“… we needed drums to get players’ blood pumping… “

Octopath Traveler has been out for a few months now and publisher Nintendo is continuing to share insight behind the development of Square Enix’s fantasy role-playing game.

In a recent post on Nintendo’s Tumblr, composer Yasunori Nishiki spoke about the process behind writing one of the themes and the various stages of its development.

“I composed quite a few battle themes for Octopath Traveler, and each one has a different concept behind it. The concept behind [Decisive Battle I] is the fusion of an orchestra and drums,” said Nishiki.

“In the early stages of development, the plan was to have the battle pieces be fully orchestral arrangements that didn’t make use of electric guitars, drums, or other modern instruments (later on, we realised that we needed drums to get players’ blood pumping, so we ended up adding them in the end). This piece was composed in those early stages, and even though it does have drums, I was striving for a sound as close as possible to a true orchestral performance.”

Listen to the iTunes preview of Decisive Battle I here (track 41).

Nishiki strove to create an atmosphere “typical of a boss battle piece” for the intro and aimed to evoke feelings of tension and an air of mightiness. When the drums kick in, the focus is on the characters’ mental state as they do battle. The composer wanted to created “a musical phrase that would instill courage” in the player.

“For all of the boss battles, each protagonist has their own intro melody, which transitions seamlessly into the boss theme as the story scene segues into battle,” explained Nishiki. “As the dialogue advancement in the cut scenes happens at the player’s pace, it’s set up to have an interactive transition, but this really isn’t all that uncommon in games today. Because of this, I wanted to go the extra mile, and I remember trying my hardest to compose something that would really get the player excited. As a side effect of this, all the boss battle themes with character-specific intros are locked in at 164 BPM, and the starting key for all of them is G minor, so this was another challenging point for me.

“By the way, how many of you have noticed that this song has actually undergone some changes since it first appeared in the original demo? As a matter of fact, the drums in that version were sequenced, and final transition in the end was absent, with the song simply looping straight back to the beginning. Consider this some bonus Octopath trivia – anyone who knows this is a true Octopath expert!”