An Interview With Alexander Brandon, Music Composer, Epic's Unreal
I'm very pleased that Alex decided to do this interview. For me, the Unreal music seemed very impressive simply because it wasn't what everyone else was doing. Rather than some blaring techno, or huge guitar sound, Epic chose to take a somewhat understated, atmospheric approach to their music (although it gets loud in some places, too!), and that combined with the really nifty dynamic audio engine, makes for a much more immersive single-play experience.

Kniggit: First off, who the hell are you? Why am I reading this?

Alexander Brandon: I'm Alexander Brandon, head composer of Unreal, member of Straylight Productions. The other guys who did incredible music for Unreal are Dan Grandpre, Andrew Sega, and Michiel Van Den Bos, gotta give them a hand for the great work they did.

I also do game design but I'm busy as can be doing music right now. I just finished Jazz Jackrabbit 2's music as well.

Kniggit: How did it come about that you were selected to make the music for Unreal?

AB: Michiel and I went to Tim personally and asked to do music for it. We didn't want anyone else to do it because we wanted the chance to do something incredible, a magnum opus. So much so that we even needed Basehead and Necros' help. :)

Kniggit: How much involvement did you actually have? Did you have a part in, say, the format and the paradigm as far as dynamic music goes, or were you on more of a Sonic Mayhem-y contractor type basis? How much of the game were you seeing as you were composing?

AB: Originally there were some bumps about dynamic music but I eventually came around to the reality that it could work very well. We had a tremendous amount of freedom compared to what Sonic Mayhem had to cope with as far as I've been able to tell. The general feeling of the music had to follow what the level designers wanted, but that was almost exactly what the musicians wanted too so it worked out just fine for everybody.

MOD format was proven almost right away with the team in how versatile it was. The only question about it was the sound quality but we're fixing that.

Kniggit: How happy are you with the finished game? Anything you wanted to do but didn't have a chance to?

AB: Frankly I think that everything that could have been done was done. The designers and everyone involved have been talking about ways to improve Unreal but the only way to do that is keep working on it for years more. Better to do that in a sequel. I was very impressed with how much everyone on the team got done in the time given to us and the game turned out incredibly well, especially for a first major retail release from Epic and DE.

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