Hi Tilman, hi Pierre, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started and what projects have you worked on in the past?
Tilman: Well, I met Pierre when we both were teaching students at the Mainz University (bachelor of musical arts, arranging and composing). We made plans to work together, hoping to do something more creative and exciting than we did so far :). It was Pierre who had the idea to compose music for Games. Soon we did some first very small projects and founded Dynamedion.
Pierre: Yes, we started with some music for a video trailer for 300 bucks. After that we did some MIDI music for a little Flash animated game. It took some time to dig deeper in the industry, but one of the best known game designers in Germany gave us the fantastic opportunity to work on his new game by that time – which later became “SpellForce”. This was our first professional project and as you see it still is one of the brands we are working on.
One of your latest scores is Spellforce (Addons included). Could you tell something about that score?
Tilman: As a matter of fact, Spellforce turned out to be one of our most favorite projects so far. We’ve always hoped to get work like this: to compose more than 2 hours of orchestral music for a game with such rich and impressing graphics and to have really much time to work it out
When we started our work on Spellforce, we knew the music had to be really big and epic, so we would go for a big orchestral sound with choir, brass and drums to create the atmosphere the game needed.
For the two Add Ons, we concentrated on the specific featured moods. For “SpellForce – The Breath of Winter”, we used much instruments like harp, celesta, choir and the voice of the singer Talia, to support the sad winter mood. For “SpellForce – Shadow of the Phoenix” we recorded instruments like Saz and ethnic flutes to create a more oriental atmosphere.
Pierre: The beautiful thing with the Add Ons was that we had the chance to evolve the style we had created for “SpellForce – The Order of Dawn”. We could use all leitmotivs from the game and then put it in different settings like Tilman has said. Finally the vocals in “The Breath of Winter” where highly appreciated by the community, which won us an Award for “Best German Soundtrack 2004”. Now we can bring it all together in “SpellForce 2” – and bring it to a new level.
You’ve also worked on the strategy game No Man’s Land. How does it compare to your other efforts and what aspects of the score are you most proud of?
Tilman: Well, in No Man’s Land there are six different cultures, and our idea was to give each culture its own musical colour. So we chose characteristic main instruments for each culture which we combined with the orchestral sound, e.g. flutes and ethnic drums for the indians, acoustic guitars and castagnettes for the spaniards, banjo and bluesharp for the settlers and so on. To make the sound big and epic, which is kind of necessary for a strategy game, we used the orchestral sound as a common element for all music.
Finally, to make it all sound real, we had the main instruments played in live. We are both studied guitar players – so all guitar-like instruments were played by us - we hired professional players for the other lead instruments. These sessions were big fun and really helped to bring the music to live.
The Moment Of Silence has just been released as a stand-alone soundtrack. How did that happen and do you plan to release your other/future scores as well?
Pierre: This is simply the first step to make people notice that game soundtracks have evolved a lot in the last years – and are now on the same level like movie scores. People in the US an Asia are already used to buy and appreciate video game soundtracks – Germany is a bit behind that. We like our music to get heard of course – this is what it’s all about. Fortunately the developer let us release the CD together with the music label ZYX music, which was really very cooperative. We intend to do this more and more but often there are a lot of legal problems to solve, so we can not promise that every soundtrack we have composed will be released in the future.
You two form a team at Dynamedion. How does composing as a team work?
Tilman: It’s not as complicated as one might think. When we start working together on a new project, we have an internal spotting session first, that means we sit together and talk about what the music has to be like to support the idea and athmosphere of the game. We fix some characteristic themes and motifs for the main heros and main locations and after that we work it all out, each one of us doing the tracks that he chose.
Pierre: In the meantime we have some more composers working at Dynamedion, so there is more to it now. Our team has grown to five composers, which means more planning of schedules, timelines, etc – because we have to handle more projects than before. But basically it is like Tilman has said – even though it is not as if we are always concurring. We have some very deep and sometimes hard arguments about the content and style – but this always leads to better results, which is great.
What is, in your opinion, the most difficult / challenging / enjoyable task when composing for a strategy game?
Pierre: The most important bit is to understand which music works for the game. Then you have to accept that there is simply no way to make a strategy game sound like a movie when it comes to the music always fits the situation. But then again: you hate to accept this .. so the thing you really do is: work on interactive music issues and try to bring new concepts into the game in order to raise the chance that the right music plays for the right situation. This problem is getting bigger and bigger, because nowadays you often have heroes in strategy games who give the game a tiny RPG aspect. Fortunately for us we had one of the hardest games to train interactivity with – SpellForce again. The problem here was: there is a strategy game part with isometric view and then you can play your Avatar in 3 rd person with direct control. Now that was a tough one: first the volume and fall offs of the SFX was hard to manage. Then you never knew what would happen next, as SpellForce is a very open game and finally you never knew which view the player chose. Now there is no way of saying: we found the perfect way to solve all problems – we simply had a lot of time and possibilities to try out a lot of different techniques. But this is technical stuff: the music itself is great fun to do. You have a huge variety of styles in one game: background music, combat music, teasers, ingame videos, etc. The musical challenge is to put it all together, so that you get a dense and holistic atmosphere. So it is not only a matter of music: SFX and the implementation of both are very important as well.
What other composers / musical styles have the greatest influences on you? What is in your CD-Player right now?
Pierre: There is a CD from a guy who wants to work for us in my CD player as usual J .. No seriously: I like Danny Elfman (who doesn’t) and I really appreciate romantic opera music (Wagner and Strauß). Normally I do not listen to a lot of music in my “spare” time – I like reading books – that inspires me a lot.
Tilman: Jerry Goldsmith is my personal favorite, and I like Ennio Morricone very much for his unconventional ideas. Right now there is no music-CD in my CD Player, but really great stuff J : “Klaus Kinski speaks Dostojewski”. Actually, in my free time, I prefer to listen to some easy stuff, like jazz or latin music. If I would listen to orchestral filmmusic or gamemusic even after work I’m sure I would become totally insane J .
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?
Tilman: Well, I really enjoyed working on No Mans Land, because I’m a big fan of western music. And of course, I like working on Spellforce 2 at the moment, because we’ll have the complete score recorded by a big live Orchestra and that’s really exciting for us.
Pierre: However there are some projects we are already enjoying now that we can speak of yet. Just think of some more projects with live orchestra, big live orchestra .. For my part I really like to work on different projects. Once you are in the position to have to write music day by day by day it is very pleasant to write different styles. That way the work never gets boring and you can develop your own skills. I enjoyed “The Moment of Silence” as much as “SpellForce”, “Castle Strike”, “Neocron 2” or the new music we are doing at the moment. I also enjoy the music we are doing for other industries like TV – it’s always the challenge to do something new that I really like.
What would be your dream project?
Pierre: In games this would be something like a Fantasy Online RPG with 100 hours of music, different cultures, clans, realms, etc. to keep it interesting. In the movies I think I could do with a “Sleepy Hollow 2”, but this will turn out to be a tough one J .
Tilman: Hulk 2, the movie!! Hellboy 2 would be cool, too…
What is your favorite game soundtrack and why?
Tilman: Icewind Dale, because it has a unique athmosphere and supports perfectly the melancholy winter mood of the game. I’ve never heard such beautiful and high-skilled gamemusic before.
Pierre: I can not tell. There is a lot of music that s really good and then again there is much that I personally do not like. I rather have an eye on the way the music is produced and how it is built into the game, etc. Fable for example was a great soundtrack (by Danny Elfman J ) but it did nit really work as a game soundtrack in my opinion.
What are you currently working on?
Pierre: Well, as already mentioned we are working on SpellForce 2 at the moment. We are working on a few more titles which are yet to be announced (not in this interview – sorry). So all I can say is: keep your eyes open and check out our website from time to time.
Do you play PC or Console games, yourself? If so, what’s your favorite one and why?
Tilman: My favorite is Baldurs Gate 2 (PC). Furthermore, I play segments of nearly all the games we’ve done music for, just to see how it is working in the game (always good to have an official reason for playing games…).
Pierre: Yeah, we play all the games we work on, to see what should be better the next time. Apart from that I like to play all kinds of games but always for a very short period of time only. The one game I play on a regular base is Quake 3.
Is there anything you’d like to say that I didn’t cover?
Tilman: Be sure to stay tuned to our site (www.dynamedion.com).
Pierre: Hey, I sad that just before .. We do get a lot of feedback from the game communities, which is very great. People from all over the world write us, or have questions. Sometimes we take up good ideas from people writing us: like releasing the lead sheet for the title song of “SpellForce – The Breath of Winter”. We would not have thought of that, but people really appreciated it.