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.
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!
Read more about FuturLab and Velocity here: