Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #28: The Soundtrack by Michiel van den Bos

Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #28: The Soundtrack by Michiel van den Bos

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LennartGS

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It's my pleasure to post this diary from Michiel van den Bos, the musician responsible for the soundtracks of nearly all Triumph's games. The Planetfall tracks, that range from understated, enchanting and melancholic pieces to ripping industrial action bring to life the worlds of the Star Union, both on the world map and in combat. I think its among Michiel's best work. Included is a 5 minute preview of an 2 hours+ original sound track. - Lennart

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MichielvandenBos.jpg


Here we are again. This time, I had to wrap my head around leaving the regular fantasy setting I've been working in for all these years and expanding the soundscape to futuristic proportions. This provided a lot of room for experimentation, which I was too careful with in the early stages of development. As time went on it all settled in nicely. In this clip you'll hear nine outtakes that cover part of the spectrum, but there's a whole lot more to be discovered in the game as you play through it.


In order of appearance:

  • Promethean (00:00 - 00:29) A fairly easy going one in the grand scheme of things. The drums are fairly pronounced but the underlying melody is subdued. I wanted to create a dark atmosphere without going overboard. I particularly like the bass instrument that permeates throughout.
  • Lunar Labour (00:29 - 01:08) This is one of those songs that if you exchanged all the modern synth aspects and drums with orchestral instruments, it would be right at home in a baseline Age of Wonders game. Easy on the ears as you traverse the world map
  • Ruins of a Galactic Empire (01:08 - 01:47) Both the feeling of a world destroyed and the hope of rebuilding are present in this song. People familiar with my older work know that I have an affection for using arpeggiated phrases as a base to build upon and this is one of those songs that developed from there.
  • Terraformer (01:47 - 02:28) A song centered around ethnic percussion to create a nice, earthy atmosphere. It ebbs and flows between more grandiose passages as you manipulate the landscape to your liking.
  • Elsewhere (02:28 - 03:09) The part I chose to include in this teaser is the climax, but the song kind of tells a story about waking up in a place you've never been and to gradually discover the possibilities of your current surroundings as you explore further. Definitely one of the my personal favorites.
  • March of the Machines (03:09 - 03:41) A structured, yet chaotic song with a lot of manipulated metallic percussion and brass as the mechanical behemoths establish their dominance over the other factions.
  • Tranquility (03:41 - 04:21) An easy going world map song to accompany your endeavors to establish and expand your base. This track alternates between grand orchestral sweeps and subdued synth dominated sections.
  • Mass Infestation (04:21 - 04:51) The only combat song in the teaser as there are so many surprises in the action pieces that I don't want to give away right now. This one centers on a black metal inspired riff and veers off in different directions as it goes along. Frantic!
  • Celestium (04:51 - End) Another piece that originated from a simple arpeggiated sequence that turns into a grand, sprawling orchestral hybrid composition toward the end. It bridges the gap between the original AoW and this spinoff rather well and another one of my personal favorites.

So, there you have about 6 minutes worth of soundtrack that spans more than two hours in the game itself and will be expanded upon over time. I hope you enjoy listening to it, because I certainly had a blast making it. Plenty of surprises and experimental detours are to be discovered. There aren't any remakes from older AoW installments but there are subtle hints here and there that some may pick up on.

Enjoy and thank you for all the nice feedback I've gotten in the meantime!

Michiel van den Bos
 

Quark02

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Celestium's start sure reminds me of AoW1's title screen, but I don't think I heard any other hints in there. I quite loved the 8 minutes of AoW3 music medley you put out when that was in development, this has somewhat sharper transitions between snippets.

Sounds pretty darn good.

I'm now curious, is the trailer music also from the game itself or are they separate pieces?
 

Jolly Joker

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Nice. All seem fitting March of the Machines marches quite nicely and I'm really curious about the combat themes now, with Mass Infestation sounding pretty cool.
 

Gamling80

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Nice sounds like Age of wonders indeed! Since I played many hundreds of hours of the Age of wonders series always with music on I must say I appreciated the music. But since half the game is played in battles I got very tired of the hectic battle music, which is always the same short hectic piece repeating. I hope you will improve that in this game. Please make several battle music pieces! Preferably some that ads to the setting of the current battleground or enemies you are facing.
 

Ridixo

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Excellent. Great music as always. The themes are varied yet all have the feeling and spirit of the game. If there are special themes for each race i really want to hear them. But what would be the spoilers in the action pieces?
 

scotvince

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"I'm now curious, is the trailer music also from the game itself or are they separate pieces?"

Yes I'd like to know too ! Because this trailer music is wonderful.
 

Ryltair

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I knew van den Bos would deliver :D Excellent stuff! Will these tracks eventually make their way to Spotify as the official soundtrack?
 

BBShockwave

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Once again, reminds me why I recently put most of AOW3 and AOW2's songs on my default playlist. :) Love it!
 

prof_doom

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So happy the soundtrack comes with the premium/deluxe editions.
 

Rhaeg

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Just awesome stuff. I'm actually happy there aren't any remakes from the previous games. New setting, so new songs and this still feels so much Age of Wondersey, the Terraformer bit would have worked in the old fantasy setting just as well, for instance.

All these snippets are just great, Mass Infestation is probably my favourite piece here.

*sigh* wish you'd release all of the soundtrack already :p
 

LennartGS

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"I'm now curious, is the trailer music also from the game itself or are they separate pieces?"

Yes I'd like to know too ! Because this trailer music is wonderful.
The (great) trailer music is not part of the game soundtrack and not made by Michiel. .
As a general note: the game has some 80ties references and is humorous in places. This trailer amplifies these elements.
 

TheGrinningMan

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listens to March of the Machines and Mass Infestation.

Assembly with either Psynumbra or Promethean secret tech, as a bunch of both literal and metaphorical metalheads. Why didn't I think of it before?
 

TheDarkMaster

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The music of AoW3 was amazing and a very good sign of what is to come. Personal highlights are the main theme of AoW3 and the combat theme 'Battle Macabre'.
 

Snorro Soliman

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Althought the track in the trailer is not part of the OST, as stated by Lennart above, may I ask what the name of the song is and if it is available on streaming services or for download? I really dig it.
 

Vishniac

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As a general note: the game has some 80ties references and is humorous in places. This trailer amplifies these elements.
That's not good to read.

The trailer and this Jack Gelder thing made me immediately think about Star-Lord and the Gardians of the Galaxy. I can't say I'm happy with it: we already have too much bad humor in every Marvel/DC/other movies and TV-series, even when the world's at stakes. I don't talk about ironic cynic punchlines ala Vin Diesel, I really mean some tedious humor.

Is it really necessary? Alpha Centaury (SMAC) didn't have openly humor, the game was more ominous and frightening in everything it showed of the future: you could feel the atmosphere. Here, we have the ruins of an empire, it brings memories of Fondation by Asimov or other sci-fi works, we can almost see all those civilizations whose cities lies in dust, even forgotten: Sumer, Assyria, Babylon, the Akkadians, the Hittites... You think that someone awakening from cryosleep to discover everything he knew is now ruins would joke? No: Taylor (Charlton Heston) didn't joke when he found the remains of the Statue of Liberty, he was knocked out by grief. As were probably the engineers and architects who came to rebuild Stalingrad ans so many towns till Aleppo these days.
Sometimes, sci-fi means epic, contemplative, reflective on mankind his future and his past...and not some comedy supported by a music coming from Kung Fury.

Same with 80s references. Enough!
I sometimes wonder why this collective nostalgia. I lived through the 80s, loved them, know all their music and references but...it was 30 years ago! Can't we just turn the page? And what does it have to do with the story of this game?
So, please: the less 80s and the less humor the better: sometimes, they are not cool.

That said: yes, these music samples by Mr Van den Bos are excellent.