Since sending out my demo to who-knows-how-many indie game companies, there hasn’t been too much to talk about on the business sides of things. In the most basic of recaps, responses were few and far between, and the positive ones just featured a few e-mail exchanges ending with a more-or-less “maybe later when we start a new project.” That’s all good, by the way–I may have expected a bit more in the way of response quantity, but I understand that companies get many e-mails a day from those like me who are trying to burst their way onto the scene. No matter how much I am confident that my music must stand out amongst a large percentage of that crowd, nothing really beats the power of exasperation and avoidance on the developers’ side in this case.
Being that I haven’t found projects to sustain myself – as I believed would be the case when I started on this journey, so no surprises there – I have been spending my time looking for full-time work and substitute teaching. Once I land that job, by the way, I will write a full recap of my sabbatical, going further into detail about my thoughts on it; for now, though, I will focus on that side of business which I have been moving forward with: that of making face-to-face connections.
I view GDC as the cream of the crop in the way of meeting people, but since that’s still a few months off yet, making local connections is where it’s at. If you’re unaware – as I was until I had already been up here for a few months – many major cities harbor chapters of an organization called the International Game Developers Association, or IGDA for short (I like saying it “ig-duh,” but apparently that’s not a thing–people just pronounce each letter individually). The closest chapter to me is the D.C. one, and it contains developers from all areas around D.C. that aren’t closer to Baltimore or Richmond. From what I’ve seen, the number of active members isn’t enormous, but it’s certainly nothing to scoff at either.
My first encounter with IGDA D.C., aside from simply becoming a card-holding member via the internet, was through an event of theirs called Indie Con D.C. More
A few weekends ago, Tommy Tallarico and his merry band of video game composers headed into Vienna, VA, to play Video Games Live! Bonus Round at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. Excitedly, Jen and I went with a couple of friends to see the show, which was performed by the National Symphony Orchestra.
Disclaimer: Jen’s camera ended up breaking so I don’t have pictures from the actual show [insert here your vision of a crying man]; the ones included are from the VGL press page.
If you have never been to the Wolf Trap, it’s a beautiful venue. Every time I’ve been I have opted to get a lawn ticket, which has been lovely simply because you can set yourself up a little picnic spot. Granted, your spot is going to be squished between all of the other picnic spots, especially if you want a good seat, but to be real, the spaces between you and your neighbors on the lawn are still larger than they would be if you sat next to them in the seated area.
Even though we were pretty far up on the lawn (which is a hill that leads down to the seating area, as you can tell from the picture), we still had a pretty great view of the symphony. Aside from experiencing this music played by a live orchestra, another main part of the VGL show is video, and while we were too high up to see the video behind the symphony itself, Wolf Trap had set up a second external screen that was large and very visible once it got a little darker outside. Deciding whether to focus on the orchestra or on the screens was a minor dilemma at times, but one that was certainly overcome by ability to bring and eat Triscuits and cheese.
As the show’s host, Tommy Tallarico, who looks and dresses like some people that I hung out with in high school, acts like a goofy, energetic kid—and I mean that in a good way. The show, though it is based around a serious concept – the one of symphony orchestras performing music from games, those things that are often seen by people as a horrible, mind-numbing alternative to going outside –, is extremely light-hearted to the point where it is almost like an old-school game itself. Tommy bounds around on stage, hyping up the audience and shredding on his guitar, reminding us that this music, while sometimes serious, is also serious fun. More
Those of you who follow me on Twitter (or irl) know that I have been playing a ton of FTL lately. I just bought it during the Steam Summer Sale for something absurd like $2.50 (<3) and it has maliciously taken over much of whatever free time I have to burn.
For those that don’t know, FTL is a real-time strategy game by Subset Games that was crowdfunded on Kickstarter to a release last fall (2012). While it is very fun and comes highly recommended – and not just by me, evidenced by its Metascore of 84 –, it is extremely unforgiving and has done nothing but pain me at great lengths. Still, I will on, determined to beat it someday…
But my excruciating experiences with the game are not why I write today. I come to speak of the soundtrack, of course—a soundtrack that has received high praise from a variety of sources. The accolades that composer Ben Prunty has listed on the front of his website are as follows:
IGN: Best Overall Music and Best PC Sound of 2012 (nominee)
Kotaku: Best Video Game Music of 2012
The Game Scouts: Top Ten Video Game Soundtracks of 2012
Complex: Top 25 Best Video Game Soundtracks on Bandcamp
NeoGAF: Official Game Soundtracks of the Year 2012
That’s pretty great. Based on his webpage, Prunty has only composed for a few projects so far, so kudos to him for getting that kind of recognition so early on in his career
I will start out by saying that I was instantly attracted to Prunty’s music. The title theme, “Space Cruise” is easy to like. The beginning certainly screams “OUTER SPACE,” from the tone choice, to the chord that bends and fades, to the seemingly eternal amount of space between that first chord and the second. Hearing those elements from the very beginning immediately puts the gamer in the mood to play a space-themed game.
Another great thing about the open beginning is that it sets up the next section, which one can still consider spacey, but in a different, more light-hearted and fun way. Prunty introduces more electronic instruments with different tone colors that fill in the voids that are left between the first two chords. What you hear is a pretty typical layered build-up that is meant to lead into a climax at 0:57.
This climax features a swifter pace that comes about by way of new, swirling rhythmic sounds and notes with shorter durations. It doesn’t last too long, though, as it hits a breakdown at 1:16 that signals the beginning of a devolution back to the more open feel of the beginning. Essentially, the other two-and-half minutes are filled by a variety of melodies and rehashing of ideas from the beginning of the tune in that open feel.
While I enjoy the piece, I do have some criticism for it More
Note: All of the pictures are of stuff I’ve been listening to recently–they have no real relevance to the actual content of the post.
Hitoshi Sakimoto & Masaharu Iwata – Final Fantasy Tactics OST
Since putting the finishing touches on my demo and constructing my new website, I’ve been on an “e-mail blitz,” cold-calling every game company whose contact information I can get my hands on to get myself out there and nail down a gig.
It’s been an interesting experience. Hopping from one website to another, you get to see many business types and practices. For instance, I thought it would be relatively easy to go on a company’s website to find contact information and the name of the person whom it would be best to contact. Most companies have either a contact page or an e-mail address listed, but some you really have to dig for. I’m not talking about just industry giants like Capcom or Rockstar Games, either, which is a bit strange.
What I find most surprising, maybe, is that lack of information about the developing team, especially with smaller companies. Though it’s certainly not a deal breaker, I am more inclined to feel good vibes about a company that enjoys putting their talented staff out in the open on their website, even if there’s just a list without any fancy pictures or silly profiles. Maybe it’s a bit old-fashioned or something, but I expected it, maybe due in part to my old employer having a full staff listing on its website. Now, having every staff person’s e-mail address and work number up *did* bring in its fair share of unsolicited, zany calls and e-mails, so maybe that website isn’t the best model to follow; however, there is a happy medium to be found.
Maria Schneider – Winter Morning Walks
There are two other types of websites that I really like. First, you have the websites that look effing awesome. My favorite one so far has been the website for Untold Entertainment (hover over “About” to see the best part). Even though some of the links don’t work, I’m willing to look past the site’s flaws and am happy to hunt for the information I need.
Second, you have the websites that link to other developers that they like. Having the want and will to publish those links of apparent competitors says a lot about the company to me; it says that they’re interested in being part of the larger game community and that they exist not only for themselves—those are the kind of companies that I really want to write for and help succeed.
On the other side of the coin, you have the companies that scream “avoid” right off the bat. More
If in the last few hours you scrambled to find out if there’ve been any goings ons on this blog by going directly to scorevgm.com, you may have found yourself in uncharted territory that looks exactly like the picture above.
I know it’s a little frightening, but please DON’T PANIC.
What you stumbled upon is my new website, which I created over the last two days using Squarespace. Before I go into details about the why, please note that if you follow my blog using WordPress, everything will be just fine.
Or, at least, it should be fine, heh. I’m going to continue to use WordPress as my main blogging tool, seeing as I can easily import my blog posts into my new site from here. Not to mention, I wouldn’t want to lose any of you, dear readers. Many of you have been following [Score.] since its beginnings, and I would certainly never want to alienate you from my stuff, or me from our interactions!
The idea for a new website for [Score.] came about after I finished up my demo late last week (more on that later). I thought, ‘Okay, I’m finally ready to send my content out to developers–let’s do this,’ but then came to the realization that my site was really just a blog and not an actual website, per se. To increase the professional look of my business, I needed the site to be focused around what my business is about and what I offer, not just around blog posts about constructing my compositions, reviewing other people’s work, and the like. More
About a month or so ago I was thinking about what kinds of tunes I hadn’t yet written that I should write for my demo. The most obvious of the missing genres was a film-like tune—an epic tune fit for cinema in the ilk of Lord of the Rings or even the soundtrack to Skyrim.
Granted, my tune sounds absolutely nothing like the Skyrim tune above, haha, but I was certainly thinking in terms of having that BIG sound… a big, epic sound with a lot of brass and space and all that good stuff.
I’m sure that you’ll get that impression from the beginning of my tune, “Behemoth,” but it kind of devolves from sounding like a film piece into sounding more like a piece of game music. I committed to this transformation right after I wrote in a part that sounded game-y, especially because it opened up new possibilities and allowed me to put in ideas that wouldn’t have made sense if I wanted to continue to think in terms of film. Very early on you’ll hear the entrance of some pointy-sounding flutes, for instance—those came from the removal of the film restriction that I had put on myself.
So because the music started to sound more like a game I decided to think of it in the context of a game. The original sound was intended to be “epic battle;” thinking about games, some of the most epic battles take place when you’re fighting bosses. Thus, I started to imagine a giant beast – specifically that which looks like a behemoth from the Final Fantasy series – bursting into a room ready to chomp you in half.
While the brass is more representative of the “epic beast boss battle,” I wrote the woodwinds as if they were harbingers of insanity or twistedness. They’re meant to put the player on edge or even scare him or her a little. This idea was almost assuredly influenced by a couple of different Final Fantasy tunes.
“Kefka’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VI will always come to mind when thinking of a tune that is supposed to represent someone truly evil and insane. On its own, one may not hear those villainous attributes, yet when the player hears the theme played as Kefka, for example, poisons Doma, it really gets under his or her skin. In affecting the player in such a way, the true genius of Uematsu ‘s writing comes out. Start the below video at 6:01 to see what I mean. More
Hey! It’s been awhile. I’ve got two tunes for you to check out.
Fanfare and Jubilee (Remastered)
This was actually completed about three weeks ago…
If you compare it to the original versions of the tune you’ll find some changes in the actual composition (as opposed to the sound), but nothing too significant. Mainly, I made the ending shorter so that the listener wouldn’t lose interest. I had thought before that the buildup to the large section that features all of the instruments playing together would be a good idea; however, even I as the composer was fatigued by hearing just one instrument come in at a time. Also, you’ll notice that the trombone starts off the buildup instead of the trumpet, and the percussion doesn’t take extra time to build up either. I think you’ll agree if you compare the two that it was in every listener’s best interest to shorten that section.
While this tune is technically final, having sought out some criticism of it I learned from other composers that they find the mix too dry. While I set out for a drier mix, I am going to run with the suggestions and see how I can improve the sound of the piece by altering the reverb to give it more depth.
This next tune was written for the TIGSource Musical Challenge XXIII. You might recall that I entered one of the challenges a while back with my tune “Mr. AC (Keep Your Cool).” For that tune, the challenge was to make a thirty-second looping battle theme; for this, things were a bit less constricting. The challenge was, simply, to create a love theme. More