SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance

Behind the Music of Blue Shield Alliance

Mr Sean Beeson, Our composer

One of the first things I told myself when we started this project was that I wanted truly epic and memorable music.  For me, a good musical score can make or break a game.  With that I set out to find a professional composer for SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance.  At first I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of talent out there, I listened to hundreds of clips by some really talented folks.   Finally though I had a conversation with Sean Beeson that really piqued my interest – it was a unique technique to generate some original music while also keeping it sounding fresh with every playthrough.    Sean’s previous work included Assault Heroes 2 and composing music for Magic The Gathering’s latest trailers along with several film credits.  I was confident I found our composer.

I talked with Sean recently about his background and what it was like writing the score for BSA.

 

Nick:  How did you get started in writing music?

 Sean: I have been writing music for as long as I can remember. Although I wasn’t writing really pieces of music until I was 11 or 12. Everything prior to that was me creating pieces of music based off of other compositions, most regularly sacred works from the OCP Missalettes, or songs from artists and bands like Van Halen, Beach Boys, and Meatloaf.

I haven’t stopped writing since then. The only thing that has changed is how I go about writing the music.

 I didn’t have lessons or anything initially, I would simply play and compose what I heard in my head.

 

What was the first game you wrote music for? 

 The first games I wrote music for were actually mods for existing games like Half-Life 2 and Morrowind. However the first published games I worked on were “The Operational Art of War 3” (Additional Music) and Plasma Pong. I am not sure how well either of these games did, but they opened up many doors for future collaborations and work. I think The Morrowind Orchestra: Opus 1 is still out there and doing well, however listen to it at your own expense!! 

 

What kind style of music do you like writing best?

I suppose the simple answer is orchestral music, but of course I must be more specific! I like to write rich fantasy music, but of course I could be even more specific!! I really like to write linear music that uses motifs and themes to tell a story and has the power to move people’s hearts. Be it hauntingly beautiful music, mysteriously dark music, or even large and epic music. As long as it moves me internally, I love to write it. That all being said, I love to write any kind of music! 🙂

 

What do you compose on/with?

 I have a dual PC workstation setup here (two 3.4 hexacore PCs), a slew of SSDs/HDDs, and 56 GB (32+24) of RAM. I use Steinberg’s Cubase software to compose/program my music and then using high quality sample libraries like East West’s Hollywood Strings/Brass, Audiobro’s LASS, Cinebrass, Hollywood Winds, Requiem, Omnisphere, Stylus, Albion, Spitfire Percussion, as well as a lot of my own custom programmed sounds, I am able to orchestrate and realize my music!

 

Who are some of your favorite videogame composers?

 I have too many to even list! In many cases it isn’t even the composer that I follow, as much as what it is their series of scores in a specific genre or franchise! That being said, I am a huge fan of a lot of old Sega Genesis soundtracks. There are some great Genesis soundtracks, but I think nostalgia makes me love them even more!

 

What were some of your ideas going into writing the theme for Blue Shield Alliance?

I really wanted to convey a majestic sense of space and vastness while having heroic undertones, and so the way I was able to accomplish this was through using plenty of big drums, light rhythmic synth elements, and triumphant brass lines. I set out to paint an image of military grandeur, struggle, and victory, all of course in deep space!

The result is a theme that I feel reflects the story line of SCHAR: BSA and will hopefully stick in player’s heads!

 

You can download the SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance Theme for free right here.

 

SCHAR: BSA is going to use a dynamic system to keep music feeling fresh and original while playing. For instance the battle theme is composed of 7 layers that can be mixed. What goes into the process of writing music like this?

Trial and error. In many cases I found myself deleting erroneous material from one part and adding erroneous material to another. Perhaps in layer 1, element A won’t work, but in layer 2, element A will. But consider that layer 1 is all drums and layer 2 is orchestral, perhaps element A would be better suited in layer 3. By applying that logic, then you may have to repeat the same process involving layer 3 and layer 4.

 If we were to create layers that could only be stacked in a linear sense it would potentially be much easier. If you want more intensity, add another layer. Even more intensity? Play four layers. Full intensity? Play all the layers. However, I wanted the layer to not only function this manner, but to also perform as strongly on an independent basis.

I didn’t want two layers to be nothing but “additions”, I wanted them to feel more like structured pieces on their own so that while stacking layers, they will increase in intensity, but they can also be formed in different permutations to dynamically perform more music.

 

Do you think the genre of game (FPS, Twin Stick Shooter, RPG, etc) has an effect on how you write music for it? Because BSA is a twin stick shooter did this change your approach?

 I think the pacing and setting of a game determines how I am going to score it more than the genre itself. I think since BSA is a faster paced game, the music I created is designed to have less downtime in it, and instead be a single, intense, push.

 

If you could score any big AAA game, what would it be?

 I would really love to score a massive RPG or MMORPG so I could write very stylized music based on the lore and environments of the surroundings. If it was an MMORPG, the world would continue to expand and I could thus compliment its growth with more music!

However, I would prefer to score a franchise that hasn’t yet been created so I can put my own mark on the score. As much as I would love to score the next Elderscrolls or WoW, I would rather let their composer’s scores be awesome in those games and hope that I can one day get my own Skyrim 😀

 

You can find out more about Sean’s work on his official website: http://seanbeeson.com/

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  1. […] up is our interview with the game's composer, Sean Beeson.  He's a veteran composer with such titles as […]

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