Patch 3441

October 22, 2014 by urinal-cake

Another small patch, we’re still trying to address some larger issues!


  • Free For All: Players now move faster when they are sheathed.
  • Control Point: Players can now change who they view when dead.
  • Control Point: Music now changes depending on whether or not in combat.
  • Control Point: Spawn times scale based off of players currently playing.
  • Control Point: Players now spawn instantly during starting period and intermission.
  • Control Point: Added in-game health bars.
  • Throwables now require line of sight in order to lock on.

Merged in balance changes from community, see patch notes here.

Bug Fixes

  • Control Point: Fixed a crash that happened if someone was spectating at the end of a round.
  • Control Point: Fixed a bug causing tickets to never stop flashing if points were all capped.
  • Control Point: Fixed a bug causing blue HUD points to replay particle effect after pausing.
  • Fixed a collision problem with the catwalks on free_district

Known Issues

  • Users occasionally receive a “Steam Validation Rejected” issue when connecting to a server using Pure workshop items.
    • Users can work around this by disabling/detaching the Pure workshop items before joining a server from the main menu.

Patch 3419

October 19, 2014 by urinal-cake

We’ve put a small polish and bugfix patch, this should help with some of the most popular issues occurring right now.


  • Control Point mode: Added some awesomeness for winners during the intermission.
  • Control Point mode: Map never changes if bb_scorelimit is set to 0.
  • Control Point mode: Added text for team change and when waiting on more players to join.
  • Control Point mode: Updated all “capture point” localization text to say “control point”.
  • Control Point mode: Number of tickets flash when your tickets are low or all control points have been captured by the opposing team.
  • Timer flashes and produces sound when time is low in any mode.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed HUD not updating properly during intermission.
  • Fixed Control Point bug related to opposing teams capping two points at the same time.
  • Fixed new attachments becoming invisible when a workshop skin has been selected.
  • Fixed attachments sometimes appearing even when not selected.
  • Fixed wins and losses sometimes showing incorrectly for spectators.
  • Fixed a crash when specific sounds are stopped.
  • Minor adjustments to ragdoll physics.


  • Material updates for Phalanx, Pure, Ryoku and Knight.
  • Charge textures for all the new character attachments.
  • cp_docks
    • Added more spawn points.
    • Moved blue spawn to better match balance timing and point visibility.
    • Made small changes to various materials.
    • Implemented water solution for players using medium or below settings.
  • cp_terrace
    • Added more spawn points that prioritize center points over non-center points.
  • cp_sequence
    • Added more spawn points.
    • Made small changes to various materials.
    • Implemented water solution for players using medium or below settings.
  • free_temple
    • Added more spawn points.
    • Fixed roof bug, allowing players to climb through. (Sorry guys, had to be done.)
  • free_district
    • Added more spawn points.
    • Fixed various nodraw issues.

Known Issues

  • User’s often receive a ‘Steam Validation Rejected’ error.
  • We’re too damn awesome.

Control Points Patch 3363

October 15, 2014 by urinal-cake

Since the last patch, there have been 580 commits to Blade Symphony from our developers. We’ve been busy.


Control Points

This new game mode splits players into two teams vying to hold multiple control points. Players will parkour over shipping containers, fighting over sky towers and arenas to hold these control points from the other team.
3 new maps have been made specially for this game mode: terrace, a map that plays with vertigo; sequence, where chokepoints become important; and docks, an open map with both indoors and outdoors combat.

Improved Character Customization

Each character in the game now have separate attachments that you can install. These cosmetic attachments are integrated with Steam Workshop so players can create their own skins, armor, and anything you can imagine.
To date, players have created 589 pieces of content, including swords, masks, maps, and graphics modifications.




  • Added capture point game mode.

  • Players can now further customize their characters by adding or removing Workshop skins and attachments.

  • Added ability to team chat (if you have a pre-existing config, you’ll need to bind it manually via the console).
  • If a player is on blue team, their dash cancel will glow blue instead of red.
  • Added kill notifications into the chat window.
  • Fall damage is now applied if a player is falling fast enough after being hit with a shuriken or thrown.
  • Added Control Point game mode to host menu.
  • Added scoreboard header for server name/time left
  • Added server browser details screen.
  • Added chase cam spectator mode for 2on2 and 2on1.
  • Wall flip now uses keyboard directional input to determine direction/velocity.
  • Players can now climb ledges while just holding forward.
  • Added ‘diminishing return’ mechanic to wallruns, being unable to continue after 5 wall runs.
  • Added wall sliding mechanic. If a player’s wallrun ends, they will then begin sliding down the wall.


  • Updated models and materials for all characters.
  • Characters now have individual attachments across 4 slots.
  • Pure now has death animations.
  • Pure’s idles now working.
  • Wall jump animations have been updated.
  • Added new mask for Phalanx, “Agent-A.”
  • Made dropped sword entity play sheathed idle animation by default.
  • Added Deploy and Retract sounds to Stacatto Black Sword.
  • Added attachments on customization screen.
  • Corrected an error with Riot Knight skin self-illumination.
  • If a player is glow in FFA or teamplay, the dash cancel proxy will be twice as strong.
  • Shorter male death animations to prevent ragdolls from flipping.
  • Removing all client tracers in interrupt (except tracer parry) to reduce glitchy looking tracers.


  • Merged in balance changes from community at
  • Changed  block knockback from 1.0 to 1.3 seconds
  • Reduced tracer extension for parries from 0.3 to 0.15 seconds
  • Wall flips are now influenced by gravity
  • Wall runs now inherit velocity from initial run
  • Vault lock duration now set to 0.75

See the rest of game balance patch notes here:


  • Added three new Control Point maps: cp_docks, cp_terrace and cp_sequence
  • Added two new FFA maps: free_temple and free_district are both free-for-all versions of their duel counterparts.
  • Added berimbau_capture_point entity, for use in cp_ maps.
  • Added filter_activator_team entity.
  • func_instance is fixed and now works with Blade Symphony.
  • New 2d skybox ‘360clouds’.
  • Added Enable/Disable functionality to berimbau_spawns, so now you can define different spawn zones (i.e. after a control point switches teams).
  • Can no longer wallrun on sky brushes.


  • Added ability to choose training map.
  • Added Bot Training menu, allowing the user to select the desired arena, player vs. player mode,
  • Minor visual and skybox improvements to Tutorial map.


  • Added subscribed state for workshop visibility.
  • Added workshop jiggle bone warning, removed LOD warning.
  • Put all new workshop constraints or constraint changes behind a workshop ID check, so all existing times will not be validated against any new rules when they are loaded by the client (current ID is 304077814).


  • Fixed custom skins sometimes not being applied when switching between characters.
  • Removed stance speed modifier (it was basically unused, except that it broke move params).
  • Fixed sword not returning to idle anim when attacking from sheathed state.
  • Fixed controlled animation move not reaching 100% on move_x when going backwards.
  • Fixed dash cooldown effect not animating on remote players.
  • Removed cheat flag from kill cmd.
  • Fixed a memory leak issue in the SDK.
  • Added temporary IP ban to vote kick to prevent ban avoidance.
  • Attempted to fix a bug that causes the player to be locked in the air stance.

First non-Valve content pack for 4th Annual Saxxy Awards!

July 25, 2014 by urinal-cake

Blade Symphony Source Filmmaker

Sitting around enjoying a delicious cup of tea, steeping in our favorite tea-pot, we had an idea. Community created content for Blade Symphony has been a magnificent, and honestly hilarious, result from our great fans. Why not let the WORLD make cool stuff using Blade Symphony? Well, we had no shiny trophies to offer.. BUT THEN!

Cooperative Saxxy Initiative

Valve approached us for providing Blade Symphony’s content for use in the Fourth Annual Saxxy Awards! How awesome is that? We know that with Source Filmmaker and Blade Symphony, you can create some pretty rad stuff; but now we’re taking it one step further.

This year, hopefuls can download the Blade Symphony Content Pack DLC for Source Filmmaker, putting Judgement and Pure alongside P-Body and Atlas. Let’s hope they get along. The submission deadline for entries is September 24th, be sure to read all the guidelines and stare at the pretty trophies! Just for this sort of occasion, we have a Media Monetization policy that is a quick read.

Since we’re so excited about the use of Blade Symphony in this year’s awards, we’re going to offer a prize of our own. An in-game cape and copy of Blade Symphony will go to the author of the entry with the “Best Overall use of Blade Symphony assets.” We’ll announce our favorite after the Saxxy Award nominees are announced, and hook them up so they can flaunt their swag in-game!

Everyone at Puny Human are big fans of the Saxxy Awards, and think every year has we’ve seen action-packed thrillers or emotional dramas. We wish everyone the best, and can’t wait to see some great results from the universes of Team Fortress 2, Portal and especially Blade Symphony. Happy filming!

Patch 2777

June 28, 2014 by urinal-cake

Charge Dash

We’ve added a charged version of dash. You can perform this by charging to Tier 2 and holding Roll to dash. During the dash cooldown you take 50% extra damage and can’t block stars.

  • charge to Tier 2 and roll to execute a charged dash
  • gave dash a 0.4 locktime so players can use it to cancel into attacks
  • players take 50% more damage during the charge dash cooldown (2.5s) and can’t autoblock throwing weapons
  • charge dash also triggers roll cooldown so rolls (and therefore wallruns) cannot follow charge dash

(charge dash cancelled into a jump)




Tracers now extend for 0.35 seconds past the designed period that can be used for parrying.

  • 0.35s tracer extension
  • parries now maintain momentum of the attack
  • reduced overall knockback for parries
  • increased recovery time from equal tier parries from 0.5 to 0.6
  • increased max allowed tracers from 12 to 20 vertices



  • upped the speed of Phalanx heavy Tier 1 slightly, Tier 2 a bit more, and Tier 3
  • lock times changed from Tier1 from 1.35 to 1.0, Tier 2 1.2 to 0.9, Tier 3 1.9 to 1.6
  • slight animation fixes for Phalanx heavy t3 and re-recorded tracers



  • making Pure F2T1 move further and stab further (roughly 1 square more range total) to match Fast 3 Tier 1
  • swapping Pure F3T1 with F3T2, including lock times, knockback, but not damage
  • the new F3T2 now does 20 damage instead of 19
  • sped up Pure heavy left Tier 1 by moving its attack earlier in the animation
  • Pure heavy left damage Tier 1 is now 20, Tier 2 24, Tier 3 28 (used to be 34, 36, 38 respectively)
  • reduced Pure’s balanced Tier 1 tracer amount (from ending at 0.8 to 0.7)



Overhauled scimitar damage output and special ability

  • Stance Cancel now replaces side cancelling, you can switch stances and attack to cancel the current attack
  • The rules for Stance cancel are identical to side cancelling (can’t cancel the last attack in a string, cancel timing is the same per stance as side cancelling)
  • changed forward multihit scale to 1.0 (now same damage per multihit)
  • increased forward multihit-rate from 0.2 to 0.12 (more multihits, same as Jian)
  • changed damage from 20% global to 50% for forward and 40% for side



Changed Rapier’s forward attacks to multihit which causes them to combo and work better with balanced stance.

  • forward attack multihits rate now same as scimitar side attacks
  • forward attack multihit scales at -60% per attack
  • forward attack damage is now at 50% (and still modified by attack angle)
  • increased heavy damage from 60% to 70%
  • gave Rapier min tier damage, 4 for Tier 1, 6 for Tier 2, 8 for Tier 3
  • slightly increased movespeed for Rapier Guard



  • +30% faster recovery for side attack parries
  • Katana no longer has its fast attack debuff (80%) and now hit at full damage with fast



  • making Jian recovery bonus on hit activate vs block


Blocking (Longsword and Scimitar)

  • added post-attack block cooldown (0.15s)


Recovery Attack

  •  sped up recovery attack by 3 frames



  • Allow changing loadout during duel warmup
  • Added scrollbars to scoreboard



  • updated libcurl and openssl to latest version
  • fixed prediction errors after attacking
  • added a workaround for a particles related shutdown crash
  • fixed russian parsing in fonts to always be set to true
  • changed rendered tracer fade out to scale the geometry instead of
  • shifting uvs past 1.0 because basically all workshop tracer textures do not
  • clamp uvs and therefore look terrible while fading out
  • improved networking performance of various stance type vars
  • fixed a stability issue with keyvalue scripts
  • hidden training games in server browser
  • fixed 2v2 spawn on District RoofTop
  • fixed 2v2 spawns for duel_monastery so that they aren’t floating over the ground. 4 spawns fixed in the Courtyard, and 1 in the Antechamber
  • fixed parsing multiple urls in richtext control
  • fixed sword anims not playing
  • fixed a potential workshop item update issue for subscribers



  • Stacatto Black now uses animations for deployment and retracting.


Community Map

  • added player clip to elevator to stop players accessing no-drawn area.
  • added camera clip to elevator to also stop camera getting jammed up there.
  • added wallrun clip to shutters on ground floor main mall area
  • removed floating glass from art gallery.
  • removed door and retina scan models found inside wall brushes.
  • Reduced light_spot brightness in circular welcome room to 100 from 150
  • Reduced rope thickness of ropes in elevator to 0.5 from 1
  • Reduced rope thickness of monitor ropes from to 1 from 2
  • removed traffic cone prop (wasn’t rendering) from shop window.
  • added go-board plus cushions to shop window.
  • Some other minor bits and pieces.



Blade Symphony World Tournament

June 18, 2014 by urinal-cake

The World’s Greatest Swordsman Shall Be Decided


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Friday June 20th.


North America
9am PST
12pm EST


6pm CET


2am AUS



The Blade Symphony World Tournament hosted by Blade Rebellion is closing out with the final tournament to decide a winner between 3 world regions, North America, Europe, and Australia.

Each regional tournament produced 3 finalists who will battle it out in the final tournament happening this weekend. Details below:



Having lost only one round the entire tournament, Skeleton is NA’s spearhead in this tournament. Skeleton is also the only NA finalist to play more than one character late in the tournament.

Known fighting style: Lightning blocks and relentless punishes


Fong knocked out the #2 North American seed out of the winners bracket causing a major upset. He has the lowest time played according to Steam of all the region’s finalists.

Known fighting style: Hyper aggressive combos and perfect timing


The Battousai himself won 8 duels straight from the losers bracket to take third place in the NA finals.

Known fighting style: Almost all fast stance play and rarely blocks


His dominating style kept him in the winners bracket the entire tournament. Known as a master of all characters.

Known fighting style: Superb reflexes and timing, impossible to grab


Known as one of the top Pures and for his extremely defensive play. Pulled out a Judgement against top Ryoku players such as Reign and WhoArts.

Known fighting style: Baits opponents and counters


With 3 prior tournament wins, WhoArts was largely expected to take 1st place as Ryoku, however lost after using only Pure until losers bracket.

Known fighting style: Adapts quickly to his opponents styles, good at taking advantage of openings and mistakes


Came into the tournament with a rough start but stayed in the winners bracket the entire tournament. Also helped organize this tournament.

Known fighting style: “Aggressive counter-attacking”


Outed by Sergeant Stoner in the winners bracket and returned again for the finals. Took a set off of Sergeant Stoner before his defeat, taking 2nd.

Known fighting style: Aggressive zoning with defensive parries


Took two of the less popular character combos straight to 3rd place. Defeated two highly seeded players from the losers bracket.

Known fighting style: Mobile and deceptive play



Release Anxiety! Panic! Patch 2622

May 5, 2014 by urinal-cake

Oh gods… here’s what I’m feeling right now:

It’s true, a game is never finished. There are always flaws. Patch everything!

Some things I forgot to mention last patch

Modding / Workshop

  • Updated Client Mod support. You can now create workshop items for things like tutorials, menu screens, language localizations, and much more.
  • Maps now properly download again.


  • Added two more spectator tracks from Tom Stoffel


Now on to the most recent patch notes


  • Shortened many hints so they can stay on-screen
  • Fixed a bug with Hero Mode chase cam falling through the ground in certain settings
  • Fixed a text error in the Tutorial
  • Added female spray animation


  • Re-animated Air Forward T1

Patch 2600

May 3, 2014 by urinal-cake

Quality of Life Patch

This patch is mostly a quality of life patch to improve some aspects of the game. Bits of this juice are streaming via Steam to your drive right now!


  • Added a news panel on main menu
  • Added hints/tips to loading screen
  • Removed the spinning Blade Symphony logo in the top right
  • Updated credits, now with amazing graphics


  • Added Balanced Left T3

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed some effects / sounds on remote players being incorrectly skipped when hidden via ffa


  • Winter
    • disabled wallrunning to shed behind water wheel
  • Fixed mesh issues with Katana
  • Fixed mesh issues with Ryoku and Phalanx default masks
  • Added faces to Phalanx skin 2 and Pure skin 2


  • Added unrestricted Client-Side modifications

Blade Symphony Release May 7th

May 1, 2014 by urinal-cake


We are extremely proud to announce the release of Blade Symphony to Steam and Humble Store. The game will be exiting the Beta / Early Access phase and releasing on May 7th.

A few things will happen on that day:

  • Release party! We’ll have a stream going on our channel so be sure to follow us there. The dev team will be in the servers hanging out and playing with you.
  • Stats reset. The official ladder will be reset and everyone will start from a clean slate.
  • Beta copies will be disabled. If you bought the game, then you don’t have to worry about this. If you know you have a beta copy, be sure to grab a real copy on the Steam Store.


In Less Than One Week

This is a personal and humbling moment for myself, and I want to take an aside to reflect on the making of this game.

I started this game project because I was a duelist in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, and I wanted to share that same experience I had with others, with people who may not be that interested in Star Wars, but were more interested in the sword-fighting. It began as a hobby which turned into a crusade, and along the way I’ve met incredibly talented developers and artists who helped shape this game every step along the way.

It’s rare that a personal hobby project transforms into a full-fledged game. This is only possible because of the people who believed in us, and supported us. Through Kickstarter, Early Access, press and Youtube, you guys helped spread the word, and joined the beta. You advised us on every minutia and spent hundreds of hours playing and testing and creating awesome new content.

Yes, there is so much room for improvement. When I see the game now, I can’t help but see all the flaws, to quote Phil Phish, “[we] have been staring at it >< this f**king close for years”. Releasing a game is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever had to do. Our team has sacrificed some serious blood, sweat and tears. And, I’d do it all again tomorrow.

On May 7th, we’ll have reached a milestone, and even though it’s called “Release”, this does not stop our patch cycle and we still plan on adding at least one more character, and community features that further expand the game.

The community has been extremely patient and supportive of us, and we owe everything to you guys. I’ve never seen such an awesome, friendly, and helpful community in my entire career, and it’s one that I deeply treasure and am thankful for.

It’s not over yet though! You can help spread the word about Blade Symphony on places like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

See you guys on May 7th!


Art of the Musical Duel

April 29, 2014 by urinal-cake

The following is a blog post by our composer Tom Stoffel on his work on Blade Symphony. You can find more of his work at his website:

Early Developments

When embarking on a large creative endeavour there is bound to be a large portion of time dedicated to brainstorming and experimentation. Blade Symphony’s score certainly met this requirement. From the beginning of our collaboration, Michael Chang (Flux) and I knew the project would demand an extremely colorful and ethnically embracing musical score. The challenge, I soon realized, did not exist so much in Blade Symphony’s demand for musical diversity, but rather in its demand for a sound which was both aesthetically and dramatically appropriate.

Diversity was going to be a key element of the score. This much was settled. And before I became too involved in experimenting with the music I wanted to be sure to ask myself the one question which prefaces every game score on which I work: Which part in this elaborate tale of beauty, action, and drama does this game wish the music to play? After some thought I came to these conclusions:

1) The music must color the stunning atmosphere of the game.

2) The music must heighten both the intensity and the focus of the duels.

I had two clear goals on which to focus and I was ready for the real fun to begin…


The Journey Begins

I rarely approach musical experimentation in the same way twice. Every project is extremely unique and my relationship to each project is just as fresh. The new and unique relationship I have with a game or film usually fosters an intuitive connection between my mind, my body, and the project. If all goes well, the music will organically grow from this unique connection.

I was immediately drawn—as many others were— to Blade Symphony’s beautiful in-game atmosphere. A more inspiring in-game realm I have yet to experience. My mind and body were drawn to its stillness, elegance, and strength. In an attempt to dig deeper into the atmosphere, I spent a significant amount of time just sitting in-game and soaking in the spaces. Eventually, my mind and body experienced a feeling of deep focus and peace. It was from this place that I began to write.


I first began to experiment with traditional Asian folk instruments which included the taikos, ehru, zither, singing bowls, gongs, dhols, and samulnori percussion, among others. I wanted to see if I could bring the Zen-like focus of these traditional textures to the dueling arena. I first started off with just creating a folkish Zen-like texture. I knew right away that this was not going to serve goal number two: the music must heighten the intensity and focus during combat. Although, it did add something in the way of focus. But for what it added in focus it was lacking in intensity. I then added a synthesizer element to see if I could capture some of the high tech nature of the neon blade paths. This was definitely a cool effect and it added something, but it did not add much in the way of intensity. After some head scratching I had an interesting idea which I hadn’t seen before in a game. I wondered, “what would happen if I tried to represent the fighters with their own unique instrument?”

If I was going to try this, I decided, I needed to be sure to really represent the character as well as their behaviours in the duel. The first duel I tried this with was Judgement vs. Phalanx. I assigned Judgement a zither, while assigning Phalanx a muted electric guitar. I then composed a musical backdrop for the dual using the traditional instruments and synthesizer from before. I would play the musical backdrop and then improvise a part for each character over the top.

As I improvised Judgement’s zither part I would imagine his powerful strikes and lunges. Then it was Phalanx’s turn. After recording Judgement’s part I played back everything I had so far and I improvised Phalanx’s part over the top. Imagining his elegant sword skills and light footed maneuvers I would counter Judgment’s zither parts with Phalanx’s electric guitar part.

In the end, this process created a dynamic and interesting musical duel between the two characters. Upon completion, I felt I had really touched on something here. I then went on to compose “musical duels” in this same fashion for all of the different possible character combinations.

As you can hear, the effect was quite interesting. I was certainly happy with the outcome. When I shared it with the team, they all loved the atmosphere and improvisatory qualities of the pieces, but they decided the pieces lacked the level of danger and intensity needed to carry a duel. I agreed. But alas, not all was lost. The team ended up loving the color and strength these instruments brought to the pieces. These sounds went on to be the core instrumental foundation for most future pieces.


Anatomy of a Musical Duel

Between the earlier improvisatory duals and this monastery dual track quite a bit had changed. At first listen, one will notice the basic amount of instruments has greatly increased. One will hear a full chorus, full string ensemble, pipe organ, a larger percussion section, and a greater dynamic variation throughout. Also, the tempo has greatly increased and the harmonic progressions move with more gravity and bravado.

Equally interesting are the elements which did not change. Listening closely, one can still hear the traditional folk instruments being well represented throughout. One also feels a strong sense of focus beginning with the simple yet powerful opening section as well as the minimalist repeating rhythmic figures which answer each intense chorus-like reiteration.

After having a few listens, the important question arose: what did this new piece teach me about how I might musically represent a duel?

First off, the piece shows to what extent the music can be pushed in order to achieve a higher intensity level while still remaining within the stylistic goals of the game. It also shows how a balance can be struck between alternating sections of extreme power and sections of extreme focus. Of course, this piece had not by any stretch of imagination perfected this balance. But it did reveal some of the techniques by which a balance of both intensity and focus could be sustained throughout a duel.

Needless to say, the team was quite surprised with this piece. They were very excited about the power the piece brought to the scene. They concluded, I was definitely heading in the right direction. The music was certainly proving its ability to balance and sustain both intensity and focus throughout a duel.


Jazz and Folk and Dubstep and Everything Else…Oh My!

After reviewing the team’s feedback from the previous piece, I set out to compose five new tracks which would hopefully capitalize on everything I had learned so far. I called these the “Discovery Tracks.” Although, I should mention, technically the previous tracks were just as much a part of the “discovery” as these five.

These new “Discovery Tracks” were to explore a whole host of different combinations of instruments, styles, and techniques. The folks at Puny Human were always really awesome and extremely supportive during music development. They really wanted me to stretch myself and try as many different styles and types of fusions as I could. Up to this point the team seemed to be drawing musical inspirations from games ranging from Bayonetta to Street Fighter to Kindom Hearts to Final Fantasy and musical styles ranging from house to jazz to funk to dubstep to western to classical to folk music. This wide range of inspirations certainly fit our original estimation of the musical diversity needed for Blade Symphony’s soundtrack. My task now became figuring out how to synthesize these styles and influences into a unique and uniform sound.

At this point, I chose to leave the issue of uniformity out of the equation, as I was sure that would come at a later stage. Right then, I was focused on discovering an interesting sound! Now, I could talk for hours about the process by which I derived at the myriad styles represented in the five “Discovery Tracks.” Rather than take up the rest of your day, I decided I will just let the music speak for itself here. Below, you will find some short examples taken from the “Discovery Tracks.” I am sure the wide range of diversity will be self-evident. If you are interested, you can listen to the full five tracks on the second half of the Blade Symphony OST, “The Path of Discovery: The Cut Tracks.”

Here is a sampling of the experiments…


And let us not forget the



Needless to say, the “Discovery Tracks” phase explored a ridiculously wide range of musical possibilities. The question now became: how would the team and myself ever swim through the stylistic diversity represented here and end up with a stylish, unique, and somewhat uniform soundtrack?


The New Sound

Anyone who has played the game and or listened to the finished soundtrack will notice how most of what was presented in the “Discovery Tracks” was either modified, rerouted, reworked, and/or completely trashed. Although there was much transformation between the “Discovery Tracks” and the final tracks of the game, the discoveries made during this period were extremely formative. And one can track their influences in every subsequent track.

So what was learned in the feedback sessions?

To start, there was an overwhelming show of support for the traditional folk aspects of the pieces, particularly in the percussion sections. This was to be expected considering the team’s feelings toward some of the earlier pieces. There was also a great enthusiasm displayed toward the jazz elements. The team felt the improvisational qualities of jazz mirrored the fast paced, on-your-feet, improvised thinking players would most likely employ during duels. The team members expressed interest in the fuller, broader, classical orchestrations, particularly with the use of brass and strings. While others enjoyed the breakdowns and dropped beat sections of the tracks.

Conversely, the majority of the members were not thrilled with the ultra analog synthesizers. Nor were they interested in the extremely techno driven tracks. Not surprisingly, the members were almost unanimously against the use of any synthesized voices, speech, or cheesy arcade announcers.

As the feedback continued to roll in the picture was becoming clear. The new sound—which would eventually become the Blade Symphony soundtrack—would be both grandiose and tight. It would be both intense and focused. It would be an eclectic combination of traditional ethnic flare, focused minimalist progressions, sick breakbeat interludes, and striking improvisational virtuosity. The musical world of Blade Symphony would sing of diversity, intensity, gravity, and style.


The Musical Duel

9b0777114d40c32f0acb9e18dbfce7f5f82347a7The final tracks capture and synthesize so many wonderful styles and influences. As I learned very early on in the discovery process, a sword duel requires a music which achieves a balance between intensity and focus. This diverse musical journey proved that this balance could be achieved by a myriad different techniques. Through the juxtaposition of contrasting rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and textural elements the dramatic peaks and plumbits of a sword duel could be significantly enhanced and emphasized.

Below are two tracks taken from the Blade Symphony OST. If you are interested you can check out all of the tracks on the Official Blade Symphony Soundtrack. The two tracks I have chosen to talk about here exemplify the ways in which the dramatic peaks and plumbits of a duel’s intensity and focus are emphasized through varying types of rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and textural juxtapositions.

The composer would like to mention that no piece of music—or any work of art for that matter—is confined to rigid and concrete interpretations or understandings. My love/hate relationship with music theory lives on. If there was one thing I have taken from my experiences with musical analysis/theory it is this: a musical theory is only acceptable up to the point where it can no longer point to evidence in the music to support its premises.

With that being said, here are the composer’s theories behind the efficacy of the juxtapositions between intensity and focus as evidenced in the following Blade Symphony tracks:


“Swords of the North” incorporates a diverse combination of improvisational jazz in the piano and zither, traditional asian folk string and percussion instruments, and conventional western harmonic progressions with some classical orchestrational influences.

Contrasting figures of intensity and focus are presented throughout the piece. The large scale juxtapositions are as follows:


Section 1: 00:00 – 1:13 (Overall feel is focus)

Section 2: 1:13 – 2:09 (Overall feel is intensity)

Section 3: 2:09 – 2:41 (Overall feel is focus)


No decent piece of music is ever as cut and dried as the broad sectioning above would suggest. Contained within the larger sections of “Swords of the North” are the many instances of juxtapositions which create the interplay between intensity and focus. See below:


Section 1 (00:00 – 1:13):

00:00 – 00:16 The long flowing melody of the flute (focus) and the sporadic percussive interjections (intensity).

00:16 – 00:45 The floating interplay between the flutes (focus) and the improvisational flourishes in the piano (intensity).

00:45 – 00:59 The steadily descending harmonic progression and the almost heartbeat like bass drum beat (focus) and the continued improvisational flourishes and figures in the piano (intensity).

00:59 – 1:13 Again the steadily descending harmonic progression, the long sustained woodwind chords and the minimal repeating rhythmic figure (focus) and the improvisational stabs and flourishes of the zither (intensity).

Section 2 (1:13 – 2:09)

1:27 – 2:09 I think it is clear through the syncopated rhythmic figures in the acoustic guitars, the complex rhythmic figures in the percussion section, and the flashy improvisational piano lines that intensity is the main goal of this section. That being said I believe there is still a small seed of focus to be found in the use of space/air between the interjections. I think these pockets of breathing room encourage the dueler to step back and focus on the choice and execution of his next move.

Section 3 (2:09 – 2:41)

2:09 – 2:41 In contrast to the last section, I think it is clear that this section is aiming at pure focus, almost to the point of decompression. Although, the sheer dynamic blows of the aggressive percussion hits never allows the intensity to completely leave the scene.


Compared with “Swords of the North,” “Wushu Tactics” begins in an opposite manner. “Swords of the North” begins with a focus section and transitions into a section of intensity. “Wushu Tactics” begins with an intense section and settles into a focus section.

Here are the large scale juxtapositions of focus and intensity in “Wushu Tactics:”


Section 1: 00:00 – 00:27 (Overall feel is intense)

Section 2: 00:27 – 00:51 (Overall feel is focus)

Section 3: 00:51 – 1:24 (Overall feel is intense)

Section 4: 1:24 – 2:27 (Overall feel is focus)

Section 5: 2:27 – 3:04 (Overall feel is intense)

Section 6: 3:04 – 4:33 (Overall feel is focus)


One interesting thing to note about “Wushu Tactics” is the intensified transitions between sections. Some of these transitions can almost justify their own sections. That being said, I have not set aside these transitions above, instead, I have included them in the explanations below:


Section 1 (00:00 – 00:27):

The bursts of percussive excitement, frequent cymbal splashes, and the fast zither plucking all create an atmosphere of intensity here.


Section 2 (00:27 – 00:51):

The relaxed beat, singable melody, and predictable harmonic progression all foster an atmosphere of reflection and focus. Yet, in the background one can still hear flourishes of stick hits and cymbal splashes which maintain an element of intensity.


Section 3a (00:51 – 1:17):

The accelerated and sporadic rhythmic figures being passed around between the string instruments and the percussion instruments certainly creates an atmosphere of intensity here.


Section 3b (1:17 – 1:24):

This is one of those transitional sections where there is an interesting pressure exchange from intensity to focus. The long flowing flute melody over the top of the staggered bass bursts with breathing space between pulses creates a feeling of decompression or slowing down.


Section 4a (1:24 – 2:20):

The evenly descending bass lines, the mellifluous vocal lines, the melodic restatements in the piano, the warm swelling pads, and the steady rhythmic pulse all add to the feeling of focus throughout this section.


Section 4b (2:14 – 2:27):

This is another transition section. A very abrupt switch to intensity happens here. The percussion section grows, the vocal line comes to a climax, and extremely dissonant improvisational reiterations in the piano and bass bang out a feeling of tension and anticipation.


Section 5a (2:27 – 2:52):

I chose to label this section as intense due to the big breath of air which occurs just before the powerful entrance at 2:27. This brief moment of space holds the duel in suspense just before bringing in an intense flourish of rhythmic fury, triumphant brass stabs, powerful choral parts, and soaring solo vocal intensity. This section is the intense climax of the piece.


Section 5b (2:52 – 3:04):

This is another transitions section. The exchange between focus and intensity. Is really powerful here. This transition incorporates a very clear alternating between focus and intensity. The focus is felt through the isolated minimalist patterns in the hand drum and zither. While the intensity is felt through the shocking entrance of shouts, cymbals, and taikos.


Section 6 (3:04 – 4:33):

I reluctantly labeled this section as focus simply for the relatively small number of instruments presented in this section, as well as the flowing vocal lines. That being said, I believe there is a strong element of intensity represented through the percussive bursts throughout.

At 3:55 there is a definite transition to a more intense feel. This intensity is carried into the percussive section which follows it. By the time we reach the very end of the piece we have again transitioned to an extremely Zen inspired closing section of focus and reflection.


The Final Tracks

4eb6a640c068730fe864ae26b1a1acf03f565733In the end, the team and I were very happy with the final tracks selected for the Official Blade Symphony Soundtrack. Over the course of our journey, we discovered the musical elements which contribute to creating the perfect soundtrack for a duel. Through diverse stylistic choices and the juxtaposition of figures of intensity and focus, a musical duel was born.

Finality has always caused me some degree of anxiety. I much prefer inventions, beginnings, or new adventures over completions, endings, or finished journeys. That being said, it is a fact that every project will have a final version and every game a final release. Blade Symphony’s final tracks were certainly drawn from a river of musical possibility; I know some of the best musical discoveries are still swirling around in that river, and I will probably never get used to the feeling of walking away.

Through my experiences as a musician, I have learned to trust that the music will always be out there. Just as Blade Symphony’s music will always be out there. I am grateful to have been lucky enough—with the encouragement and vision of the Puny Human team— to have gone on this journey of discovery. Ultimately, it is this journey of musical discovery that keeps me composing. It is this journey which fuels my desire to know what might be hiding around the next corner, waiting to be discovered and shared.

In the beginning, Blade Symphony was a beautiful and fascinating world of gorgeous atmospheres, elegant duelers, and dynamic combat. With the addition of new music, I feel the world is that much more exquisite, and the gameplay that much more alive. All in all, I am very satisfied with the outcome. Still, I cannot help but wonder what new ideas are out there and how they may evolve Blade Symphony’s universe in the future…