Ben Prunty is the composer whose music you've heard accompanying the death of your crew in FTL: Faster Than Light. His column for PC Gamer covers the role of music in games.
I recently finished the soundtrack for Into the Breach, Subset Games' follow up to FTL: Faster Than Light. Into the Breach is a turn-based strategy game about giant mechs, the apocalypse, and time travel. You can read more about it here. Making the soundtrack was a huge challenge, as the style was pretty far outside my comfort zone. Because of this, I thought it would be interesting to share some key parts of the creative process. Here are some of the decisions involved in making a game soundtrack.
Let's compare it to FTL as an example. Like FTL, we decided that the soundtrack for Into the Breach should be something different than is expected for the genre.
Thanks to Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey, media that takes place in space is often associated with music from a large, bombastic orchestra. We decided early on to simply not have any orchestral elements in FTL. After all, how could we even compete with the likes of The Empire Strikes Back or the Star Trek films? FTL's music featured smooth, melodic synths, lots of reverb, and a general sense of melancholy. This was apparently so unexpected that some early reviewers were put off by the style and recommended listening to orchestral music instead while playing. These days FTL's music has a pretty great reputation, so I'd say we made the right choice.