Peter McConnell brings electricity to Psychonauts 2
Psychopath is a 3D-Jump -‘n’-Run and Action Experience of the American Game Designer Tim Schaefer and its Studio Double Great Productions. The computer game sticks out with the bizarre surreal history and the oblique wit.
This year was great for video game music. One of the most eclectic partitions must be the music of Peter McConnell for Tim Schaefer’s Psychopath 2. In addition to composing the music of the original Psychopath game, McConnell is an extremely prolific and respected writer. A very partial list of his credits includes classics like Grim Fandango, Brutal Legend, Escape from Monkey Island and VS Zombies plants. Peter McConnell greatly answered a few questions about his latest project.
With their long working story, it was probably obvious that McConnell would mark Psychopath 2. He joined the project very early. I worked on the score for four of the five years and more than it was developing. I was very lucky to score all Tim Schaefer matches, said McConnell. I discovered over the years that Tim directed more by the suggestion and the example by a lot of practical staging. Very early with the original Psychopath, he sent me music to listen, a CD of folk groups of Transylvania and Moldova.
Musically, the new game is a mix of themes of the first game and many new materials. Part of the project’s pleasure was to be able to combine old melodies and news. The main piece is a good example: Unlike Psychopath 1, it is registered with a complete orchestra and has a brand-new theme in the middle for the main naughty.
Psychopath 2 introduces many new characters. I used a lot of melodies of the original psychopath, especially for the characters that appear in both games. But the characters and places introduced into psychopath 2 got new themes. In fact, about the first month of the composition was simply to make sketches of piano characters for all new characters. Once the new themes are established, all the music has received new treatments in terms of instrumentation, orchestration and live recording.
Once I had something in that state that I loved, I sent the theme to the double fine team. We spent about a month sending them characters themes. Once they approved, it was gone for the races: write models, test them in the gameplay, revise, orchestrate, save, edit and mix. »
So many game sound tapes are recorded with digital samples. The use of live musicians is expensive and COVID-19 restrictions have made recording in person difficult. Most three hours of Psychopath 2 music have been recorded by live players.
Essentially, everything was live. The only samples of the game are the piano and the vibrations (for a coherence between the different registration situations), the techno song of Sasha drawn from the original psychopath and a synth sound at the Hollis level. All the rest in the 3-hour partition is real people playing with live instruments. Virtually all the recording was done remotely. We had so much incredible players from Orlando to Beijing.
I am particularly grateful to the Melbourne Symphony, who has been able to make complete orchestral recordings during COVID-19. In accordance with the rules of social distancing, we divided the orchestra into two and recorded in two passes: one for the ropes and the winds and the other for the brass. This gave us the added benefit of flexibility in mixing and more options to play music during the game. For example, in a large level of action, we could wait for things to become really intense in The battle to bring brass and percussion, or return to ropes and winds if there is a lull in action.
One of the most remarkable aspects of McConnell’s partition is the brilliant mix of genres and musical styles. Big band jazz, pop, rock and more traditional action tails are all represented. Psychedelic rock was a kind I had not had the chance to explore in previous titles. And, being a child of the 60s, I always had a place in my heart for this sound. It also goes back to my roots as a composer of games, because the reason I came from Boston in the Bay Area in 1990 was to found a group with other musicians Michael Land and Clint Bavarian. But instead of creating a group, Michael founded the Sound Department of Lucas arts, and we all have music for games. It was 30 years ago.
So the psychedelic level in psychopath 2 provided the opportunity to have a special type of meeting — to reconstitute the group, so to speak, at Skywalker Sound. This is one of the most incredible studios in the world. We were joined by the Justus Dobbin recording veterans with keyboards and Eli Ludwig to the battery. We tried to be faithful to the music of the 60s as possible. Justus provided a continental Vox organ of the time and Clint played a personalized guitar similar to the one played by Jerry Garcia in The Grateful Dead.
Finally, there was the opportunity to make a rock hymn with Black Jack. His pieces were made at the, and the rest of the group was added at this session at Skywalker Sound.
We interviewed McConnell on the challenges of the project, as well as a musical signal that he found particularly satisfactory.
Make a time of 3 hours mark with live musicians is always a huge company, but it was particularly the case with Psychopath 2. We had to find a way to record a lot of people, including a live orchestra, During COVID-19 blockages. We had the chance to be able to record the Melbourne Symphony in two passes. COVID-19 also presented other challenges. Two members of the audio team could not be in the same room, not for registration, mixing or implementation.
An example of a replica who, in my opinion, has really worked well is the music of the boss of Lady Octopus. He has the Melbourne Symphony registered at the ABC studios in Melbourne, Australia. The bass and the battery were recorded in Nashville and a Hammond Organ solo recorded in Hoboken.
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