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Topic: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

  1. #1

    Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    I've noticed that some of the Japanese game scores are still composed with cheap sounding synthy sounds, despite the fact the score is supposed to be orchestral, and for AAA titles like Zelda: Wind Waker. Another Japanese game score that struck me as strange because of the use of outdated cheap synth sounds was Metroid Prime. Although that score is supposed to be electronic, it sounds too much like something for really old console games. It makes me wonder why these choices were made. For AAA titles, they definitely have the budget for better resources--from real orchestras, expensive sample libraries, to highend synths/VSTI's, so that doesn't explain the cheap sound. I can't fathom such stylistic choices were on purpose, because they just stick out like sore thumbs in today's high quality game music.

  2. #2

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    I live and work in Taiwan. Same here.

    For sure there are some composers here you invest in the higher quality libraries. But I do work with some composers who still use ALL old hardware modules.

    I asked one of them one time why they didn't switch to the newer software modules and his reply was that he is used to his set-up. He knows where his sounds are (i.e. the banks of sounds)

    In general, I find people's tastes here are in line with that Casio keyboard kind of sound. They couldn't tell a real trumpet if it was played right in front of their face. Although there are some who want as real as possible. But you gotta look under rocks to find those composers.

  3. #3

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    Hey, I'm from Taiwan too. I was born there and then moved to the States when I was 11. I'm actually living in China right now.

    Laziness and refusal to update is a bad thing for staying competitive in the market. What I don't understand is the fact that AAA titles like Wind Waker and Metroid Prime aren't more picky about the music. Surely SOMEBODY during the production process noticed the cheap synth sounds? I mean, on the other end of the spectrum, you have the nice orchestral music from the big name RPG games coming out of Japan. Aren't these composers competitive with each other?

  4. #4

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    Me and a friend of mine have had this coversation many times.

    It pains me to see outstanding soundtracks like LOZ Wind Waker, Valkyrie Profile, Metroid Prime (and just about any other Nintendo game you care to mention) using cheesy 20 year old synths. I mean come on! Heck, there's no need to go all out with the high end libraries even. Advanced Orchestra, which is 5+ years old is better than what Koji Kondo used in Wind Waker.

    That said, the compositions, are still outstanding and its nothing against the musicians themselves since the songs are excellent no matter what type of instruments are in them. However, as someone who likes to try and compose I have to say I'd like to do my music some level of justice by using something other than 20 year old sound fonts.

    But anyway, I have found it strange that this keeps occuring on Nintendo's side of the fence for the most part. There are other studio's as well, but the majority of the titles that could really do with a sound overhaul seem to be published by the big N. I heard that's one reason why there are some in house conflicts with the first party developers since they want A+ music, but say Nintendo really doesn't care all that much about it as long as the music is functional.

    Heck, I'm to the point now that I'd buy Koji GPO for God's sake and personally hand deliver it to him if it meant that I don't have to sit through 40 more hours of cheese with the next Zelda release. To be fair though, once wrapped in the magic of a game, things like music sample quality and graphics do take the back seat provided the game is compelling.

  5. #5

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    Since you're talking about Gamecube titles you need to remember that disk space is at a premium with those titles. If I'm not mistaken, Metroid Prime was developed in the US, so I don't think you can blame it on cheesy Japanese hardware synths.

    Gamecube discs have a lot less space than competing consoles (or PC titles), so I'm quite certain the composers aren't given a whole lot of space in which to showcase their skills. I have heard full-orchestral scores from some Gamecube games during cutscenes - but those games were 2-discs (Tales of Symphonia springs to mind).

    My guess is that the composers were given a VERY limited amount of space in which to delivery their final product - since both games came on a single disc. They probably had to delivery the score in some kind of "tracker" format, wherein they aren't actually streaming audio from disc the way many newer games do (that are afforded more space), but rather the system is making "calls" to specific samples and sounds contained in a VERY small library of sounds contained on the disc.

  6. #6

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    Nothing will beat that original Zelda score IMO....

    I really like Soule's work on Morrowind, but that's on the PC/XBox, not sure if that counts with what you guys are talking about. (seem to focus on Nintendo)

    I always thought the Nintendo music was more cheesy sounding, though compositionally strong, because their aim is towards children more than adults. And real orchestral music is usually uncool by most kids standards. I thought they went synthy to give it an edge kids could like.

    The more adult games have more appropriate soundtracks (like Morrowind mentioned above).
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  7. #7

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    I think it's
    -lots of companies don't care

    -They can't tell the difference

    -Or even if they can tell the difference, older sounds don't bother them

    -Composers who don't want to or don't like to change

    - no budget

    - lots of new composers who don't come from a player's perspective. They completely started out on modules. That's the only sound they relate to.

    And then, all you have to do is go to a KTV (Karoke club) and you'd see why most of the Asian population is accustomed to the synth module.

  8. #8

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    Okay - let's get this straight -

    Metroid Prime - AAA Title
    Wind Waker - AAA Title

    Nintendo has some of the most renowned composers (Kondo is one of them) in Game Music today. So to say that they don't care, can't tell the difference or don't have a budget for it is just naive.

    What's more, to say that this is a "Japanese" or "Asian" thing is almost as stupid, if not downright offensive.

    Gamecube uses a proprietary optical disc that stores roughly 1.5GB of space. That is far less than the space afforded by PS2, XBox or any current PC-based title. In making the above statements you are completely ignoring the development constraints of the platform.

    Nintendo is home to some of the most popular first-party games in the industry (Zelda and Metroid are two big ones) - and I can assure you that those developers are not short on cash, industry experience, or desire for a top quality product. But since they've got limited space, the audio folks aren't afforded as much of that as they would be on another console.

    I'm certain that the "Revolution" will address this issue, as Nintendo is behind the curve in terms of audio overall (5.1 anyone?)...But even so, some of the most interesting titles available are Nintendo-only, which speaks to their dedication to "gaming" in a pure sense of the word, versus many PC, XBox or PS2 developers who are merely "me too" in the industry...

    I will agree, however, that it is inexcusable for a platform that actually HAS the space for high quality, streaming audio to cut corners and use less-than-professional quality sound/music/etc. Bad music on a PS2 game, for example, is inexcusable - unless that's what you're "going for"...

  9. #9

    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    I know everyone on the NS forums is big on sample use and manipulation but it's possible that it is primarily an American philosophy that a soundtrack is only good if the timbres used are of the utmost quality/current technology. Over there, game music has established itself as a standard type of sound/feel - and when you buy soundtracks to game music , it's primarily a OSV (original sound version) that includes the FM/Synthy tones associated with the game genre.

    Nintendo is sorta known (from what I hear) for underrating the value of Audio - just look at the Game Cube hardware technology - no digital out, no dolby surround, and its other specs etc - but it also believes in the simple tones and "blips and bleeps" associated with the nature of their titles.

    It seems really strange and bizarre, but it's not _all_ that bad - for instance, Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles both use a certain amount of the traditional "gamey" sound but i think they're great in their own right - and I think hearing a Super Mario Bros game in a grand orchestral sound would be outright wrong, for some reason.

    Metroid Prime was definitely contracted out and is a bit sub-par, but i can't really say much more on that.

    Maybe the Japanese are big on "nostalgia" - but maybe it's a convenient way for their attitudes to audio to play into some deliberate excuse as to why the quality hasn't gotten much better.


  10. #10
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    Nov 2004
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    Re: Why aren't some Japanese composers using good sample libraries?

    Most game music is done on a Synth in the first place(not all of it though, but most of it)Xenosaga 2 BGM thats deffinily a Korg for the BGM(not the event music) Is Rocketbaby.net still going? I used read all the reviews on that. OH hey I liked the Tavern Pieces in Morrowind but that's it. You should go to Oblivion forum and look up the Post Snoway and I did on composing music for ElderScrolls 4 Oblivion.

    Marty I know the difference between a real and a synth trumpet thank God for GPO LOL!!!!
    All I can Say is...HA!...HA!...HAAAAAAA!!!!!

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