A Talk with Tomoki Miyoshi, New Staffers, and Azuregard Assembles
This Week’s Totals:
The past week has been pretty busy, especially with the madness of the Tokyo Game Show where we were able to see offerings like Titanfall and other future releases to help us understand where the game industry is heading. We also delivered a talk on indie games which we’ll talk more about in the middle of this week.
As development continues, as promised, we’d like you to get a better understanding for what’s going on behind the scenes and in our heads. Last week, we gave you all the opportunity to ask Project Phoenix composer Tomoki Miyoshi some questions and you guys delivered splendidly! So with that, here’s Tomoki, in his own words with questions in bold followed by his answers:
Tomoki Miyoshi Dev Diary
What is the experience like composing in a team and can you talk about the challenges and the best parts of working in such an environment?
It has been an honor to have been part of such a talented team of composers and developers for Project Phoenix. It was very exciting to see the developer/art team members upload their latest works in the shared Dropbox folder as the quality skyrocketed for each new update.
It has been a challenge trying to find the ideal sound for a project with such imaginative concepts, but I hope to discover a unique sound for this exciting project!
What sort of vision do you have for your contributions to Project Phoenix’s music? I’d like to write music that people can genuinely enjoy throughout the gaming experience. In terms of style, I’ve so far written the track, “Elven Glades” which draws influences from Celtic and Nordic music. I intend to continue writing with influences from a variety of traditional and modern styles.
Where do you derive the inspiration for your music? As I mentioned before, I obtain much inspiration from the project artworks, but I am also very inspired by music, novels and philosophical ideas from all sorts of art forms. I’m particularly a great fan of music by film composer, Thomas Newman.
How did you get involved in Project Phoenix? I was initially approached by Hiroaki, the director of this project, about this project when it was still a mere concept, and I have been writing the in-game music for Project Phoenix ever since.
What are your expectations for the game? The Kickstarter campaign for this project was definitely one filled with great anticipation and excitement, but I’m particularly excited for the development of this project as it scaffolds into a video game. Since it has been confirmed for PS Vita and PS4 release, I am very excited to see how the concepts will be adapted to these gaming formats.
What is the most challenging aspect of composing music for a video game? Composing music for a video game is very challenging and also very rewarding because of the repeated nature of most of the in-game music. It’s very difficult to write a piece of music that every player can enjoy listening to on loop for an extended period of time, but it’s also the most rewarding aspect of my role as a composer for video games.
Do you use descriptions from character designers and/or world designers to influence your compositions?
Yes, I try to absorb as much information as I can from the character, world and concept designs. There have been several occasions where I’ve been inspired entirely by the concept artworks.
Do you compose music harmonically or melodically? I ask because I’ve always thought that writing chord progressions must be really difficult with sweeping, epic, video game music.
I have always had a very strong emotional attachment with harmony/chords and it’s partially the reason I love Film Scores so much. I write all of my music with the foundation of Jazz Harmony as I’ve studied most of my theory at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. I have been so obsessed with harmony that I write out systems and algorithms for writing unique chord progressions in between my lectures and in my spare time.
How did you get into game industry? Do you think that composing music for an RPG is more challenging than other type of games?
I was first introduced to the game industry through my music supervisor/boss, Hiroaki Yura. My debut contribution to games as a composer was for SOULCALIBUR V, where I wrote music for the in-game cinematics. I’ve always been a great fan of film music, though I am now convinced that games can offer the same or even greater experiences to its players through the innovative platforms. Composing music for an RPG can be more challenging than other types of games because it needs to tell a story, but you can also gather much inspiration from the story itself.
I'm sure you get asked a lot, can you tell us about your studio setup? I currently have two home studios in both Osaka, Japan and in Boston, US. Both of the studios are based on the HS-80M Yamaha monitor speakers and the Apogee Duet 2, with an 88-key digital piano and an external hard drive attached to the main computer. I currently use a Mac Pro in Japan, and an iMac in Boston. I also have a deadmau5 head on top of the monitor speakers.
What is your favorite software and sounds? What are some surprising things you learned about yourself and about music while composing?
Although I’ve only been using it for about 3 years, Logic Pro has become my favorite software of all time. When I started using the software, I had no idea what terminologies like “quantization” or “bouncing” meant, but I steadily progressed while sharing discoveries with my two of my closest friends, Mike Adubato and Alex Vourtsanis.
I feel that through music, I have found much inner-peace and developed a stronger appreciation for all art forms. I simply try and write music that I love listening to. I hope that our supporters and players will enjoy the music that our music team has to offer!
Hope you all enjoyed Tomoki’s thoughts!
Next Up: Artist Asami Hagiwara!
For next week, we’ll take a turn towards the art with Asami Hagiwara! As we’ve mentioned previously, Asami Hagiwara has been responsible for many of the chibi designs you’ve been seeing in and around the Kickstarter (including the image at the bottom of this post!). She’s also done artwork for MOGRA Paper, the monthly newspaper for one of the best-known otaku-oriented clubs in Japan’s Akihabara district.
So like last time, feel free to ask whatever questions you may have of Hagiwara-san. Because of the time required for translations, we request that you get your questions in by noon, Pacific time (GMT -700) on Tuesday, Sept. 24. We're all looking forward to your questions!
Takaharu Matsuo Joins the Team
As Project Phoenix continues to build up steam, we’re proud to announce the addition of Takaharu Matsuo to the team! Now for those who aren’t aware of the work he’s done, Takaharu Matsuo is a 25-year veteran in the video games industry, starting out as a debugger for Japan’s Falcom Corp before moving on to do background scenes for such high profile games as Final Fantasy 6 and 7 and mechanical computer graphics modeling on Xenogears. His more recent work includes titles as Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon and he’ll be bringing that graphics expertise to Project Phoenix. We hope you look forward to his work!
Finally, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is Azuregard, with its myriad races, cultures, and countries that need to be built from the ground up! Putting all of this together is like working on a giant puzzle that continues to change with each passing addition, and it’s rewarding to be able to see it grow to fit our vision and become immersive.
So a once-proud castle here, with its ruined foundation now infested by foul creatures, or a peaceful town there, where the denizens are hard-working as they prepare for the autumn harvest, but are just a bit too gossipy, Azuregard is taking shape before our eyes. We eagerly await its transformation from mere sketches and notes and into a living, breathing entity that you all get to explore and experience!