Pixelated Audio is back for the second annual Masters of VGM (@MastersofVGM), an event every June where podcasts come together to highlight some game music composers, either personal favorites or some that deserve a bit more attention. The event was created by bedroth, host of Very Good Music and BGMania podcasts. Check out some of the other participating shows in Masters of VGM and see what people are up to, or discover some new VGM podcast favorites!
We picked a selection of 8 more VGM Masters, all of them amazing women composers, covering a mix of music from the 80s to today.
We’re joined today by Emily Reese; Minnesota Public Radio newscaster, VGM podcast legend and co-creator of the Level with Emily Reese and Top Score podcasts with Sam Keenan.
She is a trumpet player, and studied music education and jazz studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder and received her master’s degree in Music Theory from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Emily is an avid gamer (RPGs and FPS games are a favorite), and a lover of music with jazz and classical in particular.
Today’s show began as an interview with Emily but quickly turned into the three of us talking shop about the inner workings of creating the best possible podcast. All the discussion of audio editing and interview planning you can handle, as well as some career highlights from the trio. It’s not our typical show format, but we had a great time talking with a fellow podcast host and kindred spirit.
How do you do justice describing Brian Schmidt‘s contribution to gaming? His impact on the global trajectory of games has been immense. There’s no doubt in our minds that Brian is one of the most important figures in videogame history, and we couldn’t be more honored to have him joining us on the show. This next paragraph is only a portion of what Brian has been up to for the last 35 years or so.
Brian Schmidt began his career in games at Williams around 1987. He soon began working on music and sound programming on iconic pinball games like Swords of Fury and Black Knight 2000, as well as the infamous arcade game NARC. He later went freelance and worked on mechanical and redemption games, dozens of licensed pinball games like Data East‘s Batman and many for Sega. Fun fact: the 1991 Batman pinball game was the first to use Brian’s BSMT2000 hardware board designed for sample playback which went on to see use in pinball games for around 10 years. He then went to Electronic Arts and did sound for a ton of console games like Crüe Ball, Desert Strike, Mutant League Football and a variety of sports games. He contracted with QSound to work on 3D imaging in stereo sound and helped create the hardware used for in a number of games, including many Capcom CPS2 arcade machines. Eventually he moved onto Microsoft where he created the audio architecture for the Xbox and Xbox 360, as well as creating the OG Xbox startup sound. In 2009 he created GameSoundCon, the premier conference for industry professionals to learn how to write and implement music for games. He has been the current president of Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) for over a decade, an network of audio professionals based around growing the influence and legitimacy of video game music globally. G.A.N.G. along with many other groups paved the way for the recent acceptance of videogame music as a Grammy category. He’s currently the audio director and composer for Digital Dreams Entertainment‘s recent games Mutant Football League 1 and 2, spiritual successors to the EA games he worked on all those years ago.
We had the privilege of talking with Brian about his entire career in games from the very beginning to the present. We cover tons of FM music, pinball, NARC, the Pixies, QSound, EA Games, the Xbox, and his current work on Mutant Football League. This is definitely an episode to catch and we are absolutely thrilled to share it with everyone. If you’d like to learn more about Brian, check out Brian Schmidt Studios where you can see his game credits among many other things.
Today we’re joined by composer and graphics artist Robert Vroemisse for Angelic Warrior DEVA, a modern indie game for the MSX2 released in 2020. Together we talk about the game, the development process, Team DEVA and gaming in the Dutch MSX scene.
Angelic Warrior DEVA is a fast-paced, tough as nails action RPG for the MSX2 created by Team DEVA; made up of Robert Vroemisse (pronounced “Fru-miss-uh”) on graphics and most music, John Hassink another MSX scene legend on additional music, and Bart van Velzen the mad lad behind the coding of the project.
Robert Vroemisse who typically works on graphics is the main composer out of necessity but what a killer job he did. The soundtrack is absolutely jam packed with amazing music written for the combo of MSX-AUDIO (OPL1) and MSX-MUSIC (OPLL) and we couldn’t be happier to talk with Robert about it.
We’re back with another stellar euro platformer, this time in the form of Wolfchild, developed by Core Design. Your father Kal Morrow, expert in genetic research and creation of human-animal hybrids, has been kidnapped and the rest of your family was brutally murdered by the terrorist organization CHIMERA. You take control of his surviving son Saul to exact revenge against CHIMERA and their leader Karl Draxx.
Core Design is best known for their work on the first few Tomb Raider games, as well as other games like Rick Dangerous, Jaguar XJ220 and the Fighting Force series.
Simon Phipps, one of the early members of core and a lead graphic designer on Wolfchild published a great article on his website which is where we gathered a lot of the information for this episode. He talks about the origin of the game, the inspiration for its design (Strider, Island of Dr. Moreau, etc) and some notes about animation and the various releases.
Music this time around is handled by Martin Iveson on the original Amiga, Atari ST and later reimagined Mega CD version, with the Genesis, Game Gear and Master System covered by Pixelated Audio veteran Matt Furniss, and down porting duties from the Mega CD to SNES by Steve Collett. There’s more good music than you can shake a stick at across the 7 different platforms and we hope you enjoy it!
Today we’re joined by industry legend Neil Biggin in an absolutely massive show! Neil regales us with hilarious stories as we cover a wide range of his electronic music during his time at Gremlin Graphics from about 1992-1996. He walks us through some memories of landmark events during the 16 and 32-bit eras: the launch of the CD32, the first days of the Playstation, and being at a company with one of the world’s first motion capture studios.
Neil Biggin began his career with Zool 2 on Amiga, and continued with games like the CD32 versions of Zool 1 and 2 and Top Gear 2, Top Gear 3000, the Actua (or VR) sports games, Loaded, Re-Loaded, a number of FIFA games from 1997-2000, and music porting duties for the Desert/Jungle Strike games. His earliest works are teeming with the lovely sounds of Rave and House music, but as his sound progresses he gets deeper into other genres like Metal, Jungle, Drum and Bass and much more. Whether you’re new to his work or an old fan, Neil’s music continues to sound great to this day.
Neil is also in the process of re-releasing much of his music. Check out his Spotify as more gradually starts appearing over the coming months. He’s also working on the latest iteration of the Amiga Immortal album series where Amiga legends like himself, Barry Leitch and many others come together to remaster their own works for modern audiences.