When you get a killstreak you don’t only get a game-changing ability — you feel a blend of determination, exhilaration, and satisfaction. That’s in part thanks to Ellsworth Hall’s killstreak-accompanying in-game music.
Hall started working with Stanion Studios 28 years ago, composing music for the documentary, “Whale, Man, and God.” He started composing music for computer games in the mid-90s, working for game composer Rob Wallace (Ever heard of Mario’s Time Machine?). Hall has done music for games like Winged Exemplar, HacX, and Castle of Fear.
Hall is one of our two composers, creating music and sound effect for TideTurn. From waiting on the home screen to firing off a weapon during a match, Hall has created music and sounds that transport you into the world of TideTurn — no matter which side you’re on.
What is the importance of sound in a video game?
I think that sound, in terms of conventional sounds, gives the player a sense of being grounded in reality while special sci-fi sounds — like force fields — enhance the visuals of things that are not necessarily natural.
What is the purpose of the music people hear while playing?
To enhance the excitement and drama of the moment. Or, if the music is occurring at a lull in the action, to underpin the emotion of that period which could be poignant or a bit melancholy — or perhaps hopeful, depending on what is going on.
What’s the most important element of creating music for video games?
I think the most important element for game music is to capture the emotion of the moment.
You’ve been making music for videos for quite some time. What’s the difference when it comes to music for video games?
In movies you are given specific visuals to match which must be done with certain timing. They are more linear. Games are often non-linear because the music will change depending on what the game player does. It’s obviously more interactive.
What do you like about TideTurn’s theme?
I like the pulsing rhythm and the fast violin motif that create excitement. I enjoy the orchestrations too with orchestral instruments mixed with other elements.
When it comes to specific maps, how do you go about creating the in-game music?
I initially started some thematic ideas for San Francisco. But so far we have been focusing on the main and killstreak themes and will eventually work up ideas on the specific maps along with Nicolas [last name], the other composer. I would imagine we will take into account the culture of the various locales when composing music for those specific maps.
Does TideTurn’s music have an overall vibe?
A sense of adventure is the main thing I’m feeling. Drama and excitement with some environmental messages too.
What are some things you’ve had to make sounds for that people might not expect or realize?
In this game, I think the various water-type sounds are something that may slip under the radar as they have to be specifically tailored to certain visuals. That takes more work than just putting up a standard wave sound or whatever. Other more conventional things like background ambiance is another example. They are more subtle.
What has been your favorite part of working on TideTurn?
It’s the challenge of being creative and yet succeeding in conjuring up something that Ian Stanion and the team think will work. There’s a vision they have for the game and I have to find what fits that but at the same time having fun coming up with ideas and themes and sounds.
I’ve been inspired by the visuals and characters and storyline. Also working with Nicolas has been inspiring because he’s come up with some beautiful themes and ideas as well.
Olivia “y05h1eggz” Richman //
Stanion Studios Marketing Copyeditor