For a companion piece to my Chance Thomas interview, Turbine sent over five exclusive tracks from Dungeons and Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark. Sound Video Technology Director Steve DiGregorio wrote, performed, and recorded each of these, as both he and Thomas collaborated on Turbine's two expansions. In addition to the tracks and my thoughts on them, DiGregorio provided descriptions of each for illumination.
Are you excited? I know I am, so let's hop to it!
DiGregorio's description: This track is from the Menace of the Underdark Challenge pack. It is used in arena battles found in the Expansion. It's a waltz.
My review: Waltz? Now I've got "one two three, one two three" going on in my head the whole time this is playing. Around the 0:44 mark, lighter instruments kick in to counter the dark tone, and that keeps it from being just the music that Spock and Kirk use for their sparring sessions on Vulcan. If I can't mash-up D&D and Star Trek, what's the point of living?
Dances With Furniture
DiGregorio's description: From the Reign of Madness quest Acute Delirium, this song is inspired by the Fantasia-like nature of the furniture in the quest magically gathering to build an airship.
My review: If it weren't for the peppy horn dancing around in the background there, this would be a very forgettable atmospheric track. As it stands, it's faintly charming with beats that certainly remind me of DDO's main soundtrack.
Fleshcrafted Fashion Show
DiGregorio's description: From the Harbinger of Madness quest "In the Flesh," we wanted a rocking and fun song to go along with this absurdly funny moment (no spoilers for those who haven't played it yet, but if you already have, then you know what part I'm talking about). The quest designer, Phil Speer, actually made the lights flash and change color to the beat!
My review: This is in a fantasy game? It's like something you'd hear at a seedy rave (which is the best kind, of course). I definitely get a nightclub vibe off of it, and it's certainly... different. Not that that's bad. A little of this track goes a long way, so by minute three I was ready to switch to the next one.
Making Way for Progress
DiGregorio's description: This track appears in the House Cannith public spaces as well as in quests in that area. House Cannith is strikingly different from the other dragonmarked houses of Eberron. We needed a song that was very unlike the music from the other houses. A swirling mix of human instrumental performance, spacey-synth, and steady hammer-like high hat tapping seemed to well represent the "artificing." There's a sense of wonder and even sadness in the track, which is mindful of the tragic plight of the warforged race -- as told in the adventure pack Secrets of the Artificers.
My review: I'm not a fan of this track, and it's hard to put a finger on exactly why. I think it's because it sounds like three or four songs butting into each other and often overlapping, and my ear gets fatigued trying to follow them all. The deep parts are acceptable, but when the synth kicks in with whatever bizarre noises are buried deep in its selections, I reflexively turn down the sound.
Lost in a Spider Web's Beauty
DiGregorio's description: This one is from the Menace of the Underdark quest The Rift Between Worlds. It's the song immediately heard when entering the Demonweb for the first time from the world of Eberron. When you initially see the Demonweb, you are struck by its beauty, much as you are when you see a gorgeous spider web after a rainfall. We wanted to capture that moment of awe for players when they first enter, before they consider the web's dangers.
My review: This is by far my favorite track of the bunch. Obviously, DDO loves its synthesizer score, but I dig synth soundtracks, so it's all good. There's a trippy, etheral quality to this piece that's calming and almost '80s-retro. What's even better about it? No heavy pounding bass!
MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every other Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!