Friday was definitely a full day for me at WonderCon. So many places to be… Wish I had a time turner… One of the main reasons is because I would have LOVED to has sat in on CW3PR’s “Level Up” panel. The composers of some of my favorite game soundtracks were there! Well, at least I got to see them in person before the panel started (dressed up as Valkyrie…). And I got to see Jason Mewes. This had to be the highlight of my day! I was so close to running up to him and saying what a big fan I was, but then I remembered I was carrying an axe… Better to nod and smile from afar…
Since I was unable to attend the panel, CW3PR was extremely nice and gave me a detailed recap. Give it a read!
Los Angeles, CA — Drawing a packed house, composers of some of the most popular video games around discussed their work to punctuate a lively first day of WonderCon. Gordy Haab (Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct), John Kaefer (Quantum Break), Bill Brown (Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, Captain America: Super Soldier, Lineage II), Christopher Drake (Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman: Arkham Origins), Niels Bye Nielsen (Hitman, Ratchet & Clank Series), and Mick Gordon (Doom 4, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Killer Instinct, Need for Speed: Shift/World/The Run) came together to discuss what it takes to create the atmosphere and style of a video game through music.
Leading the way were moderators Rahul Kohli, who currently stars in iZombie and Jason Mewes, the beloved Jay from Clerks, both of whom are avid video gamers and fans of the composers. Jason was amped by the intro reel featuring the composer’s music, commenting, “Normally I just listen to this music on my headphones, but hearing it with these speakers….I’m just so excited.“ The pair was also introduced by surprise guest Janina Gavankar (The League, Far Cry 4).
As veteran composers, the panelists compared their experiences with video games to other mediums. Bill Brown compared his work on CSI: New York and Dominion season 2, to his work for Captain America: Super Soldier, indicating “the themes in video games are broken down… it’s reactive, it’s interactive, in a space and players start to hear a theme from another area, tempo synced. You’re writing the best music you can, but in the game you are implementing it in a much more complex way, with several themes going on at once.”
Niels Bye Nielsen explained the technical challenges behind game scoring, as “you can walk around in any environment and do nothing and the music score has to work…it’s a different sort of puzzle piece.” Christopher Drake added, “the music has to exist at the speed of the player, loop and not be redundant. It varies by game, with different rules technically that we had to approach.”
John Kaefer, who is scoring Xbox One’s breakthrough interactive TV series Quantum Break, revealed details of the mechanics behind the show and how it affected his music, as variations in the player’s choices effect which live action cutscene will show, saying, “I really enjoyed approaching scoring the scenes in that way, as variations of each other that exist in the same universe.”
The composers also discussed the challenges for scoring for games from franchises with pre-existing music. Gordy Haab shared the challenges of scoring for the Star Wars franchise “with a billion Star Wars fans looming. And I’m also a big a fan, so I wanted to make sure to create a score I would like to hear, while also honoring the original John Williams sound with my own creative take.”
The biggest audience reactions came from Mick Gordon’s discussion of his use of a human femur bone flute in his scores. Mick bookended the panel by expressing his love for scoring video games, exclaiming “video games are cooler! It is an incredible experience to score from the player’s perspective.”
For more information on video game composers, visit www.cw3pr.com.