KING’S QUEST II: AN OVERVIEW
When composing Music for “KQII:RTS”, I felt it was important to capture the ‘feel’ of the entire King’s Quest genre. Though there’s been several composers who’ve scored music for the various King’s Quest games, they’ve all contributed key elements that have become easily recognizable to the series. My goal was to present elements that would still hold true to the spirit of the series, while moving into new directions with the music. Hopefully, this goal has been realized in the KQ2:RTS soundtrack.
If you don’t already know, King’s Quest II: Romancing The Stones is available with two versions of the musical soundtrack: a General MIDI (GM) version, and an Enhanced Digital version. The GM version will play by default and is included with the game’s download. The digital version is an optional download that must be installed into the game’s directory. So what’s the difference? Plenty! Keep reading…
A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON
KING’S QUEST GAME MUSIC — The very first AGI King’s Quest soundtracks were written and performed for PC speaker output, by Al Lowe. Though these were nothing more than bleeps and bloops, the melodies were wonderful, and the Title Themes managed to convey a majestic feel. Starting in 1988, the King’s Quest series began supporting MIDI; in particular, the Roland MT-32 Sound Module — a MIDI device capable of a wide range of sounds and effects. Various Sierra musicians created numerous “enhanced” sounds (patches) that could be uploaded into the MT-32’s memory, thus providing a totally original experience in quality sound output. The only other options for MIDI support at the time were the tinny sounds of FM Synthesis.
Several years later, Roland Corporation introduced the General MIDI standard and Sierra chose the Roland Sound Canvas SC-55 as their ‘instrument of choice’ for General MIDI composing and compatibility. The SC-55 was (and still is) considered the defacto standard for General MIDI music. A couple of years later, Creative Labs released the Sound Blaster AWE32, a good sounding card, though it didn’t exactly comply with Roland’s General MIDI standard. Therefore, Sierra’s General MIDI soundtracks didn’t play properly through the AWE32. The only way to really hear Sierra’s game soundtracks properly was by using either the MT-32, or the SC-55. The cost of either of these devices was a bit steep for many, but some felt it was well worth the investment.
Because of the relatively low cost of the Sound Blaster line of sound cards, their popularity grew to eventually dominate the sound card market…even though the Sound Blaster has never been completely General MIDI compliant. At present, most of those who will be playing this game using the General MIDI soundtrack for output will be doing so through a Sound Blaster Live! or Sound Blaster Audigy sound card. But to be true to the spirit of Sierra’s original MIDI support, the MIDI soundtrack created for KQ2:RTS was designed for optimal MIDI playback through a 100% General MIDI compliant sound card, of which there are many.
COMPOSING A SOUNDTRACK
There’s a LOT of music in KQ2:RTS; nearly two-hours worth! I began working with AGD Interactive on the soundtrack in September 2001. One year later, in September of 2002, the soundtrack was finally completed. Along the way, many changes and additions occurred. But it all started with the “Introduction Music” you hear during the 10-minute opening sequence. (Coincidentally, the “Title Theme” for the game was one of the last songs composed.)
I used a variety of MIDI devices while working on the soundtrack, but the majority of the songs rely strongly on the Roland Sound Canvas ED SC-8820 Sound Module. Almost every song also includes tracks from the Roland MT-32 Sound Module as well. And in several instances throughout the soundtrack, the powerful French horns and other instruments of the Yamaha SW60XG sound card can also be heard. MIDI input was primarily provided by a Roland HP3000 digital piano.
Each song was recorded to WAV format, then encoded using the Ogg Vorbis digital compression scheme, at 80 kbps, 44.1 kHz. (MP3 files were considered, but their larger file sizes and lessor quality persuaded us to opt for the Ogg format.) After every song was encoded, we placed them all within a single “VOX” sound file, which can be installed to the game’s directory for a much higher quality listening experience.
To download a song, click the icon of the version you want.
Behind the Scenes
Not everything was rosy all of the time on the set of King’s Quest II: Romancing The Stones. In fact, there were days that were outright nasty, and production went somewhat awry — out of control, as it were. (It even went so far as physical violence on one occasion!)
I remember one day, while rehearsing preliminary tracks outside Castle Daventry for the song, “WHEN I SAW YOU” (the ‘Love Theme for KQ2:RTS’), the musicians absolutely refused to cooperate and turned on me. (I barely made it out alive with my baton intact!) However, some good did come out of these periodic musical uprisings. On one day in particular, the recording equipment was left on by mistake and the whole, ugly session (incident?) was recorded.
I don’t know if it was because of the abundant fresh air, or just the excitement of rehearsing on the castle’s front lawn, but the team was in rare form that day. And although what was recorded went way beyond the standards I would allow for KQ2:RTS, I kind of enjoyed where the music was heading. I think some of you may, too! So, I’d like to give you the opportunity to hear what transpired on that great and terrible day…
(I still don’t know who that guy with the saxophone was!!!)
Copyright ©2002,2007 Quest Studios and Sierra Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.
In association with AGD Interactive. All rights reserved.
KING’S QUEST™ is a registered trademark of Sierra Entertainment, Inc.
No portion of the KING’S QUEST II: ROMANCING THE STONES soundtrack may
be sold or distributed without the express written permission of Vivendi Universal, Inc.
In association with AGD Interactive. All rights reserved.