Composer Arnaud Roy on having a diverse range of instruments to work with.

Developer Amplitude Studios and publisher SEGA have shared the latest instalment in their Feature Focus video series that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming historical turn-based strategy game Humankind.

In episode 5, titled Composing the Music (embedded below), composer Arnaud Roy (also known as FlybyNo) spoke about his enthusiasm when approached to compose the soundtrack to a game wherein over 60 historical cultures are represented.

“In Humankind, we divided the game into cultural groups because as the project was so big, we had to gather civilisations into cultural groups,” he said. “Within [these] cultural group[s], we have a solo musician who is going to play a particular instrument for a particular cultural group.

“We are going to have around eight hours of traditional music. These are well-known tunes or improvisation with solo instruments or small bands, and the more we progress throughout the eras, the more we are going to have bands forming out of the solo instruments.”

In Humankind, players create their own civilisations by combining historical cultures between the Bronze Age and the modern period. Every culture has its own gameplay, giving players the opportunity to customise their civilisation and style of play.

Players won’t be limited to just making scientific breakthroughs as they will have to master city building and tactical battles too. Allies will have to be called upon if they are to come out victorious when participating in eight-player battles.

“I have worked with 10 solo musicians, all experts in traditional music,” Roy said. “Instrument-wise, we have pre-Columbian flutes that are amazing, played by a great master called Pierre Hamon.

“We have [the] guzheng – a Chinese harp played by Sissy Zhou.

“We have a specialist of Medieval Europe who is playing lots of wind instruments and the hurdy-gurdy.

“For the Renaissance, we have a beautiful Baroque string trio playing viola da gamba [and the] Baroque violin.

“I played Greek citharas, which are a reconstitution of antique citharas that a Greek violin maker has created according to several images on vases [and] on bas-reliefs.

“In addition to this traditional music, I recorded around 90 minutes of orchestral music where I was able to have my own take on the game. These tracks, we will see them appearing starting in [the Age of] Antiquity but not very often and they’re going to emerge more and more until actually being predominant in the last eras of the game.”

Roy has been a long-time collaborator with Amplitude Studios, having composed music for the Endless series of 4X games including Endless Space, Endless Legend, and Endless Space 2.

For Humankind, the composer spoke about complementing the orchestra with traditional instruments and noted that “a very important element of this orchestral music is the presence of the choir…

“This time we have choirs singing texts that are in ancient Greek and Latin,” Roy explained. “So I worked with a specialist who really knows ancient literature. So we’ve got texts by Sophocles and Ovid, which tell the story of certain melodies from that time and which we have adapted into this orchestral music.”

Humankind has a planned 2020 release for macOS and Windows.