GAMING BLEND

Austin Wintory Interview: Exploring Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded, The Banner Saga, Journey

By William Usher 2013-05-18 18:48:39 discussion comments

Gaming Blend: Regarding the Banner Saga...this is such a hugely anticipated game, and it would seem like this shares a lot of commonality with Journey. At what point did you become interested in the project and who approached who during the campaign to get Stoic Games' project made?

Austin: They approached me out of the blue, during their Kickstarter about a year ago. They showed me what they had going on and...partly because of what it had going on with Journey but mainly because on its own it was so compelling and had so many wonderful things about it, I immediately wanted to be involved. We worked out a deal pretty much instantly. And I've been steadily chipping away at it for about a year.

Gaming Blend: And how far along are you with the soundtrack for Banner Saga? Is it almost complete or...?

Austin: Oh, far from it (chuckles). I haven't recorded anything yet. We'll be recording a big orchestra for that game and not one note has been recorded yet, so we still have a ways to go.

Gaming Blend: Changing gears a bit but keeping with the Kickstarter theme...Al Lowe requested to bring you on to score the soundtrack for Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, did you have any idea of what that project was going to be like going in?

Austin: Oh of course, I played the original growing up.

Gaming Blend: Oh really?

Austin: Oh yeah, that's why I got so excited, because Leisure Suit Larry is part of a general legacy of Sierra adventure games from the 80s and 90s, for which I was a huge fan. I've played all the King's Quest games, the Police Quest, the Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry [games]. So when they reached out to me, I was floored. I really didn't see it coming at all; I was really quite surprised but overjoyed.

It was a chance to revisit something for which I have a lot of nostalgia, and also they wanted a jazz score. Even though Monaco is a jazz score it's a very different kind of jazz vocabulary. [Larry's] jazz is more of a Las Vegas, big-band swing-jazz that I haven't really had an occasion to properly explore. So I was tremendously excited about the prospect of mining the depths of that. And Al, being the wonderful musician and storyteller that he is, I really connected with him and was just delighted to work him. He's someone that I've known about and admired from afar from like...twenty years. He was great and it was really exciting and everything was just as great as I had hoped it would be when they first reached out.

Gaming Blend: So are you interested in any other old-school franchises to score?

Austin: It's interesting because remakes and sequels aren't all that interesting to me because I would much rather be part of something new where we're carving out our own identity. Like Monaco and flOw and Journey and The Banner Saga...these are all things that have no obvious direction to go in because they're not sequels and they're not reboots and they're not remakes. That's much more interesting to me as a composer.

But in this case...Leisure Suit Larry is a bit different because that was the first thing I asked Al, I said 'there obviously was a score for the first game and we are remaking in a very straight-forward and literal way the first game, why are we not going to re-use the original score or dress it up and reproduce it to be a bit more modern in higher fidelity audio?' and he said 'I'd rather turn you loose and just to be creative and do whatever you want and feel no obligation to retread the path.'

So even though this was a remake of an earlier game, I was given very explicit instructions not to feel beholden to the original at all. But that's not necessarily how that would normally play out. So if you're asking what franchises exist out there that I would want to dive into, the truth is if someone called me to work on the new fill-in-the-blank franchise, I would always be happy to have a conversation with them and see if they feel like I'm a good fit for what they're trying to achieve. But I would never go seek that out because I would rather go find something new.
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