Todays developer article is another interview. While we had originally planned to show you more character progress, our lead artist's computer gave out and he's now waiting for new parts for his machine. Right now it's being held together by thermal tape!
So instead, Mariusz suggested we show off another song from the soundtrack. "Men of the Woods" is one of the Celtic themed tracks, which we think sets the theme of battle very well. We're showing these audio tracks in each video we add to these updates. But we're hoping to give future alpha/beta purchasers a free download of the entire soundtrack.
Anyway, on to the music:
Now that you've heard another of the songs. We've got an interview with Mariusz for you to read. It's another long one (we like to talk!).
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what are you up to at the moment? What is your experience within the Games Industry, and when did you join the team?
Mariusz wrote: My name is Mariusz Jasionowicz I live and work in Birmingham , UK. I come from Poland and I moved to Britain 5 years ago. I was a performing musician for many years before I started thinking seriously about composition and sound design. I joined Crystal Core a year ago, before the company was formally formed. I've met many great guys and hope to continue to work with them for much longer.
I am self-taught, I didn't have any formal musical education, thus once I landed in the UK I decided to go back to University. I got HND Diploma in Music Technology and at present I am on a second year of BSc in Game Audio Design.
3 years ago, before I started to create music and sound for games I had no more experience in the game industry than any other video gamer. However, I was always interested in game music, sound synthesis, audio recording etc. I was always paying special attention to musical and sound details when playing a game. Now it turned out to be my career path.
2. Most of the team members are artists or programmers, do you still get a say in how the game develops in other areas of production?
Mariusz wrote: Well, I cannot help much with technical issues, but there are definitely other opportunities to participate in the development process. As a person not connected with the visual side I can give an honest opinion about the overall look of the game which I often do.
3. There's no denying that the music for Conquest: Hadrian's Divide is great, what setup do you have, and what would you suggest to people who have a similar passion to yourself?
Mariusz wrote: I constantly change various elements of my setup. I mostly work at home and at the moment the heart of my studio is 8 core Mac Pro /16GB ram, M-Audio Project-Mix, monitors Tannoy Reveal Active and Cubase 5 as my main DAW, I also work on Logic and ProTools but only occasionally, Cubase has been my favourite software for years. I don't want to include the full list of my equipment which is long (laugh), but I equally use hardware and software instruments.
What would I suggest to others? First of all I would say "There are some strange forces out there that will constantly trying to disturb you in your plans, but you must never give up in what you are doing"
But from more practical side I would suggest getting some musical theory first, before you start spending your hard earned money on the latest gear, it won't make good music for you. It will only help.
4. Music in games is very important when trying to set the mood of an environment, or moment in a game. Would you say that for a game like Conquest: Hadrian's Divide, in-game music is just as important?
Mariusz wrote: Music is important regardless of the genre, and definitely every game needs music as much as good graphics, but obviously in certain amounts and suitable to the situation. Music builds an atmosphere and heightens our experiences. I've played many games and in some of them music worked perfectly and in others not. But try to play any game with music turned off and you will get the answer.
Generally there is no simple recipe for a perfect game score. Everyone perceives music differently, and what for one is great for may not be.
5. How much of the music is accurate to the music the Romans or Celts would have listened to, and how do you find your inspiration for the music?
Mariusz wrote: I listened to a lot of music considered to be ancient Roman and Celtic. I think that this kind of music; often full of melancholy slowly flowing harps or flute notes, Latin recitations and tranquil Celtic voices would be rather suitable for meditation and not battlefield situations. However to make rather classically orchestrated pieces more characteristic to the theme, I at least tried to add a taste using some common Roman and Celtic musical instruments. I added vocal phrases in ancient language which although are not the original Latin or Celtic language but may add a more ancient feel, some come from libraries and some I recorded myself.
6. As well as music, you also make all of the sound effects for Conquest: Hadrian's Divide. Would you say that good sound effects are as important as good graphics in a game?
Mariusz wrote: Of course it is! As the sound guy I couldn't say anything else.
But seriously, there is a saying among sound designers. "The less you notice the existence of sound effects, the better they are." When you play a game with poor sound effects where a footstep doesn't sound like a footstep and generally all sounds hurt your ears, you realise how important the sound is.
7. What games are you playing at the moment, and who is your favourite game character?
Mariusz wrote: My hero? B.J. Blaskovich. Those who played Return to Castle Wolfenstein know him very well. But some of my favourite games ever; Super Mario Bros, Contra, Medal of Honor, The Elder Scroll III and IV, LOTR Battle of Middle Earth
In the past I used to play 5-8 hours a day. But now I hardly can find time for playing and I am not playing any particular game at the moment. My latest and favourite title was the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion which has perfectly scored music by Jeremy Soule. It is not a new game but I return to it constantly when I have time.
8. Once again, it's the end of another interview. This time with Mariusz Jasionowicz, the teams Composer and Sound Designer. Would you like to add anything before we finish here Mariusz?
Mariusz wrote: Well, I put a lot of hard work into what you will hear from your speakers. So I hope you will enjoy the music and sound as much as the game itself.
Thats all for this week. Hopefully we'll be back on schedule as soon as Lee's computer is functioning. Expect more animations shortly though!