We at GameZone are fond of chatting with the brightest minds behind video game music. These are the unsung heroes of a game, often carrying all of the emotional weight and drive through their music. Michael Bross is no different. Having composed for the Oddworld franchise, he’s now working on Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One. Bross can make anyone with even a passing interest in game music want to listen.
GameZone: I’m sure you’re proud to be involved with All 4 One. What’s it like to work on the series, and were there any challenges with this game?
Michael Bross: I’m still in the midst of production on the project. It’s been a great experience so far. I’ve long been familiar with Insomniac’s games and already knew some of the people at Insomniac before I signed on to the project.
The main challenge has been finding a balance between capturing the sound of the old games and doing something new and unique for this game. So far, I’m pleased with how things are turning out.
GZ: You’ve also worked on many of the Oddworld titles, including an upcoming game in the franchise. What sort of musical themes do you work with in these games? What is it like knowing that Stranger’s Wrath is coming back with an HD update?
MB: With Oddworld’s music, I’ve blended in a larger number of influences. Oddworld itself has many layers to it conceptually, and it was important to me to be mindful of that when writing.
I’m happy to see [Stranger’s Wrath] come out in HD form. It really didn’t get the attention it deserved back when it was first released, so it’s satisfying that people are able to enjoy the game on current platforms.
GZ: Video game music composition introduces some unique challenges. Can you describe how you go about developing music for games?
MB: An important step is understanding not only the game itself but also the people working on the project. I usually go through a beginning phase, too, where I’m writing and discovering the “sound” that the game needs. It’s enjoyable for me to explore like that.
GZ: You’ve been making game music since the mid-1990s. What was it like to compose for such a time period, and how does it compare with now?
MB: Back then, the tech was limiting. I had to deal with severe memory and streaming constraints. This affected the quality of the music itself. Many of these limitations no longer exist in such an extreme form, so I can focus more on creative efforts and quality of music itself.
GZ: Are there any franchises you’d like to one day work with? Is there any game music that impresses you personally?
MB: Yes. I loved the game Limbo and want to work on something with that kind of feel. Borderlands or Bioshock are high on my list, too. I really like the music from the latest Assassin’s Creed title.
GZ: Many composers from film and television are switching over to games. What’s it like for you to see these new contributors to game music compositions?
MB: Many game-focused composers dread it, but I’m not one of those composers. I’m happy to see film composers realizing that it’s a fantastic medium to work in.
GZ: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
MB: Watch for the release of Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One this fall. I’ll also be posting news and updates about the project on my site at www.bross.com .