Lost Pages of Taborea: An interview with Dynamedion

A lot of people like music in video games, and for good reason. Today there are some amazing tracks being recorded by professionals and artists for us to listen to as we own noobs, take down mighty dragons, and explore serene vistas. The world of video game composing even has its own fanbase filled with players who pay close attention to who is making the musical score to tomorrow's buzz-worthy game. I have personally clawed around in the dark for months looking for scraps of information on Runes of Magic's soundtrack. Some fragments have been unearthed here and there, but I was finally able to get in touch with the source.

Dynamedion is the music production company behind many of the tracks in RoM. It has a number of games listed on its resume, including Halo Legends, Alan Wake, Call of Duty 4 and many more. I nabbed an interview with some of the lead composers to try to get some more information about the music in RoM. Where did the inspiration for these tracks come from? Who worked on them? Did they steal all the music from Bardy Woods? Set your metronome to epic fantasy and click to read on.

Massively: What was your way into the world of composing soundtracks for video games?

Tilman Sillescu: I met Pierre when we both were teachers at the Mainz University (Bachelor of Musical Arts, Arranging and Composing). We made plans to do something more creative and exciting than we did so far. Pierre had the idea to compose music for games. Soon we did some very small projects and founded Dynamedion. We started a little Flash-animated game. It took some time to dig deeper in the industry, but then one of the best-known game designers in Germany gave us the opportunity to work on his new game, which later became SpellForce. This was our first professional project and helped us a lot to gain ground in this industry.

How many tracks did you compose for RoM, and what are the track names?

Tilman: This is not so easy to answer, as most of the tracks used in RoM were licensed from music tracks that we had already composed for other purposes but that seemed to be perfectly suitable for the game. So we had only a few original compositions for RoM and over 100 licensed tracks consisting of music from games like Spellforce 2, The Guild 2, Anno 1701 and Legend.

From start to finish, how long did it take for your team to compose and record the music for RoM and how many people were involved in the production?

Tilman: It is not easy to tell exactly how long it took to compose the music. Normally we need about one full day to compose one minute of orchestral music -- sometimes more, sometimes less. After having composed the music, we had to create the orchestral scores, record the music with an orchestra, and finalize it in the post production -- polishing the sound and mastering the tracks. I guess this all happened in a period of about four months, altogether. But during this time we did other projects as well, so it is really hard to tell. Counting in the composers, orchestrators, conductors, musicians, recording engineers and project manager, I think there were about 80 people involved.

Did the same people work on all the RoM songs or themes? Or were different tracks assigned to different people, based on other criteria (i.e., their personal specializations)?

Tilman: We always think about who is the optimal guy working on specific tracks, yes. Concerning RoM, we had different composers -- and even orchestrators -- for the individual tracks. For the tracks that were licensed, it was a totally different approach: No matter who was the composer of a track, the tracks were chosen only based on their effect on the game's atmosphere.

Many gamers love to follow their favorite game-music artists. Is there a list of which individuals worked on which tracks? And what there specific roles were? (i.e., composer, strings, bass, etc.)?

Tilman: As we had many licensed tracks that were not particularly created for the game, we can't really offer a list with these details. But I can tell you that Alex Pfeffer was the composer of the Main Theme, Alex Roeder was the composer of the Elven Main Theme, and many other tracks were composed by Markus Schmidt, Pierre Langer and me. (The two Alexes are pictured at the left.)

What sources of inspiration (films, games, etc.) did your team use to compose the music?

Tilman: I guess we took some inspiration from movies like Lord of the Rings, but also from some Hans Zimmer scores like Gladiator. Although, there is great game music that could serve as inspiration. I think in general we prefer listening to great movie soundtracks or to 20th century orchestral music rather than other game soundtracks. I can't really say why.

You mentioned on your website that you do spotting sessions with the developers. As your office is based in Germany, did you do spotting sessions with Frogster, and how did Dynamedion and Frogster decide about the criteria for the music?

Tilman: As we generally do, we introduced many spotting tracks to Frogster -- tracks or musical snippets that we thought might be suitable for the game. This served as fundamental to our discussion about music for RoM. We think it might be easier for our clients to judge on existing music and tell why a track would be suitable for a game or not, rather than to discuss it in an abstract way -- using musical terms.

Thank you very much for your time, Tilman! I look forward to seeing and hearing the new content that comes when chapter 4 is scheduled to release in early April. If you usually prefer to listen to your own music while you play RoM or turn music off, you should give the original soundtrack a listen at least once. RoM has some really great music sprinkled throughout the dungeons and zones.

Each Monday, Jeremy Stratton delivers Lost Pages of Taborea, a column filled with guides, news, and opinions for Runes of Magic. Whether it's a community roundup for new players or an in-depth look at the Rogue/Priest combo, you'll find it all here. Send your questions to jeremy@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.