We were recently able to sit down with Matt Uelmen, a composer for the upcoming game Torchlight, to talk about his influences and how Torchlight has taken shape with music. We've also released three exclusive screenshots of the game, coming later this year, that show some of the dark caverns and areas that the game's known for!
Here's a look the Matt Uelmen Interview about Composing fo Torchlight:
1. Tell us about your musical background – how long have you been a musician, what instruments did you play, and what led you to composing?
One of my siblings was taking piano lessons in the house more or less from birth, I started around 5 or 6. I picked up the guitar at 13. I've always enjoyed studying music.
2. Music and games: were you always a gamer? When did you know that composing for video games was the perfect job for you?
I loved the coin-op classics from the golden age like asteroids, pac-man, elevator action, dig-dug, pole position etc. I also enjoyed many apple II games and was lucky enough to have a neighbor with most of the atari 2600 library. I think I finally felt like I really belonged in the business when I wrote the track which became the opening interior in "Diablo" sometime in spring 1996.
3. What was your first gig like composing for games? Tell us how that initial experience went, and what you learned from it.
My first experience working on games was working on a Sega Genesis title - "Justice League: Task Force" - with most of the core team that would make "Diablo" a year later. It was a tremendous experience in many ways - we built a team, cultivated a great relationship with Blizzard (which was working on the SNES version of the title), and, personally, I took a regular beating from the producer, which was very good for toughening me up at 22.
4. Who are your biggest influences or idols in the music world?
I'm using some Scriabin in the current tracks for the game and when I have the luxury of putting more time into a track, I like to try to explore the area between tonal and atonal approaches. In my high school years, I would probably name something like the second disc of Prince's 1999 as being in the 'idol' category. The way he could spin so many variations on the same chord and do it on seven different instruments was and is amazing.
5. What came first, the score or the story? How does the game you’re working on affect the music you write, or vice versa?
The pacing and context of the gameplay itself is almost all of what inspires the score.
6. What is special about Torchlight to you, from a composer’s perspective, and how has that influenced the music?
Well, it is hard to think of that in the past tense, since I still need to write the first interior and town music! Torchlight has had fun, tight gameplay since last winter, when it was just the Destroyer, skeletons and maybe 3 other monster types. That enough makes it special - there should be plenty of games for the PC which are easily accessible, with intuitive controls and fast action, not buggy and really more about the gameplay than an overblown cinematic or movie tie-in. Oddly enough, despite something like a half billion PCs or more potentially being on the planet in coming years, there aren't.
7. What games are you playing at the moment that you love? And similarly, what are you listening to lately that you’d recommend?
I really enjoyed the new Total War game, and finished a few single player campaigns. Because my work usually involves audio, I actually don't get a chance to listen to too much of it as a recreational thing. Like many other people, I just try to sneak in youtube tracks which I like in between work. So many legendary live performances are up there, and you could spend months catching up.