An Interview with Pedro Macedo Camacho Page Two

Although A Vampyre Story 2: A Bat’s Tale seems to be encountering some production delays, you are presumably going to come back as its composer. Do you have any specific ideas of how you mean to expand Draxsylvania’s aural universe?

I can't talk much about it right now but later this year you might hear about something related to this :) And I am definitely going to be part of it, hehe.

I still have no ideas on how to expand Draxylvania's aural universe but I will work extremely hard to try to push the envelope on the quality and originality of adventure game soundtracks.

Describe the process for creating the music for a scene, from composition to its implementation in the game.

Bill Tiller's art is extremely suggestive and inspiring to me. Bill usually sends to me a hand drawn painting in B&W of a certain Room, he writes 3 keywords and that's it! Then I take it from there, I make the music with my own artistic sense, send it to him, he approves (usually on first take) and his programmers implement it.

Bill told me he then uses my music to inspire his painting of that room or the creation of new rooms.

I can't write good music with poor artistic value of the project. I am extremely sensitive to this. The better the quality the more inspired I get.

To what degree do you (or are able to) employ live instruments in your game work?

I really always try to use live instruments in my game work. Unless budgets are too tight, I end up using them all the time. For me it is even easier to write music for live musicians to perform.

Do you have a favorite project or composition?

My favorite project so far was "A Vampyre Story", of course. I think it was a true piece of art that should never be forgotten. I am very proud of the final product!

How much access are you given to game assets when you are composing? Do you have any art to look at for inspiration? Are you provided any story context?

Each project is a project. With Bill, he sends me the complete story and all the 2D Paintings. He also sends me 3 keywords for each room describing what he wants to feel in that particular place. I compose everything based on that. Bill's 2d art, specially the B&W sketches are extremely inspiring.

When you compose for a real orchestra what do you have to deliver?

The only difference comes in the last step of production. I have to compose a midi "mockup" of how the piece will sound in the game (perhaps without so much finetuning and details) and then go to a notation program, such as sibelius, and write the whole thing there completely orchestrated.

Just like a word document, I have to format it in the end to make sure if looks nice and without any typos.

I have to make the conductor's score in A3, the parts for each instrument and, if there is a choir, I have to also make a piano reduction with choir and the other vocals, so they can rehearse with their choir masters. It consumes some more time but it is worth it.

Here goes some of the movement in full score from the Requiem I am writting, as well as some of the parts and choir score.

On A Vampyre Story, was there any collaboration between yourself and the folks at Bay Area Sound?

I composed all the music on A Vampyre Story alone but my music would be complete trash and worthless if it wasn't well implemented by the amazing guys at Bay Area Sound. They did amazing sound effects, voice overs and took extremely good care and respected my music.

On the opposite side, in Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island we were not allowed to use Bay Area Sound. The publisher decided to use another company and the game suffered a lot due to a horrible music implementation, probably the worst in my career. My music was mixed extremely low ingame and they ended up placing in the final CD a temporary track of my main theme, composed months before the final one was delivered. I was extremely depressed when I heard the final game... The Title Theme they used was the first version I ever sent to Bill as guideline to the final work.

The correct track would be this one:

What has your schedule been like for these games in terms of how long the music took to produce and how it paralleled the production of the games?

My schedule was quite busy and nonstop working. More time meant more quality so I took all the time I could possibly take to make sure the soundtrack was good. I could compose it in 1 or 2 months but I am sure the quality and, above all, the originality would suffer a lot. I ended up sending some tracks to the trash. They would work fine ingame but they didn't have that "special thing".

Have you had the time to play either of Autumn Moon’s games after they were released? If so, what’d you think, from the perspective of a gamer?

Yes, I installed both games. I completely loved A Vampyre Story from start to finish, it is a true piece of art but I am biased. I couldn't play Ghost Pirates after I heard my temporary initial version of the title theme on the game opening and, above that, checking ingame the music almost can't be heard. I was too depressed. Not using Bay Area Sound on Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island was a very big mistake.

In what ways was composing for A Vampyre Story and Ghost Pirates the same and different?

Very different. Crimson Cow producers (A Vampyre Story) were amazing. They were so important in the game. Georg Hach and Kai Fiebig were always extremely supportive, objective, demanding in a positive way and created a fabulous professional environment for artists to work. Ghost Pirates was produced by another company and we all had a more corporate environment so it was a bit more stressful. I did my best not to reflect that in my work I am human and perhaps it shows a bit.

In any case, in both games I worked with Bill and we suffer some kind of symbiosis when we work together, his work makes my work a lot better and, as Bill once told me, "Your music brings my art to life".

Perhaps inevitably, some have drawn similarities between your music in Ghost Pirates and the Monkey Island games. Were there any intentional tributes, musically, to those games?

In Vampyre Story, I made two intentional tributes to Monkey Islands:

1 - In the Main Music I made an intro in organ. That intro was a tribute to Monkey Islands Theme, which also has a cool intro.
2 - In the track called "The March of the Dead Monkey" I quoted part of the Monkey Islands Main theme twice in the bass clarinet in the end of each melody.

In Ghost Pirates I didn't make any direct tributes because I wanted to keep myself original, however there are two tracks which were really inspired in Monkey Islands:


This one was a tribute to "A Vampyre Story" composed by a VERY cool guy named Pedro. Oh wait that's me!! :)

Somewhat bizarrely, one of your Ghost Pirate tracks was “borrowed” in a promo for a daytime soap opera in Brazil awhile back. What was your reaction to that?

Oh my... they actually stole the track completely (like copy paste). Globo negotiated with me a way out for a long time. They tried to buy me out of their shame. Globo is a super giant in South America that pays millions to their actors and has enormous amounts of profits, yet they only offered me 2000 USD for this terrible situation. A complete outrage.

I will have to hire a lawyer soon.

Bill Tiller has made reference to a new, episodic game that Autumn Moon is developing, although no details about it have been offered yet. Without giving away information that you’re not allowed to, are you attached to this project? (Note: Since these questions were sent off, this project was revealed to be A Vampyre Story: Year One, an episodic prequel to A Vampyre Story.)

I am attached to a new project Bill Tiller will be developing. This year we will definitely have some new about it, from Bill Tiller!

What makes video games such an attractive medium for your talents? If the subset of story-driven games is particularly appealing for you, why is that?

I play games since I am 3 years old. I completely love playing great games in any style! I was even a StarCraft Progamer when I was 18 years old, was National Coach for WarCraft III for one year, I was (the worst) healer on a world top 100 Guild Wars Clan... I created an RTS and RPG gaming forum called PortCraft!

In its last version, the website had a forum about "A Vampyre Story" :)

I finished almost every single adventure game ever created without looking at solutions... so I think I am a pretty hardcore gamer.

Side by side with games, I also watch Hollywood movies since ever! Even today I always go to the cinema every week to see all the important Hollywood movies.

And, above all, I just love orchestral music. There is nothing better than going to a concert and hear a full orchestra and choir play Beethoven's 9th Symphony. It is a life changing moment.

One project you worked on was the well-received Audiosurf, for which you received an IGF award. How was that title unique to your other work? Did it present particular challenges from a tech perspective?

I loved working on Audiosurf, it was electronic instruments and synths only music, no orchestra. It was quite easier for me, since there is nothing harder to use properly than an orchestra.

That work came up because, side by side with orchestral work, I work in many other genres. One of my duties is to work as tester for Rob Papen, one of the most important synth creators in the world.

BLUE is one of my favourite synths ever:

Besides the Independent Games Festival Excellence in Audio Award, I was also very lucky enough to win the Dutch Game Award Best Audio Award for Fairytale Fights, a PS3/XBOX360 game.

Anything else you'd like to say? Upcoming projects to plug?

You really interview like a dairy farmer...

I have a huge project coming up!

I was actually hired by one of Portugal's best orchestras to write a 40 mins Requiem for Orchestra, Choir and two Soloists.

This work was commissioned by Orquestra Clássica do Centro (OCC Orchestra), under the artistic direction of maestro Artur Pinho Maria. This is the first Requiem ever written in memory of Portugal's beloved Queen, Inês de Castro. World premiere will be on March 28, 2012 (Sé Nova, Coimbra, Portugal) and will celebrate the 650 years of Inês de Castro's body transportation from Coimbra to Alcobaça Monastery, where she still remains side by side with her love, Kind D.Pedro I, each in its own beautifully sculpted Sarcophagus.

It feels strange to be hired by an orchestra to write a full score, usually it is the other way around, composers hire an orchestra to play their music!

Here are some samples (draft score, not final yet):

How appropriate, you answer like a cow.

Muauahaha! Thanks a lot Jason!!

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