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Tim Larkin and the Music behind Myst - Uru

Tim Larkin won awards for his gorgeous sound design for the computer game Uru, the third in the Myst series of games. Here's an intereview with Tim Larkin!

Q: How did you first get involved in doing sound work for URU?

I was initially involved with Cyan doing sound design for Riven, so I had a relationship with them for several years before URU, and moved to Spokane when the development got underway.

Q: Part of the charm of the Myst worlds is that they are all fantastical - combining elements from different regions and periods in earth's history. How did you come up with music to suit each area?

That's actually part of what made it interesting to me, the fact that I could write some music that has a modern day feel to it, and other music that comes from no period or culture in particular. It left the door wide open to come up with something very fresh. I then created a palette based on sounds that were interesting to me, blended them together to come up with a feel for each place that I felt would benefit from theme or ambient music.

Q: Which section of music did you enjoy the most, where you felt it truly nailed the atmosphere perfectly?

I actually have several places that I feel really capture the moment, or the space. The first one is the southwest guitar feel in the opening scene. This is a desolate area with nothing but the sound of crickets and wind. I wrote a piece for this area that combined some Dobro slide guitar with a bit of native percussion and Indian flute. Sets the stage well I think. The next section would be the Gallery in Kadish where you hear a lone soprano voice calling out to her husband as the D'ni civilization falls. The last spot is in Kadish as you head toward the end of the age and the music underscores the expanse of the area with an open feeling. The orchestration is fairly light and sparse, simple percussion and voice pads.

Q: What was one of your biggest challenges in designing the music for this game?

I think that I was lucky in that the freedom I had along with the great visuals made my job easy. I was able to write what I felt was appropriate for each area, and was encouraged to create something different and unique sounding. The challenge was more in what to expect from the public, who I'm glad to say ended up giving an incredible amount of enthusiasm, support and acceptance to the score.

Q: What games do you enjoy playing in your free time?

I try to play as many games in part as I can. I rarely get the time to play through an entire game, but I do like to see what's going on with everything that's hot in the market.

Q: Is there any other game you've played where the music really struck you as being important to gameplay?

I just played through the Far Cry demo, and enjoyed the implementation of the music there and how it interacts with events. I've also always been a Grim Fandango music fan. That music fit the game so well, and added to the whole ambiance of the game making you feel so much more a part of it.

Q: What projects are you working on now?

Wow, I'd love nothing more than to mention each one, but right now they're all under a tight lid. I'll update the website (www.timlarkin.net/news.htm) with news whenever I'm able to spill the beans:)

Learn more about Tim Larkin from his website, TimLarkin.net!

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