So happy you’ve joined us! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips. Last March, I gave a presentation at the very first online Game Developers Conference. My talk was entitled “From Assassin’s Creed to The Dark Eye: The Importance of Themes” (I’ve included the official description of my talk at this end of this article). This coming August, I’ll be participating as a speaker in the upcoming GDC Summer online conference. My session this August will be a wide-ranging Ask-Me-Anything Q&A, and I’m really looking forward it! In anticipation of that conference session, I thought it might be useful for me to share the content of my March GDC talk in a series of articles. I’m happy to now begin a five-part article series based on my GDC 2020 presentation in March!
But before we start digging into practical examples, let’s take a quick look at one of the best and most iconic themes in the history of music for media. I’ve included a short excerpt below. Notice how we hear a melodic phrase once, then we hear it again, and it’s exactly the same as before. So the melody is saying, “hey – you liked that? Here, have another!”
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, everybody! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips. As game composers, it’s inevitable that we’ll eventually be asked to create music in a genre with which we have little or no experience. Some projects may throw several unfamiliar musical genres our way. It can be a scary prospect. I’ve worked on many projects that have required me to quickly learn new musical styles and techniques, so I thought I’d share some thoughts about how research can help us cope with these sorts of unexpected demands. This article will explore the role of music research, including how it can initiate us into the mysteries of unfamiliar musical styles, and ways in which it can lead us in unanticipated (but not unwelcome) directions. I’ve had lots of experience delving into diverse musical genres and doing music research for projects both big and small over the course of my career. For this article, I’ll be describing my recent experience composing the music for the Sports Scramble VR game, developed by Armature Studio and released earlier this year for popular VR platforms such as the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift/Rift S.
Hello there! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and it’s time once again for our yearly collection of top resources for game audio practitioners! The following article contains an expanded and updated collection of links on an assortment of subjects important to the game audio community. We kick things off with a list of concert tours and annual game music events. After that, we check out the online game audio communities that we can join for support and assistance. We’ll take a look at the software applications currently in use by game audio pros. Finally, we’ll look at what’s going on in the world of game audio conferences and academia.
Hey everyone! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips. In the photo above I’m working on the project that launched my career as a game composer – God of War. Starting a viable career in the game development industry as a composer can be an awesome task, and I’m often asked for advice about how to break into this business. So each year I revisit the subject in an article that allows us to consider current ideas and strategies. Along the way, we contemplate multiple viewpoints, both from expert music and game audio practitioners and by anonymous game audio folks in community forums. This can be helpful, because the common wisdom on this subject changes in subtle but appreciable ways with each passing year. By revisiting the topic periodically, I hope that we’ll be able to obtain a deeper understanding of what it takes to land the coveted first gig as a composer of music for games.
Part of the reason I write this article each year is personal. My own “big break” story is so extraordinarily unusual that it can’t provide much useful guidance for newcomers. Being fortunate enough to have a famous game like God of War as your first game credit isn’t the typical entry path for a budding video game composer. Yet, because I’m a fairly visible member of the game audio community who has written a book called A Composer’s Guide to Game Music (pictured), I’m constantly asked for advice by aspiring composers who want to start their professional careers and are having trouble getting out of the gate. Since my own story is such a ‘bolt-of-lightning’ case study, I think it’s useful for us to study the more traditional entry paths when we’re trying to understand how aspiring game composers can get their start. By the way, in case you’re wondering, here’s the story of how I landed my first gig – I told the story during a Society of Composers and Lyricists event in NYC, and it’s captured in this video:
Glad you’re here! I’m video game music composer Winifred Phillips. Today I’d like to share some news about one of my latest projects as a video game composer: the newest installment in an internationally-acclaimed fantasy RPG franchise known as The Dark Eye. During our discussion, we’ll break down the structure of one of the most important pieces of music I composed for that game.
The latest entry in the award-winning Dark Eye video game franchise will be released this coming Spring 2020 under the title The Dark Eye: Book of Heroes. Before we begin discussing this project and one of the pieces of music I composed for it, let’s take a look at the announcement trailer that was recently released by the publisher Ulisses Games. The trailer prominently features a sizable portion of the main theme I composed for the game:
As you can see from the gameplay captured in the trailer, The Dark Eye: Book of Heroes is an isometric real-time roleplaying game. The developers have compared the gameplay of Book of Heroes to top RPG games from the classic era like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. The game offers both solo missions and cooperative adventures designed for up to four players. Most importantly, the developers stress in an interview that their game will be faithful to the awesome fantasy world of the renowned RPG franchise – it will be “the most Dark Eye game ever.” Composing a main theme is a heavy responsibility, since main theme tracks tend to be regarded as especially important in a composer’s body of work. Just this week (Nov. 9th) I was interviewed on the Sound Of Gaming radio show on BBC Radio 3, and the main theme for The Dark Eye: Book of Heroes premiered on this broadcast, spotlighting my work as a game composer. The entire show is available to listen at this link from now until Dec. 8th. A main theme is not only a prominent showcase of a composer’s abilities, but also serves a crucial function within the main score of the game. So let’s explore that idea further.
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.
Hi! I’m video game music composer Winifred Phillips, and sometimes my game music shows up in places I never would have expected. A little over a week ago, while I was eagerly watching an awesome trailer for the just-released blockbuster Avengers Endgame, I was suddenly stunned to hear my own music in it! (I’ve embedded the Avengers Endgame trailer that features my music at the end of this article.) What made this moment even more jaw-dropping for me was that I had originally composed this music for the video game Spore Hero (a game from Electronic Arts’ popular Spore franchise). Just as a reference, here’s what the characters look like in Spore Hero:
The style of Spore Hero couldn’t be further away from that famous Avengers style, as expertly displayed in the Avengers Endgame trailer. Yet the same music was used for both projects.
The Spore Hero music I was hearing in the Avengers Endgame trailer was my “Hero Theme,” which functions essentially as a leitmotif within the Spore Hero score – it’s the central recurring melody in the game. By virtue of the theme-and-variation technique, the melody undergoes a gradual transformation from invitingly cute to heroically epic.
The Avengers Endgame trailer featured the most dramatic iteration of this theme. When I recovered from the initial surprise, it occurred to me that a mini-postmortem of this particular melodic theme might be the best way to explore an interesting topic: how does a single theme transform itself from an amiable melody to an avenging one?
Delighted you’re here! I’m very pleased to share that over the next two months I’ll be speaking at two fantastic events focusing on music in video games! My two presentations will explore the unique structure and character of video game music, and how it helps to better envelop players in the worlds that game designers have created. I thought that this article might be a good opportunity to delve into some of the ideas that form the basis of my two upcoming talks. First, I’d like to share some details about the presentations I’ll be giving.
The Library of Congress has invited me to speak this April as a part of their “Augmented Realities” video game music festival. My presentation, “The Interface Between Music Composition and Game Design,” will take place at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. I’m very excited to participate in this event, which will be the first of its kind hosted by the “Concerts from the Library” series at the Library of Congress! The “Augmented Realities” video game music festival will also include panels on video game music history and preservation presented by distinguished curators and archivists at the Library of Congress, a special documentary screening that explores the ChipTunes movement, and a live “game creation lab.” My presentation will be the concluding lecture of the festival, and I’m honored to speak at such an illustrious event! If you find yourself in the Washington DC area on April 6th 2019, you’re very welcome to come to my lecture at the Library of Congress! Tickets are free (first come, first served), and they’re available now via EventBrite.
But before my lecture at the Library of Congress, I’ll be making a trip to San Francisco for the famous Game Developers Conference that takes place this month. For the past few years I’ve been excited and honored to be selected as a Game Developers Conference speaker in the Game Audio track, and I’m happy to share that I’ll be speaking again this month in San Francisco at GDC 2019! My talk this year is entitled “How Music Enhances Virtual Presence.”
Hi! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and today let’s spend a little time discussing the allure of composing music for virtual reality. There are a lot of reasons why we video game composers might be excited about creating music for VR games. The technology of immersive virtual experiences has the potential to offer an intensity of emotional involvement transcending most other forms of entertainment. What game music composer wouldn’t be inspired by that? However, it’s tough to be inspired by something we may not have experienced yet. Becoming a VR gamer can be a fantastic rush, but the financial barriers to entry can be pretty high. The top VR headsets and gear require a VR-ready computer, and purchasing the computer and the VR hardware together can easily exceed two thousand dollars. While there are lower-cost VR options (such as headsets designed to work with mobile phones), the virtual experience provided by these economical VR systems can offer only a fraction of the spectacle delivered by the high-end models. If we want to take our first steps into a dazzling virtual world, but we don’t have a bucket of cash on hand, what do we do?