writing the soundtrack.
About this time last year our company laid out all of the things we wanted to accomplish in 2022. One of those things was to release the game we’ve been working on for some time now. As a musician who’s written and performed original music, I knew from the outset that I wanted to try my hand at tackling the soundtrack for our game. However, I was wary of the unique challenges that we’d face with such a specific task. After recruiting the team I needed for writing, recording, mixing, and mastering, we set out to write 8 songs. Now that Fish Fish Idle is officially live in the app store (links below), I want to share some of what we learned while writing the soundtrack.
The writing process is a fickle thing and varies from person to person, so I won’t spend much time here. I will simply say that regardless of what you’re working on, record everything. You never know when you’re going to strike gold or when that idea that just doesn’t fit in the current track turns out to be perfect for another one down the road. There were many instances where our creative logjam was solved by revisiting previous material that hadn’t quite worked where we were at the time.
Length not monotony
From the very beginning we knew that we needed a mountain of content. Not only did we need 8 songs, but these had to be background tracks for spaces where players would be spending large chunks of time. This was the first big hurdle—adding length without monotony. To solve this we aimed for what we referred to as an ‘iterative approach’. During long, sweeping, sections that repeated the same theme our mantra was “give them something new with each pass.” This allowed us to lay a relatively basic theme for each track and build on it throughout the song.
Catchy not Distracting
This is where we found the single greatest challenge of the whole project. How do you restrain yourself from writing absolute bangers because they distract from the game loop? In traditional songwriting there aren’t many scenarios in which you intentionally tone it down or strip out the best melodies. After all, the music is the main attraction. However, with game design you have to reshape the way you think about the role that the music fills. It might be hard to admit, but your role as a composer in the game setting is one of support. If the music you write is the main character, you’ve done something wrong. With that in mind, we created a handful of guiding principles to help us in the creative process. The first and most helpful was: if after a session of playtesting (and there were many) we didn’t really notice the music at the time but caught ourselves humming the tunes throughout the day, we knew we were onto something. In other words, I hope that you find yourself humming these tunes while you’re doing the dishes or folding laundry.
Whether you ever write a game soundtrack or you’re just interested in our journey, we thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope you found these lessons helpful. It has been such a fun adventure writing the music for Fish Fish Idle, and we hope that you enjoy it half as much as we enjoyed creating it. You can find the entire soundtrack on YouTube here. If you like it please leave a comment with your thoughts. Finally, you can download the game for yourself using the links below.
Polar White Team