the Junkyard: A Sound Development Note: Starsiege:2845

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A Sound Development Note: Starsiege:2845

A Sound Development Note: Starsiege:2845

Posted by: Mhaddy on 04/14/2004
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The sound of silence is deafening. Without sound, many great games would be less of an experience to play. Developers can strive for all the polished polygons necessary to make a game seem life-like, but in the end, moulding a game into a piece of art requires great music and sound. Sleepy Bright Eyez and Edgen are two extremely talented sound artists working on Starsiege:2845, a total conversion MOD for Tribes: Vengeance. In this interview, we sit down with Sleepy and Edgen to get a behind the scenes look into their lives and their work on the Starsiege:2845 project.

Starsiege: 2845the Junkyard: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your position on the Starsiege:2845 dev team.

SleepyBrightEyez: My real name is Jeremy Garber. I was born the day disco died. I make my living as a cook. I live in the swamp land of Louisiana. I have a house, a girlfriend, and a one month old son. My hobbies include music, art, and gaming. I use my spare bedroom as a playroom...errr uh... creative work place. I compose music for Starsiege 2845. Specifically, I am working on ambient soundscapes and grooves for multiplayer missions.

Edgen: I'm currently the campaign musician for the single player game. You may also hear my music and themes in the multiplayer. Occasionally, you may hear a sound FX or two nestled somewhere within.

tJY: What brought you to the Starsiege Universe and more importantly, Starsiege:2845?

SleepyBrightEyez: I remember finding the original Starsiege ATR on a zip disk I borrowed from my little brother's friend many years ago. Curious, I installed, and was hooked ever since. "Shoot my weapons off!" I was introduced to Starsiege 2845 by my friend James, who some of you may know as Xen. He was working on the team as a modeller, and said I should try to join the team as a sound guy. He sent Jake (Trajan) a copy of my song "Macaroni And Cheese" and well I got the job.

Edgen: The stars had just aligned just just about that same time Jake Massie (Trajan) asked me to come aboard. I never played the game in the past, but the interest in the project made me investigate further and explore this so-called, "Starsiege Universe". The project sounded very interesting at the time and was honoured to come aboard. One track turned to two, to three, to 24+ so far.

tJY: What's it like working on a project as encompassing as Starsiege:2845?

SleepyBrightEyez: It's pretty cool to be honest with you. So many talented people working towards one goal. I'm impressed by what my teammates have been doing. I can't wait till it's all finished, and we can work on another project together.

Edgen: Every update still manages to amaze the hell out of me. The art team starts with a drawing... and boom a few weeks later, they've got this badass machine fully rendered and moving in its natural environment within the game. The 3d and coding teams have done such an amazing job with this and I'll probably still be amazed even up until the launch date. The details and storylines involved with this game are so deep and rich! Even newcomers to the game will most assuredly be impressed by the overall game play.

Edgen AnimationstJY: What's it like working with Trajan? We all heard the WOFN broadcast on March 21, be honest.

SleepyBrightEyez: I think he has taken on a huge responsibility as the producer of our project. He does a great job with keeping everyone focussed and moving forward. I don't think could it have happened without him.

Edgen: I think he's one of a kind in that you respect his kindness and sense of humor but the same time he pounds fear into your heart as he drives and cracks the whip to get the tasks appointed to you in a timely manner. He's a great manager and team leader. I wouldn't second guess twice if he asked me to come aboard for another project in the future. WOFN? What's that? j/k :)

tJY: How do you feel about devoting so much of your time to something that you may not be paid for in the long run? Does it matter to you?

SleepyBrightEyez: We would all love to be paid for our work, but we are mostly doing this for our love of the original Starsiege game (atleast those of us who were players). I'm hoping this experience will help me get more scoring jobs for film or other games.

Edgen: To me and most of the others, we do it for the love of the game and with every project, hope it brings you 3 steps closer to the next. Financially, sure, I could use the money, but at the same time, I would rather be happy with what I do in life versus being miserable working at a lame job working 9-5. Work should be your play. Have it no other way I say.

tJY: What's a typical day like in your shoes working for Starsiege:2845?

SleepyBrightEyez: It depends on which type of track I am working on. The ambients are usually done in a night or two. I start with a vocal sample of me saying something, then I put it through my favorite granular synthesis program, do a little time stretching in Soundforge, then off to Sonar it goes where I drown it in reverb and pitch shifters until I get a nice blanket of creepy harmonics. The multiplayer tracks usually start like many of my other electronic oriented tunes. I come up with an initial loop wether it be rhythmic, melodic, or noise driven. I program more loops ontop of the first until there are too many. Then I begin to pull them apart and make a progression for the song. When the basic arrangement is done, I begin working on little sound fx, extra fillers and what not.

"Work should be your play. Have it no other way I say."-Edgen


Edgen: Music for the game hasn't taken up too much daily time. I would work on a track, post it for approval and get some feedback from the other staff members, and I would then go back to the drawing boards and work on it some more. Then, once the final track is done, I shelve it, and continue to the next one. When the art team posts new concepts or illustration files, I'll usually sit back down and come up with another tune to go with what they've just created. Visually, they do some amazing work and the images and stories they create work hand in hand when I make new themes for these character or situations.

tJY: Describe your favourite moment so far while working for anything Starsiege:2845 related.

SleepyBrightEyez: Hmmm... I've had a few actually. I was happy to hear Sierra was going to support us. I thought it was great that PC Gamer is having a page spread for us this May.

Edgen: Having an article of the game published in PC Gamer Magazine. And Of course, when someone posts in the forums on how much they like the music! All the musicians have done a great job with all their tracks, and as long as the game players themselves like it, I'm good to go. Some may just turn the music off. I'm expecting that actually. I've got a great concept track that is about 3 and half minutes of wind and an occasional 30+ seconds of silence. I think they are extremely powerful and I'm sure everyone will take a liking to these special bonus tracks. I have to say they are my best works to date! The user actually gets to make up their own music as they creep carefully along a building or stare blankly into the beautiful sky above.

tJY: What are your thoughts on the original Starsiege soundtrack? Has it played any part in the creation of your music and atmospherics for Starsiege:2845?

SleepyBrightEyez: I used to listen to the original Starsiege soundtrack. It was good. I think most of my influence comes from my favorite electronic artists though- DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, DJ Spooky, and Amon Tobin. A lot of the atmospherics are inspired by the sounds I hear at night.

Edgen: I listened to the original Starsiege tracks sometime after I created the tracks for ss:2845. Every artist or composer would like to do something a little different. Personally, I didn't like the old music. They just seemed a little bland. Maybe it was technology? Personal tastes?. But who knows... perhaps people will think the same about my music? :) Which is completely understandable.

tJY: Both of you are involved in quite a number of things outside of Starsiege:2845, ranging from your own band to working for professional gaming studios creating music. Tell us a little bit about those endeavours.

Sleepy Bright Eyez: experimements in lo-fiSleepyBrightEyez: I put out a CD a couple of years ago. I about broke even. I've learned that I have more fun creating and sharing than trying to sell it. If I make money with my music, I'd like to do it through custom scoring for flims and games. I was in a band for a long time, but we all live in different states now.

Edgen: My day job happens to be in web design and the graphic arts for my company called, All Media Studios and music just so happens to be a full time hobby. I've currently got my music is countless short films, indy feature films, web sites, demo reels, CD roms, among other projects I'm probably not aware of. My music has made it as far as a :30 TV Trailer spot for the Warner Brothers Film, "Taking Lives" starring Agnelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke all the way to a Japanese film's website for the feature film "The Princess Blade". One of these days, hopefully you'll see my name in the silver screen. :)

tJY: What is the single-handedly, most engrossing piece of music that you've ever created? Why was it so engrossing?

SleepyBrightEyez: That's a funny question. I get absorbed into all my songs as I write them. I guess if there was one piece that really took me by suprise, it would be "Phemaldehyde"- a song I wrote for a final exam in my college music composition class. I stayed awake literally all week working on the song. It drove me mad. It's really apparent in the song's tones and lyrics. I was lucky to have such a cool teacher. He advised me not to ever have it publically performed for fear it may cause a riot or something. It got me an A though, so hey!

Edgen: The hardest and longest was probably my recent film scoring job of the feature film called, "Firecracker". I co-scored the movie with my vocalist, LindsayAnne Klemm. We worked on this movie soundtrack for a few solid weeks and put our heart and souls into it. When it was all said and done, we had over an hours worth of music, $3000 worth of new sound sample libraries and a high-end sound card that still hasn't made it out of its box because I couldn't get it to work with my system at the time. Of course, during that time, we had a blast working together and we have decided to make scoring movies our full time jobs. Why not goto work to play? Otherwise, a job is pointless and you become one of those mindless drones to life. No one likes to go through the McDonalds drive through and have a disgruntled employee pissed off and deliberately messing up your order.

tJY: What kind of setup do you have? Do you have any recommendations for people just starting out in music creation, either as a hobby or a profession?

SleepyBrightEyez: I record entirely on my PC. I have an AMD 1.4GB Athalon XP with 1GB of RAM. I use Reason for most of my sequencing and Sonar for all my audio mixing. Soundforge comes in handy for working on individual samples. I use Granulab for all my granular synthesis work. I have a midi keyboard, Roland V-Drums, 8-piece acoustic drum set, Photo-theremin, Akai sampler, "Bent" Speak and Read, Boss DR-202, Alesis Air FX, several guitars and many samples and virtual instruments. My advice for new composers and musicians is to try everything you can get your hands on and find out what works best for you. Everyone has specific needs and you will learn that you can never have enough of this equipment.


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