Firefall: A Creative Approach To The Soundtrack

Recently, the “Firefall” game launched. This MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game is a sci-fi driven, action shooter that takes place on a future planet Earth. 

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As a composer, I've been writing for this project since development began in 2006. While the game developed and took shape, the soundtrack went through much iteration in terms of style and tone. Early iterations were more electronic and we eventually ended up with a soundtrack that melded orchestral, electronic and atmospheric elements. In all, I’ve probably created 4+ hours of material for Firefall.

Sometimes creating that much music means I like to alter my creative process here and there and explore different approaches to stay fresh. Experimentation, after all, is an essential part of any creative process.

On one particular track, “Diamond Head”, I decided to do an off-the-wall collaboration with two other composers, Mike Raznick and Rich Mullins, where I would drive the process as composer / producer.

Since Rich was going to primarily create bass and guitar tracks and ideas , I gave him a sketch of a 1-minute section of just percussion. For Raznick, I didn’t give him anything I had created. I told each of them the key and meter of what the track should be and that the material created should be no more than 2 minutes long.

The off-the-wall part was that I didn’t let them hear each other’s work. Actually, I didn’t tell them there were other collaborators at all. While they were writing on their own separate courses, I also crafted a composition along the same parameters. Once I received all of their material, the fun began in figuring how to reshape all this material into one track. I ended up doing a fair amount of editing, arranging and processing as well as composing more elements to add cohesion across all the collaborated elements. The results were pleasing. It became a blend of mashup, remix and original composition that was truly cohesive. The piece would eventually be about 3 minutes, 40 seconds in duration.

In the end, all the elements blended together to create something beyond what I would have done myself.  This experience was a meaningful reminder to me about the great value of experimentation in the creative journey.

Firefall launched on July 29, 2014 and is free to play. Red 5 Studios is the developer. Go to  www.firefallthegame.com to check out the game and hear the music.

This blog post can also be found as an article at Audio Pro International.