Soundtracks and Radio Plays

Some kind viewers, and one exceedingly kind member of the Riot Games staff, pointed out that I had neglected to mention the Radio Plays for Mechs vs. Minions. That is because, quite frankly, I wasn’t aware of them. You can find them here.

First of all, like everything else about the game, the plays are of extremely high quality and polish. The voice acting is professional (they didn’t corral Judy from accounting or Ted from HR), the sound design is superb, etc. etc. I mean,you’d figure I’d stop being impressed at how much value Riot is throwing in our faces, but here we are.

I won’t be using them, though. There’s something discordant, I find, about gathering your friends to play a game and then playing a recording for them. It prolongs the non-interactive parts of the game experience, and makes me feel (as the game explainer) that I’m just taking up more of their time before they actually get to play a game. Hauling out a device when one previously wasn’t needed is a further disincentive (I suppose in this I am… old-fashioned?)

Fortunately, the mission briefing booklets have some element of the (often genuinely funny) dialog in them, so it’s very easy to mention that and pass the booklet among the players so they can read the flavour or not as they wish. Sometimes a game requires a soundtrack, and while I find that an inconvenience it’s a minor one. Space Alert is a good example–the soundtrack is a necessity and the game is good enough that I’ll make do with the inconvenience.

Other games that have come with CDs are purely extraneous. Shadows of Brimstone came with a music soundtrack that, while surprisingly well-executed, didn’t add anything to the experience for me. Same goes with Fireteam Zero’s dramatic readings of the scenario book–there the soundtrack was purely redundant to the briefings in the scenarios.

Am I alone in this? Are there games where the soundtrack is optional but you have found added considerably to the experience?

One thought on “Soundtracks and Radio Plays”

  1. Yes, actually! Dead of Winter has the Crossroads Companion app, which takes the game’s event deck and narrates it with high-quality voice actors. The card text is necessary to make decisions in the game, so it’s not just flavor, and it’s probably faster than having a player try to read it, mess up, and start again.

    It also addresses a problem where we’d forget to draw from the deck on a player’s turn. It was easier to remember to use the shiny thing with a snowy screensaver and (optional) windy background track, than to remember to draw a card on another player’s turn.

    Whether you like the game’s scotch-tape approach to narrative is another thing, but if you don’t mind it, I think it improves the use of the event deck considerably.

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