Eventually, Nicklas and I developed a simple music engine that would allow for each game world to contain 4-5 minutes worth of music, consisting of 3-5 short pieces that could be played back in a random order. The other important concept was a silence generator that would go into effect between tracks. This way, not only would the music be played back in a non-linear fashion, but there would also be an unknown amount of silence between them. This conceptual breakthrough allowed me to then write almost 50 minutes of music for NightSky. As Nicklas would create new worlds and puzzles, I would play the early beta versions and write music that reacted to the different environments. I felt that the most important compliment I could provide was to help establish a sense of place.
Unlike most video games, NightSky features an original score performed by a small ensemble of avant-garde, jazz, and modern classical musicians. Among other things, the soundtrack contains 12-string acoustic guitar, marimba, a Nintendo DS (running Korg DS-10), bowed cymbals, acoustic drums, euphonium, mandolin, and electric slide guitar.
Chris Schlarb– electric guitar, 6- and 12- string acoustic guitar, keyboard, percussion, electric bass, marimba, electronics
Nick Hennies– acoustic drums, bowed cymbals
Danny Levin– euphonium, coronet
Andrew Pompey– acoustic drums, percussion, marimba, mandolin
Anthony Shadduck– upright bass
Recorded and Mixed at Sounds Are Active Studios, Long Beach, CA. from November 2007 – July 2009
Artwork by Nifflas
“The best reason to play NightSky is to experience the relaxing, curious environments and the ambient soundtrack. Echoing acoustic guitar strums and the hushed sounds of nature allow for quiet contemplation on the increasingly difficult challenges. This is the sort of thing people mean when talking about ambient gaming. 9.0 Sound: The fantastic ambient/jazz/electronic soundtrack is good enough to enjoy outside the game.”- Daemon Hatfield, IGN
“An entirely original approach to What Game Music Can Be.”- Brandon Boyer, BoingBoing
“It’s also not hard to understand why the game received an honorable mention for Excellence in Audio in this year’s IGF as the diverse soundtrack, by composer Chris Schlarb, is quite excellent. At times the music is treated as a kind of reward upon completion of an area or by activating a puzzle’s solution, with the absence of music filled by the ambient sounds of ocean waves crashing against a shore. The result is an extremely harmonious buffet for your ears and really adds a tremendous amount to the overall experience of playing through the game.”- Erik Johnson, diygamer.com
“NightSky’s soundtrack is exactly what you’d expect, and then some. As if you couldn’t already feel the wind brushing gently against your face, the rolling strings really set the scene, creating that ambient atmosphere we’ve all come to know and love – then as the more active levels come into play, the excitement picks up and more instruments get involved. Gorgeous stuff.”- Michael Rose, IndieGames.com
“The soundtrack is exceptional. Very atmospheric and generally soothing, I would often stop playing to do something else and then forget to close the program for hours while it lazed along in the background.”- Conrad Zimmerman, Destructoid