With all of the award madness going on at Massively OP this month, it's the perfect time to unveil the 2016 Online VGM Awards! It's been a great year of soundtracks from our favorite MMOs, and since I have the opportunity to singlehandedly dish out any awards I like in this column, I wanted to give some honor to terrific composers and tunes that we got to listen to this year.
As with last year's awards, I'll be fashioning each category and selecting a winner. Some of the categories are 2016-specific, while others have more flexibility to stretch beyond this calendar year. Unlike last year's awards, this round will have categories that are more universal and can be carried forward in future years.
So who won? We've got six categories to go through, including best MMO soundtrack of 2016 and composer of the year, so let's get started!
I can't tell you how good it does my soul to see that WildStar has finally released an official soundtrack -- two, in fact, with the hope of more to come. Fans of the score (and we are an army of rabid music evangelists) have been chanting at Carbine to make this a real thing since day one of the MMO's launch. I won't say that the music is the best part about WildStar, but it definitely is one of the key elements that makes it incredibly special.
Jeff Kurtenacker's score deserves all of the praise that's been heaped on it for delivering a rich, exciting, and incredibly memorable audio experience. There are recognizable themes all over the place, catchy riffs, electric Western twangs, crazy ditties, and even a somber hymn tucked away in there.
Picking out my six favorite tracks is one of the hardest things I've had to do this week, but I'm game for the challenge, especially when it means that I get to gab about this score more on this site. Here's what I ended up choosing.
The second volume of WildStar's acclaimed soundtrack is now available to purchase. WildStar Volume 2 brings out 20 tracks, some of which are brand-new, even for fans of the game. Currently it is just available on Sumthing as a $10 digital album, although Amazon and iTunes releases are expected to follow.
Composer Jeff Kurtenacker introduced this volume: "The new tracks are narrative depictions of the Chua, Cassians, and Aurin, and musically tell the story of each faction's homeworld and background before arriving on Nexus. It's an exciting addition to the in-game music selections for Volume 2 since these are longer tracks that dive deep into the lore of the WildStar universe."
So what do you think, WildStar fans? Could Volume 3 be in our future?
WildStar Composer Jeff Kurtenacker is interrupting your normal daily routine for this important announcement: "Today! It's out. How big can we make this?? Buy it. Share it. Wake your grandma, tell the kids: #WildStarOST is here."
The man does not lie; WildStar's soundtrack (volume 1) is now available to buy digitally. The 23-track album covers many highlight pieces from the MMO and can be bought on iTunes ($10) and Amazon MP3 ($9).
That's not a bad deal for what Massively Overpowered's Justin Olivetti listed as one of his all-time favorite MMO scores. So what are you waiting for?
One of the most requested MMORPG soundtracks of the current era is finally coming to market, causing every rowsdower in the galaxy to start jitterbugging with happiness.
That's right, you can now pre-order the first volume of WildStar's amazing original soundtrack from various digital retailers. The OST is dated for May 31st, meaning that there are only a couple of weeks until its release. Composed by Jeff Kurtenacker, WildStar's album will retail for $10 and include 23 tracks. You can pre-order from Sumthing right now, with Amazon, iTunes, and other vendors to come shortly.
To help tide you over until the release date, check out this behind-the-scenes look at the making of the score.
I have often thought it grossly unfair that a video game soundtrack is linked, for better and for worse, with the popularity of the game in which it appears. Sure, music is a crucial part of the experience and in many ways emblematic of it, but only recognizing an OST because the game has hit it big is a burr in my saddle.
Let me put it plainly: There are terrific MMOs with terrific soundtracks. There are great MMOs with subpar soundtracks. There are plenty of terrible MMOs with what I can only assume is a serial killer's recording of chalkboard scrapings for a score. And -- in light of today's topic -- there are quite a few incredibly good soundtracks that came from MMOs that are somewhat forgettable.
Maybe these games are far past their prime or only really took root in a certain region, but I keep coming across titles that have surprisingly robust soundtracks that get (pardon Rodney Dangerfield) no respect, no respect at all. Today I want to share with you six scores I've unearthed from games that have been all but forgotten by the modern MMO community.
Fans of WildStar's awesome soundtrack are in for a treat today, as the sci-fi title has released a musical preview of its new Ascendency theme, "Darkness of the Mind," as well as an Eldan track called "Beyond the Emerald Glow."
According to Composer Jeff Kurtenacker, this first theme illustrates the Ascendancy's motives: "Misguided by ambition, and driven by a corrupt sense of spiritual enlightenment, the Ascendency have pushed the boundaries of evolution to a dark and mysterious place."
Give them a listen after the break!
Loving those WildStar tunes? Then it's high time you met the man behind the game's enormous and beloved soundtrack, Composer Jeff Kurtenacker.
Top Shelf Gaming interviewed Kurtenacker about his continuing work to score the sci-fi MMO. So what were some of his techniques? "When I started writing, I wanted to embrace the sci-fi-ness of it," Kurtenacker said. "This is where the acoustic guitar came in and the use of synthesizers. I also used a process called bit crushing which gives a distortion to certain elements. It’s been happening in film for a long time, but I hadn’t heard it used before in an MMO."
Kurtenacker also revealed a very personal story behind one of the game's poignant tracks: "A lot of my own feelings towards my daughter are wrapped up in Our Perception of Beauty. I see her as a bright, beautiful, fun-loving child. The whole world is an oyster for her right now, but there will come a time when that will start to crumble. So I tried to write something that encapsulated my feelings of that idea. Hold onto that hope and cherish that beauty and light."
I've been a sneaky columnist, my friends. Oh yes I have. In my last Jukebox Heroes I posted my top six favorite MMO soundtracks, partially because I wanted to share, but also partially because I wanted to see the responses. I judged -- correctly -- that music fans would come out of the woodwork to champion their own favorite scores.
Quietly, I began collecting your comments and even favorite tracks, extending this secretive poll to include a Daily Grind I proposed on this subject. Compiling all of the information between the two, I came up with a list of not my, but your favorite MMO soundtracks without opening it up to vote manipulation.
So do you want to know what the collective Massively Overpowered audience thinks are the best MMO soundtracks to date? Read on as I list the the top 20 (in order) that you nominated!
In ranking MMO soundtracks, there are a lot of ways to do it. You can pull out individual tracks or praise a game for its sheer quantity of musical material. You could even give props to well-known composers such as Jeremy Soule and Inon Zur. You might point to certain game soundtracks as triggers for powerful nostalgia.
Today I want to share my top six favorite MMO soundtracks, but I want to make it clear that the biggest criteron here isn't whether I've played the game or like the composer or have a fondness for a specific track. No, each of these six (and it was agony to choose) is on the list because the overall quality and breadth of each soundtrack has impressed me. Track for track, these OSTs offer a higher ratio of hits to duds and have acquitted themselves well over time.
So what are they? In no particular order, my favorite six are...