Author Topic: RVG Interviews Tim Wright.  (Read 1236 times)

Offline zapiy

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RVG Interviews Tim Wright.
« on: February 17, 2015, 19:27:56 PM »
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It gives me great pleasure to reveal our latest interview with Tim Wright, Tim a.k.a. CoLD SToRAGE is a composer of video game music and developer of music themed video games and software. Tim has worked for many software houses but i probably best known for his time at Psygnosis.

Can i say a huge thanks to Tim for taking the time to talk to us.. What another great guy and interview.


Puggs in Space (Amiga, 1989)
Awesome (Amiga, 1990)
Carthage (Amiga, 1990)
Tentacle (Eldritch the Cat, Amiga, 1990)
The Killing Game Show [FMV Intro] (Amiga, 1990)
Lemmings (Amiga, 1990)
Shadow of the Beast 2 (Amiga, 1990)
Armour-Geddon (Amiga, 1990)
Leander (Amiga, 1991)
Amnios (Amiga, 1991)
Powermonger (Amiga, 1991)
Lost Souls (Atari ST, 1991)
Agony (Amiga, 1992)
Aquaventura (Amiga, 1992)
Shadow of the Beast 3 (Amiga, 1992)
Lemmings & Oh No! More Lemmings (Amiga, DOS, Macintosh, PlayStation, Windows, 1992)

More on Tim here http://www.coldstorage.org.uk/

Please enjoy[/align:1ywtvd9h]

Greyfox

Being a massive fan of your music, can you give us a brief description of how and why you got into writing video game music?

Tim

I always wanted to be in a band, or be a solo artist. Back in my teens during the 1980s, I would have loved to have been Howard Jones, or Vince Clarke in Depeche Mode.
At the same time, I was getting into computer programming, and I had written a couple of very basic games on the Vic20 and the Commodore 64... my own versions of lunar lander and scramble.
One day I bought a couple of new games for the C64, namely Zoids and Crazy Comets. I thought the music was just amazing, and I decided to find out how they were managing to get a C64 to sound like a synthesizer.
I managed to get my hands on a program called 'RockMonitor 4' which allowed you to play 3 tones and a sample simultaneously on the C64. I gave up on the programming, and just noodled on that a lot.
I did write a few tunes, but nothing that you'd jump up and down about, and I certainly had no idea how to progress from that to submitting my music to developers or publishers.
A couple of years went by, and then I managed to purchase an AMIGA A500... with a copy of 'Soundtracker' I was finally able to create my own music, and one of my friends suggested that it was good enough to be used in games.
So I created a demo floppy disc and sent it to various computer game publishers around the UK. Most of the responses were actually very kind and uplifting, so I carried on writing...
One day, in a computer shop in Liverpool ( sadly no longer there ) I met a chap who was about to create his own 'demo group' to write demos on the AMIGA.
I said I was an AMIGA musician, so he asked me to join his new group called 'Mindpower Designs'.
After a few meetings, the other members formed their own break-away group called 'Dionysus' and they asked me to write music and created sound effects for their demo called 'Puggs in Space'.
This would be the tipping point for me, as the demo was picked up by Psygnosis and turned into a game. This led to me writing more music for Psygnosis, and the rest as they say is history!


Greyfox

Shadow of the Beast 2 was ground breaking in audio fidelity when we heard it first on the Amiga, a difficult act to follow after David Whittaker's master piece on the first Beast game, what challenges were you faced with in creating an amazing follow up game score?

Tim

Martin Edmondson of Reflections (the developer of the SOTB franchise) was very specific about what music he wanted. Right down to telling me which patches on a Korg M1 synthesizer he'd like me to use(!)
Luckily I had a friend who owned one of these keyboards, and he allowed me to sample it for my music. So I played various notes and other sounds, and built up a small library of instruments for the music.
I then went to visit another friend who played guitar for me... again I recorded lots of random guitar parts and other more specific parts that Martin had requested.
Putting this all together, and coming up with new and interesting muscial themes was the real challenge, and although it was daunting, it was exciting too! A blank canvas to try and make something that would impress people.


GreyfoxTim

I met Andy Ingram and Jon Burton ( now super famous and rich! ) at Traveller's Tales in Southport. At the time they were two lads in a flat above a shoe-shop in town. It was very basic and bare bones.
They'd already been talking with another musician about creating music for the game, but he was unavailable to complete the work, so Psygnosis had recommended they speak with me.
I listened to the music they had already, and it was very Manga in terms of style... I was thinking it would benefit from a more ethnic feel, so that's the direction I went in.
I was also keen to use really top notch samples, or as top notch as they could be given the space allocated for samples.
When I listen back to those pieces, they do sound nicely crafted... I do recall taking my time with each one, and doing my best to produce each track so that all the sounds balanced really well.
There was one track that they didn't use, but I felt it was one of the better ones I'd written, I listened to it just now as I'm writing about it, and it's still got a great vibe to it.


GreyfoxTim

I'm a sucker for melody and the emotion it can invoke. So, out of all the music I composed during that time, I'd probably pick out the Aquaventura title theme, SOTB 3 game over and Agony.
There are others, but those are probably the top 3;





Greyfox

When you moved from the 16-bit computer scene to the PlayStation with "Music" you help Jester Interactive create an incredible package for the PSX, what was the logistics in creating such an amazing piece of software on a console?

TimGreyfox

Some of the demos featured on "Music" were amazing in both original and dance scene culture of the late 1990's will you go on record to actually say you composed them with a PlayStation Joy pad?

Tim

There was no other way to compose these tracks... we had no secret PC utility to create the music and there was no cunning MIDI import facility.
So yes, all those tracks were indeed created using the MUSICtm software, written to memory cards and carefully backed up using a 3rd party memory card reader.
The other thing to bear in mind, is that I was writing these tracks on buggy pre-release software, so it would quite often crash on me. So I made sure I saved every 5 minutes(!)
I still have the PSOne used to write those tunes - it works, but the CD drive has sadly long since bitten the bullet.


Greyfox

The follow up title "Music 2000" my favourite by the way, was there much reinvention of the program to make it superior to the first "Music" program?

Tim

We wanted to make MUSIC 2000 a more 'professional' looking product - a bit less Nintendoesque and cute, and a bit more recording studio.
Andy Yelland ( programmer on MUSIC 2000 ) was a big driving force in terms of the video side of MUSICtm, and with MUSIC 2000 he and Paul Broadbent (the artist) took hold of the reins a lot more.
I gave them a specification on how I wanted to progress the series, and some basic graphical layouts on how it should look, but I have to say that they really gave it 110% taking it forward.
Moreover, what Andy managed to accomplish with the light-show in MUSIC 2000 was just amazing.


Greyfox

Aimed at a certain audience, how did the "Music" titles fair against other software titles at the time?

Tim

We did really well to be honest...
When the first MUSICtm came out, we sold it to 10% of the PSOne userbase.
Given that many thought it was a niche product, you can't knock that figure...
I remember getting sales figures back from the first version, fairly early on, telling us we'd shipping over 250,000 copies.
That's a heck of a lot of people writing music on their console!


zapiy

Puggs in Space demo is fantastic, tell us about it and why you knocked that together?

The Puggsy demo was created by a demo group called Dionysus. This was Alan McCarthy and Lee Carus.
They need music and sound effects for their demo, and I also made a few suggestions about the storyline too.
I saw it as a great opportunity to showcase some of my musical and sound effect creation talents, so I spent many hours getting it just right.
Back then, we didn't have the tools to place sounds within an animation, so I had to create a 'song' for the part where he's fixing his spaceship.
That took a LOT of tweaking to get right, because I'd make a change to the sound effects and have to watch the animation from the start again to make sure it was OK.


Greyfox

Who in your professional opinion do you or did you think was an superb video game musician that composed as well as yourself?

Tim

I'm not sure about the "as well as yourself" bit... that's not for me to say!
However, I do have people that I still look up to, even though I consider some of them to be friends now.
Rob Hubbard's music is by far and away some of the best video game music ever composed. Some of his tunes were cover versions, but even so, his ability to get the most out of the C64 SID chip is legendary.
In no particular order, other superb games musicians are; David Whittaker, Ben Daglish, Mark Knight, Jeroen Tel, Tony Crowther, Chris Huelsbeck, Mike Clarke, Jason Hayes, Tracy W. Bush, Derek Duke and Glenn Stafford to name but a few!
There are also computer demo musicians that have never had their music in a game, but really they should have... given their talent.


Greyfox

Given the opportunity , who would you most like to work with/do a collaboration and why?

Tim

I've done a few collaborations in the past, but if I'm allowed to collaborate with anyone in the World, I'd say Vince Clarke or JM Jarre.
If we're talking computer game music, it'd be great to collaborate with anyone to be honest... it's fun working with someone, and trying to embrace their style whilst keeping your own influence and seeing where that takes a piece of music.


Greyfox

Looking back do you have any regrets about missed opportunities?

TimGreyfox

Do you have any fond memories you'd care to share about your time working within Psygnosis ?

Tim

Way too many to reel off here... it was a magical time for me. I think I knew that at the time, so looking back makes it all the more special.
Great people, wonderful projects and personally, I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing in the perfect company most of the time.
There were computer shows where we got drunk and stayed in amazing hotels.
We got to meet famous people and see ourselves in magazines with great reviews.
It was very much a shared experience for most people...
Sure, there were the unlucky few who only ever seemed to work on projects that got canned, which meant they didn't get bonuses or see their work on the shelves.
That must have really hurt and after a couple of times, be really soul destroying... so for them it was a different journey. I'll fully admit I was a jammy git!


Greyfox

What was the company like to work for? (as it a corporate driven entity or a laid back environment ?)

TimGreyfox

Was there any other software house you wished you could of worked for especially during the Amiga days?

Tim

I think I landed firmly on my feet working for Psygnosis. I don't think there were any other software houses I'd have moved to, in the UK at least.
Ocean Software were doing well, so if Psyggie hadn't been around, they'd have been a safe bet maybe?
So, no... I think I was in the right place and the right time.


Greyfox

What is Cold Storage up to these days?

Tim

He is working on websites during the day at Tantrumedia Limited and writing music in the evenings as CoLD SToRAGE.
Sometimes that works out to be the other way around(!)
I have some great ideas for new albums... at least 5, so I'm not short on ideas now - just short on time!


Greyfox

How is the Shadow of the Beast CD music coming along for the Amiga Compendium ? I'm a backer and need to hear it from the horse's mouth? Lol, thanks Tim

Tim

It's all done and dusted. Sam, the guy who is running the Kickstarter was really amazed with the results, so I hope all the backers will be too.
Rather than just do note for note copies of the tunes, I've gone in different directions with each track, so hopefully everyone will like some of the album.
We're working on the artwork just now, so it's not far off being mastered and complete.


zapiy

I read somewhere your bit of a retro gaming collector yourself, is this true and if so what do you own?

Tim

Hehe! Yes, that's true...
At some point in the late 90s I started collection old 8 bit and 16bit computers, but not the game consoles. I always had a special thing about computers.
Some of these were machines I wish I could have afforded when they first came out, but now they were being sold for pennies on eBay.
My collection is quite large; Vic20, C64, C16, C128, Amstrads, Spectrums, Memotech, Sam Coupe, Most of the Ataris, CBM Pets, BBC Micros... the list is long!
I have firm favourites though, like the 'sexy' PET that was designed by Porsche and the Enterprise Elan with it's rather odd green joystick cursor key.


zapiy

How did you start each project, ie was you giving the completed game for you to add the score or was you given a brief on what was needed or was it on the fly?

Tim

You've pretty much summed up everything right there! It varied a lot...
Some projects already had demo tunes in there from famous musicians, and the team wanted something very similar.
Sometimes that would be right and I'd do that, but on other occasions I'd have to suggest that just because they liked that music, it wasn't the right style for the game.
Most of the time, certainly in the early days, music and sound was the last thing on the list, so there'd be a mad rush to get it completed.
It kinda made sense, because the game would be in flux until it was complete, so why create music and sound effects that wouldn't be needed?H
However, sometimes it got well out of hand and I'd be writing the music when the game was already in test!
As time went by, we made sure that the producer of the game would get involved with musicians and creating the sound effects at an earlier stage.


zapiy

Amiga or Atari ST and why?

Tim

Amiga, because it was so much better in terms of graphics and massively better in terms of audio.
The only thing the ST had over the Amiga was a built in MIDI interface, so I'll give that point to the Atari. ;o)


zapiy

Megadrive or SNES and why?

Tim

You're probably asking the wrong person here, as I didn't have either as a consumer.
I composed music for the Megadrive and Mega CD, and I did enjoy Sonic...
Having said that, I've owned more Nintendo gear, like the Gameboy, Gameboy COLOR, N64 and Wii.
So I'll have to go SNES.


zapiy

Did you ever create and music on older systems like the Spectrum or C64?

Tim

I composed music on the BBC Micro, the C64 and the Vic 20.
None of it was amazing, but I can say I did... even though the only games they ever appeared in were games I'd written myself and sold to school friends!


zapiy

I love your Immortal CD's any plans for more?

Tim

I think Immortal 3 was meant to be the last one, and then they did Immortal 4.
I think sales of CDs mean that they're not that profitable, so I'm not sure what will happen there.
Would I contribute to another album? Sure!


zapiy

How did these CD's come about?

Tim

I don't know the full history, but there's a dedicated website, so maybe that can shed more light?
I only got involved with the second one, just by chance... and then I was more than happy to keep getting on-board.


zapiy

Any plans to do a Kickstarter for new CD or something similar?

Tim

Yes. But I can't tell you much more than that, as it's all in the planning stages just now. ;o)
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Offline Greyfox

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Re: RVG Interviews Tim Wright.
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2015, 19:39:37 PM »
All I can say is. this for me has to be the best interview and question I've ever received in an RVG exclusive interview, all I can say is  :77: WOW!!! :77:

this interviews is one of the best I've read and in my professional opinion would have made an amazing feature in a professional publication magazine , absolutely fantastic read!!!

Thanks Zap for giving me the opportunity in been given the chance to speak with such a video game musical legend :113:

Offline zapiy

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Re: RVG Interviews Tim Wright.
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2015, 19:43:40 PM »
Same as mate, you asked so many good questions beating me and those who may have wanted to many decent questions..

I continue to be blown away by all these awesome guys from a scene we all cherished as kids.. Flipping awesome.
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Offline AmigaJay

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Re: RVG Interviews Tim Wright.
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2015, 20:27:17 PM »
Great interview guys! Im shocked he took the time to write detailed replys, i know it took me long enough to get him to answer my questions lol

Good job  :113:
Old School Gamer Since 1982 - Creator of various gaming websites and blogs 1998-2017

Offline zapiy

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Re: RVG Interviews Tim Wright.
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2015, 20:33:14 PM »
Yeah i am honoured and i am looking forward to more info on that Kickstarter.
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Offline TrekMD

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Re: RVG Interviews Tim Wright.
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2015, 21:14:35 PM »
Very nice interview.  Cool to see about the Kickstarter too.  Oh, and this up in the Interviews Tab already.  :)

Going to the final frontier, gaming...

Offline zapiy

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Re: RVG Interviews Tim Wright.
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2015, 10:38:57 AM »
Great work.
Own: Jaguar, Lynx, Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive, MegaCD, 32X, GameGear, PS3, PS, PSP, Wii, GameCube, N64, DS, GBA, GBC, GBP, GB,  Xbox, 3DO, CDi,  WonderSwan, WonderSwan Colour NGPC