The Music of an Alien Invasion

In Project: ELITE, players must work quickly to defend against a horde of interstellar invaders. The game includes real-time elements as players frantically roll their dice and perform their actions in a mad dash to fight the aliens before the timer rounds out. As part of the game, there’s an app that helps keep track of that time. But more than just a simple clock, it also integrates other aspects of the game into it. This app includes an amazing soundtrack, composed by Diogo Rodrigues. We were able to sit down with Diogo and ask him about the game, writing for it, and how one goes about getting into writing music for apps for board games to begin with.


CMON: What was the process in getting involved with writing music in general, and board games specifically?

Diogo Rodrigues: Music and games (card, board, and video games) have always been part of my life. I grew up playing the piano and the guitar as much as playing RPGs, so at some point it would was inevitable that I brought these universes together. I studied classical music composition at University, as well as early plucked instruments (such as Renaissance lute and Baroque guitar). A few years ago, I decided to combine my passions and dedicate myself to the production of music for games. In 2015, I started playing video games and boardgames competitively. While doing that, I met some people who worked in the gaming industry, so it was only a matter of time before I started participating in some productions. In 2017, I started composing music for several CMON's Kickstarter Trailers. Since then, I have dedicated myself exclusively to game audio and music.

CMON: For Project: ELITE, the soundtrack is non-linear, with several different modules that sometimes are juxtaposed. How’s the process of composing a soundtrack different from composing music in general? What were the greatest challenges?

DR: Composing music for games presents some different challenges than when composing music for films or other media. First, the musical composer must consider the fact that the control of time and the placement of musical events is not entirely in their hands. The player is the one in charge, making decisions and guiding the story, creating their own experience as the game progresses. So, the composer can choose to work with different layers that relate in a special way compared to more linear musical compositions. It is also necessary to consider the technological aspects and the possibilities that the media offers. For the Project: ELITE App the music was conceived to contribute to a greater immersion in the game and in the scenario, as well as to adapt the presence of the background music to the voices of the players at the game table, as well as to the current difficulty level. This concept came up when we played Project: ELITE during the development phase, and it is one of the biggest challenges we faced during the production of the app.

CMON: What instruments and inspirations are you using to convey the universe and spirit of the game?

DR: To compose the music for Project: ELITE App, I was inspired mainly by horror and science fiction films. The art of the game's various maps also brings elements that suggest specific music and sound effects, bringing personality and uniqueness to the game's soundtrack. To create this sound palette, we decided to use some elements of film scoring, such as the use of a symphonic orchestra and more classical instruments, as well as several classic synthesizers timbres and sound effects specially made for the game.

CMON: What are the musical differences between each scenario? How do they feel different, but part of a whole at the same time?

DR: Each map presents different musical thematic material, according to the history and art that the maps represent. The choice of instruments used in each song was inspired by the colors, objects, textures, and various elements represented in the illustrations. The sound palette remains basically the same throughout the maps, and the process of mixing and mastering the tracks helps to give the final touch in creating the identity that characterizes the sound universe of Project: ELITE.

The Music of an Alien Invasion

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