Well. The new feature Pitchfork has on music in videogames is pretty neat. It's well written, and gave me a chunk to think upon.
For example: my experience in Metal Gear Solid 2 was pretty much hampered by the shitty, shitty Hans Zimmer score. God that music was boring. I don't blame Zimmer so much-he was apparently sent emails that said "Give us something heroic!" or "Write tension" but he didn't know what the hell he was working on. So of course, when I play the game, and the music seems to drag me down, who's surprised by that?
[aside There's note of Psychonauts in the Pitchfork feature, and I want to play that game very, very badly. It's not out for the PS2 yet, so I wait. AHo, I've heard nothing but good things about this one, so if you find it used...]
One of the keys in that article, for me, is how the person orchestrating the music and sound has to be involved in the game, top to bottom. This is, I think, one of the things that makes games so interesting-and expensive. I mean; once Star Wars is finished, John Williams can watch it, take his pre-scored notes (by now, scoring Star Wars has got to be like shooting the dead), and head to the studio to work on recordings. Now, I realize it's not that simple-but since movies aren't as interactive, and they tend to be finished piecemeal, work can be done like this.
The sound in a game has to be continually worked on, since, from what I've learned about game development, the things are almost always works in progress. Sound has to be part of the progamming put into the game-if for no other reason (I'm guessing) than to make sure the soundfiles don't fuck up the the gameplay. It would really suck to discover that when Kratos does his triple spin move and hits a stone column, the resulting 'chunk' noise causes the game to wig out and you have to start over.
What's weird is; we notice these things, even when we don't. It took me 2 weeks after finishing MGS2 before I realized how dull the music was-and how that mattered. And we'll accept such strange sounds; I know that chests don't open with that 'crenk' noise that they make in Final Fantasy games, but hey; that's the sound they make. When they make a different sound-that's usually when I worry.
I don't exactly know where I'm going with this, at this point, so I guess it's a good time to stop.