I-War is a good game. It is a refreshingly different take on space combat, offering the chance to fly a large dreadnought and experience a “realistic” space fight.
Yet I find myself not playing it.
I wondered about that for a while. Why not play such a great game? I haven’t finished it already, so that is not it. I have time right now to play it. The game is difficult, but that does not feel like the true reason. Then I finally understood it.
The game does not have enough music.
When I was recently playing D&D, I wasn’t in a place where I could play background music. In a couple of places I noticed the silence. It was a bit disturbing. The only thing to create mood was my own voice and words, and when those ebbed, it felt like reality came back.
Contrast that to every other tabletop-game I have gamemastered. Every one has had music playing in the background. Usually I have had some song from my collection of video game music looping quietly in the background. Whenever the players move to do something different, I use the inevitable rule analysis moments and joking to change the track to match the mood to the new scene. It has worked nicely and people have approved. (When pressed, of course. Everyone knows we can’t have automatic feedback) In my Star Wars campaign I unsurprisingly used Star Wars soundtracks, and in the recent Pathfinder I’ve used the extremely flexible King’s Bounty – The Legend soundtrack.
So. I want music in my games. Music is a discreet way to direct a player towards a certain mood. I recently played Doom 3 again, this time with a machine that can handle the Hell levels. Since I had already gone through most of the content, I just blazed through the game, chainsawing demons and humming At Doom’s Gate, pretending that I was a man and a half. When I got to Hell where the game took my weapons away, only to give me a shotgun, chaingun and a chaisaw (Why not shotsaw?), all the last vestiges of horror and apprehension left the game. That was the moment I craved for an adredaline-filled soundtrack to accomodate my ripping and tearing. That alone would have made Doom 3 a better game.
Enough rambling. Here are some soundtracks that serve their purpose as mood enchancers well as mood.