I can remember the theme songs of those older games, and part of it is, as you said, probably because I had to play through the levels so many times.
RJ: Yeah, the exposure...
But still, it's somewhat disturbing to me that I can't call to mind the music of recent games, a lot of them. Exceptions are like Halo, but that's partially because you have to wait on that loading screen for such a long time.
RJ: Sure. And that has a big, recognizable theme in it, and it was probably deliberately composed that way, whereas I couldn't sing any music from Gears of War, because it's dark and perfect for the game, in my opinion.
There has to be a conscious choice, I think, a lot of the time, between game designer, lead designer, and composer, about "How can we attack this? Are we going to have the player keying into this one musical idea or collection of ideas, or is it just going to be a low underscore supporting what the gameplay is doing?"
On Highlander, I'm taking the approach where I have a really huge main theme, which you do get snippets of throughout, and you're rewarded at the end with the whole song in its entire glory and blah blah blah. That's been very carefully thought about and deliberately done that way, like Headhunter.
When I did that, I had three very strong themes that are played throughout the levels, etcetera. It depends on how the composer wants to approach it. Underscore and things that you won't be able to sing back has just as valid a place as big, thematic, melodic kinds of songs, and those kinds of things as well.
Eidos/WideScreen Games' Highlander
Do you think there will be a time when we can get back to more iconic music?
RJ: I think we're starting to see that already, to be honest, in a small way. What we're seeing now is... I grew up with very old Sega consoles and arcades and Spectrums and Commodores and stuff, and I think now, as a generation, we're maturing. A lot of my friends have got kids of their own.
What we're seeing with things like the Wii and Xbox Live is that we're seeing this kind of resurgence of... let's call it "old school," for the moment. A lot of this kind of stuff, which is going back to the real root of video gaming. I think in terms of music, that is already starting to happen.
It's a two-tier system, really. You've got the Call of Dutys and stuff up here, with their massive, sweeping, orchestral scores, but then you've got stuff like... look at the latest Mario. They're doing amazing... I would still call that iconic music, on Galaxy, and that type of thing, and Super Stars Tennis, I've been going back to that traditional, iconic video game music as a genre, if you like.