Today we are sitting down with ArenaNet
Lead Composer Maclaine Diemer
, who players might best know from his work on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
and Living World Season 3. Diemer picked up the baton from Jeremy Soule
, the original composer for the base game, and has been pumping out terrific music for the MMORPG ever since.
Massively OP: At this point in your career at ArenaNet, how many pieces of music have you composed for Guild Wars 2?
Maclaine Diemer: I think about this from time to time, but I honestly don’t know. I’d say it’s in the “several dozen” range, between all the holiday festivals, Living World content, Heart of Thorns, and other miscellaneous stuff like cinematics and marketing videos. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
It’s starting to get serious now.
As we well know, people are highly opinionated about everything, but when it comes to music, there seems to be a (pardon the pun) higher pitch to the passion of those arguments. I’ve been doing an MMO music podcast for over three years now, and believe me when I say that there have been countless times when myself and my cohosts were aghast when someone hated a tune we liked and vice-versa, even though we shouldn’t have been surprised.
So as we head into the top 10 of the best MMO theme songs, as voted on by the Massively OP community, expect a lot of opinions and controversies. You may not like the picks, the order, or the comments, but hopefully one or two of these will make you happy (and there’s always room to be pleasantly surprised by a track you never heard before!). Suck it up and jump with me!
Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!
Today we’re going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there’s a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it’s gratifying to see each one of these make the list.
Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get to it!
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, ArtCraft says over 9000 gamers have been invited to try to break the three alpha servers active during Crowfall’s “Big World” playtest. “We’ve shifted our development approach to be more like a live MMO,” says Creative Director and Co-Founder J. Todd Coleman. Still on the way “soon” are the new crafting skill trees, unique world maps, the necromancy system that serves as the foundation for avatar swapping, and the protype for the Eternal Kingdoms. The company also crossed the minimum threshold for its Indiegogo-based equity crowdfunding effort, though it has been thus far unwilling to answer questions about its now-public finances.
Meanwhile, Pantheon is plotting a stream on December 9th, Ship of Heroes became the fourth City of Heroes spiritual successor (and has crowdfunding on the way), Star Citizen began testing alpha 26, Richard Garriott donated an in-game skull to a tavern in Shroud of the Avatar, and The Exiled kicked off its closed alpha (for which we still have keys!).
Finally, we sat down with Project Gorgon’s Eric Heimburg to chat about the state of the game and its graphics plans for 2017.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!
Back in 2013, Composer Jeremy Soule (Landmark, Guild Wars 2) launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to fund his personal project of creating a classical music album called The Northerner: Soule Symphony No. 1. The campaign was a great success, pulling in over $127,000, and fans were excited to hear what he would produce.
However, during the intervening years, Soule has failed to produce the album, stringing backers along with the occasional update and promise of progress. While he did post some sheet music this past September, fans have been fed up with the protracted project, filling up the Kickstarter’s comments section with their displeasure and demands for a refund. Soule has not given a definite timeline for the completion and delivery of his album, making some fans fear that it will take years more to finish, if ever.
Soule is a somewhat difficult figure in the video game music industry. He is widely admired for his talent while criticized for being paranoid and the poor customer service of his digital music service. In addition to the issues with his symphony procrastination, he has long since pulled the Guild Wars 2 soundtrack from his store (seriously, go ahead and see if you can buy a copy anywhere) and expressed outrage when he found out that a Skyrim concert was being performed this fall without his involvement.
MOP’s Justin Olivetti created the music-centered Jukebox Heroes column back on Massively-that-was and brought it along to us here, and to this day it’s one of my favorites. It’s also one of our most contentious, which might seem weird since it covers not pay-to-win or crowdfunding or internet warlords but… music. Video game music. It turns out that you folks have incredibly strong opinions about your video game music, and not a top 10 list of tracks goes by when Justin isn’t barraged with “you forgot X” and “why isn’t Y on this list” and “obviously bias, doesn’t include X” commentary.
So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, we’re turning the whole team’s attention to video game music — specifically, MMORPG soundtracks and individual pieces. Which ones are our very favorites? Which ones do we keep on listening to long after we’ve left the games? We’re confident you’ll populate the comments with everything we’re missing!
“It’s high time that we talk about the Heart of Thorns expansion for Guild Wars 2!” Syl says, and we couldn’t agree more. The Battle Bards assemble to look at the first expansion for this fantasy MMO — and the evolution of the game’s soundtrack from the Jeremy Soule era. The verdict? Unanimous love for this incredible score!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin Olivetti co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
We’ve got Episode 76: Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns for you after the break!
The Elder Scrolls franchise is well-known for its musical legacy, and while Elder Scrolls Online doesn’t have the efforts of Jeremy Soule (aside from the theme) behind it, Composers Brad Derrick and Rik Schaffer have stepped up to put out some memorable tunes.
If you liked ESO’s soundtrack, then you should be delighted to hear that a second album was released this week called Music of Tamriel Vol. 1. The $10 album contains 14 tracks from the game’s Imperial City and Orsinium DLC packs. Happy listening!
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we welcomed Metal Gear Online’s multiplayer launch on PC, got a comprehensive lesson on the history of MMOs, took a peek at the cover art of Albion Online’s novel, wept at a heartfelt goodbye from two devs, and more!
Lately, a friend was asking me where he should start with collecting MMO soundtracks. “Pretty much anywhere and everywhere” was my initial reaction, although that was not quite as helpful as he needed. So we started talking about grabbing all of the free soundtracks out there as well as snapping up particular albums as a backbone of a good collection.
Frankly, if it’s an online game and it’s released a soundtrack, I will buy it. I don’t care what kind of MMO it was or how popular it might have been; often the quality of the music is divorced from whether or not I would play that particular game. So while my collection is pretty expansive, I understand that a beginner collector can’t just buy all the things right away.
So that created an interesting thought exercise for me. If I was starting out and had the funds and desire to purchase, say, six albums off the bat, which ones would I pick? It was tough, but I came up with the following list to recommend to any MMO OST fan as “must haves” for a good collection.
When it comes to the EverQuest franchise, looking back at 2015 is a much different experience than looking back at 2014 was. That previous year ended on such a high note of hope and anticipation; players (including me) were excited about what was to come. This year, however, is closing out with an air of melancholy, apprehension, and — for some — resignation.
That’s not to say that everything has been all bad. Despite what some may have you believe, the titles haven’t been careening non-stop down the slippery slope of doom. In fact, EverQuest and EverQuest II might even be ending the year on an upswing thanks to their unexpected expansions. Unfortunately, the two newest children of the family, Landmark, and EverQuest Next, enjoy no such buoyancy in the final quarter. They have sadly faded into the shadows.
How to sum up 2015? Concern, controversy, and content come to mind.
With another year coming to a close, I thought it would be an opportune time to go back and give out flippant awards to some of the MMO and MOBA soundtracks that released in 2015. Not every game gets an official album release, of course, but if there was a new game on the scene, rest assured that I was all over its music.
So read on for six awards that celebrate the highs and, yes, lows of the video game scores this year!
David Georgeson is best known, of late, for the work he did on both Landmark and EverQuest Next before departing Daybreak. Jeremy Soule is known for making amazing soundtracks for so many games that it’s impractical to list all of them in tags. Now, we know that they’re joining forces to develop orbital satellites to ensure their domination over the world… or just to make some great music for something.
So what are these two creative souls working on? We really don’t know. But if you’re familiar with the work of both people involved, there’s good reason to get excited about the prospect.