One feature of Dontnod’s upcoming action title “Remember Me” that’s not often discussed is the way the game’s music is heavily influenced by the fractured state of courier heroine Nilin’s memories.
To create this dynamic score, Dontnod enlisted veteran composer Olivier Derivere (“Alone in the Dark,” “Of Orcs and Men”), who describes his score as “a reconstruction around Nilin’s memory.” We spoke with Derivere recently about his work on “Remember Me,” composing for action, and making the organic digital. Plus, enjoy samples of his upcoming soundtrack.
MTV Multiplayer: First, could you tell us a little about your background and how you came to work with Dontnod on “Remember Me?”
Olivier Derivere: I’ve always been fascinated by video games. When I first saw and heard “Shadow of the Beast” on Amiga I had an epiphany: I wanted to make games. I studied science to become a game programmer; on the other hand, I was studying music since I was 5. It occurred to me, and others, that I was a better composer than a programmer. So I started to score games such as “Obscure,” “Obscure 2,” “Alone In The Dark,” “Tangled” and Of “Orcs and Men.”
I ended up working on “Remember Me” because I got selected after a pitching process.
Multiplayer: What was the collaboration with developer Dontnod like?
Derivere: What felt great working with Dontnod is that they are a talented team of artists, and they developed a complete original world. It is really amazing to work on something that is fresh. But the best aspect was that they always pushed me to deliver a unique sound to the music. Nowadays it’s a really rare opportunity so I embraced it with passion and devotion.
Multiplayer: What was the process like finding a theme for Nilin? What was distinctive about her that allowed you to find her musical hook?
Derivere: There are actually many themes for Nilin. “Remember Me” is a rich world and she is a complex character. She is a strong female character but at the same time she is really confused and lost as her memory was erased. What people may not “get” is that every music cue is a part of Nilin. Actually, the whole score is a reconstruction around Nilin’s memory and it’s only during the last fight of the game that you can hear the full main theme. This was what Jean-Maxime Moris, the Creative Director, wanted the music to reflect.
Multiplayer: How were you able to evoke the game’s theme of memory and memory control/manipulation in your score?
Derivere: That was the biggest challenge. To create a sound that is a reflection of the game’s concept: The digitization of an organic form which is electronically manipulated. I remember talking with JMax about the concept and telling him that we should record a live symphony orchestra and manipulate electronically this recording to create a second layer. I also remember that I really didn’t know how I could do it. It took me quite a long time to figure out how to achieve this sound. A lot of experimentation and some luck!
Multiplayer: Composing for action: what are some of your biggest tips for writing music around big game action sequences?
Derivere: You have to be intimately familiar with the intentions that the Creative Director wants the player to experience and you have to understand the gameplay mechanics. I am a gamer and I know how frustrating music can be or how completely transparent it can become.
In Remember Me, fifty per cent of the game is fight sequences, so we wanted to create a system that will provide a fresh experience for gamers. For instance, the music system is linked to the player’s actions, so depending on how you will fight, the music will support your moves. It adds a sense of support and, of course, reward.
Multiplayer: What are you working on next?
Derivere: I’m finishing an indie game called Harold developed by Moon Spider Studio. For this project I’ve worked with a gospel choir but not in a traditional way. Also, I’m starting the new production from Spiders called Bound by Flames; I’m going back to dark tunes!
“Remember Me” will be available on the Xbox 360 and PS3 on June 4.
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