Toy stories driven by electronics

Billion-Dollar Composer: Steve Jablonsky

Just as “Transformers” and “Desperate Housewives” illustrate different musical sides of the same composer, so do “Gears of War 2” and “Sims 3” in the videogame world.

“Musically, I try to treat the game as I would a film,” says Steve Jablonsky. “A game like ‘Gears of War’ has a very in-depth storyline. The main difference is in the technical delivery; you have to think a little differently. They’ll say, ‘we need exactly 90 seconds of medium-paced action music, using this theme, and it needs to be able to loop back to the beginning seamlessly.’ ”

According to Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski, lead designer for “Gears of War,” the idea was to “really give you the ultimate kind of 4th of July, summer-blockbuster, explosions-monsters-setpiece type of experience. We had to get a guy who could compose that kind of bombastic, emotional score.”

In the aftermath of his 2007 “Transformers” success, Jablonsky was that guy for “Gears 2,” released in 2008. It’s a war score, replete with heroic fanfares and elegiac moments for the dead, all realized with large orchestra and choir recorded at San Francisco’s Skywalker Sound.

For “The Sims 3,” however, Electronic Arts’ worldwide exec for music Steve Schnur felt that “very few composers could nail the playfulness, intelligence, fun and quirkiness of the Sims franchise.” But, having fallen in love with Jablonsky’s oddball “Desperate Housewives” music, he hired the composer for “Sims 3” and its multiple iterations since.

The “Sims” music is cheerful and infectious, although Schnur points out that “it can be devilish at times too.” Jablonsky has scored more than a dozen games in the past five years, including EA’s “Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars” and Ubisoft’s “Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.”

Billion-Dollar Composer: Steve Jablonsky
Talents beyond the bay | Sound design mixes it up with ‘kick-ass rock’ | Finding darkness at comedy’s core | Vidgames tap film’s eclectic palette | Toy stories driven by electronics

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