We know that the soundtrack is important and expensive for an indie's budget.

I requested a looping background track for for my Tower Defense game, where zombie/monsters attack the player. So, for the entire level, the player will keep hearing this music.

In this kind of game, is 30 seconds good for a looping music track, or I need to increase it?


There isn't necessarily a "correct" length to aim for with a looping track — that's why you'll find different game tracks have different lengths!

Instead, you may want to go research some games that have a similar style and audio feel to what you want. Look up their soundtrack online and check the lengths of the tracks they use, or time the repeats yourself with a stopwatch in your own play or while watching a Let's Play recording.

Do this also for a game or two you find '"too repetitive" for your taste, musically, and compare. That gives you a lower bound to aim above.

You may also want to consider commissioning a short looping track with "stems" — multiple separate layers that you can fade in and out over a longer period to break up the repetition, or signal changes in gameplay state like boss waves. This can make a short loop seem much longer and less repetitive.

In my TOJam 2016 game Last One Standing, the sound designer I worked with, David Vitas, split the single BGM track into two layers: one with just the percussion, and one with the melody. In-game, I play both in sync, but vary the volume of the melody with the intensity of action, punctuating moments of rest in the gameplay with little drum solos. Because it's reacting to the gameplay, it rarely loops exactly the same way twice in a row, making it feel much longer and more dynamic, even from a very simple basis. (In that case, it was about a 90 second loop)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I searched on youtube and the conclusion was 30 seconds is bad idea. I have to pick something that will not annoying the player. Thank you for all this information. \$\endgroup\$ – user43474 Jul 11 at 19:58

It depends a lot on:

  • The kind of music. When you have subliminal muzak which is more ambience than music, then you can get away with it being a lot shorter (in practice these tracks still tend to be pretty long, because they are so simple to compose). But more nuanced music with more recognizable motives and progressions needs to be a lot longer so the loops don't become too noticeable.
  • How long sessions are in your game. A game which is played for a couple minutes at a time can get away with a lot less soundtrack than one which is played for hours on end.

But in general, the usual length of ingame BGM tracks tend to be around 2-3 minutes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One level will take around 5-8 mins to finish it. This music will keep hear it in every level. I have to choose a good length one as you said 2-3. Thank you man. \$\endgroup\$ – user43474 Jul 11 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user43474 The most elegant solution would be if the music is just as long as the level. That way the player can use the music as an indicator of how far they are in the level. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Jul 12 at 14:04

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