Adaptive Soundtrack from Across the World
Partnering with Relic Entertainment and World’s Edge, Dynamedion embarks on the largest, most immersive project of its history.
(Credits: Relic Entertainment)
Project: Age of Empires IV
Client: Relic Entertainment, World’s Edge
We Did: Music Composition • Orchestra, Choir, Soloist Recordings
Age of Empires is known as one of the best ever real-time-strategy games. People continue to play the previous installments of the franchise in massive tournaments online, as well as the more recently released Definitive Edition titles. For some time, fans have asked for a brand new entry to the franchise.
Working together, Relic Entertainment and World’s Edge have delivered and answered. Big time. After a sixteen-year hiatus, Age of Empires has returned with an all-new edition, with a soundtrack which we nearly completely composed and recorded.
“Our team has really given everything to live up to the huge expectations of this great brand,” our lead composer Tilman Sillescu said about working with Relic. “This project was more than just a video game – there is so much enthusiasm for history, culture, and all the peculiarities of the two. We at Dynamedion hope that enthusiasm carries over to the players.”
A project of epic proportions
With over 620 minutes of music in the most massive project of our nearly 20-year history, there were indeed some huge expectations. It is an intensively complex soundtrack: It includes perfectly timed transitions designed to carry the players smoothly from one phase of gameplay into the next; with an intensity that changes depending on what is happening as well, from combat to ambient, from tense to raw.
“We’ve used such techniques that we implemented in Age of Empires IV in other games before,” says Tilman Sillescu. “But we’ve never used so many techniques at the same time and so complexly intertwined. Each cue had to be coordinated with many others, loopable and with transitions, so that all transitions worked smoothly. It was a big, architectural task, almost like a big Wagnerian opera with overlength!”
Working on the project was some of our top veteran composers, including Tilman Sillescu, Henning Nugel, Armin Haas and Alexander Röder, who have been working on the project since 2018.
Around the world with painstaking authenticity
We were responsible for composing and orchestrating the main theme and music for nearly all the featured civilizations. Haas composed the sounds for the Delhi Sultanate, Sillescu covered the Mongols and the Holy Roman Empire, Nugel took the Rus and the Abbasid Dynasty, while Röder wrote the soundtrack for the Chinese and the English. Every effort was made to maintain the authenticity of the sounds of each civilization. The historical music of each group was carefully analyzed and woven into the soundtrack, and orchestras and musicians from all around the world were tapped to take part. For example, the Mongolian themes include a professional Mongolian throat singer and an actual Morin Khuur ensemble recorded on location.
This is not your typical game soundtrack, but rather a truly global endeavor. Recorded in 11 studios across the world, it features 3 live orchestras, 2 choirs, and over 20 soloists, utilizing culturally specific instruments and virtuosos from the relevant regions.
Close cooperation with Relic
The work required very close interaction with Relic Entertainment, as required the civilizations to be depicted as seriously and accurately as possible. Our team was involved in weekly Skype calls with Lin Gardiner, the Relic Music Lead, to assure an unrivaled complexity and immersion in the soundtrack for the gameplay process. Gardiner did mountains of research on the styles of the different cultures and made sure that everything was clear with our team. “She even wrote lists of historical instruments used at the different times for us. I had never experienced such a meticulous approach to cultures before,” Sillescu shares. “Lin incorporated every cue we made directly into the current version of the game and was able to give us very meaningful feedback about the effect of the music in the game.”
Learn more about the music development in this Dev Diary: Music & Voice Over
Get a taste of the music:
Composers: Tilman Sillescu, Alex Röder, Henning Nugel, Armin Haas, Mikolai Stroinski
Orchestrated by: David Christiansen
Live Recordings produced by: Dynamedion
Exceutive Producer: Lin Gardiner
Mixed by: Rupert Coulson
Mastered by: Gavin Lurrsen
Production Support: Savannah Harrison
Special Thanks: Todd Masten, Bryan Rennie, Lauren Wood
“…amazing job, seriously. The ingame music is a Masterpiece. It gives you chills, it lets you feel heroic, it sets the mood, the tone. Rarely I have seen anything comparable…Well done.”
“Sound design and music design of this game is astounding… 10/10”
“The voice acting and music in this game is just 🖤“
“EXCELLENT JOB to everyone involved in music and sound.“
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