Many of us here on the Massively OP staff have our own personal pet projects and interests that might not be as widespread as others, but we still pursue (and write about) them because of shared passion with others of a like mind. With me, it’s MMO video game music. It’s a niche of a niche interest, but I find such a delight in the musical landscapes that exist in our virtual worlds.
As is tradition for Jukebox Heroes, I have the privilege of finishing out the year with my own special little award ceremony. Unlike the other MOP awards we give out, these are a one-man deal with no nominations, no voting, and no contemplation. Instead, I’ve settled on seven awards to bestow from my own musical discoveries and journeys this year.
Check out the following winners of this year’s MMO Video Game Music Awards — and let me know what awards you would dole out in the comments!
This category was surprisingly competitive this year, but the winner was never in doubt. Shadowbringers was a strong return to form for Masayoshi Soken, who whipped up some of his best music yet. So many incredible tracks peppered this expansion — prompting a Battle Bards episode to celebrate it, I might add — but was anything as iconic as “la-HEE?”
You can get as cranky as you like about Battle for Azeroth, but don’t you dare disrespect the music that this expansion has pumped out. Blizzard’s composers have been faithful at producing lovely and thrilling tunes for each one of the patches, enough so that one fan used her precious question at BlizzCon to ask the team if there will ever be an official release of patch music. The answer? Yes!
For those EverQuest fans who grew up on the old MIDI soundtrack, the game’s musical evolution is both a cause for delight and nostalgia. Daybreak quietly released the original soundtrack for EQ this year with the improved, modern versions of many classic tunes, and I found the whole album to be a tremendous delight.
There really weren’t a lot of MMORPG releases this year, and some of the ones that did arrive didn’t leave much of a musical footprint behind. Discounting expansions for this category, that really only left me with a small handful. Fortunately, Astellia provided a very solid pick from those few choices, with a sweeping theme that takes us on a grand journey even before we pick our characters.
Apart from a few “superstar” celebrities, most video game music composers toil away in relative obscurity — and no more so than the MMO composers. This year I wanted to give a special award to a talented and hardworking composer who is still giving his all for two aging MMORPGs — in this case, Standing Stone Games’ Bill Champagne, who whipped up patch music for Lord of the Rings Online and expansion music for DDO: Masterminds of Sharn and LOTRO: Minas Morgul. And it’s pretty darn good stuff, too!
Back in February, I asked our Massively OP community to vote on the greatest MMO soundtrack of all time. The results were both surprising and predictable, with readers lauding their favorites. Far and away — perhaps by vote brigading — WildStar swept the hearts of gamers around these parts. I won’t argue; it’s one of the all-time best MMORPG soundtracks ever created.
Every year I like to save one award slot for what I consider to be my favorite MMO soundtrack discovery of the year. Usually it’s a game I’ve never listened through before, but when I did a gut-check and looked over past columns, I had to admit that the one soundtrack that got me the most excited was LOTRO’s rather fantastic Vales of Anduin score. This could have been done short and lazy, but instead we got a ton of really terrific tunes that show us that Middle-earth still has beauty to share that we haven’t experienced yet.