In this development journal Age of Wonders III composer Michiel van den Bos explains some of some of the changes that happened since composing for the first game in the series. We also released 13 clips from different tracks in the game.
I look back on most aspects of the 90’s fondly. Music across every spectrum was fairly awesome and instrumental to developing my musical tastes. I was much younger and life was less complicated, even when I got my first gig as a game composer, which came courtesy of Triumph Studios. My PC was a relic and the software I used was freeware. You made do with what you had and you didn’t really know any better. Painstakingly sifting through CD’s to locate isolated instruments so they could be shortened and looped in Impulse Tracker, my program of choice while creating music for Age of Wonders, Unreal, Unreal Tournament and Deus Ex, wasn’t a problem and something I actually enjoyed doing.
Yes, I looked back on those times fondly…until two years ago. I got a small gig which required me to revisit Trackers and I hated every single second of it. Having used advanced sequencers like Cubase and professional sample packages and synths spread across multiple PC’s for over a decade, the process of going back to basics was an excruciatingly painful experience. I was relieved when the gig was finished and vowed never to do it again. While life has become infinitely more complicated in many ways, technology has come a long way in making other aspects far less tiresome.
New and familiar sounds
In the fourteen years since the release of Age of Wonders, I’m happy to see that the game as well as the soundtrack have gained quite a following. I’m still proud of those tunes, although not the way they sound. I have evolved, my equipment has evolved (not naturally, I paid money for that, but evolve it did) and naturally anything that was made using technology from the 90’s will sound dated in some way. I’m still very happy with some of the melodies and themes used in those tracks and while a lot of the soundtrack will feature entirely new music, there will be quite a few remakes of select classic tracks as well as new ones built from segments from the original AoW tunes, this time with lush string sections, crisp woodwinds, powerful horns, thundering percussion and rich synths.
Times have changed and I’m happy they did. Now, I can finally deliver the AoW sound the way it sounded in my head but couldn’t quite pull off due to the restrictions of the technology at the time. I’m really excited about it and I hope you folks out there are too!