Some more TJD3 sketches

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks trying to get the TJD3 geography together and to try and sort out what different kinds of moods we’re after in the game, and have so far only really had the chance to work on the St. Armando bit. (A large part of TJD3 takes place in St. Armando, though definitely far from all of it!). Working on these more modern neon cityscapes is a hell of a lot of fun and I’m enjoying every second of it.

As previously stated, TJD3 is shooting for much more of a 80′s action movie feel than the noir vibes that heavily inspired the second game in the series. Very much a welcome change for me, as the setting was beginning to get kind of samey after a while.

So, without further ado, I give you some TJD3 St. Armando sketches. (Click on them to get less fuzzy, ugly versions)

sabokenas

Yes, we will be reseeing some old friends from TJD1! :)

canal

The desolate edge of the city holds something more than just industrial wastelands…

balcony

In TJD2 I really wanted to make a shot where Bwana walked out on a balcony only to soak up the atmosphere of the game, well, we had to cut it for various reasons. So now I’m insisting on doing it in TJD3, albeit with St. Armando instead of Port artue. :)

underground

Secret secrets are going on down here! Very secret secrets!

As the puzzles of St. Armando have started to solidify, so has the geography. I’m not gonna spoil it all by showing a map, but I can proudly state that there IS a map, and that it’s becoming increasingly… good. The locations of St. Armando are all going to be an absolute blast to work on. :) As for plot, we’re making some really good progress there and have pretty much got it all figured out. The HUGE thing missing now is figuring out all the characters. Having lovable, interesting characters is, after all, one of the most important parts of a quality point ‘n’ click adventure game. We’ve started on that, but we’ve got a lot of work left to do.

In other more spammy news, there’s now a bundle on iOS for TJD1+2, I strongly recommend telling everyone you know about it!

iospromo

Soundtrack and interview

That’s right! The AMAZING TJD2 soundtrack is finally available for purchase – and not only that – The proceeds will all go to The Brain Tumour Charity and to fund awards for new musicians in Simon’s memory. How awesome is that? Very awesome, I say! So, we all know that Simon D’souza is the mastermind behind the TJD2 soundtrack, but he’s far from the only one involved. Who? You wonder, well…

Straight No Chaser are the ones who really helped make the soundtrack truly pack a big-band punch, and Jamie Salisbury is the man responsible for taking over after Simon’s passing, so he too certainly deserves some credit in all of this!

So what parts of the soundtrack did Jamie work on, you might be wondering? Well, back when Simon was still in good health and producing music like crazy for TJD2, we still hadn’t gotten our cutscenes in order, not even close. So at the point when Simon left us, pretty much all of them were without music. (The second intro, the penthouse and the Taxi movie, being the only exceptions). So Jamie bravely took on the humongous quest of scoring the rest of the cutscenes. (Like ten of them, or something along those lines.) He’s also responsible for the sweet “Fire Funk” theme, which is heavily featured in the third act of the game.

Needless to say there’s a hell of a lot to be curious about all of this, but instead of ranting about it myself, I decided to grill Jamie on it instead. So without further ado, I give you:

 

Theo interviews Jamie Salisbury

 

So what got you into music? My parents tried to make me play the flute so now I hate the flute. Not the same story with you, I guess?

Well yes and no. I started on piano, but I didn’t really enjoy lessons at the beginning, and used to cram in my practise in a last minute panic 10 minutes before my lesson each week. I tried to give up after a few years, but my mum wouldn’t let me, and looking back now, I’m enormously grateful for that considering what I do now! Then I discovered improvising which changed everything. I took up the saxophone, listened to jazz, and started composing both with pencil and paper for various bands and ensembles and also sequencing with my trusty Atari ST,

In fact, now I think about it, I had started composing a few years earlier in the BASIC programming language on my Spectrum, which arrived in our house courtesy of my Dad’s interest in computing: “10 SOUND 1, -15, 1011, 20″ etc…. it used to take forever…it’s unbelievable how much music technology has changed since then. That was on a Spectrum 48k, the one with rubber keys. I turned it into a pencil case when it died and sold it to my classmate for £2. What an idiot!

avatars-000014444514-simve3-t200x200Tell us about what you do besides write awesome music for afro-noir-point-n-click adventure games!

I’ve come to composing for games very recently, I’m loving it so far and hope to do much more of it. I’ve just finished a game for Microsoft called “Secrets and Treasures” which should be released soon. Aside from games, I’ve worked on music for film, TV, trailers, contemporary dance, adverts, pop albums, theatre and concert performance – I love working across a wide range of mediums and in multiple styles, for anything from full symphonic orchestra to solo piano, and I’m never happier than when I’m hopping around, doing bombastic epic trailer music one day, followed the next day by an ambient minimalist film/TV soundtrack and a mad classical-jazz-metal-dubstep fusion brief the day after that!!

I’m not stuck alone composing in my studio all day though, I still get out and gig as much as possible on piano/keyboards for various bands and artists. I’m happy to be playing live less these days, but I think I’d go nuts if I stopped completely!

 
You wound up working on TJD by being personally recommended to us by Simon, and I gotta say your two styles complement each other amazingly. How did you guys know each other?

I first met Simon playing tenor saxophone next to him in a few big bands in and around Brighton when I was studying at the University of Sussex from 1997-2000. Not only was he an accomplished and creative player, he was also warm and welcoming to a young player who was nervous and desperately trying to keep up with the sight reading – I remember feeling like Simon was dragging me along in his wake in some fast passages! Then a few years later when I started my own function band, I called Simon. He played for my band on and off for about 10 years, playing at all sorts of gigs, including a couple of trips to Hong Kong. His playing was great of course, and he used to bust out a great James Brown impression on “Sex Machine”(!), but more than that, there was a great feeling whenever Simon was on a gig – he’d keep everyone’s morale up and calm me down whenever I got stressed – just a fantastic, warm, generous, joyful presence whatever the situation, and I was lucky to spend time with him.

I still can’t really believe he’s gone, but at least there is the music to remember him by. I’ve been listening to his music a lot recently, not just the TJD stuff but all the albums on his Bandcamp page too. He was a great talent as a composer and a saxophone player, a unique voice.

Musically I guess jazz is a big part of both our backgrounds, so that makes sense that there are some similarities. I tried to absorb as much of Simon’s style as possible for TJD2 – it wouldn’t have worked for me to have come in and stamped my own style all over it. I used some of Simon’s melodies and harmonies and developed them in my parts, to try and make the score as homogenous as possible, while not restricting myself too much from following my own instincts.

 
Becoming a part of TJD2 so late in the process must have been crazy. But you managed to wrap it up beautifully. What was the biggest challenge?

It was a lot of work in a short time, but I’m used to that kind of thing these days! The biggest challenge by far is keeping Simon’s heart and soul in the score, but not having his unique voice on the saxophone. I gave up the saxophone years ago, so I had the phenomenal Sean Freeman (Level 42, X-Factor, Eric Clapton, Joss Stone) do a session, and he did a great job as he always does, but there’s something about Simon’s unique playing, allied with his composition that fits TJD perfectly and sadly that’s now gone and is irreplaceable.

 
For those folks out there looking to make it big writing music for media, what’s your one big tip?

Write, write and write!! I’m a big believer in the ten-thousand hour rule. The creative people I’ve seen be successful in their fields are always those who have put the time into what they do. There really aren’t any shortcuts.

 

Thanks for your time Jamie. And for those wondering, yes, Jamie is our number one choice for composing music for TJD3. :) Check out some more of Jamie’s awesome compositions over on his soundcloud page.

 

Sketchin’ TJD3

Got some nice TJD3 sketching done this week! We’re still at a very rough sketchy phase but I figured there’s no harm in showing some doodles nonetheless. Nothing here is by any means set in stone, it’s all just brainstorming right now.

First off: Some trucks! TJD3 is by no means a truck-game, but apparently I’ve had this suppressed need to draw trucks that finally boiled over and culminated in this burst of heavy-vehicle sketches. As you can tell by the overall style, TJD3 does not aim for the 40′s noir setting of TJD2. We’re heading for more of an 80′s setting this time around.  Changing the tone of the game really allows for us to have a lot more fun with the development (since it doesn’t get too samey) and we get to explore new tropes and new ideas, which should result in a fresh new experience for both developers and gamers alike. :)

jd3trucks

So, the basics of the TJD3 plot are more or less figured out, but we’re still at the stage where we’re trying to decide which characters will become major ones and which ones may wind up getting less screen time. Below is a sketch of our news reporter with no name, who seems to be having a sort of April O’neill-ish type of role. She works for the Armando News Network and covers the riots. Yes, as you can tell from the sketches, there will be riots. More of this as it unravels!

reporter

In other news, TJD1 is free on iOS right now, and likely will be for a couple of days, and TJD2 recently got a brand new five star review from mac informer. All’s swell!