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Mass Effect 2 composer Jack Wall explains his departure from the franchise


Though the Mass Effect series has made good on its promise to preserve and carry over important elements between games, prolific composer Jack Wall has elected to depart and pursue several other projects before BioWare launches Mass Effect 3 later this year.

"Well, I've had a great relationship with BioWare for five years, and I think, you know, as with any important relationship it's complicated," Wall said. "Now I'm working with other clients and it feels fresh to me and I think they feel the same way, so I think it's just time to move on. I have nothing but love for those people. I'm sure I'll see them again. It's just time for a break, maybe."

During a Thursday morning GDC session, Wall discussed the interactive scoring methods he and a team of composers (including Sam Hulick, David Kates and Jimmy Hinson) used to craft and integrate three hours of music into the game. The reactive score, blended with numerous transitions between battle scenes, moments of exploration and dialogue, was built on a considerable basis of technical procedure and experience -- which Wall and his team take with them before Black Swan composer Clint Mansell begins work on Mass Effect 3. According to Wall, film composers can transition smoothly into games, provided they're effectively directed by the game development team.

"As long as you have someone doing what we did on the game development side, you can get away with that, and have just somebody write great music and direct them how to do it," Wall said. "I think it's totally fine. It depends what you're looking for as a game developer, really. Do you need somebody with that knowledge, or no? Sometimes, you know, I'm just interested in all that stuff, so I bring that with me, and that's an asset I have, right? But it doesn't necessarily make me more suited to a particular project, unless the developer feels it is. So, I'm having a really good time with that knowledge now, because it really makes me think differently about how I compose for games."

Thinking "differently" and being agile is essential in successful interactive scoring, especially when game development doesn't proceed perfectly according to plan (and when does it ever?). "I do things relevant, so I do think there's a learning curve," Wall said, who began working on music for Mass Effect 2's final sequence before BioWare could even share a working level. "I hope Clint Mansell can get up to speed on that quick and doesn't feel too overwhelmed. He's a very talented guy, so I'm sure it'll be great."

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