FuturLab’s Velocity – The Soundtrack Story

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FuturLab’s Velocity – The Soundtrack Story

Hi folks!

Our new game Velocity has been out for a couple of weeks now, and we’re delighted with the reception. We’ve had superb reviews, so today I’m going to reveal how Velocity’s soundtrack came to be, and how it’s absolutely essential that you don’t give up on something you believe in, ever.

When I was little (7 or 8), I used to tinker on the piano. I couldn’t read music, but I could work out how to play a tune after hearing it a couple of times. I used to practice and practice until I had it mastered. I spent a good deal of my younger years messing about with toy keyboards, writing little songs and playing them to people.

However, in secondary school, I infuriated my music teacher because she was trying to skim through many different practical exercises, and all I wanted to do was get the first exercise mastered. When she mentioned that I was disrupting the class to my parents, I became very insecure about it, and ultimately stopped doing it, deciding that I was actually no good at music after all.

I developed a love for games instead, and when an arcade opened up just a few hundred metres from my home, I spent all of my spare time there. When I was in my final few months at school, I was asked what I wanted to do when I left. I had no idea, but in a moment of reflexive honesty I replied: make games. I was told that I couldn’t work in games because I was bad at Maths.

Being the gullible fool that I am, I valued these people’s opinions more than my own, and when I left school, I had no idea what to do. I followed a friend to Art College and spent all my time there making ‘artwork’ that was somehow inspired by or related to music.

When I went for my Fine Art Degree interview, the University lecturer took one look at my portfolio and asked whether I played an instrument. I said: no. He said: you should. I realised then that I’d buried my passion for music for nearly 10 years because of a simple comment from my teacher. I spent my first student loan cheque on a crappy keyboard, and started playing again.

It consumed me, and I spent all 3 years of my degree *not* doing Fine Art, but learning how to produce music. I wrote a few tracks and performed them live at University bars and clubs, and it was great fun. When it came to delivering work for each assessment, I created ‘sound art’ videos and installations which were interactive. They were halfway between what my tutors wanted to see, and what I wanted to do. In my final show, my tutor said: your work is more like a game than a piece of art.

Once again I realised that I’d buried a passion of mine as a result of someone’s careless comment, and decided that since the music industry was becoming increasingly shaky, I’d get into games instead, and teach myself Flash game programming.

In the years that followed, I continued to learn music production in my spare time, and I created about seven different versions of a particular tune that I’d started at University. You could say that I was obsessed with this tune, but despite my close friend’s continued disapproval, I believed the tune had potential.

FuturLab - quarpinhanger

Fast forward to 2010, and our first game Coconut Dodge was coming to an end. I created a mix of the tune that I was finally happy with (my friend conceded it was actually okay that time!), and it sounded like a soundtrack to a retro space shooter game. Since the tune sounds very heroic with its uplifting melody and chords, I figured it would be fitting to create a game that featured rescuing people!

I knew that my music production skills wouldn’t be good enough for a commercial release, so I sent the tune, along with a few others I’d been working on, to Joris de Man, the Killzone composer, asking if he’d work on them for an ‘indie budget.’ To my surprise and delight he agreed. In the end we collaborated to create a soundtrack that we are both very happy with. It has been one of the most exciting and satisfying creative experiences of my career so far.

The same tune now features in all of the ‘Critical Urgency’ levels in Velocity:

So Velocity is the first professional accomplishment I am proud of, which is kinda depressing considering I’m now 33 years old!

I was held back by self-doubt as a result of friends and teachers telling me that I wasn’t good enough. I know that this kind of thing affects many creative people, so please believe me when I say that you should never give up on what you believe in. You’ll get there eventually!

FuturLab - cheering

Read more about FuturLab and Velocity here:


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8 Author Replies

  • Hi folks, I’m here to answer any questions you might have about this post :)

  • Did you know Joris’ old demo tunes, or did you just think he would be a great composer anyway?

  • @senty-23:

    I knew he’d done the N+ soundtrack, and I was a huge fan of the Killzone soundtrack for its layered sound. In the brief discussion before he began, he said he’d like to add some chip tune lead melodies and some heavy percussion and glitch effects – which sounded perfect to me :)

  • Thanks for this inspiring post, it is way too easy to get put off from a creative stroke by negative comments early on. It’s not rare to rediscover ourselves all the time though and there are many who realize at some point what a roundabout way they ended up taking to finally end up doing what they wanted in life, whether it becomes their work or not. =) Thankfully, after all that, I get to enjoy your tune so cheers~ ;)

    • Indeed :) We’re working on a remix album release, which should be coming later this year…

  • This game truly is a little gem and a recollection of an era when gameplay was king – not the graphics, marketing, licences and DLC’s.

    You should have released this as a PSN version with trophies instead of a Minis-title though.

    • Thanks for your nice comments about Velocity :)

      Releasing as a full PSN title costs a lot more money to do, something an indie studio rarely has access to. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to do that sometime in the future!

  • I agree with Huono_peleis!

    Can’t wait for Retro City Rampage too!

  • I love what you have done for us here, Love It. I have been HUGE fan of electronica for many years (I have The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds on 12″ promo)and when I mention Vince Clarke, I don’t mean to imply you are a copy cat, I just think you are developing your OWN sound, much like Vince has developed his, his. When a soundscape has me imageing for example, in-whorling stars and ever-somersaulting bears to electronic soundbites then I know a composer is doing the right thing for me as a listener. A totally natural and endorphin making high made just by hearing and indulging in excellent and well-scaped music. Thanks, keep it up…

    • Great to hear it! Joris is a magician when it comes to production and melodies. I wrote the ideas, but he brought it to life. Keep an ear out for the remix album release later this year :)

  • Nice one, I def would spend money in-PS store to add this B.O. to my music playlist alongside H.F.B.’s Pixeljunk B.O. when it comes out later this year. :D

  • Been playing this virtually non stop since it came out and I’m loving it and the little “hidden” mini games (minesweeper etc)

    Is there a plan to release the soundtrack?

  • Joris certainly is de man (see what I did there) his soundtrack really adds to already amazing gameplay of Velocity. The soundtrack would be an instant purchase, perfect music to listen to in the car when I’m teleporting to and from work.

  • Awesome music for an awseome game. One of the best minis that I played.

  • I love this indie side of the industry, and its good to here your passion has finally paid off! I’m lucky in that my parents are always telling me that teachers ‘are idiots’ (obviously in a ironic manner, they just point out that I should do what I’m passionate about and that in the end teachers are just teachers. In primary school a teacher told my mum I was failing in class because I was too stupid and had special needs, now I’m doing really well and I only got told this story last week!).

    Any plans on what you will work on after velocity, its one of the best minis so far and the music is awesome! Playstation Suite or PS3/Vita crossplay title tickle your fancy at all. (What if you made a 2d space-combat game which was a ‘canonical spin-off’ of the killzone franchise?)

    I love stories like this, keep up the good work. ;)

    • Thanks for the supportive comments!

      We’ve got some cogs turning about what we’re doing next. If you follow @FuturLab or join our Facebook pages (links are at the end of the post), then you’ll be among the first to know when we reveal what we’re working on next!



  • Hi Guys, Joris here…
    I was very excited when James first showed me Velocity; I thought the gameplay mechanics were really unique and it was great fun going back to my 8-bit roots and work on something so different.
    But I should really give James a lot of credit for coming up with the original tunes; the ideas were solid and all it needed was a bit more production and some wailing lead lines. It truly was a collaborative effort and I’m proud to have been part of such a well executed mini!

  • jonny_hart_digit

    same here. not smart enough to make games.

  • Great inspiring story, thanks. I grew up programming 8-bit computers and really have a passion to develop indie games on PS3. However I am trapped in the corporate IT world at the moment. Any tips on how to break into the PS3 indie development area? Thanks.

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