KING'S QUEST II: AN OVERVIEW
When composing Music for "KQII:RTS", I felt it
was important to capture the 'feel' of the entire King's Quest genre.
Though there's been several composers who've scored music for the
various King's Quest games, they've all contributed key elements
that have become easily recognizable to the series. My goal was
to present elements that would still hold true to the spirit of
the series, while moving into new directions with the music. Hopefully,
this goal has been realized in the KQ2:RTS soundtrack.
If you don't already know, King's Quest
II: Romancing The Stones is available with two versions
of the musical soundtrack: a General MIDI (GM) version, and
an Enhanced Digital version. The GM version will play by
default and is included with the game's download. The digital version
is an optional download
that must be installed into the game's directory. So what's the
difference? Plenty! Keep reading...
A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON:
KING'S QUEST GAME MUSIC -- The very first AGI King's
Quest soundtracks were written and performed for PC speaker output,
by Al Lowe. Though these were nothing more than beeps and boops,
the melodies were wonderful, and the Title Themes managed to convey
a majestic feel. Starting in 1988, the King's Quest series began
supporting MIDI; in particular, the Roland MT-32 Sound Module --
a MIDI device capable of a wide range of sounds and effects. Various
Sierra musicians created numerous "enhanced" sounds (patches)
that could be uploaded into the MT-32's memory, thus providing a
totally original experience in quality sound output. The only other
options for MIDI support at the time were the tinny sounds of FM
Several years later, Roland Corporation introduced the General MIDI
standard and Sierra chose the Roland Sound Canvas SC-55 as their
'instrument of choice' for General MIDI composing and compatibility.
The SC-55 was (and still is) considered the defacto standard for
General MIDI music. A couple of years later, Creative Labs released
the Sound Blaster AWE32, a good sounding card, though it didn't
exactly comply with Roland's General MIDI standard. Therefore, Sierra's
General MIDI soundtracks didn't play properly through the AWE32.
The only way to really hear Sierra's game soundtracks properly was
by using either the MT-32, or the SC-55. The cost of either of these
devices was a bit steep for many, but some felt it was well worth
Because of the relatively low cost of the Sound Blaster line of
sound cards, their popularity grew to eventually dominate the sound
card market...even though the Sound Blaster has never been completely
General MIDI compliant. At present, most of those who will be playing
this game using the General MIDI soundtrack for output will be doing
so through a Sound Blaster Live! or Sound Blaster Audigy sound card.
But to be true to the spirit of Sierra's original MIDI support,
the MIDI soundtrack created for KQ2:RTS was designed for optimal
MIDI playback through a 100% General MIDI compliant sound card,
of which there are many.
COMPOSING A SOUNDTRACK:
There's a LOT of music in KQ2:RTS; nearly two-hours worth! I began
working with AGD Interactive on the soundtrack in September 2001.
One year later, in September of 2002, the soundtrack was finally
completed. Along the way, many changes and additions occurred. But
it all started with the "Introduction Music" you
hear during the 10-minute opening sequence. (Coincidentally, the
"Title Theme" for the game was one of the last
I used a variety of MIDI devices while working on the soundtrack,
but the majority of the songs rely strongly on the Roland Sound
Canvas ED SC-8820 Sound Module. Almost every song also includes
tracks from the Roland MT-32 Sound Module as well. And in several
instances throughout the soundtrack, the powerful French horns and
other instruments of the Yamaha SW60XG sound card can also be heard.
MIDI input was primarily provided by a Roland HP3000 digital piano.
Each song was recorded to WAV format, then encoded using the Ogg
Vorbis digital compression scheme, at 80 kbps, 44.1 kHz. (MP3 files
were considered, but their larger file sizes and lessor quality
persuaded us to opt for the Ogg format.) After every song was encoded,
we placed them all within a single "VOX" sound file, which
can be installed to the game's directory for a much higher quality
CHOOSING A SOUNDTRACK FORMAT:
There are pros and cons to each of the two music formats created
for KQ2:RTS. With the General MIDI soundtrack, you need not download
any additional files to hear the music. It's relatively small, and
easy to include right in the game. On the other hand, the digital
soundtrack weighs in at about 61 MB's, which can be a pretty hefty
download for dialup connected modems.
However, the digital soundtrack provides a much more realistic and
enjoyable atmosphere for the game. The limitations associated with
the MIDI output of a single sound card are no longer present. Those
who are seeking the best source for music and sound should definitely
take the necessary time required to download the digital version
of the soundtrack!
Not sure if you want to download the digital soundtrack? Try a few
sample song files on for size! The Ogg Vorbis Sample Soundtrack
files posted below can be downloaded right to your KQ2:RTS game
directory, where they will play just as if they're a part of the
complete digital soundtrack! Instead of the MIDI version of the
song, a high-quality digital song file will be heard. You won't
need any additional 'playback software' to use these sample song
files from within the game, since KQ2:RTS includes its own 'Ogg
player.' And don't worry, your MIDI soundtrack songs will not be
overwritten by the addition of these "ogg" files; just
remove the "ogg" files from your KQ2:RTS game directory
if you no longer want them to play. (Incidentally, the sample files
below are of a higher quality than those included with the downloadable
Any sound card bearing the General MIDI logo is capable
of playing the default MIDI soundtrack included with KQ2:RTS. If
your sound card is not 100% General MIDI compliant, you may have
the option of loading a soundfont or soundbank that is
GM compliant. Check your sound card documentation for support information
and instructions for using sound banks.
your sound card supports DLS (Downloadable Sounds), the best DLS
bank for use with the KQ2:RTS soundtrack is the Microsoft/Roland
General MIDI DLS bank.
The minimum requirements for digital sound output with KQ2:RTS is
a 16-bit multimedia sound card. Any card that functions under Windows95/98/Me/2000/XP
will work with KQ2:RTS. However, occasionally, some users may experience
For instance, upon loading KQ2:RTS you may encounter the message,
"Unable to initialize your audio hardware." The
most common reason for experiencing this error message is caused
by another software program running simultaneously which is using
the sound card's resources. It is highly recommended that you exit
all other programs before loading KQ2:RTS. If after doing so, you
still see this message, reboot your system (hard boot) and disable
any startup programs that make use of your sound card.
Sound Blaster Live! and Audigy sound cards may experience
a problem with decreased MIDI volume levels during gameplay. This
is an internal AGS MIDI playback issue that only seems to affect
certain Sound Blaster models. At present, the AGS MIDI playback
utility has not been updated to correct the problem.
A solution may be to uninstall the Sound Blaster "AudioHQ"
utility and reinstall only the actual sound card drivers. (Though
this remedy has not been verified.)
If you experience any problems with either the MIDI or the optional
digital soundtrack, or the game locks-up when a sound effect is
played, please let us know! You can contact us by email at:
you can discuss your problems, post comments, or talk about
other game-related issues by visiting the KQ2 Support Forum