Composers Q&A

 

Since its debut in 1986, many great composers worked on the Might & Magic RPG series: names like Todd Hendrix (MM3), Tim Tully (MM4 and 5), Masaharu Iwata (MM1, Famicom/NES version), Joe Hisaishi (MM1, PC-Engine/Turbografx CD version) and of course Rob King and Paul Anthony Romero (MM6-9) spring to mind.


We believe all of them brought something unique and interesting to the musical landscape of Might & Magic. It is now time for a new team of composers to bring their own sound to Might & Magic X - Legacy: Jason Graves and Roc Chen.

 

But let's give them some space to introduce themselves ...

 

 

1. What's your relationship to Might & Magic?

 

Jason Graves: I composed music for Might & Magic: Heroes VI and its expansion pack, Shades of Darkness.

 

Roc Chen: Like most M&M players, I've been a fan of the Might & Magic series since I was in school. In the daily life of my childhood, normally there were two things to do after school: Play Piano and Play M&M computer games. Of course my mother was always mad at me for spending too much time playing M&M games and the result is I spent much more time on playing piano instead, which qualifies me for composing music for M&M, I think. :)

 

 

Jason Graves

Jason Graves

 

 

2. In your opinion, what makes good game music?

 

Jason Graves: I think a proper game score should highlight the emotional journey of the character, underscoring their progression through the game as they learn more about the world they are in. In a word, it’s about EMOTION.

 

Roc Chen: Game music is different from "music". If I make my own music I can create and do whatever I want, but when I'm creating game music, I really want to think "how can my music help this game?" So communication with the game development team is really important. Luckily for M&M Legacy, Ubisoft's sound team truly understands game audio. They know how music can help the game while they also give me a lot of freedom for composing. We hope every player has a great gaming experience. :)

 

 

3. Can you name a favorite game soundtrack?

 

Jason Graves: Currently, I’m really enjoying Chris Tilton’s work for Sim City along with Garry Schyman’s score for Bioshock Infinite. Of course, I’m drawn to the work of my friends, so there is a bit of favoritism going on there!

 

 

Roc Chen

Roc Chen

 

 

4. What does your average work day look like?

 

Jason Graves: I usually work 9-5, Monday through Friday. Typically, I am starting in the morning with a new piece of music. By the end of the day I deliver it to the developer. It’s usually around two minutes of finished music. I break up my day by eating lunch with with my family (my studio is a separate building in my backyard) and practicing different instruments. I’ve been working hard on my guitar and drum chops for a rock-based film score I’m starting on in the Fall.

 

Roc Chen: Unlike most musicians, I wake up pretty early in the morning, and water some flowers, then get to composing directly. Sometimes I stop and meet some new video game producers or film directors in the afternoon. If my IQ in the morning hours is 150 (^_^) then at night my IQ drops to around 20 >_< ... It's like in some RPG in that I need to rest to recover HP&MP so I can release my magic the next day . ^_^

 

 

5. What inspires you?

 

Jason Graves: Listening to great music, whether it be classical, jazz or rock. I also love watching musicians perform live, either at a live or concert or something prerecorded on television.

 

Roc Chen: I'm very fortunate that I can be inspired by many things. Any random touch of a piano keyboard can lead me to a new melody, then it's time to craft them to make sure they fit in the game. The infamous blank page rarely happens, when the composer sits in front of the writing desk and doesn't know what to write.

 

 

MMX Main Theme by Jason Graves:

 

 

 

6. What Instruments do you play, and what Equipment do you use?

 

Jason Graves: I started as a drummer, both rock and jazz music, but my music degree is in classical and world percussion, so I have lots, and I mean LOTS of percussion instruments sitting around the studio that I record all the time. I also play piano, guitar and bass and try to record myself playing all of these instruments as much as I can. For example, I played acoustic guitar, ukelele and percussion on the track “Haven.”

As far as equipment goes, I have four Mac Pro’s that house a custom orchestral sample library I’ve spent the last five years creating. You can hear a lot of it in the music I wrote for Might and Magic. I have many microphones (Neumann M150, KM184‘s, etc) and pre-amps (API, Neve, Avedis, Phoenix Audio, etc.) plus outboard analog gear that I run everything through (API summing mixer, Manley Massive Passive, API 2500). I feel like it warms up all the digital processing going on inside the computer.

For software, I use Digital Performer and Pro Tools along with Waves Mercury, SoundToys, FabFilter every day. I also love Omnisphere and u-he’s Zebra soft synths. All of my sampling is done exclusively in Kontakt. In fact, I won’t even purchase a new library if it isn’t hosted in Kontakt.

 

Roc Chen: Piano, Guitar ,Violin and some easy to play woodwinds. But with my equipment I can play every instrument. I work with Pro Tools and Logic, sometimes with Cubase. I love the sound of Apogee's devices, though I also use some RME audio interfaces connecting with Avid's gear, with the self-made controllers on iPad. I have sampled some instruments on my own so I could create my own voice. :-)

 

 

7. What are you currently playing, reading and/or listening to?

 

Jason Graves: I’m currently deep in the middle of Bioshock Infinite. I’ve been reading “Drood” by Dan Simmons and listening to the latest Foo Fighters album “Wasting Light,” which they recorded in Dave Grohl’s garage. I think that’s a wonderful idea. And the record sounds incredible!

 

Roc Chen: Reading an upcoming film script which has very complicated inside logical minds, trying to stay calm and avoid becoming crazy, haha ~ >_<
I'm a fan of French composers Ravel and Debussy. Their music is often playing on my iPad and the Light and Shadow in their music makes me feel like I'm experiencing a real-time video game . :)

 

 

 Morning in Karthal by Roc Chen:

 

 

 

8. Your Motto?

 

Jason Graves: Never stop learning! I’m a bit compulsive when it comes to learning new things - I’m always researching and studying something. Lately, it’s all been about recording technology and mixing. I moved into my new studio eighteen months ago and have been accumulating microphones, preamps and instruments to play and record for my game scores. It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding...honestly, sometimes I’m amazed that people are actually PAYING me to do all this.

 

Roc Chen: A composer can only have true peace when composing music.

 

 

9. Your message to the fans of Might & Magic?

 

Jason Graves: You guys are amazing! Might and Magic is such a time-honored, incredible franchise. I’m so excited to be part of it and look forward to what it has in store for all of us next. Feel free to come visit me on Facebook and Twitter. It’s always a blast hearing from you.

 

Roc Chen: I hope you enjoy the new M&M Legacy game. If you had a great time in this game and forgot my music was even playing, I would be happy because it means my music has lead you into the world of M&M Legacy. :)