Hello, it’s Dylan Cuthbert from Q-Games, the company behind PixelJunk, and I’ve decided to write another blog entry to coincide with our upcoming release of the PixelJunk Monsters Soundtrack. Yes, you heard right! We are going to be the first people ever to release a soundtrack on the PSN store and it’s because we have been inundated with requests from all the fans out there! Here’s a sample track:[audio:2008/05/dive-into-pixeljunk-monsters.mp3]
So today’s blog is going to be slightly different so I can simultaneously introduce you to Otograph, who made the music, and Kentaro Yoshida, who is studio director here at Q-Games and has worked hard as Producer on all the PixelJunk titles. Yoshida has a long history, having worked as an artist on all the Panzer Dragoon games for Sega, including “Orta” (for which he was art director) and he also worked for a few years at Sony Japan during which time I met with him and we made the duck-in-a-bath PS2 tech demo together. Anyway, today I am acting simply as translator because I have persuaded him to interview Otograph for the blog, so here we go:
Yoshida: To begin with please tell us a bit about yourselves, the genre of music you make and what you have been up to recently.
Otograph: We are creative unit consisting of two people, Iura Takashi and Oshima Sachiyo. We formed in 2004 and work to express ourselves in art as well as music, without limiting ourselves to any particular medium. We are often told our music doesn’t really fit in a particular genre, and that is probably because instead of specializing in one style, we place more importance on moments of touch and visual sensation to inspire us.
From 2007 we have been involved in a young modern artist group called “small-ness” and have been holding exhibitions here in Japan. We are planning to show this exhibition outside Japan in the near future. Also, we are considering holding our own independent Otograph exhibition.
Yoshida: It’s interesting but there seem to be many artists and musicians in Kyoto, why do you think this is so?
Otograph: Well the truth is both of us just happened to have been born here and we also went to University here in Kyoto. But we do think Kyoto is a very relaxed city that lets you concentrate on being creative and this might be one of the reasons. We also have a lot of artistic friends here. To use a phrase from Buddhism, Kyoto is a city with many threads of destiny. Of course, nowadays, no matter where are you are there are many ways to get your message across to the world. We plan to expand out of Kyoto at some point but wherever we go it will always be a very important place for us.
Yoshida: Ok, so name some of your all-time favorite games!
Otograph: Well, we like different games, Iura’s favorite game is Wizardry 1 thru 4 and Oshima’s favorite is the original Game&Watch Donkey Kong!
Yoshida: You’re making me nostalgic. Tell me your favorite musician.
Iura: There are so many musicians that I greatly respect so it is very difficult to choose a favorite. However, recently I have been listening to nothing but Wes Montgomery.
Oshima: Glenn Herbert Gould. The grain and quality of the sound is really beautiful.
Yoshida: Please tell us about the experience you had making music for Monsters.
Otograph: Well, first of all we were approached by Mr. Tominaga [Dylan side note: “Tomi” is the main director of PixelJunk Eden by the way] of Q-Games who would always came to our live music performances. We were interested in collaborating so we prepared a sample track (the raw material for “bye bye Monsters” which is on the soundtrack), and Q-Games signed us up. The rest is history!
Yoshida: I think this is the first time you’ve been involved in making music for a video game. So how was it?
Otograph: We progressed quickly with the music before the design for the game was finalized. After hearing the initial description of the type of music Q-Games was looking for, we were given a lot of freedom to create whatever we liked. Then, when the game started coming together we were nicely surprised at how the music, art and the player’s movement all fit together so strangely well.
Yoshida: What did you find difficult about working on Monsters?
Otograph: Well, for games, not only is there music, but there are also sound effects and we had to design both not to conflict with each other. For example, we tried to keep the rhythm sections and tones simple because of this. We also paid attention to giving the sound effects and music a sense of unity. The stages in Monsters are basically one screen so we attempted to use the music to expand the world beyond that for the player, and with just the music, our goal was to arouse the sensation in people to create puzzles.
Yoshida: So what is your opinion of the final product – PixelJunk Monsters?
Otograph: Well actually, we only got around to buying a PS3 just a few weeks ago and now we are totally addicted to Monsters! Of course we play-tested the game a number of times during development but the final tuning that went into all of the stages is exquisite! When we close our eyes we see those pink tower level meters and gems floating before us. :-)
Yoshida: If you have the chance again, what genre or type of game would you like to be involved in?
Otograph: Well, PixelJunk Monsters was a very fresh but at the same time somehow nostalgic-feeling game, so next we’d love to work on a game style that has never been seen before and is totally new and different. Right now, we are very interested in puzzle games, or games that make you exercise your brain.
Yoshida: I think there are probably a lot of people in the West who heard your music for the first time when they played Monsters and I’m sure you have gained many fans. So finally what would you like to say to them?
Otograph: To everyone who listened to and enjoyed our music, we are hugely grateful to you all! We will endeavor to challenge ourselves more and more so keep cheering us on!
Well, that wraps up the Q&A. Thanks to Yoshida and Otograph for taking the time to give us some detailed and thoughtful answers…I enjoyed translating them. Remember everyone, the soundtrack is available this Thursday May 22 on the US store for just $2.99. Support us and we’ll support you!