The defining part of real-time strategy games is that they’re in, well, real time: your troops and civilians constantly move and frequently need your guidance. As battle descends you invariably find yourself jumping around the map, fighting fires and trying to keep track of a dozen things at once. The frantic quality of the experience can be overwhelming, but is also what makes these games a lot of fun.
Music has to be sensitive to the player’s frame of mind during the final “all-out carnage” phase of the game, as there’s less attention available for melodic detail and counterpoint. I tend to go broader and bigger during these moments, in contrast to the more peaceful early phases of the game. This week’s music selection from the Empires Apart score is a good example of this approach.