Video: The Unfinished Swan Dev Diary: Original Music & Sound
Composer Joel Corelitz has shared a Developer Diary video today spotlighting The Unfinished Swan original music and sound alongside a list below of ten things fans should know!
To quote: At its core, The Unfinished Swan is about the joy of creation and self-discovery. These themes revolve around two central characters: one young, who has dealt with great loss and loneliness, and one old, who must reconcile his current stage of life as well as his fate.
One of the initial conversations I had with Peter Scaturro, music supervisor at the Santa Monica Studio involved using the key components of the score to offset the melancholy of the story. I consciously steered away from anything that felt too sad, stark or desolate. Instead,
I focused on crafting a mood that was lush, curious, and warm. We wanted the music to serve as a companion for Monroe and the player as they explored the world of the game. To achieve this, I chose to highlight certain instruments and sounds that were inspired by the characters themselves.
Monroe's signature sound is played by plucked and mallet instruments like marimba and harp - youthful, resonant sounds that highlight his innocence as well as the storybook-quality of the game. The bizarre, pompous King is heralded by gritty, electronic harpsichord tones.
I used acoustic sounds to imitate electronic, synthesized textures and vice versa - using analog modular synthesizers and extensive processing to evoke harpsichord and harp-like sounds. Too often, classical "thematic" scores are at odds with modern, texture-driven scores.
My goal was to blur the lines and try to find the best of both worlds: to use the opportunity I had as a composer not just to write a score, but to knit the fabric for this world, completely from scratch. Aside from live string orchestra, every sound in the score is original.
The compositional process was about subverting all traditional rules in favor of something more textural, more free-flowing - like an ocean of sound. Classical theory and traditional harmonic structures are here, but they're lurking far below the surface. In-game ambient music is always evolving, never confined to a static loop. I wanted the music to feel seamless with the gameplay, as if it is part of the environment.
And that brings us back to the joy of creation - there's a certain naivety in so much of my favorite art. The Unfinished Swan was the perfect opportunity to explore that. I'm so excited to put this out into the world. It was an incredible experience working with Giant Sparrow and the SCEA Music Department.
We can all relate to Monroe's mother and The King. The spark at the beginning of a project is what we love best about creating. The real work begins when we have to develop that initial idea into a finished product, and I'm confident that no one has played or heard a game quite like The Unfinished Swan.
The Unfinished Swan is an unusual game with an unusual history. We wanted to give you an exclusive look into its history before it lands on PSN October 23rd - as well as some secrets you'd never guess. Find out where we came up with the idea, who helped make it happen, and some techniques we used to make the game feel just right.
Virtual reality: The Unfinished Swan started as a student project in the University of Southern California's Interactive Media program. Originally it was meant to be played with a head-mounted display. Over time, the game eventually became a PS3 exclusive.
Showing our roots: The pond, which is the opening area of The Unfinished Swan, hasn't changed since we entered the game into the Independent Games Festival in 2009. The reasons were partly to keep a homage to the area that got us started, and also because it's a successful level layout.
Tiny team: Giant Sparrow started as a two-person company and grew to 12 people at one point during production of The Unfinished Swan. Being a small team provided a lot of advantages; we were able to try things big studios wouldn't touch.
Auto-aim: When we were first testing the game, we heard more than once that players wanted some sort of gun that would shoot paint where they were pointing. We weren't about to give Monroe - the main character of The Unfinished Swan - a gun but we did come up with a fix. It happens behinds the scenes: the game will adjust the arc of your throw to hit things that you're pointing at.
Secret run: It's very subtle, but if you walk forward for long enough, Monroe starts to pick up his pace. We added this for players who like exploring so there's less time spent walking long distances.
Not quite white: The white color you see in The Unfinished Swan is actually not pure white, but a slightly warmer yellowish white. On certain LCD TVs, pure white shows up with a bluish tint - which is not very befitting of a storybook style.
Getting closer to the narrator: The voice of the narrator was originally recorded with temporary dialogue - it's the voice of creative director Ian Dallas's aunt. After auditioning other narrators, we weren't able to find a voice as authentic as a real mother.
Legendary art director: The Unfinished Swan's art director, Hokyo Lim, was previously the art director for League of Legends by Riot Games. While they are tonally very different, Hokyo's strong 2D skills have translated beautifully to both League of Legends and The Unfinished Swan.
Stay a while: The Unfinished Swan has four different chapters, each with their own visual style and mechanics. Part of the design philosophy for The Unfinished Swan is to let players figure things out for themselves, so there are a few parts of the game that have never been shown before.
Becoming a minimalist: The Minimalist trophy, unlocked when a player walks through the opening area without using more than three splats of paint, was originally unlocked by not splatting a single ball.
Ben, the level designer, could stumble through it using sound but when the rest of the team tested it nobody was able to figure out how to navigate without using paint. After changing it to three splats maximum, it felt like a more balanced challenge.