Brain + Brawn Is Out Now!

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I’m happy to announce that one of the games that I’ve created audio and music for has received a release for iOS on the App Store. The game is titled Brain + Brawn and was developed by Rohit Crasta and David Wallin.

Brain + Brawn is a space themed puzzle game where you guide two robots through a spaceship to reach their color coded goals on each level. You move the robots by swiping the screen to switch the gravity in the spaceship, causing everything on screen to move in the chosen direction. The robots, named Brainy + Brawny, have different abilities for solving puzzles. For example, the smaller robot Brainy is capable of turning on switches and passing through tight passageways, while the larger robot Brawny can crush aliens and smash through certain blocks.

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I composed two pieces of music for the game. One is calming electronic music box like melody for the menu area. The other track is a more energetic synth piece that is heard while you play the main game. I’ll be putting up an official soundtrack soon, with some extra piano arrangement versions of the tracks. (Update! The official soundtrack is now out on my Bandcamp page!)

 

In addition to the music, I created the game’s sound effects. The sounds are all designed to have a musical quality. For example the sounds for Brainy activating the switches are tones in the same key of the music. The developers wanted to have sounds that matched and blended well with the music, so it was an interesting challenge to create a seamless audio experience between the music and the sound effects.

Brain + Brawn is currently available on iOS through the App Store for $1.99 USD. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of puzzle games. I’ll update when the game is released on more platforms.

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Zodiac: Final Fantasy Tactics Remixed

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One of the groups that I’ve recently been involved with is a music arrangement group called Materia Collective. The collective comprises of musicians, composers, and arrangers who come together to create albums that cover the music of various game titles. A majority of these albums focus on a single game soundtrack like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture or Undertale. Other arrange albums have a wider range like Mobius, which covers music from multiple Sonic the Hedgehog games or charity albums like Multiplayer III: Wave, which emphasized water themed game music to tie in with the water charity the album raises money for.

This year I had the opportunity to arrange two tracks for Materia’s latest Final Fantasy arrangement album Zodiac: Final Fantasy Tactics Remixed. The album focusses on the music of the first Final Fantasy Tactics game written by Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata.

Like many of the previous Materia Collective albums, there’s a wide variety of styles present in the arrangement of the tracks. Everything from rock, jazz, classical, to synth genres are represented on this album, so there’s bound to be something from the 60+ arrangers that speaks to you no matter what your music tastes.

I arranged two tracks for this album. The first was a piano arrangement of the battle theme “Antipyretic.” I’ve always enjoyed the official Final Fantasy Piano Collections arrangements and I wanted to do something similar for one of the pieces from Final Fantasy Tactics.

 

The second arrangement I created was a synth/orchestral hybrid version of “Requiem.” The original track is calming and tranquil, so a synth hybrid sound seemed like a natural fit. This track was recently nominated for an award at the Game Audio Network Guild’s Remix Competition at MAGFest 2017. While it didn’t win in the end, it was an honor just to have the piece considered in the first place.

 

In addition to my arranging work, I contributed a few vocals on the track “The Bwak Choir Cadets” as part of The Bwak Choir. The Bwak Choir is a “Muppet-style chicken chorus” and is the brainchild of Materia Collective member Bonnie Bogovich. The first Materia Collective album Materia: Final Fantasy VII Remixed featured an arrangement of “Waltz de Chocobo” from the group and there was even a music video.

For the Zodiac album, Bonnie arranged the track “Cadets” to be sung (clucked?) by the Bwak Choir. Contributing to the Bwak Choir for the first time was a fun change of pace from the other work I was doing for the album, and listening to the finished product is something that will always make me smile.

 

The Zodiac: Final Fantasy Remixed album has a ton of great music covers from some incredibly talented artists. If you are a fan of the original soundtrack or a game music fan in general, you’ll want to check this one out. You can find the album on BandcampiTunes, Google Play, and Spotify. You can also find out more about Materia Collective and the various albums that the group has released on the Materia Collective home page.

Multiplayer III: Waves

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Over the summer, I had the opportunity to contribute a game music arrangement to an album created by the Multiplayer Charity. This group comprises of musicians, mixers, composers, and arrangers who come together every year to produce a charity album. This year’s album Multiplayer III: Waves was created to raise money for Water.org.

Since this year’s chosen charity is an organization dedicated to providing clean water, all of the game tracks being covered in this album are water themed. The source material for the project comes from a variety of games including Chrono Trigger, Banjo Kazzoie, Sonic Adventure, and Assassin’s Creed. Like many of the other Multiplayer Charity and Materia Collective albums, the music genres represented are quite eclectic. These genres include ambient synth remixes, energetic rock and metal covers, and relaxing acoustic arrangements.

The piece that I selected to arrange for the album was the track “Submerged” from the game Earthworm Jim. The track, originally composed by Tommy Tallarico, serves as the background music for the game’s underwater levels “Down The Tubes” and “Tube Race.” Earthworm Jim was a game that I really enjoyed playing back in the Genesis and Super Nintendo era, so this was a fun opportunity to revisit that game’s soundtrack.

 

The original “Submerged” track has a natural upbeat bass groove throughout its run, so arranging it as a rock track seemed like a natural fit. The original version also reminded me of the scores from spy movies like Mission Impossible, so I ended up featuring the flute quite a bit for this arrangement.

A lot of great game music is represented on the Multiplayer III: Waves album, so definitely check it out if you’re a fan of the genre. There are some incredibly talented musicians featured on this album, and it was an honor to be able to contribute to the album and raise money for a good cause. All of the profits from Multiplayer III: Waves goes to the Water.org charity. You can get check out the the entire album on BandcampiTunes, and Spotify.

GDC and PAX East 2015

One of the goals I’ve set for myself has been to get out to more of the big video game industry events. I started going to conventions with PAX East back in 2012. I went there as a regular attendee and I ended up having a blast. PAX East is an event that I make sure to get out to every year and this year will be no different. It’s close enough to where I live that I can get out and meet people without having to spend too much money on travel. Since that first trip to PAX East, I’ve been making an effort to go out to more local gatherings for game development and networking. One of my much bigger goals has been to get out to the Game Developers Conference, or GDC.

GDC is one of the major conferences to go to for game industry networking. Unfortunately for me, it’s an event that’s held out on the west coast and it’s been too far for me to travel there from New England. However, this past year I managed to save enough money to finally go and check this convention out. So I’m happy to report that this year I will be going to my first Game Developers Conference. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but I’m looking forward to meeting people and having a good time.

For better or worse, I won’t be able to attend the entire GDC event. It so happens that PAX East 2015 is being held on the same weekend that GDC ends. So yes, I’m going out to GDC for the week and then heading straight back to Boston for PAX East for the weekend. This will no doubt be incredibly exhausting, but I’m still really looking forward to it. I’m hoping to make some new connections and catch up with some of my friends that are attending these events. It’s going to be a wild week, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share when I come back. If you happen to be going to GDC and/or PAX East, be sure to say “Hi” if you see me.

Projects and Plans for 2015

Once again it appears that I’ve managed to neglect my blog. The past few months have been really intense in terms of workload. In addition to working at the day job and writing for Original Sound Version, I managed to land a few gigs writing music. A long story short, I’ve been juggling a lot of different projects, jobs, and responsibilities over the past several months.

Things have finally calmed down a little, so I can finally get back to posting updates here. Part of what I want to do this year is focus a lot more on my music writing and on this site. One of my new year resolutions was to post a lot more frequently and get more music content up on the site and out on the web. So expect to start seeing more updates from me in the coming weeks. Sometimes they’ll just be simple updates of what I’ve got going on with music projects. Other times it will just be a post on a game or music related topic that I just feel like talking about.

In terms of music, I’m finally getting to work on some new projects. The first of these is an intro theme to a podcast, which should be launching sometime this month. There may be a closing theme written, depending on what my collaborator wants to do. The other project is a soundtrack for a game that I worked on at a recent game jam. It was my first time attending a jam and everything went relatively well with the team and the game that we created. There was interest in continuing to work on it after the event, so I’m going to continue writing music and a handful of sound effects for the project. I’ll have more details on that as well, as we get closer to a final build of the game.

With all of that said, I’m looking forward to getting back to work on this site. This has been a long time coming and I’m glad to be finally shifting my focus onto my music and projects. I’m aiming to make my posts a weekly or bi-weekly thing, so with any luck you’ll be hearing from me again soon.

Plans For This Fall

It looks like I managed to let another five months pass by without any major posts to the blog. This is what happens when I give myself too many projects to tackle. I had a lot going on this spring and summer, but I suppose it’s time for another update. I managed to get out to PAX East this year, going for my first time as a member of the press and covered some interesting music related games. Most of my time was spent working and writing for Original Sound Version. The rest of the time was spent working on my music and other projects in the studio.

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, I started learning to play guitar and electric bass. I had studied a bit of guitar years ago and for some reason I decided that this summer I should expand my performance skills to other instruments. I’m primarily teaching myself with the aid of some method books. I’ve also been getting some practice through the game Rocksmith 2014, which has helped with mixed results. At some point I may try to write a critique about its usefulness as a learning tool, but for now it will just remain a fun distraction. I’m hoping at some point to apply some of my newly developing guitar and bass skills to my future music projects.

My plans for this fall include returning to my seasonal day job. It’s a necessary evil, but until I actually start earning more of a living from music it has to be done. It will certainly divide more of my attention away from music and reviewing, but it will be nice to have a steady paycheck for a while. I’ll also be going out to a convention this week called the Boston Festival of Indie Games. It’s a one day event, on September 13th at MIT, that showcases the work of small developers from the New England area. I attended last year and even reported on a concert they held. It ended up being a lot of fun last year. Anyone in the area should definitely check it out.

As for the status of this site, I’m looking into making some major changes. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I want to change this over into more of a portfolio for my audio work. I’ve also been considering the possibility of just making a new site from scratch and just shutting down this current site. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve been relatively happy with the way this blog has turned out and I’m not sure if I want to do something that drastic. In any case, there may be some big changes happening in the coming months. I’ll be posting again if and when that happens.

A New Year and Some New Plans

Well that was an interesting and busy 5 months. Things in my life have finally slowed down enough that I’ve been able to come back and write a few posts for my poor neglected website. It turns out that working a 40-50 hour day job, remodeling/setting up a studio space, writing news stories and reviews for the Original Sound Version gaming site, and attending conventions doesn’t leave a person with a lot of spare time. But I am finally back. A little tired out, but back.

One of the big things that happened recently involves my work on the Original Sound Version (OSV) site. I had known that this was in the cards for a while, but part of the plan with bringing me on the site was not just that I would be writing for it, I would also eventually be helping run the site. So starting this past January, fellow contributing writer Brenna Wilkes and I became the Co-Managing Editors of Original Sound Version. The original founders of the site have moved on to bigger and better things and they felt confident enough in Brenna and I that they have handed control of the site over to us. I’m honored and humbled to have been given the chance to do this and I hope to continue making OSV a great site to go to for game music reviews and news.

My full-time day job, which was seasonal, has finally ended, so now I’m able to focus on my music and working on OSV. For now, I’ll be focusing my music efforts on expanding and building my portfolio. Even though I didn’t have time to compose over the past several months, I continued to come up with ideas and tried to jot a lot of them down. The lack of original music that I currently have up on this site has been gnawing at me all winter and it’s the first major thing I want to tackle. So with a larger chunk of my time free, I’m going to go into full music production mode. I have some ideas for what I want to do, so hopefully I’ll have some more stuff coming to this site in the near future.

I will try to keep posting on this site when I get the chance. I said that last time of course, but at least I know now that I’ll have some actual time to do it. No more of this once every 5 months nonsense. As I said in my last post, anything involving game coverage that I do is going to be on Original Sound Version, so this site is really being transitioned into a blog/site for my music projects. Be sure to check out some of the stuff we’re doing over at OSV. For now, I’m going to get back to composing and I’ll hopefully have something more to tell you in the next few weeks.