Creating a memorable score
Setting the tone for Neo-Paris was a challenge that composer Olivier Deriviere was ready to face. His music can be heard in his other video game-related projects, including Alone in the Dark as well as the Obscure series. Capcom's Remember Me is set in a fascinating city, in a time where people are able to store and share memories. To accompany this sci-fi setting is an equally exciting score, which mixes electronic music and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Continue through the gallery for our interview with Olivier and then have a listen at the sample links provided below. Let us know what you think about the game and/or the music in the comments. Also, check out our review of Remember Me, for more information on the game. Olivier's score can be purchased on iTunes.
GamesRadar: How did you get into composing music for video games?
Olivier Deriviere: Mainly, because I love video games. Historically, I was involved in the late demo scene, I was quite young but really passionate. Years later I chose to become a video game composer even though I didn't know how to achieve this. I spent most of my time for about a year travelling and meeting with people in the video game industry. In 2002 it was quite small, and luckily one day I met a great producer that introduced me to a development studio, Hydravision. I scored their first game called Obscure and since then I haven't stopped trying to score new and exciting projects!
GR: How do you like it compared to film / tv?
OD: From my perspective the film industry is much more mature than the video game industry. People have codes and they know how to achieve a movie by following some primary rules. It doesn't mean that the movie will be any good but at least there will be a movie at the end of the process. For games it's a totally different story. First, the technology is always evolving and depending if you work on a mobile game, an indie game or a AAA your ways of thinking and working will be totally different. But what is really crazy is depending on the team you will work with, everything will be different. There are no rules; even the developers sometimes don't know how to make their own game at first so when it comes to music it can turn really crazy!
GR: Could you tell us about the Remember Me score? What was the direction for it?
OD: The Remember Me score includes the Philharmonia Orchestra recorded in London and a lot of pure electronic music. But the most interesting part is the electronic manipulation of the orchestra. In Remember Me memories can be digitized then stored to be shared or sold and Nilin, the main character, has the ability to hack and manipulate those memories. We really wanted to capture this in the music so we had to record an acoustic performance, digitize it and manipulate it. I'm kind of relieved it's behind me because at the beginning I really had no idea how I was going to approach this concept with a symphony orchestra! That was quite a journey!
GR: Did you have your own ideas in mind when you were given the job? Or was the tone set by the audio director?
OD: The tone was given by Jean-Maxime Moris, the creative director, but as I said earlier, depending on the developer, the way of working can be completely different. I've always worked really closely with audio directors since they are the central point of audio. They are in charge of getting the music done as well as implementing it, we really work as a pair and we are following what the creative director wants. So my job is to listen to what his intentions are and translate them into music. Of course Jean-Maxime never told me what to write, but his words led me to what you have now in the game. I think this process is great to perfectly match the game with a unique sound.
GR: How did you approach the score knowing that the setting is in this futuristic dystopian society?
OD: Jean-Maxime didn't want the Dystopian society to feel evil or dark because people have embraced it. It was quite surprising to me and I loved that idea, to compose music that was about the wonderful society Neo-Paris pretended to be. What I did was to take the melody and play it as a half major chord, half minor chord in the same phrase to unbalance the mood. It may sound too cerebral but it's only half the trick! This very melody is actually part of Nilin's main theme. Jean-Maxime wanted the music to follow Nilin's reconstruction. In the end, the music is much more about her than anything else.
GR: Are there any interesting/different uses of the music that change with the gameplay? Is the score dynamic or more cinematic?
OD: Interactivity has always been my main concern when scoring a game. I know games have for a long time been trying to copy what Hollywood has to offer but it seems the future is brighter and games are now emancipating. As for Remember Me it's a story-driven game, therefore there are a lot of cutscenes that needed music, however, the basis is not the story but the gameplay. It means that every cue is connected to the gameplay, the music narration is within the gameplay and although you spend half the time exploring Neo-Paris, the other half is about fighting against enemies. I really wanted the music to be organic during the fights so I spent a lot of time with the team trying to add a connection to each move the player can make and provide a sense of reward.
GR: How was the process compared to other video game projects youve worked on?
OD: The process was similar in that I worked really closely with the development team to provide all the music that the game needed. But the big difference was they used a third party audio engine called Wwise, which allowed me to work directly on the music implementation from my studio. For Alone In The Dark, I had to design the music tool and then moved my studio into Eden Games to supervise the implementation. Thanks to Wwise I could do all my research and experiments from the studio then I would send the Wwise files to the audio director and he just had to connect my session to the game. It was seamlessly implemented and perfectly musical.
GR: Its been said that having a female protagonist in a game is a risk for sales, what are your thoughts on that?
OD: It is said that games tend to interest mostly young males, teenagers and if you want to have a female protagonist as the main character then it has to appeal to that audience (with all the clichs). However I don't think this is relevant. If you look at movies such as Alien, The Terminator or more recently Game of Thrones, the public is really fond of Ripley, Sarah Conor or Arya Stark and they don't fit the stereotype. They are strong, unique characters thrown into amazing situations with a great execution. So it's not the sexual appeal of a character that defines the excitement, its in the execution of developing a character.