Soundtrack preferences for SS3


What kind of music would you like to hear in SS3?

I liked the quieter stuff from SS2 a lot, felt it added to the atmosphere. The Rec deck especially with its resonant synth thing going on. That’s the way I like gaming soundtracks; you feel them but don’t really notice them, as a backdrop rather than being in your face. (In other words, ambient.) Don’t really care for Half Life where the soundtrack kicks in at key points, I like it to be on most of the time but subtle.


SS1 cyberspace music was very fitting. I remember exec music suited the ambiance as well. However OVERALL, I think the style of SS2 music was more authentic to the feel we attribute to the game and I’m talking specifically about music like Ops, medsci, engineering, etc. All those levels that had that “synth” like instrument with that twangy melody were very very mad scientist’ish and felt absolutely perfect on a space ship. Wish we could have more of that.


I really dug the tribal drumbeats that sounded like they were pounded out on sheet metal in SS2.


As I said elsewhere: soundtracks should establish & enhance the atmosphere, aid in telling the story, and also be fitting to the setting & gameplay. Not be merely ambient noise that barely makes itself known (unless it’s fitting to do so). Bonus points for notable variety in genres & style whilst following these rules, much like System Shock 2 or Deus Ex.

I’m fine with ambient in moderation, but a pure ambient focus is underwhelming for me. There’s only one game with an ambient-only soundtrack with composition that I am fond of and that is Arx Fatalis’. I don’t know why that is, the sounds just resonate with me I guess, or other games that focus on ambiance do it wrong.

System Shock 2’s soundtrack is near perfection for me. The Jungle/Drum & Bass provides an unsettling sense of technophobia, and gets your blood pumping. A lot of the time they play during combat-heavy sections (engineering tubes & escape pod bays), so therefore are fitting to the situation at hand. It also helps that the majority of tracks are just enjoyable (in my opinion). The ambient, well you know what that does, and it also does it very well.
This variety simply makes SS2 a more interesting and enjoyable game, for me. Less is not always more.

I’m so very tired of modern snoozefests, even if they are poor examples of ambiance. Bring back the old ways.

Also it’s interesting to note that you named yourself “dnbguy” yet seemingly want to remove the dnb from System Shock.


In a “perfect world”, music would be completely unnecessary to include in a game. It is currently used to augment the atmosphere that the developers were shooting for, in case the rest of the game didn’t bring that out already. That’s a crutch that currently works well enough (and I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it because often I do) but I aspire to play games in the future that have no music unless it’s coming out of a prop radio in the game world for some reason. The game experience in theory should be enough. However we may not be there yet and some of SS’s tracks have been truly amazing so I’m not against having more of that.


Bioshock did that. It was boring. Too much realism.


There’s a statistic that the number of pirates increases when global warming increases. Therefore pirates are correlated to global warming. This is a classic example of how you can’t correlate 2 things just because they appear to have a connection.

I don’t think it follows that Bioshock was boring due to a lack of music. It had other problems. If you play every game that lacks music it will become evident that a game can be fun without it so the question becomes, does the ADDITION of music to the game make it a better game? If that factor alone does not have a measurable impact (just like any other single parameter you could change), it should probably be left out.

Since SS3 is not made yet, we don’t know what the effect of music will be. It might make the game better. We do know that some people turn game music off because it distracts them from the rest of the game. We also know that musical taste is highly personal so it’s tough to get right. I wouldn’t discourage to the developers to put music in the game because I liked it for the most part the last 2 times. But if they can make an awesome game without it, even better.


My thoughts exactly. What i liked about SS2’s music especially is not only how good they were, but also how well they fitted with the current situation. It felt exciting when needed, desperate when needed, tense when it needed, and encouraging when it needed. SS1 did have awesome music, but did not fit the environment to this level in most cases.

Yes, it was awesome to enjoy such good music you wanted to jam to it but this just doesn’t help immersion. Luckily, SS1 did not need music to feel immersed. At some points it used simple ambience and it simply worked so much better (people who recognise this soundtrack will know what i’m talking about):

Both kinds of music made the game feel awesome in it’s unique, charming way. But i honestly wanted to hear more ambience in the sense of how you hear it in the audio logs in SS1. They were different on every level, but you usually couldn’t listen to them to their full potential because the music was kind of in the way. Have a listen:


Immersion is intrinsically tied to the player’s enjoyment in a game, as games are very abstract/far-removed simulations (for now). Immersion is a delicate state of mind in games currently as there is much to remind us its all an illusion, such as the world between our eyes/ears and the monitor/speaker. The more engaged the player is the more they are susceptible to falling for the illusion.
When we go full VR and the experiences are near-indistinguishable from reality, things will change & game soundtracks will probably die out. I’ll always be an advocate for the traditional ways regardless. I’m a big video game music lover and as much as I appreciate experiencing varying degrees of immersion I’m in this for the game side of things first and foremost.
Anyway, what I was getting to was game soundtracks do help immersion in some small way, even the “in your face” tracks if executed well, and received well by the player. It’s important to engage the player beforehand, as they load up a game with certain expectations. When the capability for “true” immersion arises (VR), expectations of ultra-realism will probably take precedence and take a dump all over games as a very diverse art form, at least as far as the mainstream market goes which has lost a lot of its diversity in recent years anyway.


I know it won’t happen but I wouldn’t mind something just like SS1’s soundtrack. SS2’s is good too and I get the desire for pure ambiance and all that but this is just too good


I can see them doing something like SS1’s maintenance level again. I wouldn’t even call that music. It was a score I suppose but it was more like a compilation of ambient that fit the architecture. SS1 was actually VERY good at making some of the more isolated and industrial areas come to life using sound. Sparking cables, ventilation, electrical hums, fans whirring. I might be talking out of my ass here because I don’t actually know if all those things had their own sounds but they SEEMED to in my memory and that’s what counts. Somehow they created the illusion of more with less, going back to the minimalist approach. Then there’s stuff like SS2’s command level after you blow the shuttles up. That music is about as flagrant as you can get and yet it was very appropriate, very welcomed. So there isn’t necessarily 1 right answer when it comes to music. It’s more about whether what you’re doing ADDS value or not.


Actually SS2 has a pretty good dynamic system so the upbeat stuff came in more sparingly. I guess I just prefer ambient stuff most of the time in a game the same way I do when reading a book. Also that I very much liked the stuff Ramin did in the game. Wonder if they could get him on board for SS3? Probably too in demand now.


As long as music kicks in at key moments. Ambient is fine.

I still miss the drums, though


I forgot to mention that a lot of tech videos, instructional videos, science videos and other informational media tends to have really awesome sound tracks with a particularly rich and sci-fi mood to it… very twangy and electronic. Now that I said that, I’m having trouble finding some but here are a couple of rough examples (and note that only sections of the entire track carry the mood I’m talking about):
…and check out this screensaver called VRMan Tidal Forces 2.5 as it has some pretty awesome tracks!
(seems this screensaver is rather hard to find nowadays)

While I maintain my minimalist view of music in gaming in general, I wouldn’t be at all unhappy if anything like this were matched to a well-crafted System Shock level.


Reminds me of Deus Ex. I like the soundtrack to the first game a lot, except for that Hong Kong tune.

I reckon this sort of ambient-dub-industrial thing, it’s dark and has some rhythm to it:

Or maybe some Burial influenced stuff as well, he does that dark garage thing that has that skipping beat to it:


I would dig some industrial beats. Something like grinding gears, perhaps with dripping sounds, and other ambient noises. Anything to add intensity! One thing I loved about Thief, it taught me to be afraid of the dark.


Trent Reznor would make a mean soundtrack for a Shock game.


Worked for Quake. Maybe once Otherside is rich and famous.


Well… they got Brosius. That’s gotta mean something.


Huh? Who’s got who now? Brosius is at Harmonix, the last I checked.