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Ask the Mass Effect 2 Composers! Congrats BGC!

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#1 djpretzel



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Posted 08 February 2010 - 04:24 PM

Ask the Mass Effect 2 Composers (BGC's one of 'em!)

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So an obscure little indie game came out not so recently that you may have heard of, Mass Effect 2, and guess what?

Along with Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, David Kates, and music implementation by Brian DiDomenico, the OC ReMix judges panel's own Jimmy Hinson is one of the composers!

How awesome is that? Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, but it was also mad skills what got him the gig, and we're all very proud he could work with Lead Composer Jack Wall and two other talented & established composers to score the soundtrack to the megahit that is ME2. So, first off, Mass Congrats to Mr. Hinson... truly an amazing achievement. Secondly, we wants to know:

  • How'd Jimmy get the gig?
  • How did Video Game Live co-creator Jack Wall lead a team of badass composers to score one of the most anticipated sequels of video games?
  • How much inspiration did they draw from the original score vs. composing from scratch?
  • How much alien sex did they study & analyze - professionally and scientifically - as part of the creative process?
Those are some of the questions WE came up with that WE wanna see answered, but we're pretty sure you've got more. So, post 'em here, and we'll pick and choose and present the final list to the entire ME2 composition team for their thoughtful consideration... and amusement.

Post your questions for the Mass Effect 2 composers on this thread, but remember...

  • Keep it relatively PG, and always respectful.
  • Questions should focus on ME and ME2 only; comparison/contrast to other soundtracks from the same composers are OK, but questions about completely different games/scores should be avoided.
  • Questions can either be directed at a specific composer, or posed to the whole team, in which case Jack will probably respond himself or delegate accordingly. Be specific by prefacing your question with either the name of the composer, or the word "Team".
  • Multiple Qs per thread is fine, just try to limit it to three or four good ones rather than a battery of... less good ones.
  • Questions must be submitted by Monday, February 15th, which gives y'all a week.
So, once again, huge congrats :nicework: to Jimmy and all the ME2 composers for a job well done... now post your Qs!

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#2 anosou


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Posted 08 February 2010 - 04:35 PM

Big Giant Jimmy, quite the man.

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#3 prophetik music

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 04:56 PM

first off, this is a truly incredible soundtrack. easily one of my favorite among games that have come out in recent years - there's a lot of character throughout, and each piece sounds like part of a whole without sounding derivative.

jimmy, i'd love to know how you - as a relatively new member of the composition team as a whole - were interacting with the rest of the team. what projects did you start on? was a composer-by-committee setup, or did each person have specific responsibilities that they had the sole responsibility of?

i'd also love to know what parts of the soundtrack are well and truly yours. i have a hunch or two, but i want to confirm =)

it's so uncommon to hear mixed meter for a major portion of a game's soundtrack, but there's a solid twenty minutes or so of 7/4 throughout the audio, particularly at the end. was that a conscious decision, or did it just work out that way?

lastly, who came up with what seems to be the main motif of the game - the melody notable in Normandy, End Run, and Suicide mission? was that directly from jack and passed down to the rest of the team, or what?

thanks again for helping make some awesome audio, man! congrats!
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#4 Chernabogue


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Posted 08 February 2010 - 05:01 PM

Congrats ! That's awesome !

And now here's my (silly) question :
Will the music of Mass Effect be played at Video Games Live, considering Jack Wall is the co-creator of VGE ? It would be awesome to see one of OCR's greatest ReMixers's compositions played during this show !

Anyways, good luck to the composers and again congrats to Jimmy ! :nicework:

#5 Geoffrey Taucer

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:23 PM

Congrats, Jimmy!
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#6 halc


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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:23 PM

congratulations, bgc!

#7 Josh Whelchel

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:36 PM

Oh I know that guy! He slept on my floor at MAGFest. No floor of mine has ever been so honored.

#8 The Biznut

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:38 PM

Congrats on the accomplishment Jimmy!

I would like to know how much time each individual on the team spent on:
mastering? (were they responsible for that as well, or just for the score?)

What software/hardware rigs were used (and by whom) throughout this project?

What were the biggest challenges to this project? Were there any significant setbacks?
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#9 TenchuX


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Posted 08 February 2010 - 09:08 PM

I believe you can actually hear some of the songs he personally worked on, on his site.


There's a player on the right. Samara's Montage is awesome.

I've been hooked on this soundtrack since playing through the game a week ago. It's epic orchestra meets sci-fi music of the 80's done right.

#10 Patrick Burns

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 05:09 AM

BGC, did you work from Tennessee (if you still live there) or did you have regular face to face confabs with any of the other composers or even visit any BioWare offices?


#11 Miyakan


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Posted 09 February 2010 - 08:57 AM

Congratulations BGC.

BGC, How different was it to be composing on pieces for a game rather than remixing pieces from a game?

#12 zircon


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Posted 09 February 2010 - 06:15 PM

Congrats Jimmy! You really deserved this one.

Here's my Q to Brian regarding music implementation, though someone else on the team could chime in. Did you basically do all of the editing and implementation work, using a tool like FMOD or Wwise? Or did the composers themselves do some of that work too, to prepare their audio assets before handing them over? In other words, how separated was your role from theirs?
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#13 The Pezman

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 06:50 PM

This is a little tricky since I haven't played ME1 or ME2 yet. But i think I've got some good ones.

  • For all composers:
  • How much specific direction and freedom did you have with any given piece of music? Did you come up with a lot of ideas yourself?
  • In a similar vein, how does your knowledge about the location, character, or event you're writing music for impact your composition decisions? What kind of choices are you likely to make depending on the tone or current goal of the subject in question?
  • For Jimmy:
  • Most of the remixes you've done are based off discrete, specific melodies from older video games. Did it feel strange or different to write VG music which was more of a montage than a traditional themed song?
  • How exactly did you get the gig in the first place? Were you approached, or did you approach Bioware/EA/Jack Wall?

#14 Kidd Cabbage

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 08:48 PM

Very wow, BGC! I didn't know this until now! Great thing to have a resume, and I'm very impressed (and a little jealous. ;) ).

Anyway, while it's hard for me to ask many specific questions about the soundtrack, since I'm still on my first playthrough of the game and I refuse to listen to soundtracks before I play a game through - I feel this ruins the intended attachment to the visuals onscreen, and it spoils it a little... there are a few questions I'd like to ask.

Jimmy: I'd also like to chime in with the question of getting the gig. As a Film Scoring major at Berklee, composing for games, especially a game on this scale and integrity, is my dream that I'm working towards. What avenues would you recommend taking towards these goals? Internships? Small indie games?
And for you and the rest of the team, what other skills are necessary/helpful in the gaming industry aside from simply being able to write good harmonies and melodies? (synthesis, production, etc.) :)

And for Jack Wall: Were you using a real hardware Roland Jupiter or a software one all over the Mass Effect OST? I'm hardly a gear-junkie, especially when talking about synths, but I could tell that one a mile away. ;)

#15 42


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Posted 10 February 2010 - 02:20 AM

Just wanted to say: DANG! 8O Awesome job, BGC!
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#16 0ckeroid


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Posted 10 February 2010 - 08:10 AM

A big fat congrats to Jimmy! He's were so many of us have been trying to get to!

Mass Effect 1 Questions:

  • Jack Wall: Most big games like this have a big orchestral sound to go with it. Where did the choice for the synthy, 80s feel for the score come from? (And was there much pressure to go orchestral?)

  • Jack Wall: What made you decide to have fairly ambient score rather than one with more recognizable melodies and themes?

Mass Effect 1&2 Questions:

  • All: What works did you draw inspiration from when making it?

  • All: How specific were the game makers about what they wanted for each piece?

#17 swordofdestiny


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Posted 11 February 2010 - 12:46 AM

My question, to all the composers would be, what composers/artists/songs inspired you guys as you were becoming composers? The soundtrack is great. I'm so happy I got the digital deluxe version.

#18 Ramikadyc


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Posted 11 February 2010 - 02:12 AM

I'm interested in the amount of freedom given to the team to decide what kind of music should go where. For example, the music in Afterlife on Omega obviously needed an upbeat club-feel, whereas the music played during the opening segment showcasing Shepard's death needed to be slower and sadder to fit the moods. There are countless other situations, though, where the choice was probably much less obvious. The theme that is played while on Tuchanka while on Mordin Solus' loyalty quest fit the mood exceptionally, like a glove; while Mordin was lamenting over the loss of a willing female Krogan test subject, the player engages the "good" doctor in some deep and emotional conversation. The music, like most of the game, keeps each scene moving the way it should, often more so than the actual images themselves, and this particular scene struck a chord with me that would not have been struck were it not for the incredible pacing provided by the music. Finally, the question:

  • Was the team allowed a liberal amount of creative freedom to decide what type and specifically what piece of music should go where? Were there any scenes or situations in the game that were specifically tailored to fit a particular piece of music?
  • Also, how did you feel about the breathtaking launch trailer of the game featuring music that was composed by completely different musicians? Did you have any input at all whether or not your team should create their own piece specifically for it, or was the decision made independent of the finished composition work that is in Mass Effect 2?
Apologies if that seemed long-winded; I decided my first question didn't have enough substance without explaining why this question interests me. The music of the Mass Effect universe is simply awe-inspiring. It will occupy a place in my car's 6-disc changer for an obscene amount of time. Thank you so much for these wonderful sounds! I look forward to Mass Effect 3's epic soundtrack with incredible anticipation.

#19 Villainelle


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Posted 11 February 2010 - 03:04 AM

Congratulations to the Mass Effect 2 music team for your triumphant work. The score of Mass Effect 2 plays a large part in lifting the game into an intense, cinematic experience that will linger in the minds of gamers for a long time to come.

Questions for Jimmy Hinson:
  • Could you talk about what the workflow was like with Jack Wall and his team?
  • How much did you know about the plot and details of Mass Effect 2 while composing? What kind of direction were you given from Bioware?
  • What was it like playing Mass Effect 2, a hugely-anticipated game with a passionate fanbase, and hearing your own compositions during gameplay?

Questions for Jack Wall:
  • How did you end up adding Jimmy Hinson to your team? Were you familiar with his video game remixes before recruiting him?
  • What do you think of video game music remixing communities like OCReMix?
  • Are you a gamer? What are some of your favorite games?

All the best,
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#20 sfried


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Posted 16 February 2010 - 02:25 AM


1. The Illusive Man theme: Most of ME's soundtrack consists of orchestral scores but I found this piece stood out the most because it was mainly notes on a piano with a simple yet catchy melody (I also feel that this melody could be longer somehow...). What made you come to the decision of using something more laid back than most "epic setpiece" kind of music?

2. Do you think ME/ME2 could use more leitmotifs? When one of your former crew members in ME2 met you there was a slight homage made to the previous game, but I'm sort of saddened that there wern't many more recognizable themes that played back as well. Actually, will we here more of the elevator music?

3. Will we ever hear a remix of the Illusive Man theme and other tracks that could be released as a complementary album (similar to how No More Heroes had a "Dark Side" album consisting of remixes)? Some of us don't want to wait for an ME3 album just to here some rearrangements :)

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