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Making The Soundtrack To Kaz Ball - Part 1 

Intro 

We’re writing the soundtrack for Kaz Ball, a 5v5 ball game that takes place in space. What kind of audio production do you imagine when you hear that description? Cause I hear SCI-FI, PULSE POUNDING ACTION, ROARING ENGINES. And on top of that we got the request from the lead developer to include rebellious blues rock inspired guitars. 

All of this adds up to an intense soundtrack that fuses aggressive edm with rock. 

For the battle themes I wanted to capture 5 moments that’ll happen in the game: 

  • Ships Launch 
  • Somebody Grabs The Ball 
  • Being Ahead Or Behind In The Game 
  • Someone Ninjaing Your Ship 
  • Battle Cruiser Hull Integrity Is Critical 

Battle Theme 1 

Ships Launch 

Here’s where I included the distorted guitars. I wanted to create, in the lead developer’s own words, “the feeling that action is coming and ACTION IS HERE”. This theme is going to be something that players hear at the beginning of every match so it had to get your blood pumping right off the bat. 

Somebody Grabs The Ball 

I created a driving beat using drum samples and midi clips from the Build and Drop pack in Ableton 10. There are also chopped up samples of a bass. I had a lot of fun using the ‘Slice’ feature in Simpler for the main harmonic layer that kicks in when somebody grabs the ball. 

Being Ahead Or Behind In The Game 

There needed to be 1 motif each for being behind behind by 25% or being ahead by 25%. The motif for losing is very spacey and I put delay on the lead synth to emphasize the feeling of dragging behind. The motif for winning by contrast uses the guitar riffs established in the beginning to reaffirm that you’re bringing the action, you’re on the right course. 

Someone Ninjaing Your Ship 

When someone fires at your ship’s hull for a prolonged period of time there’s a stinger that plays informing you about it. It needed to be something attention grabbing but mysterious sounding at the same time. It’s also technically something contributes to your team losing so it needed to use an electronic element. We ended up settling on a synth melody with some pentatonic in there for added rebelliousness. 

Battle Cruiser Hull Integrity Is Critical 

Things get intense when your battle cruiser drops below 25% integrity. I ramped it up by switching to a dubstep beat with syncopated ostinato in the bass and synth. I wanted it to become especially driving once your ship goes below 5% health so I added a guitar that plays the same rhythm as everything else. I also arranged another guitar that adds to the chaos by playing double bends. 

Battle Theme 2 

Ships Launch 

I wanted it to sound like an engine starting so I chopped up a snare sample and pitched it while increasing the frequency of hits until it sounded like what I was hearing in my head. 

Somebody Grabs The Ball 

I created a driving beat using drum samples and midi clips from the Build and Drop pack in Ableton 10. There are also chopped up samples of a bass. I had a lot of fun using the ‘Slice’ feature in Simpler for the main harmonic layer that kicks in when somebody grabs the ball. 

Being Ahead Or Behind In The Game 

Both motifs had to sound exciting but convey opposite feelings. The Being Ahead motif had to activate your brain’s pleasure centres and give you a sense of accomplishment.The Behind In The Game motif still had to motivate you to move forward and fight, though. It was a bit of trial and error to write something bad-ass, sad, yet gratifying all at the same time. 

Someone Ninjaing Your Ship 

This time for the sound of someone shooting your ship’s hull I wanted it to sound like an alarm being raised. So I made an air horn type sound in Serum and pitch bent the note for maximum obnoxiousness. Somehow this turned out to be one of the most badass moments in the soundtrack. Hearing it gets you hyped and ready to gun down the enemy. 

Battle Cruiser Hull Integrity Is Critical 

Originally the bulk of Battle Theme 2 had a drum and bass beat. Things left nowhere to go though once your battle cruiser drops below 25% integrity. It needs to ramped it up in intensity. We decided to change the beat in the beginning to be a half-step beat and that solved the problem.