This seems to be the time of year for game music Kickstarter campaigns. In addition to the previously covered Beep game audio documentary, another full length film titled The Players’ Score: A Videogame Music Documentary is looking for support through a Kickstarter campaign. Unlike the Beep documentary, The Players’ Score will be focused specifically on the music by game composers, chiptune artists, and videogame music cover artists. The documentary will also be taking a look at the culture and community surrounding game music.
The primary goal of the Kickstarter is to help fund the film team’s expenses as they travel to locations like MAGFest (Music and Game Festival) and to international locations in order to interview composers and artists and to cover game music events. Hitting the first stretch goal will allow the team to fly out to Japan for even more interviews.
Cast members in the film include Austin Wintory, Jesse Buddington, Nate Horsfall, and bands like Urizen and The Megas. The documentary is being narrated by Arin “Egorapter” Hanson and will have an original soundtrack composed by Jake “Virt” Kaufman. Backer rewards for the project include physical copies of the soundtrack, Blu-ray copies of the film, and special Skype calls with the cast and crew. If a documentary on the community and culture of videogame music sounds interesting to you, definitely take a look at this Kickstarter project.
Back in February of this year, composer Jimmy “Big Giant Circles” Hinson released a Kickstarter funded album titled The Glory Days. A spiritual sequel to one of his earlier albums, Impostor Nostalgia, this new project featured original music written in the style of chiptunes and old-school videogame music. Part of the original Kickstarter stretch goals included the eventual release of a remix album, which the Kickstarter achieved.
The time has finally come for the release of this extra album. Each remix track comes from members of the game music community. Artists contributing on the album include Stemage, Chipzel, and C418. The Glory Days Remixed is set to launch on August 27th and you can pre-order it on the Big Giant Circles Bandcamp page.
Creators of a new game documentary have launched a Kickstarter. The project titled Beep is intending to take a look at the history of game music and sound. Everything from the old school sounds of arcade games all the way to the games of today. The focus isn’t just on the music of these games. The documentary will also be an exploration of audio design, voice work, and the use of chiptune and other game sound technology outside of the gaming medium. A book will also accompany the documentary to supply more detailed information about the various subjects covered in the film.
There are already plans for interviews with major members of the game audio community. Raising money through Kickstarter will aid the creators in being able to travel and interview composers and sound designers. Several composers have already been named for interviews including Tommy Tallarico, Winifred Phillips, Shota Nakama, Peter McConnell, and many more.
Rewards for backers include copies of the documentary, book, soundtrack, t-shirts, and many other physical rewards. The Kickstarter has already raised over $15,000 of the needed $40,000 pledge goal. If this sounds like a project you’d like to see made, definitely check this Kickstarter out.
MagicalTimeBean, aka Ian Stocker, is the composer of a couple of game series, that of Escape Goat and Soulcaster. His music is very synth laden and, as a result, might not be to everyone’s tastes. I personally have enjoyed most of his music in the past and I have a great deal of respect for a talented composer that truly understands the language and nuances of computer games, and how to best write music for them. If nothing else, the music to Escape Goat 2, and indeed Escape Goat, perfectly matches the game’s play style and, because each level is essentially a static screen from which you have to escape (who knew!), part of the interest needs to come from the music. I feel that Stocker was very aware of this. But, does the music work outside the game? Can you listen to it while on a train or while you relax? Let’s find out. (more…)
I feel that I must get one thing very clear before you continue to read this review. My speciality is piano music. I am a pianist, I listen to a lot of piano music, from Mozart to Debussy, and I go to piano concerts in London. I’m also as close to an expert on the use of the piano in games as you might get, from the triumphant fanfare like riff from Halo 3 to the myriad of Final Fantasy Piano albums. As a result, my standards may be unrealistically high. I also have a confession to make: I’ve never played Journey! I know I know, it’s on my to-do list. This is particularly heinous of me as not only is the game supposed to be amazing, but the soundtrack is said to be excellent as well. However, this might not be a bad thing for this review, as I will not be influence by the game or the original soundtrack. I will take the music at face value, in its own right, separate from its related media.
It’s interesting to note that the composer, Austin Wintory, seems to have had little to do with this album. Transfiguration has been arranged by the Laura Intravia, the singer in the last track, and performed by Robert Thies. In general I think this is a good thing because, as a composer myself, I know how hard it can be to separate myself from my own compositions. I prefer to arrange for other people so I can focus on the advantages and disadvantages of the instrument, rather than being influenced by my own work. So with that said, let’s take a look at Transfiguration. (more…)
The creators of MAGFest, the Music and Gaming Festival, have launched another event that will take place from September 12-14 at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Unlike the regular MAGFest event, which takes place in National Harbor, Maryland every January, this event is taking place at the original MAGFest venue this fall. A few years ago, the main MAGFest event was moved to the National Harbor location, when the festival got bigger and required a larger venue. This new event aims to bring back the vibe of the early MAGFest days to current day festival attendees. Essentially a smaller and more intimate setting for game and music fans. MAGFest 8.5 will be happening in addition to MAGFest 13, the latter of which is set for late January.
For those of you not familiar with MAGFest, it’s a festival, as the name implies, dedicated to games and music. The event features tons of concerts from videogame cover/remix bands and guest appearances by some of the top videogame composers in the world. Past composer guests have included Nobuo Uematsu, Yuzo Koshiro, Chris Huelsbeck, and Tommy Tallarico.
Because of the smaller venue size for MAGFest 8.5, the tickets are going to be limited to only 2000 attendees. If you’re interested in getting out to this event, grab tickets and hotel reservations while you still can. Guests and music performers have yet to be announced. Information on hotels and tickets can be found at the MAGFest 8.5 website.
If you frequent videogame news sites like Destructoid, the name Dale North is probably familiar to you. He’s been a contributor and editor for many news sites across the web, including this one. Currently he is the Editor-In-Chief at Destructoid.com, providing readers with insight on games and gaming events. But did you know that Dale North is also a talented musician and composer? Recently he was tasked with writing the music to the game Dragon Fantasy: Book II. North has done some work with music remixes, including work on Overclocked Remix, but this is his first time writing and releasing an official videogame soundtrack.
The game Dragon Fantasy: Book II is an indie title that pays homage to old-school RPGs. Everything from the combat system down to the SNES era pixel art is meant to evoke the games of the earlier console generations. For this project, North is tasked with producing original music that can engage the players and at the same time contribute to the sense of nostalgia that the game is aiming for. A complicated composition task to undertake. So does Mr. North rise to the challenge? Read on to find out. (more…)
Are you a fan of symphonic game music? If so, you should check out the recently announced rePLAY game music concert tour. This concert series, titled rePLAY: Symphony of Heroes, features music from Halo, Guild Wars 2, Journey, Final Fantasy, Shadow of the Colossus, and many other great games. This program will be touring the US, Canada, Mexico, and England. The concerts will begin early next month in Houston, TX, followed by a concert in Los Angeles, CA.
The rePLAY: Symphony of Heroes concerts follow a format similar to shows like Video Games Live and Distant Worlds. A full symphony orchestra performing game music while footage of the games are shown on an overhead screen. This tour’s theme will be based around the hero’s journey, the monomyth narrative structure identified by Joseph Campbell. Each selection of game music will represent a chapter in the hero’s journey. The concert will also feature narration by Nigel Carrington, the narrator of the game Dear Esther.
The concert dates and locations are as follows:
Houston, TX (July 5, 2014)
Los Angeles, CA (July 6, 2014)
Toronto, Ontario (September 6, 2014)
London, England (September 26, 2014)
Montreal, Quebec (October 4, 2014)
Austin, TX (October 19, 2014)
Monterrey, Mexico (October 24, 2014)
Mexico City, Mexico (October 26, 2014)
Boston, MA (November 21, 2014)
Atlanta, GA (January 17, 2015)
Grand Rapids, MI (February 7, 2015)
Portland, OR (March 6, 2015)
Phoenix, AZ (June 5, 2015)
Tickets are currently on sale for most of the concert locations and dates. If you’re a lover of game music and symphonic performances, definitely give this concert series a look. More information on the rePLAY: Symphony of Heroes concerts can be found on the rePLAY website.
Source: rePlay Symphony
On June 26th the new indie platformer game Shovel Knight will be released across multiple platforms. On that same day, Noise Channel will be hosting a listening party for the game’s soundtrack. The music for Shovel Knight has been composed primarily by Jake “Virt” Kaufman. A handful of tracks for the game were written by Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae. The digital copy of the soundtrack is set to be released on the same day at ‘pay what you want’ on Kaufman’s Bandcamp site.
To celebrate the release of the game and the soundtrack, the listening party will feature Jake Kaufman and possibly some of the members of the Shovel Knight development team, Yacht Club Games, talking about the game and its music. This is a good opportunity to listen to the soundtrack in its entirety and hear about its development from the main composer. The show will be hosted on Arecibo Radio and starts at 7:00 PDT, on June 26th. Noise Channel has created a Facebook event for the show to keep everyone updated. Be sure to mark your calendars and tune in for the event next Thursday.
Back in 2010, Terry Cavanagh released a game titled VVVVVV, usually just pronounced “Vee”, for PC and Mac. The game is a 2D puzzle platformer that uses gravity reversal as its primary platforming mechanic. The game has seen release on several other platforms since and has earned a large following from the indie game fan base. Not only is the game engaging in its central mechanic, it’s also fairly difficult. The music of VVVVVV was composed by chiptune artist Magnus Pålsson, aka Souleye. If you’ve never heard the original soundtrack, fix that immediately. It’s easily some of the best indie chiptune music that’s been written in the past few years. Pålsson has also written music for a number of projects including Extreme Roadtrip, Drop Sort, and has even written an intro theme for Twitch caster MANvsGAME.
The original soundtrack, titled PPPPPP, has already received an arrange album in the form of PPPPPPowerup!, which featured arrangements by several indie composers and remix artists. This new album, titled MMMMMM, is a power metal re-imagining of the original soundtrack. This new work features a collaboration between Magnus Pålsson and music remix artist and composer Jules “FamilyJules7x” Conroy. As we covered recently on OSV, Conroy has been creating some impressive metal covers of videogame music for a few years on Youtube. His talent seems to have caught the attention of Pålsson, which has led to the creation of this new album. So how does this metal re-imagining of the music stack up against the original soundtrack? Read on to find out. (more…)
Anyone who is a fan of game music is probably familiar with game composer Austin Wintory. He’s written music for games including flOw, Monaco, Journey, and more recently The Banner Saga. The writing and recording of the The Banner Saga soundtrack in particular has sparked a fight between Wintory and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM).
The problem that the AFM has is that Wintory composed music for the game as a non-union job. Despite the fact that Wintory wrote and recorded the music in Texas, a state that has right-to-work laws that would allow even union musicians to do non-union work, the AFM is threatening to fine Wintory up to $50,000, claiming he violated union rules. Wintory and other composers have been unable to write game scores through the union due to the horribly written contract by the AFM for game music projects.
Wintory has gone public, criticizing the union’s contract on twitter and more recently in a Youtube video (seen below). In the video, he details the massive issues with the contract that the union heads created for working with game developers and publishers, as well as their recent action against him. The contract, titled the AFM Video Game/Interactive Media Agreement, was written back in 2012 and has been universally rejected by every game studio and criticized by many composers and musicians. As a result, this has forced any composers or musician looking to do work in games to do so outside of the union.
Because he has spoken out about the mess that the AFM has created for its own members, the union is retaliating by fining him. Wintory feels that the AFM is trying to use him as an example to keep other union members in line and frightened. It doesn’t look like Wintory will be backing down any time soon. In his own words, “I refuse to live in fear, and I especially refuse to live in fear of my own union.”
It’s unfortunate to see that there are so many talented musicians and composers being prevented from doing work in the games industry because of the AFM’s contract. Worse still is that instead of listening to the concerns and criticism from their own union members, the heads of the AFM have chosen to threaten and bully people, like Austin Wintory, who are speaking out. Personally, I think it’s great that Wintory has chosen to speak up about these issues. Hopefully this is a problem that can receive more attention and be resolved. Be sure to check out Wintory’s video and spread the word.
Scram Kitty and His Buddy On Rails is certainly an attention grabbing title. A Wii U digital exclusive, the game is an on rails arcade shooter developed by Dakko Dakko. You are tasked with rescuing cats scattered around various levels of a space lab, all while fighting mechanized mice themed enemies. The game has an old-school SNES aesthetic and draws some of its gameplay aspects from 2D shooters. It’s a unique indie title released on the small indie game market of the Wii U.
Scram Kitty takes place in a mechanical space setting, with lots of robots, conveyers, industrial hazards, and security lasers populating the levels. To help set the mood of the fast paced gameplay and levels, composer Samuel Baker was brought on to write the game’s music. So how does Baker go about creating the appropriate soundscape for this cat and mouse themed shoot’em up? Read on to find out. (more…)