Beasts of Balance:
Battles Expansion and More Beasts
[ iPad Enhanced Boardgame ]
Sensible Object asked us to work on the soundtrack for the expansion to their amazing digital board game hybrid, Beast of Balance. The expansion took the shape of a new game mode - Battles. Battles is a head-to-head competitive mode of the original game and features scan-able physical battle cards with various in-game effects. Along side this there were added 3 new beasts and 3 new legendary beasts! This was a super exciting opportunity as we've always been big fans of the game and it meant we got to work along side Kitty and work with Disasterpeace's bespoke Unity audio implementation system! After dropping a remix of the Disasterpeace's original Beasts of Balance music Kitty was tasked with the creation of the main music for Battles. We worked with Kitty to help realise her ideas in an interactive game music context. We also created our own musical soundtrack elements which we'll explain later, you can listen to the examples to the right while you read.
Each of the new Battle Cards has a unique effect on the gameplay and in turn required bespoke sound effects to illustrate their usage with the game. There are a huge variety of cards so we needed to create distinct sounds which also sat well within the already established Beasts of Balance world. The existing sound effects sit in a beautiful world of half organic and half electronic so we aimed to fit our audio aesthetic into this niche. The card effects ranged from leech creatures who steal another player’s power to cosmic clockwork devices that turn back time!
We also created the sound effects for the new beasts which were introduced as supplements that could be used in both Standard and Battles game modes. These were the Ghost Crab, Chameleon, Flamingo, Angler Fish and the three new legendary beasts: Fancyprance, Hotbelly and Moby Brick. The first four beasts were created using a stylised version fo the animal’s real world sounds, we even recorded some Flamingos at London Zoo (they’re quite obnoxiously loud it turns out!) The legendary beasts are more special and therefore required some more adventurous sound design to bring them into the game world. A lot of the sounds for the legendary beasts were human voice actors heavily affected to created an anthropomorphised sonic character. You can hear some of our sound effects in action in the following video from Sensible Object:
It was a real pleasure working on the music for Battles; not only did we get to work with Kitty, we also got to fiddle around with Disasterpeace’s awesome generative music system that they built for the first iteration of Beasts of Balance. The music system works by selecting short loops of music in a random but controlled manner, meaning each loop and musical element is representative of an event in game. So each time the game is played the soundtrack will be subtly different based on your choices and the beasts and items in play.
So for each of the new beasts that we created music for (mentioned earlier) we wrote new loops which we integrated into the existing generative system. Each new beast was represented by an instrument and melody which was complementary to the original feel and aesthetic of the original music. Again we went with a blend of real, organic sounds mixed with electronic elements. The track “Beasts of Balance New Beasts Music” above is an example of the Chameleon, Flamingo, Angler Fish and Hotbelly music loops integrated within the original music.
The legendary beasts were a little more flamboyant in their style than the 3 new regular beasts. These characters are a special addition to the gameplay and effect the world in a drastic way. The sound track obviously has to reflect these changes and help to illustrate the larger-than-life characteristics of these beasts. Above you can hear “Fancyprance minigame theme”. This is a portion of the music that plays during Fancyprance’s frenetic entrance to the game world.
As you can hear the style and pacing of this particular track is designed to stand out from the rest of the world to convey the quirky nature of thecharacter and to add to the weird and wonderful minigame that follows the playing of this legendary beast!
Also above, you can hear a demonstration of the way Moby Brick’s music blends in with the original soundtrack. We had a lot of fun crafting the voice of this slightly derpy space whale who’s warbling their way through space and time only to splat down unceremoniously into the game world. As we explained with regards to the sound effects we thought anthropomorphised human voice works well and here we even have the character effectively singing along to the soundtrack.
Other musical elements were composed by us to suit elements of the game such as constellations and card certain effects, examples of which can also be heard above.
For the main Battles soundtrack we liaised with Kitty who was writing the main loops to be used when playing Beasts of Balance in Battles mode. We eventually decided on a slightly less generative version of the soundtrack and she created wonderful loops for each zone: land, sea and air. Each of these loops have varying degrees of complexity to reflect the progress of the game. The music becomes fuller and more chaotic as the game reaches it’s climax. It was a great process working with her and we’re super pleased with the resulting soundtrack.
As mentioned earlier we got to work with Disasterpeace’s bespoke implementation system for Beasts of Balance. This was super exciting for us and we were really pleased to be able to contribute to such an interesting system. The team at Sensible Object gave us access to the Unity build and so we were able to dig into the bespoke audio engine and compose our content to work well with it both stylistically and technically. We learned the intricacies of the engine and worked with the Sensible Object team come up with ways of implementing the music and sound effects to create the most coherent and complimentary results. This involved working out how the which the individual loops are triggered and creating new definitions, parameters and triggers for our sounds. We then ensured the mix of the soundtrack as a whole still matched the original. We believe our soundtracks for both Battles and the base Beasts of Balance game turned out wonderfully and we relished the experience.
Beasts of Balance is available online and in Apple Stores and John Lewis Stores, you can buy it direct here.