Elite: Dangerous Composer Announcement
Michael here with the latest Elite: Dangerous update and I have some exciting news for you all. Quite a few of you have been asking what our plans are regarding the music for the game, we’ve been busy with the selection process for the composer (and their team) so haven’t been able to reveal anything. That process has now been completed so we are pleased to reveal that Erasmus Talbot has been chosen to compose the music for Elite: Dangerous.
The process to select the composer has been a lengthy one, the music is a major component in the audio for the game and we wanted to ensure that whoever we picked was the perfect candidate. To aid the process we created a short capital ship video for the composers to score so we could compare like for like.
Here is that video along with Erasmus’s score for the scene:
Jim Croft, our Head of Audio describes the selection process:
The pitching process for Elite Dangerous has been quite extensive. After announcing our initial search for a composer we were inundated with interest from high calibre applicants. We then invited 20 or so composers/teams to score our ‘Damocles’ video.
Key criteria were: the ability to write and arrange for an orchestra and, specifically with the space theme in mind; a strong thematic and melodic sense; ability to express dynamism, energy and strong choral work. Finding someone with previous implementation / interactive music experience would also be a huge plus.
The work we received was nothing less than awe inspiring. We then had the almost impossible task of narrowing the candidates down to a shortlist of six, who were then set the more technical challenge of creating interactive music stems based on their Damocles video assets. We were looking for a composer who also had a strong understanding of interactive music, and the effect this can have on the writing process.
Erasmus was a favourite from quite early on. His music was extremely sympathetic to the changing action in the trailer and expressed what we thought were very strong thematic ideas. There was also an excellent sense of dynamism to his score; he seemed to know when to go full on and when to pull back and let the visuals do the talking. He let his score breathe. Crucially also, his score ‘mock-ups’ were very impressive sounding - particularly his choirs, and as a music team, we felt that Andreas Kinger and Johan Nilson augmented Erasmus’ experience and skillset beautifully.
We also liked his youthful energy and enthusiasm for the project, and felt that he could offer something unique and new to the genre. Though the trailer score may have had quite a traditional treatment, we were keen to find someone who was also comfortable with cutting edge electronic techniques and a more modern palette. We want the flexibility to not be bound by any particular stylistic genre and to forge our own sound for Elite: Dangerous.
Erasmus delivered a really extensive interactive music system proposal, and supported it with strong documentation so, in the end, the choice was quite simple.
Erasmus Talbot Talks about his inspiration and the challenges in composing the score for Elite:Dangerous
“As a composer there could be nothing more exciting and fun than writing sweeping themes, vast exploration music and energetic battle cues for an epic sci-fi game. And while it will be fun to study and reference my favourite scores, I feel that drive that is simply part of Elite’s legacy to defy convention, push the boundaries and try something new.
For this first trailer, I stayed close to the musical language typically associated with the genre, drawing from scores of recent sci-fi blockbuster such as Star Trek, Oblivion, Star Wars I-III etc. while trying to find my own voice in the themes and use of synth. As with game play and art style, the musical style is very much in development and my ambitions to find a unique, yet fitting musical identity for Elite: Dangerous are extremely high.
Elite:Dangerous will take players through a vast universe, range of gameplay scenarios and game modes. For music to enhance these experiences without becoming repetitive is a challenge that I am relishing. The right balance between musical styles and moods will have to be found, coupled with a suitable interactive playback system. How do we reflect a procedurally created and potentially infinite universe? How does music develop over the course of an epic 1 hour battle? These are just some of the questions we have to answer.
Also, on the practical side, it is already clear that the soundtrack will be highly orchestral. This means confronting ourselves extensively with orchestration, score creation, live recording and wherever we apply sample libraries, highly detailed midi programming for convincing, musical results.
Creatively, stepping out of the shadows of Holst, Williams and co. will take quite some confidence and experimentation but it’s essential to reflect musically the unique character of Elite:Dangerous’ gameplay.”
The video didn’t just help us choose our composer, it also helped develop other aspects of the game, in David’s next Dev Diary (due in a couple of weeks) he’ll talk more about this. We’ll also follow up David’s video with an art specific breakdown of what we did in the video and the road forwards.
Thanks as always for reading and if you haven’t joined in the fun yet you can still pledge via our website http://elite.frontier.co.uk