Interview: Resistance Composers On Music's Impact
PSXE: Is it more difficult to write music for handheld productions like this one?
Jason: "Not at all. The were no additional technical limitations for Burning Skies. I approached this the same way I would scoring any console title."
Kevin: "Not at all. Not these days at least. Approaching and creating a score for handheld devices is in no way different than creating scores for console games."
PSXE: These days, more and more teams are using licensed music for their games, but we say original compositions must remain prominent. What do you think about licensed versus original scores for video games?
Jason: "I think it totally depends on the title and platform. Licensed music is perfect for some types of games. Others really shine when the gameplay is custom scored. I know that sounds cliche, but I really do think it's true! I've always been a huge believer in supporting the game, regardless of how it impacts me as the composer.
'What's the best choice for the best possible game experience?' That question always clears away any doubt or confusion I may have about a specific cue or method of implementation. I know if I'm serving the game to the best of my ability than I'm doing my job, which makes both me and the developer very happy!"
Kevin: "I think teams are going to use what they think fits best with their title. Some games do in fact benefit from licensed music and some do not. It has a lot to do with what kind of game is in question. Licensed tracks would definitely not work in a game like Resistance, unless maybe in key situations where it was warranted. But it would not be the meat of the score. I do think licensed music does have its place in games but will never replace an ‘original score’."
PSXE: Is there anything unique about creating music for games as opposed to other entertainment venues, like movies or TV shows?
Jason: "A lot of composers mention the interactive aspect of game music, which is completely true. However, a lot of times people overlook the sheer amount of music composers for games need to deliver in a short period of time. Big titles are usually more than two hours of music and the bulk of that is combat music. In film or TV the exact opposite is true. Not only is there less music, but most of it is background music that plays behind dialog.
In games, the action is the dialog! We have so much more space and freedom to compose. Dialog mostly occurs in cutscenes and in-game music probably occupies 75% or more of the score. That means a two hour game score could have up to an hour and a half of dialog free music. And most of that would be combat music. That's a LOT of incredibly fun, creatively freeing music to compose, regardless of the genre. And it's also the biggest reason I love composing music for games so much!"
Kevin: "The one thing that I feel separates games from the other media is how it is approached. Just as in film and TV, a composer is still writing to support story, visuals, and emotion but in video games a composer also has to keep in mind, when writing, the possibility of how certain layers in a piece of music will work alone and in addition to other musical layers stacked on top of or faded in and out of each other. With more and more teams requesting that the music be as interactive as possible, in order to give the illusion that it was written to the player’s in-game choices, it has become the one unique factor that separates creating music for games from other media."
We'd like to thank Jason and Kevin for taking the time to answer our questions, and we definitely look forward to playing Burning Skies. ...oh wait, we already are...scratch that, we look forward to bringing you our review very soon. ;)
And if you want to snag the awesome soundtrack, it'll launch alongside the game on May 29. iTunes is the place to go, if you didn't already know.
5/26/2012 Ben Dutka