GameSoundCon 2013

GameSoundCon-Sign

I’ve just come back from a fantastic experience at GameSoundCon, the premiere conference on game music and sound design. It was great to see so many old friends and new faces, and I really enjoyed the conference’s expansion into the LA Convention Center. I’m usually there every year for E3, which is always a mind-blowing spectacle, so revisiting the place when it’s less hectic was a welcome change of pace.

Speaking at GameSoundCon 2013

Speaking at GameSoundCon 2013

This was my first time speaking at a GameSoundCon event, and the audience was very welcoming. My session, From LittleBigPlanet to Assassin’s Creed Liberation: Adventures in Melodic Composition, took place on the second day of the conference, during the Game Audio Pro track for experienced game industry folks. It was a pleasure to share some tips and techniques, and I really appreciated the warm reception I received. Special thanks to those of you who came up to me afterwards and talked to me about your own experiences. It was wonderful meeting you!

A portion of the audience for my presentation at GameSoundCon

A portion of the audience for my presentation at GameSoundCon

As an added bonus, the GameSoundCon event took place immediately preceding GDC Next, and they were both located in the LA Convention Center, so I was able to attend both events. The expo floor for GDC Next was especially enjoyable, since it included booths for a lot of smaller mobile and app developers that can sometimes be overshadowed at larger shows like GDC.

GDC-Next

Also, I had the opportunity to attend a GDC Next presentation by the Writers Guild of America award-winning co-writer of Assassin’s Creed Liberation, Jill Murray. Her presentation focused on how to incorporate compelling female protagonists into all sorts of intriguing game concepts. She did a fantastic job, and it was great seeing her there!

Jill Murray

Assassin’s Creed III Liberation Makes 1st Round Grammy Ballot

Some good news that I’d like to quickly share with you — I recently found out that my soundtrack for Assassin’s Creed III Liberation made the first-round balloting for this year’s Grammy Awards.

AC3L-ForYourConsideration

If you (or any of your friends) are members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), please consider voting for my soundtrack in these three categories: Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, Best Instrumental Composition, Best Instrumental Arrangement.

Here’s an Assassin’s Creed III Liberation trailer that features the main theme I composed for the game. This music has already won a Hollywood Music in Media Award, a Global Music Award, a Game Audio Network Guild Award and a GameFocus Award:

Also, here’s a trailer for the high-definition re-release of the Assassin’s Creed Liberation video game, coming in early 2014. This trailer also features my music from the soundtrack to the game:

I’m very pleased that my music for Assassin’s Creed III Liberation has made the first-round voting ballot for this year’s Grammy Awards!

My Music Around the World – Accidental Discoveries Part 2

This continues my intermittent series of posts about how I’ve accidently discovered my music being used in all sorts of amusing, entertaining, and unexpected ways:

The Very Dramatic Weddings of Kyrgyzstan

The Very Dramatic Weddings of Kyrgyzstan

Of all the ways in which I’ve stumbled across my own music on the web, this is one of the weirdest. Wedding videographer Uluk Omurkulov of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan put together a demo reel showing highlights from his past wedding videos, all set to my theme music from Assassin’s Creed III Liberation. There are beautiful brides in lace holding ivory roses, newly wedded couples waltzing among Corinthian marble pillars, meaningful handholding, devoted eye contact, beautiful scenes of a bride and groom in a snowy winter wonderland… with all shots edited precisely to the driving tempo of the theme music for a video game about an 18th century assassin in New Orleans. While the music choice is definitely odd and creates a bit of cognitive dissonance, it also sort of hangs together in a way that makes me grin. I have to hand it to Uluk Omurkulov – he can definitely shoot a great wedding video.

Haifa International Flower Exhibition

The Haifa International Flower Exhibition

I loved this one. In April of 2012, on the shore lines of Haifa (the largest city in Northern Israel), a huge team of Danish artists and flower designers created whimsical worlds of floral delight housed in 9 large white domes for the International Flower Exhibition in Hecht Park. Over 150,000 visitors toured these domes. One of these was named “Water World” and featured enormous white flowers, floating bubbles, misty filtered blue light creating a subaquatic atmosphere… and my music! The exhibition selected my composition “Haven” from the Spore Hero game (Electronic Arts) as the soundtrack that greeted visitors while they strolled through this magical world of flowers. I chanced upon this YouTube video shot by a visitor to the exhibition, and was delighted by the beauty of the exhibit and the honor of my music being selected for it.

Fascinating Games of E3

ImageEvery year, I head to the Electronic Entertainment Expo with the hope that my creative energies will be stimulated by some incredibly unique game that I’ll see on the show floor. While my primary mission at E3 is to meet with other developers and talk about future projects, I’m always keeping an eye out for what’s happening in the two major expo halls.  Because of that, I tend to view my E3 experience as a series of hunting trips. Each time, I hope that my expo floor excursion will be interrupted by a moment of surprise and inspiration, as I discover a game I hadn’t seen before. In previous years I’ve had my attention arrested by the fantastical world of El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, the visual artistry of Trine, the hypnotically unique game-play of From Dust, and many others.

Last year, I couldn’t attend E3 because I was working on the music of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. Because of that, I was doubly eager to see what games would be on display this year, and what would capture my attention. There’s something about the way in which games are gathered together at E3… wandering through this collection of game exhibits never fails to fills me with creative fuel, helping me to stay energized throughout the year.

At this E3, the two games I remember most are Rain and Dragon’s Prophet.

Rain is a poetic game in which you play as an invisible little boy, searching for a mysterious girl through a dilapidated and inexplicably empty city soaked by an eternal rainfall. The boy is only visible in the rain, which reveals him to the creatures that hunt him. The visual presentation of the game blends realism with a stark stylized lighting and texture. The game makes use of licensed music well, particularly Debussy’s Clair de Lune. I must admit that, since Debussy is one of my favorite composers, my immediate affection for this game might have been influenced by its musical accompaniment.

Dragon’s Prophet, on the other hand, is a free-to-play MMORPG that focuses on obtaining, training and riding dragons. The appeal of the game, for me, rested almost completely in the lush details in the landscape and the opportunities for exploration. Flying on the back of a dragon over a glittering waterfall is a deeply enjoyable experience in Dragon’s Prophet, enhanced by a very effective orchestral score written by Alexander Roeder, Mindy Lo and Rmoney Chen. The soundtrack is not available for sale, but it can be heard in a playlist on the developer’s YouTube Channel. The track I remember hearing during my playtime at E3 was “Auratia” – a grandly thematic musical backdrop for gliding on the back of a dragon.