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Messages - Mjolnir Mark IV Cyborg

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News Submissions / Re: Chrono Trigger Remake Concept
« on: September 15, 2020, 10:34:44 pm »
That being said, the orchestration will be wildly different then the game because, again, you now have essentially 32+ parts to write vs 8 on the SNES.
But it isn't always going to be 32+ parts. Just as not all of the SNES music uses all 8 sound channels all of the time.

However, even with the End of Time example track you use there id new material - new string padding with additional 7th chords in the first chorus - the addition of woodwind trills and accompaniment on the first loop.  Winds taking the melody in the second chorus along with a new cello countermelody.  The new ending that breaks the loop and adds resolution, etc. These are all different orchestration choices and additions made to the original to help fill out what would be a bare 1:1 translation of the chiptune melody.
It sounds like you misunderstood what I was using as an example. Just listen to the first minute of the track. That's how long it goes before it would loop in the original chiptune music, which is also only one minute long. What was added to the first minute of the orchestral version, if anything? And if something was added, do you think the orchestral version would not work if it were taken out?

It's also fair to say that smaller ensemble tracks like this will translate easier as the instrument and part count is much lower then what you would use on the boss track, or Frog's Theme.  The smaller the ensemble, the less restrictive the 8 channels will become to the writing.
But it's also fair to say that my example is not atypical of the soundtrack in terms of its scale. Being that there are both more and less complex examples, and examples of more ore less equal complexity, this one falls somewhere in between.

But another reason I didn't choose a more complex track is because it can become harder to compare between an orchestrated rendition and the original chiptune music when there's more to listen to and compare—more sounds to parse out and isolate with one's ears, and more to try and keep inside our noggin at any one time. So I think another reason my example is a good one is because it isn't extremely difficult for people to compare it to the original, or to discuss it after comparing.

Anyway, if what you say is true, this example should not be exempt from your point. There's enough going on in it.

I think there's a bit of confusion when we talk about new material though.  I'm not saying you would have to add new melody fragments, sections of music, or "re-write" the music etc.  I'm speaking from purely an orchestration point of view.  Translating 8 channels to 32+ parts will require a lot of new orchestration. That doesn't mean the overall idea will change, simply that things will become richer and more fleshed out if done in a way that preserves the original melody and harmonic progression
That sounds good and reasonable in theory! I just get worried when too much changes because it just starts to sound too different. Do you think the first minute of my End of Time example falls under what you're describing?

I think my one thing with orchestra music though, is as cool as it'd be... Chrono Trigger's music was never intended to be orchestral, but rather a mix of genres.
I think I understand your point, and if I do, I agree. I don't think the soundtrack should be limited to classical instruments only. But I think you're just describing it in a way that I wouldn't.

For one, it sounds like you're not differentiating "orchestra" from "classical instruments." Just because the music is performed by an orchestra doesn't mean the orchestra needs to be limited to classical instruments, or instruments we might typically associate with orchestras. To me, the key to bringing the original soundtrack to life is the use of real instruments—and keep in mind an instrument can be pretty much anything you use to make a sound that ends up in the music. For example, I think the percussion in Robo's theme should sound similar to the industrial hissing and stomping sounds you would hear in a factory. There should be some element of that at least, because that seems to be what they were going for with the percussion in the original chiptune music. But I think the strings in that track should definitely be performed using classical instruments.

But I also think the vast majority of the music from the game was intended to be interpreted as being performed using classical instruments. Even Zeal uses what sounds like traditional instruments, just not strictly European (like the percussion and sitar, or whatever it is, which I think you were also referring to). For the most part, I think 2300 AD is the only real exception where some of the instruments being used would be more modern—but even then, not all of the time. But there are other exceptions here and there in other time periods, such as the electric guitar in the Tyrano Lair, or as you mentioned, the synth in the Ocean Palace and final battles—but in these latter cases, it would be a synth in an orchestra with real instruments, not a synthesized orchestra using virtual instruments. An electric bass seems to get used a lot too with the soundtrack in general, and to great effect. I think we're on the same page here.

If you find some of the tracks jazzy, they're still going to be jazzy with real instruments. But I would never describe the End of Time music as jazzy. I mean, isn't that a straight up waltz, bro? :P

What do you think of my End of Time example? Do you think the first minute is as perfect as I do?

Also I'd want to make sure all the characters and stuff are based on the og art and sprites, NOT the PSX cutscenes
Oh yeah, Akira Toriyama all the way!

I think it'd also be cool if you could swap between the original SNES and the remastered DS versions of the script. Just so you can experience both translations.
That's a good idea, but there may have to be a note that spoken dialog may differ, as it may not be feasible to record dialog for both scripts.

And of course, keeping the combat and top-down perspective would be essential.
I think having an option for a top-down perspective is a superb idea, but making it the only option would be limiting. One potential problem I foresee is that since scale will not be identical, a top-down view might leave out things you would want to see during a battle. But the lack of a controllable camera would also be an oversight when the effort has been made to fully realize the world in 3D. I think many of us would want to do something we can't do in a 2D environment, just to experience the game in a new way, and to visually explore the work that would be put into fleshing out the 3D environment.

News Submissions / Re: Chrono Trigger Remake Concept
« on: August 24, 2020, 09:55:04 pm »
Would combat be changed at all or are you envisioning what would be, for the most part, a 1:1 remake (a la the recent Secret of Mana / Trials of Mana, but obviously with more advanced graphics).
It's interesting you mention this. With games in general, I'm actually much more in favor of action-based combat (in fact, Chrono Trigger was the first turn-based game I ever dove into). However, because Chrono Trigger isn't an action game, and because I'm not envisioning a reboot/re-imagining, I think the best approach would be to retain the original combat system. Chrono Trigger was far ahead of its time and had the richest turn-based combat system for a surprising number of years well after its release, at least as far as what I experienced in the genre (why more developers of games with turn-based combat systems weren't influenced by it and instead chose to stick to more simplistic systems has always bewildered me).

However, I think adding extra options would be an excellent idea, such as ramping up the combat speed even higher so that the Battle Gauge fills instantly. And how do you all feel about this, because this is one thing I've always wanted: the ability to move your characters around during combat. After all, enemies can do it, so why shouldn't we be able to? Especially with all the spatially designed Techs, the game just seems like it was meant for such a feature. If these features can be worked in as options, similar to Action vs. Wait and other various customization options available in the original, I think that would be best.

The other reason I think it's interesting you mention the combat system is because I have a very specific idea regarding this that is best suited for a separate topic. More on that later...

Weighing in on the music portion (I have a little experience in this area) wouldn't like the result of a 1:1 musical remake simply swapping everything out instrument for instrument.
Your musical expertise is much appreciated, as I'm much more of a visual artist than I am a musician. Just one technicality though (let me know if this changes your answer): I don't mean that the exact same number of instruments should be used. What I meant was, for example, is that if it's strings in the chiptune music, it should be strings in the orchestra—not the same number of apparent violinists, cellists, etc. (I'm not sure how one would determine the number of simulated musicians in a set of chiptune instruments anyway). But it should be the same type of instrument(s) playing the same melody.

I've heard a lot of orchestrated renditions of video game music with varying degrees of faithfulness to the original pieces. Sometimes it's pretty clear a conscious decision was made to take a slightly different creative direction than the original music—for example, changing a few of the notes in the melody, or swapping out wind instruments for strings. The problem here is that whether or not the change is for the best is very subjective. Since I'm proposing a remake that tries to keep the original creative vision intact, changing the melody or instrument type are changes this remake should do without.

The SNES was only able to play 8 concurrent musical instruments (audio channels) at one time. Orchestra sizes vary greatly, but a fairly typical symphonic orchestra will have 35+ different parts and around 60 to 90 players.
But how many sets of instruments in an orchestra are typically used simultaneously? Wouldn't that be what's relevant to the number of audio channels available to the SNES? Strings would be just one set of instruments, for example, that would correspond to one audio channel of simulated strings on SNES.

With the limitations of the SNES there were very conscious decisions made on what textures to include or to not include in the game that, while sounding good with the SNES, will not translate well to a live ensemble.  The actual result will sound very bare, empty, and underwhelming.
With all due respect, I'm not convinced this is true. I feel like I've heard too many successful faithful orchestrations of chiptune music, or faithfully recreated segments at least, for this to be true.

A good and relevant example is the End of Time track from the Chrono Trigger Orchestral Arrangement released just last year. The melodies and instruments in the orchestral arrangement are the same as the original, as near as I can tell—and the track doesn't sound bare, empty, or underwhelming. To me it sounds like the chiptune music come to life using real instruments, which is exactly what I want.

Now I realize this orchestral arrangement begins to diverge to some degree, at the point when it would normally loop in the original chiptune music, so I'm using the part before that change as my example. I don't think any type of variation in place of a loop is necessary for the remake I'm proposing. It's nice to have that kind of variation in an arrangement on an album, but for a remake trying to adhere to the original creative vision, I think the first part of the track before it changes in the arranged version would sound just great looped over and over again.

I think it's the texture of the real instruments that makes the real difference—both in my example and with what I'm proposing.

While what I'm proposing is that the instruments and melodies and tempo be kept the same, I'm all for having the option of being able to replace the music with the user's custom tracks. That way, one could replace any track with any of the various existing orchestrations.

All of this is to say that you couldn't have someone orchestrate the original in a way that it would retain the original melody without changing anything fundamental to the song (which I suspect is your actual idea), but ultimately there will be A LOT of new material added to the music to both flesh it out for live musicians and to extend short loops to better fit the modern era.
I think what you're describing here is more of a re-imagining, rather than the type of remake I'm envisioning. For one, I definitely don't think the short loops are an issue. I think given the tone of the game and anime style, the shorter loops won't feel out of place like they would in a realistic remake, or if it were a feature length film I were proposing. And I definitely don't think "a lot" of material needs to be added to the music. At most, "some" tracks might benefit from "some" material added in, but even then, that's subjective.

I'm not saying you can't change my mind, I'm just saying I'm not convinced as of right now. If you can find some type of argument against my End of Time example, or if you can point to an example of faithfully recreated chiptune music with real instruments that falls flat, I might be convinced.

Is it now more clear what I want and do you think it's feasible to accomplish without the music sounding like it's lacking?

News Submissions / Re: Chrono Trigger Remake Concept
« on: August 19, 2020, 02:43:18 pm »
the Dream Team was a combination of multiple talents from different studios (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest), so what's to say that different studios here couldn't work together?
That's the exact rebuttal I had ready to fire at anyone who might have argued otherwise! So thanks for nipping that one in the bud. :)

Alas, I don't think a petition is going to go anywhere. It's been done before and Square knows that there is interest in a Chrono game (or remake/remaster), but I don't think they care.
What do you (or anyone else here) think is the best way I can at least get them to see my idea? Whether or not they might consider it.

I also get the impression that most of the scenario writers have moved on from Chrono -- Masato Kato has put all his Chrono-esque time travel ideas into Another Eden: Cat From Beyond Time and Space. Meanwhile, Takashi Tokita has blatantly admitted that his ideas for Chrono Break went into making Final Fantasy Dimensions II. That gives us two Chrono, heavily-inspired spiritual successors.
Thanks, these games weren't even on my radar before!

The next question be -- graphics and music aside, who then act as scenario writers? Bring back old blood where possible? Allow new writers to take a stab at reinvigorating the Chrono universe?
You make me realize I didn't mention the core concept behind my idea: I want a remake that doesn't change the artistic vision of the original game. What would Chrono Trigger have been like if the technology of today were available during its production, and the developers decided to use it? That's the remake I want to play. It's easy for me to imagine them giving the graphics and music a treatment similar to what I'm proposing, but it's hard for me to imagine them doing something different with the story. And this is quite simply because the story was one of the few things that wasn't really limited by technology.

You could argue that the sprite-based art may have limited the expression of certain ideas, but I think this corresponds more to character animation than it does the script. And I'm totally fine with giving the animators some creative license in order for character animations to be fleshed out as they would in anime. But as for the flow of the story and the dialog of the characters, I don't think it would have been much different had the technology available to the developers been more advanced.

If I were proposing a remake with realistic graphics, I might start questioning how well the original script would translate to such graphics. But because I'm proposing something that's so faithful to Akira Toriyama's style, I feel confident it's already been demonstrated that the quirkiness and humor found in Japanese media such as manga or JRPGs can translate directly into anime or games that adhere to his style. The Story Mode in Dragon Ball FighterZ demonstrates this very well.

Another relevant thing about that Story Mode is that it lets the user decide when to progress the dialog (rather than having the entire cutscene play like a movie). I would consider this a positive attribute in a Chrono Trigger remake, because it's similar to how the user is given control over dialog progression in the original game.

When developers of a remake make an attempt to reinvent anything about the story, it's a huge risk if the story was already working well in the original—as is the case with Chrono Trigger. The approach that makes changes to the story of a remake has probably been done with varying degrees of success, but it seems much better suited for something that is to at least some degree a reboot—which I'm not proposing. I just want the same game I love looking and sounding as good as technology can provide without changing the original artistic vision.

One of Chrono Trigger's most defining personality traits is its charm, and you run the risk of losing the charm once you start fiddling with the script or changing the look of it too much (i.e. giving it realistic graphics). And also, the more you change things in a remake, the more potential there is for it to be divisive.

(Sorry for writing so much! I just have a lot to say about this.)

News Submissions / Chrono Trigger Remake Concept
« on: August 16, 2020, 09:34:00 pm »
I have an idea for a Chrono Trigger remake. The concept is comprised of three core tenets:
  • Characters by Arc System Works
  • Environments by Level-5
  • Orchestral Music

Character Models and Animation by Arc System Works
Arc System Works has demonstrated their unparalleled ability to bring Akira Toriyama's characters to life in the 2018 game Dragon Ball FighterZ. For Toriyama's designs of the Chrono Trigger characters to be brought to life as faithfully as possible, looking as good as they can possibly look, Arc System Works is the only choice for handling the game's character models and animation. But if a deal can't be worked out between Square Enix and Arc System Works, then perhaps key character artists who worked on Dragon Ball FighterZ can be commissioned as freelancers.

If nothing else, the same method documented here should be used as a paradigm. Junya C. Motomura wrote the book on converting 2D anime styles into 3D:

And here's a more concise video that also demonstrates how the same principals are applied to Akira Toriyama's style:

Environments by Level-5
No developer has demonstrated an ability to translate 2D anime style backgrounds into interactive 3D environments as well as Level-5 did when they created the environments for the 2011 game Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. Level-5 is the best choice for translating Chrono Trigger's 2D environments into 3D, and would perfectly complement the Arc System Works renditions of the game's characters. But if a deal can't be made between Square Enix and Level-5, then perhaps key environment artists who worked on Ni no Kuni can be commissioned as freelancers.

If nothing else, the environment artists should strive for the same level of quality or higher as Ni no Kuni. Here's a sample:

Orchestral Music
The only musical update a Chrono Trigger remake needs is orchestral renditions of the original game's classic melodies. None of the melodies should be changed. An orchestra should perform each track, note for note, set to the same tempo as the original music, using the same real instrument counterparts for each of the chiptune instrument sets used in the original music. It would also be great if the user could switch between the original chiptune music and the orchestrated tracks on the fly. Too many options is better than too few options! The original game itself was loaded with many customizable features, and something as potentially divisive as a remake should have no shortage of options for customization.

Voice Acing
While I don't consider the addition of voice acting a core tenet, top acting talent should be chosen to bring the characters' voices to life (Square Enix has already demonstrated this with great success), but there should also be an option to mute the voice acting to make the audible aspect of the experience closer to the original game, if the user so desires. Once again, too many options is better than too few.

If people like this concept, it's something I'd like to see someone turn into a petition. Any volunteers? ;)

For those of you who want a remake, what do you think of this? And is there any way to improve my concept, or get Square Enix to consider it, or make it more feasible as a petition?

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