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Dune Sea

Frolic Labs

The official soundtrack to the game Dune Sea by Frolic Labs! Learn more:

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I began work on Dune Sea in February, 2017.

The original design of the game played more like an endless runner; I made a dynamic music system in FMOD that would (aurally) reward the player for surviving a longer period of time, as well as transition between variations on a theme depending on the day/night cycle. This system was scrapped when we pivoted the design to a chapter-based adventure game which required loops for each level.

Once the design, story and flow of the adventure was mapped, level design/building began. The previous music proved difficult to be edited into 2-5 minute loops that fit the new pacing so I began from scratch, though I still had plenty of ideas to pull from the old music. Once I played the levels for myself, I got a very good idea of what the music needed in terms of pacing, aesthetic, intensity and structure. I suppose I'm a "reactive" composer, in that way.

We did this for all 12 chapters - once the level was playable (it didn't need to be finished but at least the core mechanics, art and design were implemented) I would compose the music. We kept dynamic systems to a minimum, but still implemented a land / fly system that would transition to a calmer variation when the player was on the ground. To prevent the music from getting to repetitive, I also set up multiple start points throughout the songs so players were not hearing the first 10 seconds of the track over and over when respawning or taking off.

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Dune Sea was a great opportunity for me to return to my instrumental roots. I grew up surrounded by piano, fiddles, guitars and percussion and wanted to pull out those influences throughout this soundtrack. The 12 chapters moves through a few arcs:

1-2 are quiet guitars and strings, the sounds of the sand dunes.

3-5 moves into darker variations of guitars and strings and introduces dark pianos as the levels feel more solitary and alien.

6-8 introduces percussion and bass guitar; these tracks are the most intense, reflecting the exciting caves, volcanoes and salt flats.

9-10 brings the piano back with brighter tones and introduces woodwinds to herald the return of life and greenery in the levels. Finally, 11-12 includes all of these previous elements to finalize the journey. My official soundtrack includes some of the old music as well (The Dune Sea, Midnight Sea and Sunset Sea). While they do not appear in the game (other than a brief credits screen), they were an integral part to this 3-year compositional journey and I'm happy to share it with you.

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