About the Project
Dwarven Monster Slayers is an in-development PC indie FPS video game featuring co-op multiplayer action RPG gameplay in a grim fantasy world. And it’s about dwarfs!
In this game players slip into the roles of dwarven heroes with unique and distinctive strengths, weaknesses and personalities. Following the dwarves on their dangerous journey to recover the forgotten legacy of their forefathers, you discover a sinister underground world and fight your way through an ancient dwarven dungeon which has been taken over by hordes of goblins and trolls a long time ago. While venturing deeper into the underworld realms, you will experience that trolls are not the worst to find beneath the mountains of Kargarath.
The gameplay offers a mix of fast-paced tactical battles, RPG character development and elements of survival, defense and stealth gameplay. To defeat your enemies, use whatever fits the situation, be it brute melee combat, powerful spells or your skills, mind and teamwork.
Finding a unique Sound (that is not The Hobbit)
When searching for the sound there were two big problems. The first of these was perhaps the most obvious: how should we find a sound that is unique and helps the project to stand for itself. Because what has inevitably come to mind about dwarfs for several years is, of course, the soundtrack to Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. Deep male choirs, large drums and wide horns. These are the obvious fits for the race of dwarfs who build their monuments of stone in the caves deep underground.
Of course, there is no shame in copying and in the soundtrack business it is often even helpful. After all, with just a few sounds, you want to draw the audience directly into the action and this works best with well-established clichés. But that said, I always find it a pity when a project no longer has its own voice. Especially with Dwarven Monster Slayers, the guys from Mad Dungeons have put a lot of effort into creating their own story, concept and world. It would be all the more disgraceful if the music was just an empty, tired copy of something heard a thousand times. Such a thing can often destroy the impression of the whole game.
The solution to this problem, funnily enough, was to solve the second problem. In the history of the world there are two different types of dwarfs. On the one hand Thordals company, the dwarfs with whom we go on an adventure, who have long been part of the world in which they live, and on the other hand the old, lost civilization of the dwarfs, which has long since been forgotten and is alien and different even for our adventurers.
Creating the sound for an ancient culture that never existed
We decided to focus on this aspect when creating the music concept. Our dwarfs were to be warriors, but also hikers and adventurers, from a world that was way more developed than the ancient culture from Berethil.
I created a concept for the Berethil culture that would still feel culturally advanced, but also ancient to what was now in this world. Also, I asked myself how music could have developed in their world. I liked the thought that it was born while they were mining, singing together, using their pickaxes and the shattering of stone as their rhythm. I took this as a base for the folk music that later developed.
That meant that my main instruments for the dwarfs of Berethil would be voice and percussion instruments. The melodies where also a lot simpler (so that they could be easily sung by many), with less harmonic voices as we know it from ancient folk songs or very traditional music like the Japanese music. When it came to accompanying instruments, I used a lot of drone instruments (that would produce just one tone) like my old trusty Viking Horn, or my overtone flute.
That is what made our mix. Of course we use deep male choirs like the Hobbit soundtrack, but it has another context, another reason and sounds very different from how the dwarfs in Lord of the Rings feel, retaining enough of the atmosphere we expect from a classic fantasy story about dwarfs without alienating the players.
Lets get to the epic stuff
Thordal’s company is from a very different setting. They live in a world developed by men, more advanced than what was known in ancient Berethil. I wanted their music to be influenced by what we know from medieval folk music. Instruments like lute and Irish bouzouki were the tools of wandering adventurers like our dwarfs, sitting at the campfire at night. They would still feel medieval, but also more advanced than the instruments used in Berethil.
Also I wanted instruments with more power, that sound loud and wide and have a force within themselves, so I went for the classic epic horns, more complex harmonic voicings in the orchestra and stronger, but also more developed rhythms.