Officially classified as a typical Real Time Strategy Game, Ubisoft Blue Byte’s Champions of Anteria definitely is more than that. Champions of Anteria combines base building with role-playing elements and pausable combat which I have not experienced in a similar mix before. Yet, Champions of Anteria unfortunately is not very present these days and so I was happy about getting the opportunity to ask multiple Hollywood Music In Media Award-winning and Global Music Award-winning composer Jeff Broadbent a few questions regarding the game’s musical approach.
Because the game was many years in development including a 15 months long phase without any announcements after quite a few negative comments during the closed beta, it is best if you watch Cosmic Engine’s recent review first of all. Having played the extensive demo of the game, I agree with pretty much everything that is mentioned in the review and so I hope you’ll get a rather good impression from it before we focus on the music from there on:
As Cosmic Engine mentions, the game really does not take itself serious which is sometimes a bit too much but in general pretty entertaining as well as in line with the lovely bubble gum chewing workers from The Settlers II. The music focusses on creating a vast medieval universe and does a very good job at it especially when experiencing it in-game. Below you can listen to the full score which was composed by Jeff Broadbent in collaboration with German based audio production house Dynamedion. The soundtrack is also available via UBILOUD on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.
Listen to the Full Soundtrack for ‘Champions of Anteria’ by Jeff Broadbent and Dynamedion below:
Composer Jeff Broadbent has worked in the past on video games such as Planetside 2, I am Alive, Drakensang Online as well as blockbuster film video games such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Expendables 2 – and he also worked for Ubisoft Shanghai on Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online before his Champions of Anteria journey started: “Towards the end of 2013 I was contacted by Ubisoft Blue Byte and was asked to participate in auditions for Champions of Anteria. Based on the demo music I composed I was selected as a composer for the game. Shortly thereafter I was introduced to Audio Director Stefan [Randelshofer], and we’ve had a great time working together since!”
Jeff Broadbent told us that he started composing the music for Champions of Anteria in 2014. Working on the main theme and in-game music first, his job ended with composing the music for the cut scenes and trailers in early 2016. But now let us get deeper into the whole scoring process.
Exploring themes and an especially dynamic audio system
The music in Champions of Anteria is very theme based. In an interview published on Ubisoft’s blog, Audio Director Stefan Randelshofer mentioned that “every important character has his or her own theme that we used heavily when the player encounters the character.” He added that “when you listen closely in the cutscenes, you will also find some hints about the story. Even the main title itself [composed by Jeff Broadbent] represents the Champions as a group.”
To constantly evoke this feeling of having a unique musical tone for every important character, the music had to be very dynamic. Hence, as Jeff Broadbent told us, “depending on which champions are in the player’s group, different aspects of the music score play.” In addition to themes “each music track has several instrumental layers to represent each champion. For example, choirs are used for the monk Anslem, brass is used for the knight Vargus, and various wind instruments are used for the desert archer Nusala. In addition, each music track has a ‘low-health’ layer, which features dissonant strings and choir which plays when the player is low on health, as a warning signal.”
As some other good examples, Stefan Randelshofer adds in the aforementioned Ubisoft interview that “when you see their introduction cutscene, you will hear each instrument group accompanying its Champion as a solo version of the main theme, but when you see them together, the instruments all play together in a bigger, stronger version to represent the Champions as a group. The important part is that we’re using this system not only for those three Champions and the cutscenes, but we also use it for every adventure track in the game – it adapts to the choice of your Champions per map.”
Implemented with audio engine’s like FMOD as in this case, this is a pretty great approach to game music in general to really connect players with a game’s characters.
In terms of how the dynamic approach affected the workflow, Jeff Broadbent told us that “the bulk of the music score was the in-game music which included music for out-of-combat (exploration) aspects of the game, and in-combat (battle) sections of the game. The in-game music was composed over a fairly intense period, in which I was writing a large amount of music each day. I liked to begin by composing the more peaceful out-of-combat music first, and then I would compose the layers that were used for combat/battle and low health. After the music was composed and approved, we proceeded to prepare for the live recordings, after which the final music was mixed and implemented into the game.”
Here also Dynamedion came into play. Dynamedion handled the live recordings with the Budapest Symphonic Scoring Orchestra in Hungary as well as they scored the start-up phases of the game. Jeff Broadbent on the other hand was responsible for the dynamic Champion-based music system as well as the composition of the main theme, in-combat, out-of-combat, cut scene, and trailer music. Both parties then also collaborated on the preparation of the music for the live recordings as well as the recordings they interfaced with some of the post-mixing aspects of the score.
Concluding: Jeff Broadbent’s favourite cues in ‘Champions of Anteria’
About the ideas behind some of his own favourite cues Jeff Broadbent told us that “Far From Lifeless accompanies the desert regions and Dune Queen areas of the game so it contains Middle-Eastern instruments such as duduk and qanun, as well as Middle-Eastern-inspired scales and harmonies. Other tracks, like Oh and More Bandits play in forested regions, so this music focuses on lush string arrangements and breathy wind instruments.”
These two cues as well as So That Was The Welcome They Had have more prominent out-of-combat sections in the mixes which were created specifically for the official soundtrack. Jeff Broadbent told us that he enjoyed composing the out-of-combat moments in particular and that “in creating these cues, I wanted to focus on peaceful and emotionally moving music that represents the wonder and expansive aspect of nature. There are moments in the cues where the music is more ambient and tranquil as well as sections featuring melodic statements by solo instruments such as French horn, flute and oboe. Above all I wanted to impart a sense of fantasy, mystery and to highlight the natural features of the wilderness.”
To sum up I can say that I would definitely recommend you to give Champions of Anteria’s demo a go to see on which side of the mixed reviews you stand as well as to experience the gorgeous score by Jeff Broadbent and Dynamedion in its full dynamic glory. The official soundtrack is available via UBILOUD on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon. You can read more about Jeff Broadbent’s tips for aspiring video game composers in our related article.
This article was published in collaboration with Plattentellerrand.com