Interview: The Darkness II's Music, Emotion And Motivation
Author: William Usher
published: 2012-03-14 13:50:44
Recently released first-person shooter, The Darkness II puts players back in the role of the young hitman who was killed and consumed by an entity known as The Darkness. To bring a game like this to life it needed a driving score to keep gamers engaged and attentive to both the on-screen action and the development of the characters.
We had a chance to toss a few questions at the man who brought the music to life, Timothy Michael Wynn. You can check out his complete responses to the questions and his approach to working on The Darkness II as well as other projects, below.
Gaming Blend: I imagine doing a soundtrack for a horror game must be a real steep challenge given that you not only have to make something immersive and memorable but you're aiming to create something that has to match both an action-game and a horror-game. How do you prep to write music like that and is it easier or harder than approaching other music genres for video games, TV or film?
Wynn: It was definitely a challenge trying to juggle all the aspects of a score as involved as The Darkness II. What you want to do or come up with at first doesn't always work best for the game. For The Darkness II score I really aimed to make the emotional moments as impactful as possible. I wanted the player to immerse themselves in the story using the music as the conduit.
Gaming Blend: With Digital Extremes taking over the full development duties for Starbreeze and you having to fill the shoes of Gustaf Grefberg, was it a matter of studying his work and what he did for the first game and enhancing that for the second game or was it a matter of starting from scratch and trying to fit the music to what Digital Extremes was doing with the content?
Wynn: I didn't listen to Gustaf's score for the first game much. Digital Extremes wanted to go in a different direction so I didn't want to put too much focus on it. I set out to interpret the story musically from my viewpoint. Later when the score was nearly finished I listened to his score a bit more and enjoyed it.
Gaming Blend: I noticed Grefberg's score had a similar vibe to Carlo Siliotto's Punisher film score from 2004 in a few of the tracks. Did you use any particular inspiration from the horror or action movie or game genre to help shape the music for The Darkness II or did you just come up with it from the depths of your own creativity?
Wynn: For horror, I think Chris Young’s scores are always my first choice. I loved his score to Hellraiser and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I am also a big fan of Bernard Hermann's scores. Vertigo has got to be one of the best scores of all time.
Gaming Blend: The first Darkness game relies a lot on specific themes and a few familiar melodies for characters and events. For the Darkness II those themes aren't as apparent, there's a more organic structure to the flow of the music. One of the things Greg Edmonson from the Uncharted 3 soundtrack mentioned is that he didn't like relying on too many familiar melodies within a soundtrack, is that what you were going for in the Darkness II or did the game just require a different approach to how the music would evolve throughout the experience?
Wynn: I think from the beginning Dustin Crenna (audio lead at Digital Extremes) and I wanted to focus the themes on Jackie/The Darkness and Jenny. Their stories are so connected and fated that we felt it would be best to keep the number of themes to a minimum. I wrote themes for other characters but ultimately it took away from the game so I went with the themes most important to the story.
Gaming Blend: Changing gears a bit...what's been your favorite music project so far across your work in film, television and video games and what kind of genre of music do you feel most comfortable writing?
Wynn: That's such a difficult question to answer. It seems like every project I have worked on has their own unique challenges and rewards. That's like asking who is your favorite child. I am extremely proud of all of my game projects as I am of my work in TV and feature films. Diversity is one of my strengths, so I am most happy when I get to write in all styles of music. There's nothing like working with an orchestra, but it's fun to work with rock bands and small ensembles too. Ultimately it comes down to the people that you get to work with. And thankfully, I have worked with amazing and talented people.
Gaming Blend: Are there any big video game franchises out there right now that really tickles your fancy, where you would love to be able to work with the team and write the music for the game?
Wynn: I think it would be fun to work on Grand Theft Auto. I have always loved that franchise. I am very interested in working on games/projects that have rich stories and interesting plots. I have been lucky that most of my games have been like this.
Gaming Blend: I hear you're working on Wolfpack of Reseda, the online series for Fox. Can you talk a little bit about the project and what drew you to it?
Wynn: I have been working with Gary Bryman and Steve Hein for more than 15 years. We met at USC and have been working on projects ever since. They introduced me to Chris Leone the director and we hit it off. I loved the story and was excited to combine Werewolves with the Valley. Due to the short turn around, I brought in another composer, Corey Jackson to share the load. It turned out great and I think TV eventually will be going to the web. It's fertile ground.
Gaming Blend: Any parting words you have for your fans and what you'd like them to know?
Wynn: Thanks for all of the wonderful comments and emails you’ve sent over the years, I really enjoy hearing from fans of my music or the projects in general.
Our thanks to Timothy Michael Wynn for answering the questions. You can check out The Darkness II right now for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. For more information feel free to visit the Official Website.
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