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Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #10 - Music and Audio

Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #10 - Music and Audio

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Tue 16 November 2021, 23:29:00

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

In the tenth dev diary for Expeditions: Rome, Logic Artists and THQ Nordic have finally gotten around to covering the topic of the game's soundtrack. Co-written by the composer and audio director, I'd say it's not a particularly interesting update for non-music aficionados, but it does include a few samples from the soundtrack. Here are two of them along with an excerpt:

Hey Guys! Thomas here, the composer for Expeditions: Rome - I wanted to talk a little about the scoring of Rome, the process, the recording, and some cool and unique things we got to do with this score.

We recently recorded the entire score, around 75 minutes so we’re all done, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you guys – I started writing the score in March 2020. It was clear from early conversations with Brad, Jonas and Justin that it’s a hugely complex and challenging game. The initial conversations to do with score were centred around finding the tone for the four distinct regions and also the importance of finding our music for each of the characters we go on the journey with - having spent the last few years writing mostly for film it was pretty interesting transferring that that across to the gaming world. Aside from technicalities (not altering the BPM’s of tracks, and the need for tracks that evolve and don’t get repetitive when playing for hours) I treated it exactly the same as I would any film - I wanted to get under the skin of the characters, learning there life stories, work out why there where they were, and what makes them tick.

We decided early on that the player would have their own theme to take them on the journey: something we could morph and twist to fit their journey and that acted as a reference point for the player and evolved with them. I looked at the vivid colours of the game and had a lot of conversations with Jonas about the feel and tone we were going for, and essentially treated it as a film but one with thousands of possible journeys and endings. Our “Player’s Theme” was the starting point for this: it was essentially a suite that I wrote at the beginning containing the player’s theme, and two other themes relating to two other key characters. I’ve shared it below -

The “Player’s Theme” was essentially our Rome Tone of the game. There were three other main settings to contend with - Africa, Gaul and Greece - and whilst the player theme pass across these regions, the palettes are extremely different. We did a lot of research on the Ancient instruments used in those times and it was often interesting as there were some instruments that no one knew what they sounded like - or at least everyone had a different opinion. It was so important to us that our score sounded authentic and true to its time whilst trying to take it a step further and really try and add something extra to the players experience. We used a whole host of ancient instruments, including Lyres, Kitharas, Ancient flutes like Neys, Cornus and a Tibia - one of my favourite days on the score was working with Andy Findon - an amazing Flautist but also a specialist in playing any woodwind instrument under the sun, we spent a day recording tens of woodwind instruments and where we couldn’t find one that suited the tone of what we needed, he would invent one with us in the studio!

For instance Cleopatra’s theme was originally on a Duduk, but it wasn’t getting the sultry arrogance we needed - so he placed some clingfilm over a wooden flute mouthpiece and it created a very edgy but organic sound and something totally unique to Cleopatra.

The most enjoyable part of the process was the final recordings - we recorded two orchestras, one in Sofia and one In Vienna, and then we had 6 Artists that we choose to represent our characters - on some of bigger battle tracks we ended up with around 140 players on a track, which is quite a sound! The soloists then added the emotion and rawness to ground us in our areas. After all the tracks were mixed, Justin (audio director) and his team have taken them and worked their magic - I’ve been lucky to work with Justin extremely closely over the last year and a half and it’s a treat hearing some of the ways the music has been used.
In addition to the usual livestream, we're apparently getting a new teaser trailer about Rome's music tomorrow, as well as the announcement of a "unique special event". I'm not sure what that's about, but it's worth pointing out that the game's release date on Steam was recently quietly changed from 2021 to "Coming Soon".

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