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Enter: The D.C. Indie Scene

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Greg-EditorSince 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.

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Jen made me this cake for my birthday!

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.

indiecon-dcMy 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

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Concert Review: Video Games Live! Bonus Round

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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.

wolftrapIf 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

New website and official demo!

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THE WEBSITE

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

MAGFest XI Recap: Saturday & Sunday

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MAGFest Badges

After a grueling night of playing challenges (check out the spoils above), I returned to my quarters only to wake up the next morning at 7am to go down and play some more.  In fact, Brandon was able to make his way down to play, as well, and he had stayed up even later than I did the night before—it was great to have a buddy to share the pain with so early in the morning.

Call us crazy, but those laptops are almost always occupied, and it has long been proven that going to the game room in the wee hours of the morning is the best thing to do if you’re looking to play a specific, popular attraction.  My first year, Jen and I woke up at 5am to go down and we were able to play whatever we wanted whenever we wanted.  That’s a Pro Tip for you there for next year, dear readers.

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At nine o’clock I went back to the room to wake up Jen and eat some breakfast, and together we wandered down to Kinuyo Yamashita’s panel.  Unfortunately for you all, my notes are sparse—she really didn’t say much outside of what I already knew from my biographical post about her.  However, one notable question asked was whether or not Yamashita ripped off a Guns and Roses song called “My Michelle” with her Mega Man X3 track “Neon Tiger.”  After some sleuthing, the Guns and Roses number was recorded in 1987, while X3 was released in 1995 (start at :20 for “Neon Tiger” and :26 for “My Michelle”).


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Moved in!

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Arlington Move - TeamworkThis weekend I took the first steps on my sabbatical—that is, I made the move to my new apartment in Arlington, VA!  It’s been a pretty exciting last couple of weeks, from having one last ultra-busy hurrah at my now old job at the Virginia Arts Festival to getting approval to move into the apartment to preparing to leave to getting settled.  If that sentence was exhausting to read, then good—in that case it well emulates how things have been going for me.

After a bittersweet last day in the office, I readied my things to go at home.  Some of the work was already done, but the big things, like, oh, dismantling my computer desk and bed, weren’t.  It’s a good thing I used my last “personal day” for work on Friday, else things would have been really dicey.  Everything was packed and/or gathered, however, by Saturday morning, and my parents and I made the 200-mile trek north. More

MAGFest XI Recap: Thursday & Friday

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Disclaimer: I apologize for much of the photography—I apparently have the least steady hand in the universe.

If you couldn’t tell by “MAGFest” being in the title of two of my last four blog posts, yes, it was that time of year again.

Having done a two-day, two-night stint for the past two years, Jen and I decided to extend our trip and come up on Thursday night.  We thought (I thought) we were being baller, but come to find out, the real ballers head up on Wednesday and get the place warmed up while the rest of us toil away at work.  Drat!

After getting, mmmm, “misdirected” on the drive to National Harbor from the other side of the water (National Harbor got sucked into a black hole, according to both Jen’s and our friend’s GPS), Jen and I made it to the Gaylord National and were greeted with a smooth check-in.  The place was alive already, but not nearly as much so as it would be over the next few days.

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After getting situated, we went to go get our badges and ran into a prime example why the MAGFest community is so cool.  While in line, this guy in front of us pulled out a binder of cards.  He was a brony, and he started talking about his collection of My Little Pony trading cards – of which he had a complete base set and a slew of special cards – to the guys next to him.  Jen loves MLP and got excited, so we checked them out as he flipped through he pages.  The guy asked if Jen was missing any of the cards, and we joked that she needed them all.  Well, he didn’t give Jen a set, but he flipped to the back of his binder and let her pick out a couple.  What a guy!  So Jen scored Pinky Pie and Gummy trading cards just by geeking out with another MAGFester.  That’s the name of the game!

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Know Your MAGFest Moguls: Yuzo Koshiro

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Crowned “arguably the greatest game-music composer of the 16-bit age” as recently as 2006 by the now-tragically deceased publication Nintendo Power, Yuzo Koshiro was born in the city of Hino in Tokyo, Japan, on December 12, 19671.  At the age of three, Koshiro’s mother started teaching him piano, and he went on to study with Mamoru Fujisawa – better known as Joe Hisaishi, composer for many Hayao Miyazaki films, including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away – for three years when he was eight.  A multi-instrumentalist, Koshiro picked up the violin when he was five and later learned to play cello and guitar as well2, 3.

As a schoolboy, Koshiro would cut his classes and head to the arcades, where he would spend his time feeding Namco, Konami, and Sega machines2.  Although he really wanted to be a game programmer, he had a knack for creating music, and so he made mockups of the music that he heard in the games he played on a PC-8801 soundboard3.  Having been influenced by the sounds of Gradius, Space Harrier, and Tower of Druaga, one of his goals was to bring the high quality of arcade game music to the PC since, to that point, there wasn’t much in the way of great, inspirational PC game music4.  It was by sticking with that vision and producing high quality music on that soundboard that he caught the attention of those that worked at the game company Nihon Falcom.

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During summer vacation, at the age of eighteen, Koshiro spotted a job listing for an opening within Falcom in a PC magazine2.  Since the company was close by, he applied and scored the job.  In fact, Falcom loved the music demos that he sent so much that they even used some of those demo tunes in his first game project, Xanadu Scenario II (1985).  The rest of the soundtrack was pieced together similarly—instead of writing music off a visual, Koshiro wrote music that he liked and then applied that music to parts of the game that seemed a fit, giving the music an “unexpected quality” which, to him, “created the game’s unique worldview”3.  On composing this music, he states in an interview with Square Enix Music Online:

“… I was a mere beginner, so I composed blindly, as if in a trance. I didn’t have a special approach; I just wanted to create PC game music with the kind of drive that I liked in arcade game music, and that was my main motivation.”

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