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New office and stuff

office
So, here’s a pretty shoddy pic from our new office. (The weird glow comes from my phone’s camera-lens being all greasy and isn’t some lame instagram filter, fyi.) It’s a pretty great place and we’re sharing it with a whole bunch of other awesome Gothenburgian devs such as Senri and 1337 Game design, so the cost is wayyyy lower than our previous office. (For those who haven’t been following – we’ve been without an office for over a year’s time so this is a pretty big change for us).

We’ve gotten used to, and gotten real good at working apart, but meeting up now and then and working together is essential, especially in this design phase – there’s really no replacement. No matter how much you skype/dropbox/email/telephone, you’ll never get the same synergy as when you’re physically sitting in the same room, brainstorming. So, I’m happy we’re back working from the same spot, though we’ve decided to only do so half-time, since working on one’s own is just as important.

See that huge adapter Henrik has for his laptop? There’s one more. I’m serious, he can connect two of them at the same time and when the computer gets roaring it sounds like a jumbo jet is taking off right next to me. It’s pretty awesome. :D

anntruck
Here’s the Armando News Network (ANN) van in glorious 3d. Not entirely ready yet. But I’ve got the basics down. We’ll be seeing a lot of this van in TJD3, as one of the main characters of the plot, is an ANN news reporter.

So how’s overall progress coming along? Well the TJD3 design (puzzle and story) is solidifying by the day and I’m totally in love with it. We’re still at the bloating-phase though so the game is ballooning daily. Some day now we’re gonna have to bring in the reality-hammer and distill it down into something doable, but right now we’re just focusing on making the design as bombastic as possible. We had a similar approach to TJD2 and we’re real happy with how that came out, so odds are it will work this time around as well. :)

squadrender
Here’s a test render of my own take on the traditional North American 80’s police car. It’s a bit of a mashup of Fords and Chevy’s, but slightly simplified for that little touch of TJD-cartoonyness. I’m having a real blast working on these 80’s aesthetics, it’s a very nice change of tone and it adds so much flavor to the game, it’s ridiculous.

helipad
This is a rough version of the top of the ANN broadcast tower. Yes, we will be puzzling here and yes the helipad will feature bad guys plotting outside of their helicopter, as is staple-food in any 80’s action movie. :) We’re aiming for a lot of those visual tropes in TJD3. This pic is serious need of paintover-ing…

Last but not least, if for some reason you still haven’t physically forced everyone you know to purchase a copy of TJD, here’s an excellent opportunity!

bundleweb

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.