Jukebox Heroes: A civil chat with Dawngate's Jeff Broadbent


Massively: Today we have tea, crumpets, and the ever-so-delightful company of Composer Jeff Broadbent. Mr. Broadbent is here to talk about his work on the score for the upcoming MOBA Dawngate. So is working in the online video game world becoming a habit for you, going from PlanetSide 2 to Dawngate?

Jeff Broadbent: It does seem the online video games are becoming the norm! I am actually working on a couple of new online games also at the moment. The interesting thing about the game market today is that there are many different platforms including mobile, downloadable, online, and console, so it's quite diversified.

The Dawngate gig came about through audio director Caleb Epps. I was staying in touch with Caleb, and he let me know about a new project he was working on. He had me create a couple of demo tracks for the game, and based on that material, I was given the opportunity to score the game.

How would you describe the music of Dawngate? What did you use for inspiration for this score?

I would describe the music of Dawngate as evocative, fantasy-inspired, and a blend of eastern-plus-western music elements, with a modern twist. For instrumentation I used a combination of orchestral strings and brass, exotic wind instruments, plenty of world percussion including some Tibet metals, and some nature-inspired ambiances and modern synthesizer tones.

The artwork of Dawngate was very inspiring to me. It is full of rich and vibrant colors. The characters you can select in the game also have a lot of personality and diversification, and along with the lore-based back-story, they provided a springboard of creativity for me.

How is composing music for a MOBA perhaps different than doing music for an MMO?

A MOBA by definition (multiplayer online battle arena) features a lot of combat, so the music needs to reflect this. Combat music needs to amp up the on-screen action and engage the player. A traditional MMO, on the other hand, may have more story elements, more exploration, and also combat moments, so potentially the music can be more diverse and varied to reflect these different in-game situations.

What would you like players to notice about this score?

It would be great if the players can pick out motifs of the main theme that I incorporated into some of the in-game music. For example, a music cue that plays when you are close to winning the match contains melodic elements from the main theme. I like using thematic material such as this throughout the score, as it makes it cohesive and can help motivate the player.

It would also be nice to point out that I put of lot of emphasis on making the score sonically and instrumentally unique. I planned out how I could incorporate a unique combination of instruments and sounds to make a memorable and colorful music score that complements the rich visuals and lore of the game.

Does any of your tracks tell a story? If so, which ones?

The main theme is a great example of a track that tells a story. It begins with an ethereal and mysterious introduction that sets the stage for a story of fantasy and magic. Later the main melody enters with violins, which provide an emotional and sweeping sound. French horns then join the violins, representing the grandeur and power of the Dawngate realm.

After this first melodic section the main theme enters darker musical territory, using low synth swells, Tibet vocals, and synth pulses. These elements represent the battle elements of the game as well as the magic used by some of the Shapers.

After an expanded reprise of the main theme melody, the theme ends with an adagio string section and gentle woodwinds. This helps to bring nice closure to the piece and hearkens at the enchanted world of Dawngate.

With PlanetSide 2, you liked to use very specific instruments and musical genres to represent the three factions. Did you do anything similar with Dawngate?

Dawngate didn't have different factions, so that's a difference from PlanetSide 2. However, in Dawngate I composed different music tracks that are triggered based on whether the player is winning or losing the battle. When you are losing, more ominous, dark music plays, whereas when you begin to win, the music becomes more hopeful and inspiring, and when you are on the brink of victory, the score is the most vibrant and triumphant. So in Dawngate much of the musical diversity actually comes from the status of the match as the player experiences the game.

Do you have a favorite track or a story from the creation and recording experience?

One of my favorite tracks is a cue that plays after you have won the match and are on the "loot" screen where you can expand character abilities/purchase items/etc. This cue is very ambient, evocative, and mysterious. Rich synthesizer ambience, distant vocals, pulsing electronic elements, and world wind instruments make this cue very immersive and relaxing. I like this track because it was a chance to write a piece of beautiful and inspiring music, which is often rare in video games due to the dominant need for tension and combat music.

Is Dawngate's score orchestral, synthesized, or something else entirely?

Dawngate's score uses a blend of orchestral elements (strings and brass), world music elements (exotic wind instruments, harps, various percussion instruments), and also a variety of hybrid and modern sound design instruments and elements. The orchestral component gives size and strength to the score. The exotic world music components provide a unique flavor and fantasy element; they give the impression of another age and era when Dawngate takes place. The synthesized elements provide a modern touch and also represent the aspect of magic that is found in the game.

What do you think about SoundCloud and its function as a platform for composers to share their work?

I think SoundCloud is a great means for composers and musicians to share their work! It is a very streamlined platform that provides a convenient and effective means of sharing music.

Are you disappointed when a project doesn't end up releasing your work as an album or digital download? Do you know if we'll be able to obtain the Dawngate OST some way?

I always prefer if the soundtrack can be released as an album or digital download. Actually this decision is largely up to the game developer/publisher, as they own the rights to the music.

We are currently talking about the potential release of the Dawngate OST. While nothing is certain yet, it does appear likely we will see a soundtrack release, which I'm looking forward to!

Thank you for your insight!

MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Massively's Jukebox Heroes examines game soundtracks and features the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!