The Lazy Designer

Game Music

Okay this is a kind of a random post but I’m weary from work on the novel and need a diversion.

Are there game soundtracks that have really stuck in your head over the years, music that throws you right back into whatever situation you were in when you first played the game?

For me it would be the Ultima series… just hearing snippets of audio from those games can send me back in time to when I was playing those games. There are a few other soundtracks that I recognize easily but none have the same effect on me as Ultima.

How about you?

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.


  • Anonymous

    Strong agreement with Ultima! I have two game soundtracks in my music library, and Ultima V is one of them. It may be midi tunes or whatever, but man it’s good stuff. :)

  • Robert

    I really appreciate Sid Meier’s work, and remembering the many sea shanties on the trusty PC speaker in the original ‘Pirates!’ always brings on a spontaneous cheery whistle. Catchy tunes, especially considering that in those days (pre Sound Blaster) most game ‘music’ was basically some 6 note variation on the jarring beep we now associate with POST errors or BSODs!

    And, towering above all else… Inon Zur with Leliana’s song by the campfire in DAO. Incredibly potent (as was the campfire tune in general) – had my lower lip go disconcertingly wobbly the first time I heard it! In a similar vein, the haunting opening theme of Civilization IV is on my mp3 player to remind me of countless hours of ‘just one more turn’.

    What are you trying to get to grips with in the novel? Are you looking for an idea, trying to ‘properly’ express one you already have, or just recharging batteries?

  • Brent Knowles


    Yes pirates was cool. I don’t actually remember Civilization’s music, I’ll go check it out.

    There’s nothing specific with the novel just a bit behind the schedule I set for myself and am busy catching up which means many hours at the desk. My own fault!

    Thanks and take care,


  • Laurie Tom

    I love the Baten Kaitos soundtrack. It’s not as old as some of the other things I’ve played since it came out on GameCube, but it’s really stuck. Lunar: The Silver Star, Ys I, and any of the first four Phantasy Star game soundtracks bring waves of nostalgia. I played the Ys I DS remake last yet and the soundtrack made me feel like I was twelve again.

  • modulus

    To be completely honest i loved the music in DA:O. I apologize if you’re trying to stay away from all the mess that is DA2 but the quality of music (and most other things for that matter) definitely took a nosedive in DA2.

    Whether it was the melodic music playing while chatting with party members in the campfire or the super intense music while fighting Uldred at the top of the tower, it was just amazing and added immensely to the submersion.

    I think that most of the time music in games is pretty forgettable and you really only notice it if it’s really good or really bad.

  • Matt Hone

    Morrowind, Jade Empire and Gothic 3 have great soundtracks in my opinion. Also, Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood as good non-RPG examples.

  • Dyalad

    Hordes of the Underdark stuck in my head (and still is after so many years). The music was touching and sounded just right for what it was portraying in the game (mystery, deceit).
    I also loved the original Dune (not Dune 2) soundtrack.

  • Brent Knowles

    Thanks Dyalad… for some reason I’ve never really grown nostalgic over any of the music from the games I worked on… probably because I heard it too many times!

  • Dyalad

    I think that a problem with video game music is that, too often, it is overlooked because it ends up being repetitive due to its looping nature.

    Until recently, video game music was difficult to adapt to user’s actions. Typically, you’d have the ambiance music, the combat music, boss music, and cinematic music. Newer games add crescendos, additional instruments when the player hits a certain conditional. That’s pretty great :3

    There’s a lot of good video game music out there that convey a message and sounds good, but because it ends up looping so much, overexposure to it makes it sounds not so good anymore.

  • Brent Knowles

    Agreed — the more dynamic the music can be made (which admittedly can be challenging for the programmers and composers to coordinate) the better the experience for the player.

  • MK

    I’m not sure what compelled me to change my status from “Random Lurker” to “A Commenter”, especially on an old post, but hey…

    My answer: MechWarrior 2. ┬áThe surreal tribal, electronic, and percussion mix is something I still can’t forget to this day. ┬áI still listen to it every now and then. ┬á


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