Damian Sanchez is the composer and audio director at the game studio Crema. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about their work. Here's what he had to say!
Q1: You have handled both the sound design and soundtrack composition for several projects in your catalog. Is it difficult to maintain a consistent sound palette and ensure all of the audio elements work together?
A1: In my opinion, when you have a hand in everything, it's not that hard to achieve consistency as both, music as well as sound, share the same exact vision. Everything is conceived following the same creative path and taste, which usually translates into coherence and balance.
I think the biggest challenge is to reach the highest level of quality in both disciplines. Although music and sound have some techniques, skills, and tools in common, it really makes a big difference when a project has enough resources to separate these roles.
It's something I've done several times over the years, and I know many others have and will continue to do with stunning results, but in my experience, when the projects get bigger, doing everything yourself is almost impossible without compromising the result.
Q2: You're currently working on Temtem, an MMO that's unapologetically inspired by the mainline Pokemon games. Does any of the music or sound design take note from the Pokemon series as well?
A2: Temtem is a creature collection MMO adventure inspired by Pokemon, mostly because there aren't many games of this genre, but also because many team members are fans of the franchise.
In terms of the audio, I'd say games like Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Odyssey, and most of the Zeldas were some good references to me. Of course, I studied how Pokemon's music works, but I think we're basically following the usual RPG formula, themes for combats, themes for cities, themes for exteriors or routes, etc.
For the sound design, we drew a lot of inspiration from games like DOTA or League of Legends because the sounds for the VFX (techniques and attacks) are one of the strongest aspects of Temtem's audio experience.
Q3: You composed the soundtrack Relicta, a first person, physics based puzzle game that features performances by the F.A.M.E'.S Orchestra. Did you compose the pieces with an orchestra in mind?
A3: The orchestral music for the game is mostly for cinematics, which came in the very last part of development, so this wasn't something we planned from the beginning. Originally, the narrative of the game wasn't meant to have the importance it ended up having and, after a few reworked compositions for those narrative sections, we found that the orchestral sound added a lot, so we went with it.
I wasn't sure if I would be able to hire the orchestra because the project was nearing its end and a lot of the resources the team had for the development were already used. But after several meetings, the team decided to make the effort and we scheduled a few sessions with F.A.M.E’.S.
We were able to get a warm and intimate sound with the real strings that we could not achieve with mockups.
My preferences are based more on the sounds I hear than on the style of music, and I enjoy listening to things that can inspire me for the future. I love to work with acoustic instruments, but I'm not a big fan of the 'huge orchestra' sound, so I usually opt to listen to things performed by string orchestras, chamber ensembles, duos, etc.
Q4: What have you been listening to lately?
A4: Lately, I've been enjoying the magic behind The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening soundtrack, things by Òlafur Arnalds, covers by artists like Beyond the Guitar and The Grissini Project, or even concert music from Astor Piazzolla ... a little bit of everything.
I like to open Youtube, listen to something I've heard before, and then see what the AI recommends for me next. Haha
Find more of their music below.