Carbon Games' Founder Talks About Working with Front Line Assembly For Soundtrack on their new game "Airmech: Wastelands"
Bill Leeb is most known for his contributions in the industrial scene under the Front Line Assembly moniker. This is a history I shan't go through as you should know it by now, and if you don't, go get yourself educated. Release after release has been outstanding from this fine electronic pioneer, and now he's entering the world of video games. Producing the soundtrack for Carbon Games' post-apocalyptic, transforming mech video game "Airmech: Wastelands", this is a bold new direction for the producer. That being said, I was able to chat with Carbon Games' very own James Green about working with Front Line Assembly and how the sound design impacted the project. Below you can stream a couple of songs from FLA's soundtrack and check out the tracklist.
Hello Carbon Games! I can officially say that this is the first time we've ever interviewed a gaming company on Brutal Resonance. But let's get a short introduction to the team. Who is in Carbon Games, what's your favorite video game of all time, and what is your favorite album of all time?
James: We founded Carbon because we wanted to work on our own games after having been in the industry for many years. It's fun working on the huge blockbuster titles, but I think it's even more fun when you are helping make new and unique games which literally would not exist if you didn't make them yourself. We pride ourselves on being small, creative, and efficient. The more I learn about the music industry the more parallels I see between the smaller passionate bands and the bigger more produced bands. It's great we have both options.
I can't possibly pick a favorite game or album. I'm a fan of great mechanics, of how games feel "in the hand" and give joy from that input/feedback loop. Music tastes have changed over the many years I've been around, but I can absolutely say that Bill Leeb's projects have been a favorite of mine. I remember being shocked when someone explained to me that Bill was the common thread for things like Frontline, Delerium, Noise Unit and others.
Gaming and industrial music have never been distant arts. I've caught myself plenty of times nodding in respect to video game soundtracks. But what made you head into Front Line Assembly's direction to score Warmech?
James: The reason I wanted to work with Bill/FLA for our games is the same reason I love the music as a fan. It's more of a signature Bill Leeb thing in fact, as you can hear it across all his music projects--the complex layering and build up of songs which get better and better the more times you hear them. In games, you might end up hearing the same music a lot, and having something with the depth and texture you find in FLA songs is exactly what I wanted. I actually never thought I would have a chance to work directly with them and that I would have to settle for someone to make something "like" FLA. It blew my mind that I was able to connect with Bill and actually get to work with them.
What was it like working with Front Line Assembly? Did you see each others' visions easy enough, or were there certain creative differences you guys had to overcome to see the final piece put together?
James: It was actually very easy to work with Bill and FLA because I was such a fan of the existing catalog and already knew it would be a good fit for our game. When you take a talented artist and try to direct them too much you need to ask yourself why did you want to work with them in the first place? Bill was always eager to get feedback and wanted to make sure I was happy with the tracks, but honestly it was just as important to me that he was happy with them. The music influenced the game just as the game originally sparked the music.
And when you did finally get the soundtrack in full, what was your response? Did you guys have mixed feelings on it, did you love it? What were your thoughts?
James: It was like getting a brand new Frontline album as always--there's a few more catchy tracks that catch your attention right away, then on repeated listens of the whole album you dig into each track. To me it's just magical when your ears learn a track and you can start to see the structure and you ride the wave of this epic build up. I wish I was a musician myself so I could describe it better. WarMech being the second album it really surprised me because I knew right away that this was them finding their zone with these instrumental types of tracks. I think it's better than the first one, and I loved the first one. I think fans are going to love it.
I'm sure that each of you had a favorite song on the album as it ranges from smooth tempos to frenetic industrial blasts. What were your favorite songs on the album?
James: Depending how many listens I would have given different answers to that. Originally the high energy tracks jumped out, like Mechanism and Heatmap--instantly I could see these as trailer material cut to a lot of action. Got me excited about the whole package. I'll say there aren't any tracks I dislike, and each one is affecting the mood and design of a particular area of the game. Anthropod, love the dark
Artoffact Records is providing the physical release for the soundtrack. Did you decide to partner with the record label or was that a choice from Front Line Assembly?
James: We originally planned to handle the physical release ourselves if you can believe it. We thought getting the CDs made, shipping some off to Amazon, this isn't that hard is it? Since it's a soundtrack and not your typical Frontline release we just weren't sure it made sense to go the traditional route. But then we saw some of the work that Storming the Base and Artoffact had done and what started out as a conversation about vinyls turned into wanting to work with them on the CD release as well. I want to make sure the fans still have access to the album from their local record shop wherever they might be around the world.
We have a solid release date for the album on June 22nd. However, how goes the work on the actual video game itself? Do we have a release date for that? How far along the development cycle are you?
James: AirMech Wastelands is in what we call "alpha" as of right now. We plan for the game to move into "beta" phase as we release the soundtrack as a nice tie in. We're very public about our development process and the game is available in Early Access on Steam, with the full release planned for later this fall. It's already a lot of fun and we are fleshing out the missions and adding content to hit that release.
And what type of game with Warmech be? Could you talk about that a little bit?
James: AirMech Wastelands is quite a difference pace than the first AirMech game. This time around it has more of an RPG approach to your character, your mechs, and your army. You play either solo or cooperatively against the storyline enemies. There are a ton of fantasy themed RPG games and we wanted to take a new spin on that by doing it with mechs in a world on the brink of collapse. You are trying to scrape together a fighting force to hold back and ultimately destroy the self running WarMechs giving humanity a chance to rebuild.
What other series or stand alone games did you look to with inspiration? How do you plan on making Warmech better or unique than other series?
James: We're big fans of mechs and post apocalyptic settings, with many games from my youth mashed together to create the AirMech/WarMech mechanics. From the classic Herzog Zwei to C&C Red Alert, Advance Wars and Starcraft, and plenty of anime with transforming mechs (not robots!) are all influences. As a game there's not a lot out there that has this mix of RPG progression, realtime strategy, online coop world. We actually build the game to be compatible with the previous game, meaning inventories are shared with a deep player market and crafting system there from the start. Friends, factions, competitions and leaderboards, it has become a sprawling world of a game due to how we iterate with both community feedback and what we think is cool ourselves.
Lastly, I wish you the best of luck with Warmech. I can't wait to watch clips of it and possibly try it out myself if I ever get the chance!
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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