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 2018 PAX Thousand:
Results from this year's 1000-response video game music survey.
Click Me For The Raw Data
Why do I do this?
Some people take joy in sculpting, or horseback riding, or sculpting while horseback riding. I like to ask PAX attendees about their favorite video game music. Why? Well, mainly because I'm quite mad, but also...
- I write music for indie games and hobby projects, and this lets me find the best soundtracks to listen to for study.
- It's fun.
- PAX attendees honestly enjoy talking about their favorite music.
- It lets me bump into fellow composers and network a little.
- It reveals hidden gems of wonder in the game music world. If it weren't for this survey, I might not know about Pictionary which is, let's be clear, the best music ever written on the NES
Disclaimers And Apologies
As usual, this data comes with some hefty disclaimers. This is not a poll. This is not a rigorous study. This is not even a popularity contest. These titles were shouted out as the first thought that came to PAX attendee's minds when they passed me in the convention center, usually without deliberation. I happened to order the titles by number of mentions, but the real thrill of this project is to showcase the wonderful variety and breadth that is video game music.
And above all, remember: this data is junk. I dropped a few titles when I couldn't see my handwriting. I assumed that by "Halo", people meant "Halo: Combat Evolved". I didn't bother to look up how to spell "The Epitath of Seikolos". The good news is that if you catch any flaws, feel free to write in and let me know!
And just as the cook gets to taste the cookie dough first, I get the right to some light commentary...
Yes, I was wearing a costume from Pyre as I collected the names. Did this bias things in favor of both Pyre and Supergiant games in general (Bastion, Transistor)? Yes... yes it probably did. How can we avoid this in the future? Don't care; go do your own survey if it's so important to you!
Signs of the Times
So, what's new in the responses this year? Well first let's start with what hasn't changed: the top 20 or 30 responses are filled with the classics that I've come to expect: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI and VII, Bastion, Transistor, and so forth. The most important newcomers into the heights of the charts are definitely Nier:Automata (which seemed to have sparked an interest in the music from 'Nier' as well) Persona 5, Celeste, and Pyre. Some 'sibling rivalries' are starting to become expected classics, like Chrono Trigger & Chrono Cross, Bastion & Transistor, Final Fantasy VI and VII, and the various Zeldas all having their devoted fan bases. It really is a wealth of musical riches to compare and contrast.
Every year, some people give responses that don't quite make it onto the list, or that are bizarre enough to warrant mention. This year, these responses included...
- The Wii Menu Music. A full six people specifically mentioned this music, meaning that the Wii apparently has more popular music than most if its own games.
- Someone voted for the Battletoads Pause Music. There's a clown in every crowd I guess.
- I thought the vote for Desert Bus Music was also a joke... until I actually listened to it. Turns out it's the best part about the game... but that's not saying much.
- Marty O'Donnell, Jai Paul, Darune Sandstorm, Evanessence, and Darren Korb were all called out as particularly good music producers.
The Wrap Up
Enjoy the data! Share it around, argue on reddit/r/gamemusic, 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!
Over and out!