Where Are They Now? Episode 8: Jeremy Soule
In this series we'll be taking a look at revered MMOG developers of our past and where they are now. Up this week? Jeremy Soule
Welcome to the eighth episode in our "Where Are They Now?" series! Being a gamer since the days of Pong, I thought it was long past the time when someone should take a look at famous game developers from days gone by and find out how (and if) they're still involved in making the games we love to play. Most of the developers we've talked about in the series so far have been designers, but this week we’re shifting gears a bit to bring you a musical genius.
Claim to Fame
Behind every gripping and emotionally charged moment in entertainment, whether it be television, movies, or video games, there’s a great piece of composed music. It’s rare that the individuals behind those moments get the credit they are due. Well today we’re going to change that by talking about the achievements of a composer that has lovingly been called “the John Williams of video games” (For those that may not be familiar with John’s work, he’s best known for the music scoring of Star Wars). That’s a pretty tall order to live up to but I think Jeremy has proven he’s earned the title.
Rather than just listen to me ramble on forever about why I think he deserves to be noticed, let’s play a little game instead. I’ll just read off some of the games for which he’s created the majority (if not all) of the music for and you go ahead and shout out if you happen to recognize any of them. Don’t be shy (and ignore the weird looks your co-workers give you) – just shout out if you see one you recognize:
- Total Annihilation
- Icewind Dale
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- Unreal II
- Dungeon Siege
- Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
- Neverwinter Nights
- Dungeon Siege II
- The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind
- The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
- The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
- World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
- Guild Wars: Prophecies
- Guild Wars: Nightfall
- Guild Wars: Eye of the North
- Guild Wars 2
Even though there are games in that list I’m not a big fan of, there are more than a few that I genuinely admire the music for. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I really do suck at RTS games. I like them, I think they’re cool, and some have settings that are awesome, but in general, I’m horrible at them. That said, Total Annihilation had some of the coolest music in any RTS game before that time. The same is true of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. I’m certainly no lover of pandas but World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria has an incredible soundtrack as well. For my personal tastes though, I think Jeremy’s work in Guild Wars 2 should be considered the current highpoint of his career. Some of the music on the soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful.
Clearly, Jeremy has established himself as the man to go to when you want a seriously kickass piece of music for your game. That’s all well and good but…
Where Are They Now and Why the Hell Should I Care?
That’s an easy question to answer. You see, Mr. Soule is now working on the music for a project I am insanely excited about – EverQuest Next. Sony Online Entertainment may be many things to many people, but they know who’s who in the industry and how to get the best talent they can for projects.
While there is no doubt the hard work of a game’s writers and artists have a lot to do with any real emotional bond you feel for a character or about a situation, I firmly believe it’s the music that seals the deal. For those that have played the Mass Effect series this is seen time and time again.
Would the sacrifice of Ashley or Kaidan (sorry to anyone that hasn’t played it yet, but your statute of limitations has long since passed for this title) have meant anywhere near as much if the music hadn’t conveyed the emotion of what was happening, or why? What about later in Mass Effect 3 where you’re repeatedly forced to make hard decisions and say goodbye to various comrades. When all is said and done, it was the music that pushed everything over the edge.
I’m willing to bet there’s not a person reading this that isn’t intimately familiar with the opening music of Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark (both composed by the aforementioned John Williams). If Jeremy Soule really is John’s video game counterpart (and I believe he is), then imagine the music we can look forward to in EverQuest Next – the opening score, the combat music, the ambient music, and more. Personally, I can’t wait.
If you have a suggestion for a game designer, art director, creative lead, or any other person intimately involved with a game's completion that you'd like to see highlighted, hit me up on Twitter or send me an email here!