The score went through several incarnations at the beginning of the project. Initially, the composer Marc Baril and I played with the idea of having more up-to-date ‘game’ style music rather than copying the DNA of the original movie. We looked to similar scores from movies such as ‘Blow’ by Cliff Martinez as a guide for the style, using predominantly Cuban rhythms and percussion ideas.
Eventually after trying a score in the game that was totally loyal to the style of Giorgio Moroder, we decided that this was 100% Scarface and nothing else would do, even if it sounded a little cheesy to our ears at first. Using a Jupiter 8 synthesizer, in particular its arpeggio capabilities, formed the basis of nearly all the music that was written, and the new game score is remarkably loyal to the original film score.
Augmenting the new score is also the original score itself, which is used for nearly all the cut scenes in the game. This was attained from the original tape reels at Universal. At first, our ears had to get used to the retro factor, but it didn’t take long. Any true fan of the Scarface movie will instantly feel at home when they hear the score for the game.
Licensed music is used in two ways by the Scarface game. ‘Diegetic’ or ‘source’ positional streams play radio music throughout the world from various locations such as The Babylon Club, The Venus Bar and Coco’s Bar. There also exists a playlist based music player menu which replaces non-diegetic music on the game’s soundtrack.
The concept and development of the licensed music went from being in-game radio positional streams only, to the use of a fully fledged playlist of tracks that could be customized via a mix-tape feature, meaning songs could be played at any time in the game, whether in a vehicle or on foot. Because the licensed music was beginning to play a large part in our game, we needed a solution that allowed the user to have as much control over the soundtrack as possible.
This was also born out of concerns that so many people playing this game would have radically different tastes, going back to our audience being a mix of hardcore Scarface fans of the original movie, who would expect only Giorgio Moroder Score and the songs used in the movie, the newer Urban Hip hop audience who would expect more up to date hip hop and rock music, and people who wanted to experience Tony Montana’s new storyline but in as authentic a way possible, who would choose the period Cuban and Latin music as well as the 1980’s period music we used to define the time and place of the game story.
this presented a great deal of challenges in terms of management and
balance of music player and the score. Positional radio streams, score
and ambience needed to be switched off each time the tape player is
switched on. This helped to reduce streaming issues, and more
importantly, any cacophonous results of two pieces of music playing
together at the same time.
We could have improved the implementation by having an option for either ‘Moroder Score’ or ‘Licensed Genres’ to play automatically whenever you do a side mission in the sound menu. We decided to set the default to use licensed music, and the player can turn these off by turning the tape player off on these missions therefore hearing the Moroder Score playing underneath, but it would have been nice to have had an option where this could be set by the user once and for all.