Searching for the Voice of GAME FOR PEACE

Searching for the Voice of GAME FOR PEACE

Jun 2021

GAME FOR PEACE wants to use music to tell its story.

They don't want to tell stories for just a day or two. In the first year since the release of GAME FOR PEACE, they've launched a program called the "Masterpiece" series, which is aimed at producing high-quality game soundtrack music, and has invited many top global composers to participate in its creation. Over the past two years, the "Masterpiece" series has produced many works, such as "Battle for Peace" and "War is On," which are melodies anyone who has been following the game can recognize, even if they can't name the tracks.

Two of the collaborating composers of "Journey for Peace"

"Every year, we steep ourselves in musical memories and notes," said Zheng Xinlu, the cultural and creative director of GAME FOR PEACE. "Each scene of the game must have music pieces tailored for it, and the musical positioning used in each scene is different. In the case of the ‘Masterpiece' series, the focus is mainly laid on narrative expression."

On June 23, with the launch of “Restart the Future,” a new gameplay mode of GAME FOR PEACE, a new track from the "Masterpiece" series, "Journey for Peace," also arrived in the game lobby, bringing not only a musical shock to players, but also a better presentation of the theme and characteristics of the new gameplay. So what kind of story does GAME FOR PEACE want to tell with music this time? "A story about growth, like a hero's journey. As for who is the ‘hero' here, on the one hand, it refers to the players—the special forces—while on the other hand, it also refers to GAME FOR PEACE itself," Zheng Xinlu replied.

The inspiration behind the creation of this story comes from the second anniversary of GAME FOR PEACE. In the two years since its launch in May 2019, GAME FOR PEACE has grown into what we see now through continuous improvements.

GAME FOR PEACE has undergone many changes throughout the last two years.

"GAME FOR PEACE is constantly making progress in terms of gameplay contents, version theme, logo, and UI. Now, it has grown from a newborn baby to a 2-year-old child. We want to create a story in the form of music that expresses both a review of its past growth and imagination of the future. It's just like taking artistic photos of children at major milestones in their lives. We want to use beautiful things to keep those moments in time."

"Journey for Peace" wants to express a story with depth and warmth: the original intention from its beginnings, the growth it experienced in the face of challenges, and its grand imagination of the future. Based on this creative motivation, the soundtrack was divided into three chapters. It starts with the hero accepting their challenge, to entering a new world, and embarking on their journey. Throughout the hero's journey, they encounter all kinds of challenges, with some serving as just a little training and others serving as the tribulations of a lifetime. Only after undergoing these trials can they become a true hero.

To a certain extent, outstanding literary and artistic works will eventually turn their attention to real life. Through their connection with each consumer, they resonate with the consumers and remind them of their own memories and lives. As Zheng Xinlu stated, "For our players, we hope the music can trigger their emotions and cause them to recall the difficulties they're facing in life, but also touch them, igniting their inner courage to defy these difficulties and constantly challenge and surpass themselves."

"Journey for Peace," created for the second anniversary, has a special significance for GAME FOR PEACE.

For GAME FOR PEACE, "Journey for Peace" is very special. Not only is its production different from that of most game music, but it is also different from the previous tracks created for GAME FOR PEACE.

"Journey for Peace" puts forth a new concept of "pop symphonic epic" in the form of a suite. With a magnificent volume of 16 minutes, and a blend of both symphony and rock resonance, "Journey for Peace" expresses an entire story of growth with passionate and exquisite narration. At the same time, as a connecting work, "Journey for Peace" not only has new creative aspects, but also a skillful integration of the musical notes that players have become familiar with over the past two years at the beginning and end. This is also in line with its purpose of carrying the past while looking forward to a new future.

In order to achieve the core creative vision of this work, the composers were carefully chosen after clarifying the musical tone of the work. Wu Zhen, the music producer of the Lightspeed and Quantum Studios - Audio Team, stated that Gordon Haab and Matt Hutchinson, two internationally renowned and award-winning composers, were the best candidates for this work. On the one hand, Haab has created music for many science fiction works such as Halo Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Star Wars Battlefront, while Hutchinson excels in rock composition, mainly for American dramas, with representative works including Shameless and The Grid. They not only have rich creative experience, but also skill in the narrative expression of imaginative science fiction, which is also the theme expressed in the latest update, GAME FOR PEACE: Restart the Future, which launches on June 23.

The two composers discussing their creative ideas

"Throughout the entire creative process, we integrated the concept of a ‘space opera,'” said Wu Zhen. "On the one hand, this is because the two composers have experience in composing music related to space. On the other hand, a space opera has the quality of being able to express not only epic narration, but also very delicate emotions." However, this was a demanding task for the composers, requiring them to not only conform to the general aesthetics of modern music, but also use as rich orchestration techniques as possible when it comes to specific chords and melodies. "In the end, we used a symphonic orchestra composed of 80 people, including woodwind, wind, percussion, and string instruments. The pitch of each part was balanced together, and no singular pitch was dominant. In this way, the resulting music would sound gorgeous and full of changes as opposed to maintaining a single temperament." In Wu Zhen's opinion, "Journey for Peace" is a very bold exploration and experimentation in the field of video game music. "In order to express the hero's original intention of 'returning home' in the third movement, using symphony and rock elements as a base, we also integrated Chinese folk music elements such as the bamboo flute and the xun, which makes the style and embellishment of the whole piece more diverse. This is also consistent with the inclusive and diverse qualities of the game itself."

With diverse styles and instruments, "Journey for Peace" is a piece of music consistent with the feel of the game.

In addition, the ingenuity of "Journey for Peace" is also reflected in many details.

For example, in order to suit the aesthetic preferences of current players, under the main styles of symphony and rock music, the melody was also arranged with interspersed synthesizers and percussion instruments, serving as modern elements that "add cushion at the bottom." To contemporary listeners, we've become fully familiar with electronic timbres, so it's not easy to notice them, but if this layer of modernity is removed, the overall tonality of the work will tend more toward traditional expression, which is drastically different from the intention.

"Journey for Peace" incorporates many inventive concepts and designs.

As a creator, this complex balance and meticulous attention to detail is difficult to achieve. In one aspect, the work is an expression of the creator's own intentions, but at the same time, it should also take into account the audience, so as to avoid being too highbrow and thus unwelcomed. In order for people to see, hear, and appreciate this expression, the creator must make a choice in expression skills and techniques. It can be regarded it as an "audience-facing creation," which is created alongside the shared memories of the audience; this is the voice GAME FOR PEACE is pursuing. Just as every person has their own language and voice, GAME FOR PEACE too has been looking for its own voice for a long time.

As a benchmark product of the tactical PVP genre, GAME FOR PEACE cannot use strong plot performances as its main narrative means like traditional RPG and adventure games can. As the ninth art, the greatest advantage of games is their comprehensive narrative language that incorporates various artforms. Zheng Xinlu introduces it by stating, "Narration is not only a means of plot performance. Sound, as a media form with great advantages in transmitting emotion, has its own exclusive effect and charm when it comes to narration. This time, we hope to use the narrative characteristics of sound to break through some constraints on the narrative of tactical PVP games."

Whether it's using musical narration or various forms such as the themes of different gameplays, derivative content and merchandise, GAME FOR PEACE hopes to reach players from all walks of life through different narrative medias, and, through multiple creative paths, make them feel that GAME FOR PEACE is a world with unlimited possibilities that brings players one unimaginable adventure after another.

For GAME FOR PEACE, their current positioning is to create a competitive adventure world belonging to players across the globe.

The creation of "Journey for Peace" is another adventure, not only due to the particularity of the positioning of this work, but also because many difficulties needed to be overcome throughout the whole process of music production.

What was the greatest difficulty you faced in the musical production of "Journey for Peace"?

"The greatest difficulty? Maybe it's that any communication could be lost. The time in which any work is at its most perfect is when it's going to be created. We describe it with all the expressions we could come up with, just to get close to that ideal and bring it from our imaginations to the players," said Zheng Xinlu with a smile.

Because of the pandemic, during the process of making "Journey for Peace," the Lightspeed and Quantum Studios - Audio Team in China, the American composer team, and the performers in Vienna could only use teleconference for communication and coordination. Wu Zhen explained this kind of cross-border and cross-language creation, stating, "First, we needed to express the feelings we wanted to express in our work in Chinese, and then translate them into English to communicate with the composers. In order to ensure the accuracy of information, we needed to accurately use professional language to describe our emotions in every detail. This included things like where the plot turns, the timbre of the musical instruments we wanted to use in certain places, what kind of story we wanted to express at certain stages, what the effects of volume will be…"

All of these detailed descriptions are meant to enable the composer to clearly feel the concept and emotion of the story, so as to fill the entirety of this huge, creative space with their imaginative creation. After the arrangement was determined, they entered the recording stage, and the three teams from China, the United States, and Vienna conducted remote recording sessions in the early morning, Beijing time. The Chinese Lightspeed and Quantum Studios - Audio Team and the American composer team would listen to the real-time performance effects online and provide immediate feedback to the band conductor in Vienna. Although they faced such a huge challenge, overall, Wu Zhen believes that this cooperation was "very lucky," for the Chinese team and the composers had been in full communication in the early stages, and what's more, the two teams had a profound aesthetic resonance, which made the recording work go quite smoothly. "Our time was quite limited, but the final result is very satisfactory." Zheng Xinlu is also satisfied with the creative achievements of "Journey for Peace," even though some of the ideas may fail to be communicated precisely, and even if the work has 10,000 possibilities in the state of non-creation. "But we made today's choice," she said. "It was definitely the best choice."

Today, although it has only been two years, GAME FOR PEACE has gradually built its world. You will see that it is trying to expand its territory; from the virtual world to the real world, it seems to be connecting everything.

In the open world of GAME FOR PEACE, players no longer roleplay as a character, but rather, just as themselves. They can play freely in this virtual space instead of following just one goal and making one choice. This is the foundation of GAME FOR PEACE's quality of diversity.

So what kind of hopes do the players have for this game?

"In multiple user surveys, many players told us that many things they can see in life are also in GAME FOR PEACE, and they feel this is both surprising and fun. This degree of connection between the open world and real life is not available in many games," Zheng Xinlu said. "The two-way integration of worlds is our strength. If the real world can enter GAME FOR PEACE, then GAME FOR PEACE must also be a part of the real world. This is the original intention of GAME FOR PEACE—to connect everything by entering the players' lives, growing together, and becoming a part of their memories."

In GAME FOR PEACE, you can even take part in a special airship party

Music is an indispensable part of this connection. Music—sometimes more so than other forms of memories—can stay deep in our hearts for a long time. Perhaps after many years, when players hear its familiar music ringing in their ears again, the notes will be like a password that opens those memories. It will pull them back to a certain point in time instantly. Maybe it was a summer vacation in a certain year, or days in the college dorms when they teamed up with roommates to play the game. "Such emotions can travel through time and space, surpass the game itself, and connect with the players' own life experiences."

Perhaps this is the proudest moment a creator can have? As a creator, there is nothing that inspires pride more than works being able to connect with people's lives and enrich their emotional experiences.

As previously mentioned, GAME FOR PEACE has been looking for its own voice and stories expressed by sound. In other words, what they're looking for is a kernel that can remain unchanged no matter how the version changes or how things change.

In Wu Zhen's words, "There is a main line in the game that can't be broken. We want to convey the spirit of courage, faith, hope, and teamwork, which can never be lost." No matter what is added to the game in the future, whether it's scientific and technological fantasy or exotic cultures, it's only an external means of expression. For the team, what needs to be kept in mind is its spiritual connotation, and this spiritual connotation should be integrated and expressed in every work they create, including the music, gameplay, new versions' stories, etc.

No matter what kind of events GAME FOR PEACE launches, their spiritual connotation is always the same.

Perhaps what GAME FOR PEACE wants to convey to the players can be summarized as, "Let players feel the world's infinite possibilities and open them up to adventures beyond their imagination." They hope the world of GAME FOR PEACE can be full of things that players have never experienced, be it airship parties and a concert on Mars, or a black blade mothership traveling from the future to the present, or this unique "Journey for Peace" pop symphony epic. Maybe most players don't have the chance to listen to a symphony, or a rock concert with electronic elements on spot, but they can definitely experience the emotional resonance that these sounds can bring to them. This is what "Journey for Peace" wants to bring to them, and also what GAME FOR PEACE wants to bring to them: an adventure of growth that reflects the brilliance of each other's lives.