Monday, October 15, 2007

Horse Life is out!

All downloadable music in this post is protected under copyright from Neko Entertainment & myself and presented here for self-promotion purposes with kind authorization from Neko Entertainment.

Music for the Nintendo DS

Download MP3 excerpts from Horse Life:
> Building Trust
> A New Friend
> Like The Wind!
> We Did It!
> Epilogue

If you happen to have used the parisian metro sometime this week, you might have noticed an ad for the DS game on the picture below.

Well, I made the music for this one! I composed 21 different songs for this game, and only 3 of which to be ashamed of! :) (which is a surprisingly small number :). The style is somewhat country but not really, everything is driven by harmonica and violin, supported by piano and guitar. I kind of grew uninspired towards the end of the project, hence the 3 ill-conceived and repetitive songs I mentioned. :) This is a modest game, made by smaller companies and scored by a smaller composer. But nevertheless, this project is important to me. Why? Because I think it's the very first time, at least in some years, that I've scored a video game with the client letting me be absolutely free. I could decide how many cues were needed, what style to chose, what pace to give to each cue.

If you're reading this and you're not a professional composer yourself, you might think "Well, isn't that just normal? Is it not what they pay you for?". Heck, YES it should be like this, but sadly it's been rarer and rarer to be able to work this way since a few years, for reasons I've been ranting about way too much lately (but let's not forget that collaboration with knowledgeable and sensitive producers can be a truly great experience sometimes). But this time, it happened: I was 100% on my own to create a entire game soundtrack with nobody interfering. It was probably for the wrong reasons though, but it happened anyway and the outcome is simply this: I think it's the best work I've done for a video game in a long time.

Since no one was interfering, it made a world of difference. I would start working on a piece, and sometimes even after a full minute of finished music was done I would notice it wasn't right for the corresponding moment in the game and I would start over on my own, I would spot my mistakes myself and fix them in an informed and creative manner, before some executive would try to make his own piece of music by using my body as a vessel.

The songs, while not being the finest pieces of music in the world, work really well while you're playing I think, which is my absolute primary goal when working on a game. This is why, eventhough the music isn't necessarily the best I've ever done, I think I succeeded in creating a good GAME soundtrack.

Thanks to good, up-to-date coding practices, I could make changes to the game's audio without programmers even being aware of it , and without endangering the project until up to the last minute before the master was compiled and sent to the client.

The client, Neko Entertainment, was nice enough to allow me to share the music on the internet once the game would be released! Quick facts if you're not familiar with the technical aspect of video game music:
  • - Everything is made 100% using Nintendo's NitroSoundMaker, the native DS music sequencing format (.SDAT). Which means it sounds a bit like "MIDI" music, it's not CD or MP3 quality. The music you hear is actually being performed in real time by the Nintendo DS (The client still thought it was MP3 until very far in the development course:).

  • - As usual with any kind of sequenced music I programmed and sampled all the instruments myself and by hand, this is where being a former Amiga musician came in handy. On the song called "Like The Wind!", pay attention to the piano and the guitard chords, getting "midi" instruments to sound like that took me countless hours. I learned a few valuable tricks along the way, and my next DS soundtrack will be only better.

  • - My greatest triumph here: The whole sound archive for this game fits in a little less than 700 KB (all 50 sound effects included). There are just a couple environmental streams stored as well on the cartridge but they're not part of the sound archive.
I hope you like them! This is only the beginning, this is only "gotta-eat" stuff. Right now the team and I are working on some MUCH more interesting stuff. Stuff that will perhaps finally allow me to show off a little bit in terms of interactive sound design. More in a few months, I hope.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mieux vaut tard que jamais !

This modest corner is what I like to call "Studio Mojo" :)

It doesn't look like much but there's still a couple keyboards missing because of an obvious lack of room. I am so happy these days, you just can't beat that. I'm still extremely confident that I made the right choice leaving my golden cage at Gameloft. Some great things will be made around this desk, I know it!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

So it's fashionable at the moment to blog about Resident Evil 5's trailer being "racist". So here's my 2 cents about that.

As usual, the overall response and the opinions expressed by video game players themselves are mostly pathetic, and make me feel lucky that those same persons do not debate publicly about politics.

Now, each time someone has to say anything negative about a video game, they fall in the "conservative mothers" category without any further thinking applied to the problem. The argument that this polemic shouldn't even be because there hasn't been one with other games or trailer featuring equally "shocking" content is ludicrous.

If there's anything Capcom often lacks, it's definitely taste (I'm refering to their abusive use of western pop-culture cliches in almost everything they do). To think that some people claim that there is nothing to feel insulted about in this trailer leaves me in awe.

People, it's really time to get a brain for yourself, and a heart while you're at it. There is a simple question that suffices to understand the whole matter and to help thinking reasonnably about it. Ask yourself:

If Africa was as big a market for video games as the US, would Capcom have been more careful ?

Deep down, you know the answer is an unequivocal YES. And that's where everyone should stop at.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

2 new games I worked on:

(Warning: some views expressed in this post might get you bitching, it depends on how idiotic you are)

*Download midi mobile phone music from Holy Wars below:
- Holy Wars: Battle
- The Forest (my personal favorite)

I totally forgot about this, but Holy Wars: Sons of Enoch is out, and so is the first ever video game adaptation of Oban Star Racers! Actually they've been out for a little while now but I was to busy working on my next project (which is 99.9% complete now) to recall that I actually worked on something else.

Holy Wars: Sons of Enoch
Beat'em All/RPG, nice blend of both, good graphics and cool fighting mechanics.

And Oban Star Racers
Racing game from the TV animated series. The game is cool but a bit too hard for me. (Maybe I just suck?). Anyway it looks terrific, if you liked the show you have to play this one. If you don't know the show you have to watch it.

Both games look sweet, don't they ?

So, yeah... They're both mobile games so there's not a whole lot of improvement here compared to my previous condition. :) These babies were developped and published by Devalley Entertainment. But actually, working on them was quite different than working on Gameloft games, which I 'm going to say a word about in a minute. But first, a kind word about Devalley, because they deserve it.

If you play with your cellphone sometimes (and I mean running games on it :)), you have to try Devalley games. This studio isn't famous (yet?) but has been around for a little while now. Their games are the first ones on mobile that really had me say "Ha! Now THAT's easy to pick up!". They're incredibly easy to play and fun, the frame rame is always good, the graphics are nice and the storylines are wacko. Everybody who thinks Gameloft or EA Mobile make great action games should try Gun Fever. Devalley's sudoku game "Sudoku QI Training" is amazing too, and I've been playing it each time I went to the bathroom for the past 2 months (honest). The company is small and dedicated to the love of gaming. Their games are amazingly quick to pick up and it takes no more than a couple of seconds to save your game and quit it whenever you need to. There are keys to press at anytime in the game that save your progress or turn the sound ON/OFF, without the need to go browsing in tiresome and laggy menus (*cough* Gameloft *cough* :)).

Edit: I deleted the rest of the article because I realized its content was downright insulting to a lot of people who didn't deserve it (that much). I'm sorry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Tonight I'm finally free from Gameloft. A couple of people there must be litterally pooping their pants from happiness. :) I can assure them then the joy is shared.

I guess I'm not realizing yet. But the nice thing is that from start to finish, I didn't have one single moment of hesitation before resigning. There was no time where I hesitated or thought to myself: "perhaps I should reconsider, this is a very nice position with a high salary and comfort". Nope. I did it, and now it's done and that I officially don't have any other revenue and have to live on my life savings, I'm very confident I made the right choice and I'm not scared one bit about the future.


We had this amazing little good-bye party on the shore of the Seine river here in beautiful Paris, 20 people showed up and we rocked. They made me the most totally rad gift, both excellent and amazingly annoying. For the sake of decency I can't say what it is exactly, but let's just say it will be a great reminder of the people I loved the "most" there, so I never forget why was everything this way. Guys, you rock :)
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