Studies in Scoring
Follow my YouTube series on the craft of film scoring.
I was born February 12th, 1985, in Southern California (snow is still magic to me), and raised on a healthy diet of Eric Korngold, Rogers & Hammerstein, and John Williams. My favorite books include The Once And Future King, Dune, and Watership Down. As for video games, Riven and Starcraft were, shall we say, formative. I later moved to Snoqualmie, Washington, which was my Walden before I knew what Walden was.
Practicing piano all through my teens paid off when I auditioned for music school. I completed my under-graduate work at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where I scored several student films and trained in piano performance, and also traveled for two years in Germany.
I graduated in 2010 with a double major in Music Composition and Computer Science (my favorite CS topics were Computer Theory and Algorithm Analysis). Since then, I've lost 60 pounds, completed my first marathon, and worked full time as an SDET for Microsoft. I'm currently living in Redmond, Washington, spending my time scoring game jam projects or short films, studying orchestration, and looking for bigger fish to fry.
Resume & Skills.
To download and view my full resume, click here.
- 2+ years of experience as an SDET using C#, C++, Python, and Java.
- Part-time developer for Fixer Studios with Unity and Coco2ds experience.
- Senior Writer at NewGameNetwork.com with 30+ published video game reviews.
Drop me a line if you're interested in working with me, if you're looking for a project quote, or if you just want to say hi.
The 2019 PAX Thousand:
Results from this year's 1000-response video game music survey.
Click Me For The Raw Data
Wait... what is this?
Every year, at PAX West, I ask 1000 people to tell me their favorite video game music. These are the results.
Why do you do this?
To impress women.
How is this supposed to impress anybody?
Because I... because it... DANGIT, I DIDN'T THINK THIS THROUGH!
Who won the contest?
Nobody 'won', and it's not a contest, just a celebration of the variety and breadth of joy brought to people via video game music.
But if Chrono Trigger gets the most mentions next year, THEN it will be a contest.
Is this data collected in a rigorous manner?
through peals of raucous laughter Oh dear, no. Most of these title were shouted at me by people who had only a few seconds to name the first game whose music they could remember, while trying not to loose their balance on an escalator, or shuffling their bags of swag around delicately. There were even one or two delightful individuals who STILL couldn't name a title, even after having supposedly spent the year preparing to see me again. After the shouting, I scribbled down whatever words I heard, all while wearing a cosplay Pyre mask with teeny tiny eyeholes. Then, at home, I sent my scribblings to various scholars of ancient languages, and asked them for a rough translation.
Wait... you were wearing a Pyre costume while asking people? Isn't that... cheating a little?
Yes. Yes, it is.
What were some standout or favorite answers?
The jump in popularity for both Persona 5 and Final Fantasy XIV (which usually lags behind its siblings) makes me want to give both of them a good listen, of course, but in my experience, the real gems are to be found in the games that recieve only one or two mentions, but which are backed by either a special enthusiasm, or a hint of why they are uniquely excellent while being less well-known. That's how I found out about the glory that is Pictionary, for example.
I haven't heard these yet, but they're where I'll start my taste testing:
- "Chips Challenge" was mentioned separately by two people, one for the DOS version, and one for the Lynx version (!), as was the Lynx version of "California Games". Sound like rare challenges.
- "Maple Story" was only mentioned twice (possibly by the same person on two different days?)... but both times, they were adamant that the music is a hidden gem. We'll see about that...
- "Dire Dire Docks" from Super Mario 64. I've never played the game, and never heard of this track... but for some reason, this year three separate people specifically told me I should listen to it. Must be worth looking into, no?
- "Pong". There's always one joker, isn't there? Actually, not true... it turns out, there are always many...
Who are the 'Honorable Mentions'?Clever but not-necessarily-countable answers included the following...
- "The Wii Menu Screen Music". This was mentioned only twice this year, but six times last year, once again marking the odd fact that the Wii, as a system, arguably has better music than that found in its actual games.
- "Anything BUT Pyre." Serves me right, I guess.
- Someone voted again for the Battletoads Pause Music. Is this some kind of joke to you?
- "Silence." Multiple people explained to me that they always, *ALWAYS* turn off all music while playing games, the better to experience the soundscape.
- "The Flower Song". This response was then immediately followed by a performance of said song. I believe the entire song was made up on the spot. Then her Dad put her back in her stroller.
- "Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun....". Three people used "duns" on me. Two of them, I knew the tune. Sorry, number three.
- "Your game's music." Ah... the developer in the crowd. But what he says is true, just as the last game in Mike Selinker's excellent 100 Games You Must Know How To Play is (spoiler alert!) 'Your Own Game',.
- Non-game musical suggestions included Caravan Palace, Protomen, Defer Britain, 'Lynch Bros', Supra Darkey, Starbomb, Brutal Floss, Jonathan Coulton, and Miles Tillman
- "Wait a minute... what's YOUR favorite game music?" Not one, not two, but THREE people had the gall to try to turn my own question back on me.
Wait a minute... what's YOUR favorite game music?
Oh, fine... I shouldn't have said "favorite" on the sign I was carrying. Of course there's no favorite. But... seeing as I never count my own vote on these things, I do like taking the opportunity to point out some soundtracks that, in my humble opinion, deserve more love. To The Moon, Braid, and Civilization 6 each got a single mention on the floor, which restores my faith in humanity somewhat, but certainly more people should be talking about them. Slap the in-order Civilization 6 soundtrack on sometime and enjoy the way each culture gets a 20-minute journey from solo instrument, to small ensemble, to orchestra, to orch and synth hybrid.
I've recently become quite entranced by the soundtrack to Surviving Mars, but especially the "Mars Official Radio Station", and was surprised that no one mentioned it. Finally, although Blizzard did get some shout-outs (and although it's easy to be a little blinded by the... intense popularity of certain Blizzard titles), I like to throw out a good word for two of their creations that went unmentioned this year: the Starcraft 2 soundtrack really does have some beautiful orchestration mixed with electronics, and I think people underestimate just how wise a decision was made to score Hearthstone the way it is: an intimate, but fun and folksy small ensemble to accompany you as you play a simple card game in a countryside inn.
Any last words?
Enjoy the data! Share it around, argue about it on reddit, or follow me on social media (see the cute little notes in this page's footer). Look up all the specific tracks that were mentioned, and make a playlist of new discoveries! If you spot an error, just drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll clean up the data accrordingly. Don't bother to thank me, this is a fun activity for me.
...buuuuuuut, you could always (a) follow my youtube channel on film music or (b) tell all your executive game producer friends to contract me out for music on their next project. I'd buy the team dark chocolate peanut butter cups!
Until next year...