Delighted you’re here! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips, and I’m very happy you’ve joined us for this latest entry in my series of articles for video game composers, based on the lecture I gave during the Game Developers Conference 2021 – From Spyder to Sackboy: A Big Adventure in Interactive Music! Over the previous year, I had the privilege of working with the expert development team at Sumo Sheffield on music composition for two fantastic projects – Sackboy: A Big Adventure for PS5/PS4, and Spyderfor Apple Arcade. (Above you’ll see a photo from one of the sections of my GDC 2021 lecture in which I’m discussing the Sackboy project).
So happy you’ve joined us! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips, and I’d like to welcome you to the continuation of this series of articles based on my lecture from GDC 2021 – From Spyder to Sackboy: A Big Adventure in Interactive Music! Using the example of two of my projects from the previous year, I explored the contrasting models of dynamic music design employed in two games – Sackboy: A Big Adventure for PS5/PS4, and Spyder for Apple Arcade. (Above you’ll see a photo from one of the sections of my GDC 2021 lecture in which I’m discussing the Spyder project). Both Spyder and Sackboy were developed by Sumo Sheffield and featured whimsical characters and situations. Each of the two projects had a long list of music requirements and strategies that were dramatically different. In composing music for these two games, I learned a lot about the flexibility of dynamic music systems. Since I worked on music for both games simultaneously, it was fascinating to make comparisons between the two projects after the fact. Preparing my GDC presentation became an exercise in understanding how flexible video game music can be. If you haven’t had a chance to read the previous two installments of this series, you can read first about Horizontal Resequencing and Song Structure,and then Horizontal Resequencing & Dynamic Transitions.
As we discussed in the previous article, interactive music design is highly contextual. The circumstances dictate our choices. No single method can be considered the best way, or the right way. Working on these two projects at the same time, I came across this idea over and over again.
Welcome! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips, and I’m happy you’ve joined me for the second installment in this series of articles based on the content of a lecture I gave during the Game Developers Conference 2021. My talk was entitled, “From Spyder To Sackboy: A Big Adventure in Interactive Music.” In my presentation, I compared and contrasted the interactive music design of two of my video game projects from the previous year. Both projects were developed by one of the game industry’s top development studios – Sumo Sheffield. Both projects included ambitious dynamic music systems, using similar techniques and approaches. However, there were lots of differences in the execution of those techniques. This series of articles explores the similarities and differences between the dynamic music design of the popular Sackboy: A Big Adventure game for PS5/PS4, and Spyder for the new Apple Arcade (a great platform for supporting larger-scale game development for iOS). (Above you’ll see a photo from one of the sections of my GDC 2021 lecture in which I’m discussing the music systems of both of these projects). If you missed the first article in this series, you can find it here.
Hey everybody! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips, and I was excited this year to present a talk at the Game Developers Conference. GDC is one of the top conferences in the video game industry, and it was a fantastic event this year, full of expert sessions and lots of opportunities to learn and network. As in previous years, I thought it might be best if I included the content of my GDC lecture in my articles here, so I’m now kicking off a six-part series of articles based on my presentation in July! I’ve included the substance of my GDC presentation, supported by some of the multimedia materials I used to illustrate concepts during my lecture. I’ve also enlarged upon most of those topics with a bit of further explanation that couldn’t be included in my original GDC presentation (due to time constraints). So now without further ado, let’s get started!
Back in the summer of 2019, I started working with Sumo Sheffield on music for two different games. It was pretty intense work over the course of many months on two awesome projects with very different musical needs. The list of musical requirements was quite long for both projects, and I spent a lot of time ping ponging back and forth between them. After they both hit retail in 2020, I realized how eye-opening that experience had been. Both games required complex musical interactivity, but each met that goal in very different ways.
Hello there! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips. Next week, I’ll be giving a lecture during the Game Developers Conference 2021 event. During my lecture, I’ll be talking about the music I composed for Sumo Digital for both the Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Spyder video games. My lecture is entitled, “From Spyder to Sackboy: A Big Adventure in Interactive Music,” and will take place on Friday July 23rd at 3:40pm PT. Although GDC is still an all-virtual affair, the event does provide lots of opportunities for experts within the game development community to share their knowledge, coupled with forums enabling game audio folks to network and learn from each other. In addition to my prepared lecture, I’ll also be participating in a live Speaker Q&A that will take place right after my presentation. It should be a lot of fun! Really looking forward to sharing my experience working with Sumo Digital simultaneously on these two fantastic games.
This was an incredibly rare and awesome opportunity for me to compose music for two projects simultaneously in development by the same company. Because of this, I found the comparisons between the two games fascinating.
My talk will delve into the mechanics of the dynamic music systems in both games, showing how a comparison between these two projects can shed some light on the utility of the top interactive techniques and strategies. While comparing this list of interactive music techniques provided me with a lot of material for my GDC lecture, there were other ways in which the two projects were similar. I thought I’d share some brief thoughts on one of the other common threads I found between these two Sumo Digital games.
As composers, we’re often asked to provide a general atmosphere that adds either character to gameplay or distinctive flavor to menus. If it’s a horror game, maybe we’re being asked to provide a crushingly heavy drone of doom during tense exploration, with soul-shuddering tone clusters bubbling up from the darkness and then sinking back down into the murky depths. For a whimsical game, we might be creating airy, open textures with little mischievous accents from the mallets or woodwind section… or maybe we’re creating a brightly whimsical melody for an opening menu or splash screen. If it’s a fantasy roleplaying game, we may be providing softly ambient tracks for exploration, with a pensive flute wandering gently through Gaelic figures. Or maybe we’re creating a thunderously epic main theme for an opening menu, designed to emphasize the world-shattering stakes of the adventure to come.
Hey everyone! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips. GDC 2021 is coming this July 19th to the 23rd, and I’m excited that I’ll be giving a talk during this year’s conference! My talk is called, “From Spyder to Sackboy: A Big Adventure in Interactive Music,“ and I’ll be sharing more details about my talk as the conference gets nearer. Once again, GDC will be a fully virtual game industry event this year. I think all of us who have participated in GDC’s awesome online events over the past year have really enjoyed the experience. Considering the long list of structural and logistical changes that had to be made, it’s amazing how smoothly everything went!
In the previous installments of this series, we discussed the importance of repeating musical themes, using the variation technique and fragmentation to support different gameplay types. So now, let’s explore what happens when musical themes are employed within more complex interactive music systems.
In the last article, we took a look at how thematic material was employed in subtle ways within two of my video game projects – Assassin’s Creed Liberation and Homefront: The Revolution. We considered how repetition can reinforce the significance of musical themes, particularly when they are associated with specific narrative ideas, and we talked about how repetition can work to make musical themes memorable and meaningful. But we all know that repetition can get stale if we don’t approach it creatively. So that brings us now to the topic of variation – how to keep themes feeling fresh.
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.
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!