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Offworld Trading Company

THE SOUNDTRACK OF CAPITALISM

Project

Mohawk Games’ debut title, the real-time strategy game Offworld Trading Company, presented an interesting musical challenge: how to tell a story in a game with no characters, no combat, and no moving units? Set on Mars, the player assumes the role of CEO of a corporation, outmaneuvering your opponents through nothing more than building infrastructure and buying and selling stocks.

Style

Offworld Trading Company is a retro-futurist blend of analog synths, industrial sounds and minimalist orchestration. Inspired by the steady chatter of ticker tape, the score mirrors the pulse of capitalism: dispassionate, robotic, and relentless. Many of the sounds undergo heavy processing; even the orchestra itself is an unconventional ensemble of 11 brass players and 8 violins.

Technique

Unlike Tin’s classical scores, where each musical phrase is carefully written out, Offworld’s score relies on a more programmatic approach. Using step-sequencers and arpeggiators, Tin programmed some basic musical behaviors into his computer, fed it rudimentary harmonies, and then recorded the outputs. He then surrounded this generative material with more traditionally composed musical phrases. The result is a score that is part robot, part human.

Background

Mohawk Games was founded by Christopher Tin’s former college roommate, friend, and longtime collaborator, Soren Johnson. Their previous collaboration was Civilization IV--a partnership which yielded Christopher his first Grammy Award for the title song ‘Baba Yetu’.

Easter Eggs

One movement, ‘Brave New Planet’, takes its title from Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, but also contains a direct quote of Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony #9, “From the New World”.

Previews

01 Red Planet Nocturne

02 Welcome to Mars

03 Martian Mining and Manufacturing

04 Sea of Sirens

05 For Happy Workers, Try Adrenaline Boosts!

06 Roboto Agitato

07 Look at All the Money

08 Thinking Machines

09 Hacker Array

10 Assembly Lines

11 Carbon Scrubbers

12 Trade War

13 Homeostasis

14 MULE

15 Bribery
16 Brave New Planet

17 Glass Furnace

18 Martian Glassworks, Inc.

19 Offworld Price Index

20 Trickle-Down Economics

21 Allegro for Hydroponic Systems

22 Sunrise on Mars

23 Sad Robot Lament

24 Sabotage

25 Magnetic Storm

26 Ares Defense Industries

27 Electronics Factory

28 EMP

29 Power Surge

30 Hostile Takeover