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Whispers of the Plains: Keith Burgun

Dinofarms Games is an indepedant games company who have just created a new RPG title called 100 Rogues and have released their soundtrack for free to start to spread the word! Higher Plain Music was able to track down lead designer and joint composer Keith Burgun for a few questions about how to going indie changes the game music environment we’re in and how he and co-composer Blake¬† Reynolds went about creating the soundscape for their game:

Firstly congrats on making a completely indie game. Tell us what inspired you to make “100 Rogues”?

Originally, the game POWDER inspired it. It was the first roguelike I had ever played, and although I enjoyed it, we figured we could do a better job. Little did we know quite a few people had done better jobs already, and so we had to take a dramatically new angle on the genre.

What are the main positives and negatives for going the indie route, which you have boldly gone for?

It’s the only route available for a person like me. I have a game design idea in mind. Getting a big corporate-backed company to develop the game for me isn’t an option. With that said, I think that independently-created games are going to be a bigger and bigger part of the future of gaming. Just as right now many people get a lot of their “video” from YouTube, games will follow. Stuff like the App Store, XBLA, and Steam are all offering indies ways to get their games out there. It’s an exciting time!

The 100 Rouges soundtrack harks back to music from yesteryear with old synth tracks. Was that something you wanted to do or just what you could afford to get done?

It was something we wanted to do. Blake Reynolds and I both attended the same school for music, so we definitely could have pulled off real instrumentation or high quality synths, or whatever we wanted really. We both feel that music during the NES-SNES era was a high point for video game music, and we are trying to recapture some of that kind of magic. Melodically driven, thematic, engaging, memorable tunes.

Where their any influences in the music of the soundtrack that you had to go on?

It really depends on the song. Overall, I know Blake was very inspired by Symphony of the Night and WarCraft 2 for his Dungeon theme. I’ve been listening to a lot of bossanova and a lot of old classic songs, which inspired some of my work. The 100 Rogues theme was I think most directly inspired by the song “A Day in the Life of a Fool” by Luiz Bonf√° and Antonio Maria. Essentially, we both are really shooting for a timeless, classic feel for our music. I really don’t like the idea that games are like these transient things that disappear after five years, so we try to make our games be something that would have the same effect on you in five, ten, or even a hundred years from now.

As composer for the soundtrack yourself, were their any particular challenges you had in making the tracks? Do you have any favourites?

Yeah. The Bandit Hole music was a difficulty for me; I actually had written another complete piece before it. The issue really with the game is, the music gets more and more “serious” as you delve down deeper and deeper. It needs to, to support the gameplay. However, I have issues with not making songs explode into melodrama at a certain point, probably because of my years of experience writing pop/rock songs. In terms of favorites, I’m always a sucker for fight songs. Blake’s “Satan Fight!” is just outrageously awesome, I can’t get over that one. I also like my “Genie Fight!” a lot. I guess I’m a sucker for melodrama.

For those people considering getting into indie game making or even soundtrack making, do you have any golden nuggets of advice for the budding newcomers?

It may be getting ahead of ourselves to be asking me for advice. I myself am a budding newcomer; 100 Rogues isn’t even released yet, who knows if my advice would be at all valuable! But basically I would just say that it’s always good advice to really have a passion for what you’re doing, and to balance being principled with being flexible. And be a nice person! A lot of times working on indie projects you have to do stuff for free, and get others to do stuff for free, and no one’s willing to do that for a jerk.

What’s next in store for 100 Rogues?

Well, we have two very exciting classes, the Dinoman Bruiser and the Skellyman Scoundrel coming up. I’m very excited about both of them, they will really change the face of the game a lot I think. We have just tons of features in store though for 100 Rogues, but just to name a few: an item shop, a special ‘challenge mode’ gametype, an infinite-play level called the Moon, two more worlds, tons more monsters, more items, a bestiary, and more unlockable stuff.

Finally, what’s in store for Keith Burgun? Giving away freebies must make you want to compose more surely!

Well, I really want to try to establish Dinofarm Games as a great game company. We have already begun some work on our second game, which is a wargame set in the same universe as 100 Rogues. It will be for the Windows and XBox Live Arcade platforms. Essentially, I just want to make great games, and make great game music. I also personally have a few axes to grind about how screwed up the way our culture looks at video games is, and I see myself as a bit of a “videogame civil rights activist” in a sense. Making games that follow my philosophy is the best way I can change the way people see things. The greatest way to influence people is by example.

We will have a full review of the soundtrack for 100 Rogues available within the next 24 hours and would like to thank Keith Burgun for his valuble time and input!

One comment

  1. excellent little interview! Can’t wait to see the full review! I just posted a short write up for the soundtrack release today and it has been great listening!

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