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My First Commercial Game Soundtrack - How it Happened



I've been looking into trying to get into game music for awhile now (and even into making games myself).  I started writing music specifically for a video game around 2009, but that project is now on hold.  I've written original music for 6 indie games so far, and only one of those has been released (1001 Spikes) - so I was getting a bit annoyed with the whole idea of doing game music 2 years ago.  That's when Tyrone Rodriguez of Nicalis contacted me.  He was asking about working on 1001 Spikes and got me to do some really short incidental music for logos at the time.  I was pretty happy about that as Nicalis is an established video game publisher/developer and would probably not put a game on "indefinite hiatus" like every other project I'd been a part of.  Unfortunately I was still pretty busy at the time, so I made a couple demos but really didn't get started on writing music more actively until December (before that I was working on Mega Man 3 Remade, plus working 2 jobs).  

The first demo I worked on was track 1 of the album - the theme they eventually used for the 1001 Spikes loading screen on the Wii U, which is a remix of the title theme.  I also did a nearly identical replication of the original 1000 Spikes main theme.

Since that time I'd gotten a new keyboard, a Yamaha YPG-635 for pretty cheap at a pawn shop, which replaced my old Casio CTK611.  I didn't really enjoy playing the Casio as the keys were way too sensitive, so having a weighted 88-key keyboard has been nice.  To write new music, I usually just mess around on it for an hour and record it.  If anything happens to sound good, I'll flesh it out, then transfer it to Famitracker.  Sometimes I write melodies this way, sometimes I piece those together in my head and sometimes they just come to me naturally.

Started more actively writing music in Nov/Dec 2013 - I'm pretty sure that's when I worked on the remixed "key versions" of the World 1-5 songs.  Then I went to MAGFest and played my first "set" (it was pretty small-time and kind of a walk-in thing) so nothing happened for a few weeks.  Then we adapted one of the soundtracks I had worked on before that fell through (Tower of Nannar music) to 1001 Spikes, and they used a couple tracks I was just working on that weren't related to any games as title screens for the alternate game modes.

Nicalis was pretty easy to work with and listened to suggestions, which was great.  I even got in some bug testing work because I found a bunch when I was just messing with the game (I love platformers like Mega Man etc, so I was playing it a LOT at that point).  I also have done programming work so I knew what to look for in some cases.  In 1001 Spikes I'm credited as my real name as a tester but as RushJet1 for music.

Recently, after the game's release, they got me to write 3 more themes for Antarctica and replaced the level 6 song with a remixed version.  Working on those was a lot of fun; I like writing originals more than remix/covers in general and hope that I can do more of those in the future!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I didn't release the NSF of the soundtrack for a few reasons:

1) There's no real coherency as to which expansions I used - some are VRC6, some is just plain 2a03, some is MMC5, some is FDS.
2) There are at least 15 different FTM files all with several songs in them, most are duplicates.  I was really sloppy with the sources and I'd have to spend a crazy amount of time making sure the correct ones were used.
3) Several of the songs use stereo and would sound wrong in NSF format unless you use the same settings I'm using

I'll try to make it more streamlined next time around.

As with any major project, there were several unused songs.  A lot of these were just me goofing around or doing more than necessary, and some of them were turned down in favor of other ones (for example I'd write 2 songs as an idea for stage music and they'd choose 1).  You can hear the unused music here: Soundcloud: Unfinished 1001 Spikes Music
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About RushJet1one of us since 9:40 PM on 02.26.2012


OK so I figured I should expand on this. I write NES music mostly but occasionally other chiptunes. I also live in Georgia, have 2 jobs (one of which is an IT job that causes crazy amounts of stress and the other is a boring but predictable work-on-your-own-time job) and I have a black lab who is a serious attention whore.

She tries so hard