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Interview with Allister Brimble

In this interview, Red Phoenix interviews Allister Brimble, who is responsible for the sound and music in RCT and its add-ons.

Red Phoenix: Whatís your background as a musician (ie: did you study music in college)?

Allister Brimble: I come from a musical family and I had piano lesson from an early age which gave me start. Appart from music O level at school, I have not studied music at all, but I have have recently taken up my piano lessons again!

I started to play around with music on the sinclair spectrums 1 channel beeper. I soon upgraded to the spectrum 128 which had better sound and was amazed by the music in the game GlideRider by David Whittaker. From this point on I also wanted to write music for games.

In the 80's I wrote a music tracks for the Amiga using the Aegis Sonix package. I sent the tunes to 17 bit software (now team 17 Ltd !), a PD company and they liked them so much that they published the tunes for me. This was the start of it all and I managed to get a lot of work on the strength of those early tunes.

Red Phoenix: What types of equipment and software do you typically use to produce sound and music?

Allister Brimble: I have a PC at the heart of my studio running a Creamware Pulsar 2 soundcard. Connected to this, I have all my external synth equipment such as the Kurzweil K2000 & Korg Z1. I also have a separate PC running Gigstudio which allows me to write music with huge samples.
SoundForge is used as a sample editor and I use the Sound Ideas sample CD's for source material along with some material recorded live.

Red Phoenix: What was the first game you produced sound or music for?

Allister Brimble: It was a game called Italia 1990 (which I wrote in 1988!) for Codemasters Software on the Amiga. Other games that followed included the big Team 17 titles such as "Full Contract", "Alienbreed" & "Project X".

Red Phoenix: How far into development was RollerCoaster Tycoon when you heard from Chris Sawyer about working on RCT?

Allister Brimble: Something like 6 months.

Red Phoenix: Can you describe the process you had to go through to obtain and produce the sound and music we get to enjoy in RCT?

Allister Brimble: For the title tune we listenned to the music on the film Rollercoaster and wanted to do something similar. It actually ended up quite differently because nothing I did in that style seemed quite the same. Not many people know this, but the bassline from the title tune is actually a Chopin piano waltz playing at double speed. I then improvised my own tune own the top!

The sound effects mostly come from my set of 100 + sample CD's. These included several rollercoaster sounds which I had to turn into small loops.

Chris Sawyer also obtained some material from real theme parks, such as a splash sound on one of the water rides.

Red Phoenix: Out of all of the music and sounds that you made, how much of it was never used in RCT?

Allister Brimble: Pretty much all of it was used as I waiting for Chris to ask me what to write before doing it. I had a few attempts at the title tune but didn't keep the old versions.

Red Phoenix: Was there a particular piece of music that you were especially proud of for whatever reason?

Allister Brimble: I was quite pleased with the martian theme. I was trying to do something similar to the Mars Attacks film title theme which I thought was great.

Red Phoenix: Has Chris Sawyer approached you in regards to working on a sequel to RCT?

Allister Brimble: If there is one, then hopefully I will be doing it.

Red Phoenix: Freelance media producers donít often get rich off the material they produce due to the lack of royalties. Did you fare well with RCT, which is still on the top 10 in the sales charts three years after its release?

Allister Brimble: There were no royalties so I didn't get particularly rich. Chris Sawyer did pay me a bonus though because it had sold so well. Hopefully I will be able to get royalties on future productions!

Red Phoenix: Do you play RCT anymore?

Allister Brimble: No, but my girlfriend has started playing the addon packs. RCT is her favourite game!

Red Phoenix: Can you tell us anything about the project(s) you're currently working on?

Allister Brimble: I'm doing a lot of work for the Gameboy Advance. My most recent projects on other format are "The Italian Job" and "Driver 2", both for Playstation. You can see my full portfolio at www.gameboyaudio.com

Red Phoenix: For those of our visitors who are interested in doing music and sound effects in games, do you have any free advice for them?

Allister Brimble: I'm not really sure how you get into it these days. Really you would have to get hold of some good music equipments (synths etc) and a good sequencer and sample editor + some sfx sample CD's and start knocking up some good demo's which could be sent round to software companies.

One piece of advice would be not to underestimate the importance of sound effects! Music is often overused in games.

Red Phoenix: Would you like to get in a free plug for anything?

Allister Brimble: I have a CD album available for purchase. You can read about it at www.allisterbrimble.com. There are some other tracks at www.mp3.com/AllisterBrimble to download

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