Welcome! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips. As most of us are no-doubt aware, the Game Developers Conference 2020 has been postponed. This means that the yearly conference’s rich and diverse schedule of lectures will not be performed live next week during GDC 2020 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. I was really looking forward to presenting my lecture, entitled “The Importance of Themes: Creating Musical Signatures for your Games.” Having given GDC presentations every year since 2015, I consider the Game Developers Conference to be an indispensable event for both my career and my personal enrichment as a game music composer. While the postponement is a set-back for the entire game development community, I’m glad to share some awesome news! A portion of the GDC 2020 lecture schedule will still take place as planned – albeit from a much different venue. Instead of in-person presentations, GDC plans to stream many of their previously scheduled GDC talks during GDC week as part of a “virtual conference.” This means that I can share my lecture as a GDC Virtual Talk. Best of all, all of the GDC Virtual Talks will be available for free!
My virtual talk will focus on the best ways to create memorable thematic material. Catchy melodies can help to enhance a game’s distinctive character and originality, which can subsequently lead to a more memorable gameplay experience. In preparing my presentation, I conducted quite a bit of research. Because of time constraints, not all of that scholarly research made it into my final presentation. I was sorry to have to cut those materials – I thought it was pretty interesting stuff! So let’s now discuss some of that extra info in this article. We won’t be delving into the actual subject matter of my lecture, since I’ll be saving that material for my actual presentation that will be included in the slate of GDC 2020 Virtual Talks. But the general relationship between music and memory is a fascinating area of study. If our music can help games to stick in the minds of players, then it should be useful for us to understand some expert scholarly viewpoints on the relationship between music and memory.
Hey everyone! I’m video game music composer Winifred Phillips. This past April, I gave a lecture on video game music composition techniques at the invitation of The Library of Congress in Washington DC. It was the first speech on game music composition given at The Library of Congress, and I was tremendously honored to be able to represent the field of video game music! My presentation was entitled “The Interface Between Music Composition and Game Design,” and was supported by a full house in the Whittall Pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress. In a previous article, I posted a partial transcript of the Q&A portion from my Library of Congress session, including some of the best questions from the Q&A. Since then, The Library of Congress has included a video of my entire presentation as a part of their permanent archival collection for future generations. I’m very pleased to be able to share the entire video with you!
Glad you’re here! I’m video game music composer Winifred Phillips, and I’m the author of the book A Composer’s Guide to Game Music. Recently my publisher The MIT Press requested that I host a question and answer session on Reddit’s famous Ask Me Anything forum, to share my knowledge about game music and spread the word about my book on that topic. I’d be answering questions from a community consisting of thousands of gamers, developers and aspiring composers. It sounded like fun, so last Thursday and Friday I logged onto Reddit and answered as many questions as I possibly could. It was an awesome experience! Over the course of those two days, my Reddit AMA went viral. It ascended to the Reddit front page, receiving 14.8 thousand upvotes and garnering Reddit’s gold and platinum awards. My AMA has now become one of the most engaged and popular Reddit gaming AMAs ever hosted on the Ask-Me-Anything subreddit. I’m so grateful to the Reddit community for their amazing support and enthusiasm!! During the course of those two days, the community posed some wonderful questions, and I thought it would be great to gather together some of those questions and answers that might interest us here. Below you’ll find a discussion focused on the art and craft of game music composition. The discussion covered the gamut of subjects, from elementary to expert, and I’ve arranged the discussion below under topic headings for the sake of convenience. I hope you enjoy this excerpted Q&A from my Reddit Ask-Me-Anything! If you’d like to read the entire AMA (which also includes lots of discussion of my past video game music projects), you’ll find the whole Reddit AMA here.
On April 6th I was honored to give a lecture at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington DC (pictured right). As a video game composer, I’d been invited to speak by the Music Division of the Library of Congress. I’d be delivering the concluding presentation during their premiere event celebrating popular video game music. My lecture would be the very first video game music composition lecture ever given at the Library of Congress. I was both honored and humbled to accept the invitation and have my lecture included in the 2018-2019 season of concerts and symposia from the Library of Congress.
In my presentation, I included many topics that I’ve written about in previous articles. My lecture topics included horizontal resequencing, vertical layering, and interactive MIDI-based composition. I explored the various roles that music has played in famous games from the earliest days of game design (like Frogger and Ballblazer). I also discussed how music has been implemented in some of the awesome games from the modern era (like one of my own projects, Assassin’s Creed Liberation).
My lecture was supported by a full house in the Whittall Pavilion at the Library of Congress. The audience gave me both a warm welcome and lots of great questions following the conclusion of my lecture. Afterwards, the discussion continued during a book signing event that was kindly hosted by the Library of Congress shop. During the book signing event, I was pleased to sign copies of my book A Composer’s Guide to Game Music. I also got to talk personally with quite a few audience members. Such an engaging and insightful crowd! It was a pleasure getting to know these lovely people. I really enjoyed the lively conversation – I had the best time!!
Hey everybody! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips. Every year, between working in my studio creating music for some awesome games, I like to take a little time to gather together some of the top online resources and guidance available for newbies in the field of video game music. What follows in this article is an updated and expanded collection of links on a variety of topics pertinent to our profession. We begin with the concert tours and events where we can get inspired by seeing game music performed live. Then we’ll move on to a discussion of online communities that can help us out when we’re trying to solve a problem. Next, we’ll see a collection of software tools that are commonplace in our field. Finally, we’ll check out some conferences and academic organizations where we can absorb new ideas and skills.
Delighted you’re here! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and I’m happy to welcome you back to this four-part article series exploring the role of music in VR games! These articles are based on the presentation I gave at this year’s game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, entitled Music in Virtual Reality (I’ve included the official description of my talk at this end of this article). If you haven’t read the previous three articles, you’ll find them here:
During my GDC presentation, I focused on three important questions for VR game music composers:
Do we compose our music in 3D or 2D?
Do we structure our music to be Diegetic or Non-Diegetic?
Do we focus our music on enhancing player Comfort or Performance?
In the course of exploring these questions during my GDC presentation, I discussed my work on four of my own VR game projects –the Bebylon: Battle Royale arena combat game from Kite & Lightning, the Dragon Front strategy game from High Voltage Software, the Fail Factory comedy game from Armature Studio, and the Scraper: First Strike shooter/RPG from Labrodex Inc.
Hey everybody! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips. At this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, I was pleased to give a presentation entitled Music in Virtual Reality (I’ve included the official description of my talk at the end of this article). While I’ve enjoyed discussing the role of music in virtual reality in previous articles that I’ve posted here, the talk I gave at GDC gave me the opportunity to pull a lot of those ideas together and present a more concentrated exploration of the practice of music composition for VR games. It occurred to me that such a focused discussion might be interesting to share in this forum as well. So, with that in mind, I’m excited to begin a four-part article series based on my GDC 2018 presentation!
Once again, the Game Developers Conference is almost upon us! GDC 2018 promises to be an awesome event, chock full of great opportunities for us to learn and grow as video game music composers. I always look forward to the comprehensive sessions on offer in the popular GDC audio track, and for the past few years I’ve been honored to be selected as a GDC speaker. Last year I presented a talk that explored how I built suspense and tension through music I composed for such games as God of War and Homefront: The Revolution. This year, I’m tremendously excited that I’ll be presenting the talk, “Music in Virtual Reality.” The subject matter is very close to my heart! Throughout 2016 and 2017, I’ve composed music for many virtual reality projects, some of which have hit retail over the past year, and some of which will be released very soon. I’ve learned a lot about the process of composing music for a VR experience, and I’ve given a lot of thought to what makes music for VR unique. During my GDC talk in March, I’ll be taking my audience through my experiences composing music for four very different VR games –the Bebylon: Battle Royale arena combat game from Kite & Lightning, the Dragon Front strategy game from High Voltage Software, the Fail Factory comedy game from Armature Studio, and the Scraper: First Strike Shooter/RPG from Labrodex Inc. I’ll talk about some of the top problems that came up, the solutions that were tried, and the lessons that were learned. Virtual Reality is a brave new world for game music composers, and there will be a lot of ground for me to cover in my presentation!
In preparing my talk for GDC, I kept my focus squarely on composition techniques for VR music creation, while making sure to supply an overview of the technologies that would help place these techniques in context. With these considerations in mind, I had to prioritize the information I intended to offer, and some interesting topics simply wouldn’t fit within the time constraints of my GDC presentation. With that in mind, I thought it would be worthwhile to include some of these extra materials in a couple of articles that would precede my talk in March. In this article, I’ll explore some theoretical ideas from experts in the field of VR, and I’ll include some of my own musings about creative directions we might pursue with VR music composition. In the next article, I’ll talk about some practical considerations relating to the technology of VR music.
I’m pleased to announce that my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, is now available its new paperback edition! I’m excited that my book has done well enough to merit a paperback release, and I’m looking forward to getting to know a lot of new readers! The paperback is much lighter and more portable than the hardcover. Here’s a view of the front and back covers of the new paperback edition of my book (click the image for a bigger version if you’d like to read the back cover):
As you might expect, many aspiring game composers read my book, and I’m honored that my book is a part of their hunt for the best resources to help them succeed in this very competitive business. When I’m not working in my music studio, I like to keep up with all the great new developments in the game audio field, and I share a lot of what I learn in these articles. Keeping in mind how many of my readers are aspiring composers, I’ve made a point of devoting an article once a year to gathering the top online guidance currently available for newcomers to the game music profession. In previous years I’ve focused solely on recommendations gleaned from the writings of game audio pros, but this time I’d like to expand that focus to include other types of resources that could be helpful. Along the way, we’ll be taking a look at some nuggets of wisdom that have appeared on these sites. So, let’s get started!
The Game Developers Conference is coming up soon! Last year I presented a talk on music for mobile games (pictured above), and I’m pleased that this year I’ll be presenting the talk, “Homefront’ to ‘God of War’: Using Music to Build Suspense” (Wednesday, March 1st at 11am in room 3006 West Hall, Moscone Center, San Francisco). In my talk I’ll be focusing on practical applications of techniques for video game composers and game audio folks, using my own experiences as concrete examples for exploration. Along the way, I’ll be discussing some very compelling scholarly research on the relationship between suspense, gameplay and musical expression. In preparing my GDC 2017 presentation I did a lot of reading and studying about the nature of suspense in video games, the importance of suspense in gameplay design, and the role that video game music plays in regulating and elevating suspense. There will be lots of ground to cover in my presentation! That being said, the targeted focus of my presentation precluded me from incorporating some very interesting extra research into the importance of suspense in a more general sense… why human beings need suspense, and what purpose it serves in our lives. I also couldn’t find the space to include everything I’d encountered regarding suspense as an element in the gaming experience. It occurred to me that some of this could be very useful to us in our work as game makers, so I’d like to share some of these extra ideas in this article.